Anna Mulholland: Clippers vs Scissors: To Clip or not to Clip?

Anna Mulholland: Clippers vs Scissors: To Clip or not to Clip?
Anna Mulholland: Clippers vs Scissors: To Clip or not to Clip?

Clippers vs Scissors Graphic and Text

Many groomers around the world will sometimes face awkward requests from customers. For example: “Will you clip my golden retriever? He’s shedding everywhere and I can’t deal with the hair!” My first reflex would usually be to say, “So why have you decided to get a golden retriever if you can’t deal with the hair?!” But this isn’t helpful to anyone. The best response is to educate the customer on why this WOULD NOT be the best option for her dog. Instead, it is much better to educate them and to help them learn. You would tell them you would never clip a Retriever’s coat, but instead you would give him a good deshed to minimise the hair that she may be complaining about and then you would also maybe scissor under his belly or his legs and paws to give him a nice tidy up - everybody wins! 

A Golden Retriever is just one of many examples of furry friends we should never put out clippers to. Here are a few more; 

Siberian Husky German Shepherd Labrador and Border Collie labled images

If I were to name every breed, the list would be extensive, but to sum it up, a lot of the breeds that shouldn’t be clipped are usually double coated. Clipping them can permanently damage their coat and cause major skin issues. Their coat protects them from weather elements like the sun - and once their skin is suddenly exposed to it, they can develop skin cancer. Also, after shaving a dog like any of the above, their coat can grow back severely damaged and unhealthy and often a different colour than before. So, if a customer ever requests you do this and says they have done it all the time, just say no, it makes your life easier down the line. 



What about our wirey friends?  

The likes of most wire-haired terriers; Border Terriers, Wire Fox Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier etc. should also not be clipped. They undergo a grooming procedure called “Handstripping”. This removes the topcoat (which usually sheds) off the dog and exposes a nice shiny healthy coat underneath. Clipping a dog with this coat type can change the unique texture of any of these breeds. If you don’t offer Handstripping in your salon and a customer asks you to clip their new wirey friend - educate them! They’ll be thankful for it. 

Dog with Scissors pointed at


Now what about ye old faithful scissors? Where do they come into play? 

A lot of the breeds I listed above often will be tidied up using scissors. But there are some breeds whose coats benefit more from being completely hand scissored rather than clipped. 

Some people like to completely hand scissor their poodles - although this is an amazing skill and mesmerising to watch, it’s not necessary. There is one breed which I think benefits a lot from being scissored and that is the Pomeranian.  I had one in my salon last week and I completely changed her whole look with just the use of my Groom Professional Sirius Scissor Range. She went from being just one big circular ball of fur to having a nice defined skirt, a nice round bum, and a plump chest. Without causing any damage to the coat! Win situation! 

Heiniger Clipper


TO CLIP…or to shave! 

Matts, tats, and anything else that rhymes with it! 
Finally, when should you clip a dog? 

There is an EXTENSIVE list of breeds that clipping is perfectly okay on. But there are some times where clipping just doesn’t cut it (pardon the pun). Recently I used the Heiniger Opals to shave 2 extremely matted labradoodles and they were AMAZING. There is no way you could ever consider clipping (for example using a #4 comb or even a 5f) a coat this matted. And using your scissors on this type of coat would just damage your scissors. So, a shave was the only way forward. 

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into when you should be reaching for you clippers or picking up your scissors. Most owners usually know what is best for their dog, but sometimes when someone has a new puppy it’s always great to educate them and advise them what is best to keep a happy, healthy dog with a happy healthy coat. 

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