About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Long Haired Chihuahua..Short but not Shaved

 This little girl usually gets all of her feathering shortened.

Today her Mom came in and asked for her to be cut short, 'but don't shave her.'

To me, this means cutting into her coat more.

A hand scissor puppy cut.

After she is bathed and blow dried, I start by combing all of her hair up, against the grain.

She has a nice plush coat under all of the fly away feathering.

That is what I want to scissor to.

I always tell any groomer that I have taught, to take the hair off in layers.
Meaning, take a little off at a time, slowly working your way tighter into the coat.

With time you will be able to eyeball exactly how much you want to take off.

No matter how long you have been grooming, I feel the first few cuts should be on the lighter side so that you can make sure what the coat will look like.

Like a lot of dogs with this type of coat, she has that strip of hair down her spine that is straighter and courser then the rest of her hair.

This hair usually is not plushy underneath, and lays flat to the body.

I like to use my comb to hold this hair up and scissor it.

Scissor the hair in the direction that it grows so that it will layer.

Continue scissoring the side working your way to the front.

As I get to the neck and ears, I pick up the ear and comb all of the hair out, to the side.

The owner wants the ears short.

If the owner had wanted the ears left long, I would have collected the hair I wanted to save, hold it up, over the head and continue scissoring the neck.

I follow the curve of the ear and neck and scissor tight.

This is a picture of the dogs rear.


Like you couldn't tell.  :)

One side is the way the dog used to get trimmed.

The other side is scissored up tight.

For me, the best way to get a smooth, layered cut on a straight haired dog, is to always scissor in the direction the dogs hair grows.

Even when you comb it up, against the grain.

Remember to comb, comb, comb.

Comb, scissor, comb, scissor...

Yesterday I was in Petsmart.
While my daughter was making some new dog tags for her dogs, I was watching the grooming.
(The tag machine was right in front of the grooming window. :)

I was watching a groomer clip a little cock-a-poo.
She was using a 5/8 blade on her clipper.
The dog had clearly not been fluffed up.
It also had not been brushed through thoroughly before the groomer started to clip.
She was constantly stopping because the blade was getting jammed in small knots.
I watched her groom one side of the dog.
She only picked up her comb once, and that was to comb the ear.
I wanted so bad to go in and show her what a difference it would make to fluff the dog and use a comb to completely remove all of the little knots before clipping.
And, most importantly, use that comb while scissoring!

I didn't go in.
I didn't offer any advise.
Been there, done that, it didn't go over well.
I have learned that no matter how nice you try to be, if someone doesn't want the advice, they don't want it.
My daughter dragged me out, and told me to stop talking about it.  :-/

Back to the Chihuahua.

 Last but not least, scissor the chest and blend the head and ears.

This part can be tricky.
I have found that if I lift the head up and back to far, when she puts her head down the neck can look a little choppy.

So I lift the head to blend the head to the chest, and then let the head drop a little to finish shaping the chest.

I am almost never happy with the scissor work on the chest.
I seem to go back to it over and over.

This is a top view.
Because the hair on the back of dogs with this type of coat usually lays very flat, I do not cut into the top part of the coat very much.

I lightly scissor the top of the coat and blend into the sides. 

This is the trim she usually gets.

This is what I did today.

Can you spell o-f-f-e-n-d-e-d?

That is the way this little girl looked almost every time I took her picture.

She is one of those Chihuahua's who's growl is bigger than her bite.

She is very sweet if she likes you, but she is easily offended.  :-)

Remember, use that comb!  :-)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Great Post..very informative! I'm a beginner groomer, graduated last year and I'm wondering what led you to use a scissors over a guard comb? I think I would have a hard time scissoring evenly!

  2. Hi Deb,
    Thanks,I could have used a guard comb, but I have found that on some dogs it is faster for me to hand scissor them. It also helps that I love scissoring.
    One of the reasons I didn't use a guard comb was because this little girls coat was very thick and plushy. I have found that when you use a guard comb on these types of coats, the comb tends to dip into the plushy part of the coat and take it shorter then I wanted it. Then I have to spend more time repairing what the comb did. Groom the way that is comfortable for you. The more you scissor the better you get. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  3. I'm about to get my first long hair chihuahua tomorrow, and the owner wants the hair cut short instead of a regular sanitary trim. I've searched everywhere to tips on what to do and how to do it and I just LOVED the fact you showed it step by step. I'm definitely going to suggest doing what you did. Thanks!!

  4. Hi Nanda,
    I am glad that I could help. Thanks for reading my blog.
    Lisa, MFF

  5. Thanks for great tips. I'm in a quandry about grooming our rescue dog. She was "supposedly" poodle, Maltese and chihuahua. We can see the chihuahua (long haired0 and maybe a touch of Maltese in features, but she also appears to have Yorkie somewhere in her genes. She's a year old, hasn't had a "good hair" day in six months and I'm preparing to try to groom her (bath and clip/trip/whatever). I've always groomed my dogs (miniature schnauzer, poodle/Boston terrier mix), but I'm really not at all sure where to start with the Scamp

  6. Hi Lady DR,
    Can we talk doggie DNA test? :) I have more and more of my customers taking these tests to find out what is really mixed in their dog. I had a small mix for almost 20 years, she was my heart dog. I would have loved to have had the doggie DNA test around back then. I was told that she was a Poodle mix, but I don't think that there was an once of Poodle in her.
    I tried looking at the picture of your dog in your profile. From what I can see, I think that there is definitely a lot of Terrier there. I can't tell for sure, but it looks like your dog has a plushy short/medium coat with a longer, stringy coat on top. Which means, that after you brush him/her, he/she looks good for about 5 minutes, then shakes and looks a mess again. If that is the case, your dog would probably look nice having his/her coat hand stripped. I used to hand strip my little terrier. The longer top coat would come in a silver color. She had a plushy black coat underneath. I would hand strip all of the silver coat off of her leaving a beautiful black coat all over.
    If you decide to clip your dog, I would start with a long blade that will take only that light wispy top coat off and leave the plushy coat behind.
    I hope I am seeing the coat right in your picture and that this helped a little.
    Thanks for reading my blog.
    Lisa, MFF

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog, it has sooo many helpful tips! But, I also work at a petsmart. And honestly, that's how most of the people groom here. I've only been grooming about 2 yrs, but I see all the newbies and my manager and I are the only ones who take time to dry our dogs. Petsmart jus rushes them through "grooming school" way too quick! Nobody combs through completely or really takes the time to try and make the dogs look good. And its more so they don't know that a dog needs to be completely dried and combed out! Everything at petsmart is $$ they don't care unless they're making money. I care more about how my dog looks than how much I make. But its really not their fault, that's just all their taught.

  8. Hi Anonymous,
    The grooming industry has been trying so hard in recent years to be looked upon as a professional profession to take seriously. Sadly, when 'grooming schools' like the one that Petsmart offers trains their groomers irresponsibly and only with dollar signs in their eyes, it really hurts our profession.
    Stick to your guns. You have to look out for you. You have to be proud of the work you put out there. Customers DO notice a good groom when they see one.
    We never learn everything. There are always new ways of doing things. I love learning new things in grooming, even after all of these years. Sounds like you are on your way to becoming a great groomer, because you care about the work you put out. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  9. I saw your blog and decided to try this on my long haired chi. He was about twice as fuffy as this girl and it looked easy enough so I thought I'd give it a try. It didn't turn out too great. Not horrible-but not super either. I tried your techniques but not being a professional, I screwed up. :( I cut it too short in one place and in order to even it out I had to cut him pretty short. He has about an inch of fur from his shoulders down to his butt. I kept the hair on his front but shortened it a bit and kept a little fringe of fur on his belly. My question is, on his sides and little butt his hair is un even and a bit choppy looking. I think this is caused by the hair being a little longer in some places than others. It's definately a change and not too bad as I said, but do you reccomend that I try to cut the uneven hair or shave him or should I just leave it? I don't want to make him look any worse than he already is!

    1. Hi,
      I am sorry it did not turn out the way you thought that it would. This is just my personal opinion, but I would not shave him. You could try again to even out the uneven areas by combing up the hair and just cutting the long areas and try to match everything up. It will grow back in time. If you shave him, it will take a long time to grow back. AND you really may not like the look when he is shaved. I hope this helps a little. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  10. Hi Lisa,
    So happy to have found your site. We just rescued a 3-pound dog, supposedly 1/2 chihuahua and 1/2 poodle, who the vet says is about 4-months (the rescue place told us she was a year). My mom and grandma have always had poodles and used clippers to shave them. This little girl is so petite and seems to be getting hair more poodly than chihuahua-like. There is definitely some white soft undercoat on her hips under a courser poodle-like cover. Her face is short-haired chihuahua, though a tuft seems to be growing on her nose. Nothing on her belly...yet. I'm not concerned with her look....she doesn't care, so I don't care...but want to keep her hair short to make it easy to keep her clean, feeling good and flea-free. I would love ANY advice as to what scissors to get...what clippers to get, if I need them...
    Thanks for your blog!!!!

    1. Hi Cindy,
      This is a hard one. She is still very young. Her coat may grow very long like a Poodle, or it may eventually stop growing to the length of a long haired Chihuahua.
      If she were mine, I would wait a little longer to see what her coat does, and see if I like the length that it grows to. If it keep getting longer than you want it to be, and you want to clip her yourself, a Andis UltraEdge is the clipper that I use. It is pricey, and you have to buy the blades separately, but it will last you a long time. I would start with a #4F blade. Google the name of the clipper and you will find different suppliers that carries them. That way you can price shop.
      If you find that her hair doesn't grow that long and you would just like to scissor up her rear and feathering, those same suppliers will have a number of scissors to pick from. Any 7 1/2" or 8 1/2" straight shear would work for you.
      Congratulations on your new fur baby!

  11. Thank you for your time to give some very helpful advice! It's amazing to find willing help from you on the internet. I'm quite curious myself what this hair is going to do. The fleas are really bad here...lots of dog owners and all the lawns have them on our block, so I'm tempted already to scissor off all I can off the top...think I'll start with the shears you mentioned, and as much as the poodly part is growing each day, my guess is I'm going to need the clipper too in the near future, but will wait is out a bit, as you suggested.
    Thanks again and best to you and your pups!

    1. You are welcome Cindy.
      I highly recommend Comfortis as a flea preventative.
      It is a monthly pill. Here is a link to the website that I buy mine from.


      I like them because you can buy it one pill at a time or by the pack. You do need a subscription from your Vet.
      I am glad that I could be of help. :)
      Lisa, MFF

    2. Hi

      I have a 25ib AussieDoodle. He is very shaggy with 5-6 inch hair. I want to trim him to approx 3 inches so I assume using scissors is my only option?


    3. Hi,
      If I were grooming him, and you asked me to leave 3 inches, yes, scissors would be my first choice. There are long clip combs, but it really depends on the type of coat as to how long they would leave the hair. If it is a thin, silky type coat the clip combs will leave a longer cut, but if the hair is very thick and plush, the clip comb would most likely take the hair shorter. Also, scissor or clip comb only clean, mat free hair. I hope this helps you. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  12. Have you tried free-handing with a 10 blade? I think this is an old technique (I didn't go to school for grooming, but learned in a shop environment) and they never taught me about HVing mats and the other goodies that you mentioned (but I never didn't do it, just made sure the boss groomer didn't know :p) Our scissors were always dull in the shop (yeah they provided the tools) so I took to using a 10 blade free handing it until i got the look I wanted. It did take practice though, and I can say that I left a hole or two that needed to be blended :) but now I find this much easier. I'm going to practice scissoring, though, if it will be faster.

    1. Hi Tong,
      I think that you are talking about what I call 'skimming' and yes I do it all of the time. There are sometimes I feel that it is safer, in some areas of the dog, than scissoring. If we are talking about the same thing, it does take practice and a very steady hand. Of course a good dog helps too. :)
      I did a video on grooming without scissors. Here is the link:
      Lisa, MFF

  13. I am 14 and I just used these tips to cut my long haired chihuahuas coat. It looks great until I got to the chest. Its soo choppy. I couldnt even it out or anything. Im also scared that her fur is going to grow back funny. I wanted to shave her but the groomers here said it wasnt a good idea plus it would cost around $50. I decided to look up how to do it myself and through all the re-search I finally came across your blog. It really did help. I just want her fur shorter but she doesnt have thick plushy fur so I was afraid that it would look funny or start to get un-even. Anyways, if you have any tips on what I can do to trim her fur even shorter without making it choppy or too short, that would be great.

    1. Hi Sara,
      So for the late reply....I was on Vacation.

      The chest is a very hard area to get a smooth cut on. You lift the head up to scissor and when the dog puts its head back down the chest can look choppy.
      Try holding the head even with the body, comb the hair up and let it fall naturally, then scissor any hairs that are sticking out to try to even up the chest. The shorter you scissor the coat, the more chance there is that the coat may not grow back right.


  14. Hi Lisa!
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us!! I recently became the proud mama of a long-haired chi who is still much too young to cut but I am doing the research now to learn as much as I can before she gets there! My question after seeing her actual parents is the ears, her mom is a slick but long coated beautiful black but her ears are stringy and, in my opinion, really take away from her beautiful look. I currently give my Lulu Belle a bath and trim her nails and feet (with grooming shears) and was hoping you could give me some tips for her ears if that ends up being the only thing I need to trim. I have seen other youtube videos where 'groomers' (I use the term loosely) shave the inside of the ears and the entire neck and face. Doesn't the dog need those little whiskers to determine depth and sensory? I also can't imagine any dog wanting a loud buzzing that close to their ear drums?!? Any tips for getting her used to the trimming and grooming??? Lol. My Lu is only almost 5 months now and weighs 2.9llbs and I take her everywhere and just ADORE her!!! I am new to Chi's and little dogs and just want her to show her most beautiful little self as I'm still learning!!

    Thanks again for this blog!!

  15. awesome job, I have a boy that looks just like she does, do you want to groom my dog

  16. Hi Lisa,
    I have a longed hair chihuahua & was researching how to request her hair be cut. She has an apt today to go to the groomer, this will be her first visit. She is a year old now, & is shedding her winter coat, I'm assuming. She has long fly away hair on her back & on the back of her back legs & butt area. I brush her about twice a week, she doesn't get matted & her coat is beautiful. I do want to hopefully help with the shedding right now & trim mainly the fly away hair around her butt area & down the back of her legs. I love the hair around her beautiful little face. What is a normal grooming for a long haired chihuahua?
    ~Nita~ ��

  17. Thank you! Now I know that my little Georgia's two inch mohawk on her back is not so strange and unusual. I will try this for her summer trim. She is my darling, a beige & strawberry blond mix. We met at the pound a little over a year ago. Someone had bred her, sold her pups and dumped her there. She still had four baby teeth and showed signs of nursing (plump boobys). She is definatly a very young momma dog and insists on licking everyone. I won't let anyone but my vet do offending things to her. I have another sweet alpha girl and elderly gentleman, both smooth coat. This is great advice. Thanks.

  18. So happy I came upon this blog. I have a 5 year short hair chi and in November adopted a long hair. She just turned a year old. A former people hair stylist, I have been trimming her pants when needed by myself and so far so good. But her ears have gotten straggly/stringy. I was very nervous as she is sable and her ears are just so pretty...brown with black tips. I only trimmed a little thanks to your advise and they didn't come out too bad just a little blunt instead of feathery. Any tips on trimming but keeping it feathery at the same time? Thanks in advance - Nancy aka ComfyK9