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How to Shave a Dog: 8 Tips & Tricks

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog grooming

How to Shave a Dog: 8 Tips & Tricks


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

A dog’s coat performs many jobs, such as thermoregulation, protection, and making them look extra cute and cuddly. Though your dog’s coat is essential, there may come a time when a complete shave is necessary. If you’re considering tackling this task on your own, there are some things you need to know to make the shave both successful and safe.

Keep reading to find our tips on how to shave a dog.


Before You Begin

Before you start shaving your dog, you must gather the supplies and set up the room for success.

The right tools will make your job much more manageable, safer, and more pleasant for your pooch. You’ll need:

  • A quiet clipper
  • Comb
  • Slicker brush
  • Towel
  • Shampoo
  • Lubricant

Once you have all your supplies gathered, you need to decide where you’ll be shaving your dog. Choose a room in your house that’s quiet and free of distractions. Approach the shave with calmness, as your dog can tell if you’re nervous, which can, in turn, make it edgy, too.

If your dog is nervous or afraid of new noises, take some clippers out for a test run before buying them to see how loud they are.

divider-dog paw

The 8 Tips & Tricks on How to Shave a Dog

1. Shampoo First

Before you even think about bringing out your clippers, give your dog a bath and a shampoo. A clean dog will be much easier to shave than one that’s covered in dirt or debris. A bath can also help remove any mats or tangles that could jam your clippers or cause them to pull your dog’s hair.

After its bath, give your dog a good brushing to ensure its fur is free of tangles, and allow it to dry completely.

a welsh corgi pembroke dog taking a bath with shampoo
Image By: Masarik, Shutterstock

2. Proper Restraint

It’s nearly impossible to groom a dog that’s antsy and moving around too much. Instead, use your dog’s collar to restrain it so it won’t pull away from you in the middle of its shave. If your dog is resistant or too excited or unpredictable, it’s a good idea to have a second person to help keep it secure.

3. Shave With the Grain

When you begin shaving, use your clippers in the same direction as the hair growth, not against it. If you cut against the grain, you may burn or cut your dog’s skin. Going with the grain will also ensure a clean line and even finish to keep your pooch looking its best.

Lady grooming a black brown dog
Image By: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

4. Start With the Sensitive Spots

It will be challenging to reach the sensitive spots on your dog’s body if the duration of your shave extends past its patience level. Therefore, you should start with the most sensitive areas first and do the easiest to access areas last.

Some people like to start at the head, which can be the most distressing area for some pups. Others prefer to start on the inside of the legs. You will find what works best for you and your dog over time.

Be careful with areas of thin skin, such as your dog’s thighs, hips, and underarms. You don’t want these areas to enter the spaces of your blades.

Unless your dog is statue-still, we don’t recommend shaving its face, as a slip-up can have devastating consequences.

5. Approach the Groin and Back End With Care

Your dog may not be too keen on you shaving its groin and back end areas. When going for the groin, lift the leg as if it were urinating and shave with the leg lifted.

When shaving your dog’s bottom, raise its tail, so it’s out of the way and begin shaving.

It is essential to shave these sensitive areas as they are the first to get dirty when your dog pees or poops.

grooming a dog with white clippers
Image By: PongMoji, Shutterstock

6. Use Scissors for the Paws

Your clippers probably won’t give you great access to your dog’s paws. If you want to trim that area, use a small pair of scissors and be careful not to nick your pup.

7. Take Small Breaks

It’s not unusual for clippers to overheat, especially if you have a big dog or one with a lot of fur. The longer your shaving session takes, the more likely it is for your blades to become hot. The heat can be so intense that it causes burns on your dog’s skin, so take a break every few minutes to check the blade’s temperature to ensure it’s safe to continue.

Image By: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

8. Listen to Your Dog

You know your dog best, so you likely know what body language it exhibits when it’s stressed, anxious, or irritated. It’s time to pack up the clippers at the first sign of any negative body language. Not only will continuing the shave be potentially hazardous for you, but it could also be dangerous for your dog. Never hold your pet against its will.


Should I Shave my Dog?

You don’t need to shave your dog in most situations.

Your dog’s coat helps it regulate its body temperature, something many pet owners find surprising. When we’re hot, we remove a layer of clothing, so it stands to reason that your dog may be stifling with its thick coat in the warmer months of the year. The truth is that dogs don’t regulate their temperature the same way we do. Panting provides up to 80% of your dog’s cooling power, so shaving their fur to keep them cool isn’t actually helping at all.

There are some circumstances where shaving a dog is recommended, however. These include:

  • Older pups who need help with grooming
  • Dogs who need surgery
  • Dogs with severely matted hair
  • Dogs who have skin diseases or hot spots
grooming a pomeranian puppy
Image By: aonip, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Though shaving a dog isn’t necessary most of the time, extenuating circumstances may make a shave essential for your pup. You can certainly try to do the shave job at home, but if you’re not 100% confident in your skills, it might be best to leave it to the pros.

If you do decide to tackle this task, buy the highest quality clippers available and let your dog guide the shaving session. If it shows any sign of aggression, agitation, anxiety, or stress, it’s time to put the clippers down.

Featured Image Credit: Glikiri, Shutterstock

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