With the economy still not what it was 10 years ago, many budget-conscious dog owners are choosing to groom their pets themselves rather than spend money at a salon. This has spelled opportunity for retailers that sell brushes, combs, dematting tools and other fairly simple grooming items. However, these days, many pet parents are even buying their own clippers for home use, allowing them to make fewer salon visits or give their pets between-groom touch ups.
While most pet owners do not want—or need—to buy high-end, professional-grade clippers, most major clipper manufacturers offer less expensive clippers and clipper kits that suit home grooming needs perfectly.
The ideal clipper or clipper kit for pet parents features consumer friendly attributes and components that ensure success. Among the most important features they look for is ease of use. Most consumers do not have time to learn more than the basics of handling a clipper, so a simple one will be the best option. Complete kits are also in high demand, as they include everything a consumer may need in one convenient package—from an adjustable blade or multiple blades to snap-on combs. Some kits may even include a comb or inexpensive scissors.
Most amateur home pet groomers will also appreciate a comprehensive set of instructions with any clipper they purchase. Consumers want to know how to get that professional look, even if they are only using the clipper to extend the time between professional groomings. Information and tutorials delivered in DVDs or booklets or on websites can be useful.
Pet owners will also need sufficiently powered clippers to get the job done. A clipper that cannot handle the dog’s coat will not be worth the money. And of course, cost is an important factor for consumers looking for home clippers—although it is easy enough to point out that most home clippers cost less than one or two professional groomings.
Still, not every pet owner wants to tackle a complete groom at home; some just require a small trimmer with blades only an inch wide or less to touch up eyes, ears, paw pads and sanitary area trims in between trips to the groomer—and there are many of those available. Wahl Clipper Corporation even offers several combo kits that include both a clipper suitable for body trims and a small trimmer for touch ups.
When it comes to ease of use, one of Wahl’s most popular sellers fits the bill nicely—the company’s 16-piece Pro Ion Lithium Ion Pet Kit is rechargeable with an hour and 40 minute run time. It includes scissors and a comb, instructions in English and Spanish, and four plastic blade guides for longer lengths, all in a hard plastic storage or carrying case. Wahl describes it as excellent for touchups and clipping fine hair, and very good for clipping medium hair or double coats. All of Wahl’s clippers have their performance evaluation right on the website to make selection easier.
Rich Stuart, sales manager for North America Professional Animal at Wahl, suggests sending customers to the company’s website for instructions on how to use the clippers. "We have several videos on basic grooming, breed-specific and user-friendly techniques," he says, adding that Wahl’s 16-piece Deluxe U-Clip Pet Kit is another top seller at a lower price.
An important factor in how easy a clipper is to use is how well the dog will tolerate it. Bob Erler, national sales manager of Andis’ Animal Division says, "For those pet parents looking for a clipper that can handle light- to medium-duty clipping, the EasyClip Whisper is ideal. Designed for quick detailing and touchups, the blade adjusts from 30-15-10 and comes with six attachment combs. The quiet operation is more soothing and comfortable for pets, which leads to more relaxed grooming sessions."
For a clipper that will handle even heavy coats at home, he recommends the EasyClip Groom Detachable Blade Clipper Kit, which uses the same blades as professional detachable blade clippers. It also includes a half-dozen snap-on combs, a set of scissors and an instructional DVD.
ConairPRO Pet offers home clippers to suit any coat type or grooming need, ranging from small touch-up trimmers that run on a AAA battery (the Palm Pro) to the ConairPRO Dog 16-Piece Pet Clipper Kit PGRD500 that can be run either cordless with a 35-minute run time or with its cord plugged in. Like the PGRD420 ConairPRO Dog 2-in-1 Pet Clipper/Trimmer Kit, the PGRD500 has a power boost switch for a temporary 15 percent increase in power to get through thick portions of the coat. The PGRD420 includes scissors, and both kits have snap-on combs and blades that adjust in length.
"The most important thing is that the consumer needs to understand what type of clipper they are buying, and its capabilities and limitations," says John B. Vasone, national accounts manager for ConairPRO Pet. "An inexpensive clipper may be great for some light body clipping, but if the consumer wants to do more than that, they will need to invest in a more powerful and expensive clipper. Also, it is important that the animal is washed, dried and cleaned, and combed/brushed out, free from snarls, matts and tangles before any clipping can be done. Once the consumer understands these concepts, they will be more prepared to purchase the best clipper for their needs."
ConairPro’s website has educational videos with step-by-step demos for consumers to view.
Oster offers many clippers for retail sale, and its best-seller has a turbo boost for those knots that will appear even on the best cared for pet. The Oster Calm Clips Cordless Power Grooming Kit is designed for all coat types, has two speeds on its quiet rotary motor, includes guide combs and is rechargeable with a two-hour run time. It can be run on its cord.
It includes a step-by-step DVD for at home grooming, and the company’s website features dozens of choices—you can even select which clippers would be best according to coat type.
It is part of the retailer’s job to see that their customers purchase the right equipment for the job, but manufacturers are happy to help educate stores and their employees on how to make sure that happens, as well as how to help them use the equipment effectively. They know their products, so retailers should take advantage of their knowledge to help store customers keep their pets in optimum condition as easily as possible—they are happy to do it.
Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. A pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.