These are Roby’s before pictures. Apparently, as seen from the first shot, where she’s hiding behind the chair, she’s a little nervous to get her “before” shot, just like her mama when she had her Insanity before shot. Ha! Just kidding. Well, not really. But anyway, Friday night I shaved Roby and I decided I would do a little “how to” for all you furry dog owners who have ever thought about shaving their dog.
Up front, I will tell you that this will be my third year shaving Roby and Belle, and so I’ve had a little practice at it. But that also means I’ve saved well over $700 (USD) by doing it myself. And that’s on the low side. It’s not easy at first, but it gets easier each time you do it. I’m going to share some pictures and tips about how to do this, and since Roby is my furriest dog with a pretty thick undercoat, I think she will be a good one to pose as a model for me.
Tip #1 for Shaving a Dog: Buy the Right Tools
Oster A5 single speed
Buy the right tools: i.e. clippers/shaver. I’ve heard so many people tell me they tried a shaver that was made for human hair when they first tried shaving their dog. Take it from me (yeah I tried this too because I’m uber-cheap), it DOES NOT WORK. Not even a little. Skip this first mistake and take yourself over to Amazon and buy a professional dog clipper. I use the Oster A5 single speed clippers and they do an awesome job! I’ve had these clippers all three years, and they are still running strong. They are a little over $100 dollars, but don’t worry about this investment. You will get your money back after you shave your dog, like, twice (it costs me at least $60 (USD) for one shave on Roby if I have it done professionally).
You will also want a good set of scissors/shears. I had a set in my human shaver kit that worked fine, but it’s up to you if you want to spend the extra money on a really good set. So far, the set in that kit has lasted me
three years well, two years (seasons of shaving) and I’m on my third season of shaving (I only shave my dogs during the warm months.
You will also need some Oster Kool Lube, which you can also find on Amazon. Again, don’t skip buying this. Your clippers will thank you after using them for a while because they do get heated up. Tip within a tip: I tried finding a set of clippers at several stores with no luck. I just ended up wasting my time. You can give it a shot by taking the time and looking in the stores if you want, you might have better luck depending on what is out there for you. I wish I would have just gone straight to Amazon though.
Tip #2 for Shaving Your Dog: Bathe Your Dog First
Here’s another thing you might be tempted to skip, but don’t. If you bathe your dog first, it will help save your blade. The dirt embedded in their fur (the stuff you can’t see) can really dull your blade. You can always send your blade out to be sharpened, or you have to buy a replacement blade, it can cost around $30 USD or so. Try to keep that from happening by protecting that blade and bathing your dog. If your dogs are like mine, they probably need it anyways.
Tip #3 for Shaving Your Dog: Use the Scissors Before the Clippers
Another way you can protect your blade is by using the scissors you purchased to snip out the matted hunks of fur. You know what I’m talking about. Clip them as close to the skin as you can, or as close to the length as you want your dog’s fur to be. Another reason to do this is because if you are trying to pull the clippers through a matted section, you end up pulling on your dog’s skin and they don’t typically like that. The more comfortable you keep your dog, the easier it will be to shave her.
Tip #4 for Shaving Your Dog: Shave in the Direction of Fur Growth for the First Round
Remember, I’m talking from the experience of shaving a dog with a pretty thick undercoat. I have tried it both ways, and it’s certainly doable to take your first round going against the direction of fur growth. However, I find that I pull on Roby’s skin a lot less when I take the clippers in the direction of the fur growth first, and then take a second round by going against the grain of the growth. This makes it so that there’s less bulk for the shaver to get through. And anything to keep my doggy from yelping and running from the clippers is good in my estimation. (Actually, she’s a good dog, so she never runs from me, but she will slowly try to
sneak walk away as I’m working on her).
Tip #5 for Shaving Your Dog: On the First Round, Don’t Worry About How Uneven It Is
This is especially true for those of you who are doing this for the first time and you don’t have natural shaving skills (like me). And it is also especially true for those of you with really, really furry dogs. The thing you want to think about when shaving them in their first round is just getting the bulk of their fur off their backs (and chest and legs and hindquarters, etc).
Tip #6 for Shaving Your Dog: How to Eliminate Shaving Paths or “Tracks”
You can see in the picture above that Roby has shaving “tracks.” To get rid of this look, you will want to shave in all directions. When I see a “track” forming, I will criss cross it in the opposite direction to get rid of this.
Another thing that I found is that, tracks are way more stubborn when you place a comb over the blade. I have found (for my dogs and the length I prefer them), that tracks don’t show up really bad if you use the naked blade as opposed to using the comb. Combs have their place, I think, especially if you have a “hairy” dog as opposed to a furry dog, or if you want a longer cut. But if you are just cutting your dog for the summer, you want a close cut (and you aren’t into competitions of any kind), then the blades you can buy for the clippers work well. There are also all sorts of blades you can buy for varying lengths.
Tip #7: for Shaving Your Dog: Make it Pretty
This is Roby after I’ve done my best to get the bulk of the fur off. You can see that she still has bits and ends that need to be cleaned up. She has some around her belly and on her chest. I am now “almost done” but I will go in later (after she takes a break, and the clippers take a break) to make it a pretty cut (i.e. clean shaven).
Tip #8 for Shaving Your Dog: Do It Outside
It’s a big furry mess. I think this picture speaks the truth on this one. This mound of fur was only about a third of the way done with shaving Roby.
It’s always good for your dog and your clippers to give them both a break. I give a break after about 20 minutes of shaving. That’s when I notice Roby getting a little more stress (i.e. she starts to slowly walk away) and the clippers are heating up too. That’s also a good time to spray your clippers with the cooling lubricant. Make sure to spray both the back and front while the clippers are running. And it doesn’t take much of this stuff to help cool your clippers. You can also use this at any point during shaving.
On that thought, when you notice your clippers are starting to heat up, you really should take a break. If you hold your clippers so that your finger is touching near the top of your clippers, you will notice the heat. I am not sure how that feels to a dogs skin, if it actually reaches through the fur enough to touch their skin. However, I think about when I was a little girl and my mom would curl my hair with a curling iron and how hot that iron felt. That’s my philosophy and why I turn the clippers off for a short break. It also gives your back a break if you are bending over your dog.
Good luck. Hope this helps you. Here’s my Roby’s after picture if you are interested.