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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Neat Round Feet

Last week I had someone ask me how I got the feet on my dogs so neat and round.

This is one of the things that I used to obsess about when I first started grooming.
I hate pointy looking feet.
I like the feet to look nice and round on every dog, even clipdowns.
I don't like the toes to show.

Of course it is not always possible to do this, especially if you have a matted dog with a lot of mats between the toes.
Those feet tend to look like a modified poodle foot when you are done.

Anyway, this is how I get most of my feet neat and round.

No matter what blade I am using on the body, I don't use full pressure on the top of the foot when clipping.

As I clip down the leg, I let up on my pressure just above the ankle joint and skim off of the top of the foot.

How much pressure I use, and how much hair I leave on the top of the foot depends on the thickness of the hair on the feet, and of course, the length of the over all clip.

I want to leave enough hair on the foot to be able to sculpt a round foot even if the dogs foot is naturally pointy.

I start out shaping the foot by clipping the pads out with a #30 blade.

I try to make sure only to clip the area right around the edges of the pads.

Next, I comb all of the hair straight down, so that the long hair hangs over the pads and toenails.

I comb several times to make sure that I get all of those long stray hairs that seem to try to cling to the toes so that when you think you are done, or you are about to hand the dog over to the owner, you look down, and low and behold there is one lone piece of long hair sticking out from between a couple of toes.


That just drives me crazy.

Now I scissor off all of the long hair around the outside of the foot, being careful to shape the foot round.

At the same time I am also angling the scissors to make a bevel.

Be careful not to cut off too much when you are scissoring the sides and front of the underside of the foot.

The bottom of the foot will look something likes this after you scissor the bottoms of the feet.

Note the top of the foot is still pretty furry.

 Next, I work on the front of the foot.

I comb the hair down again, towards the sides and the toes.

Then I round up the foot from the front.

Right now I am only concentrating on scissoring and shaping the outside edges of the foot.

Lastly, I take my brush and brush up all of the hair around and on top of the foot.

Then I give the foot a tiny shake so that the hair will fall naturally.

Time for the sculpting and shaping of the top of the foot.

I don't know how else  to describe what I am doing, except to say that it is like scissoring a tiny topknot.

I want the foot to have a round appearance on top of the foot as well as around the front of the foot.

Now is the true test, to see if the foot will look round once the dog puts it down.

Every once and awhile you will have a foot that looks really nice while you are holding it up, but as soon as it touches the table and the toes spread, there goes your nice round foot.

Luckily, on this guy, his foot stayed round after he sat it on the ground.

I like to scissor the feet first and then scissor the legs to match and blend into the feet.

 Sometimes I need to go back and shape up the feet a little more once the foot is resting on the table.

I leave the foot down on the table, because sometimes what you see that needs to be scissored, will disappear when you pick the foot up again.

I am sure that reading this makes it sound like it takes me forever to scissor a foot, but it doesn't.

The way that I scissor my feet is such a routine for me, that it doesn't take me much time at all to go through all of these steps.

On some dogs I will use my clippers and skim to do a lot of the work.

This is the way that I get nice, neat round feet.

This is what works for me.

Another groomer may scissor a different way.

As you can see by this picture, this guy has been licking his feet so much that he did not have a lot of hair left on his front toes, so I was not able to get the front feet as round as I would like them.

If only every dog had perfectly round, tight feet.

It would make scissoring them so much easier. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Hi! I enjoy all of the pictures and seeing what kind of dogs you have walking through the door! I'm not a groomer, but I own a dog and have been trying to get some advice so I can take on my own dog.

    I have an Airedale and I have read back to your experiences with matted Airedales. I'm able to keep up with him and I know that you don't really do any hand stripping, but do you have any advice for me? I am just not 100% on how to shape him to look like a (somewhat) proper Airedale. He tolerates it pretty well, but how would you go about doing it?

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  2. thats exactly how i trim them in too. i've never seen or heard this technique described in any groomer training or instruction manuals before. you've detailed it to a T.

  3. the clipper that you are using what kind of guard combs you using on it

  4. You read my mind!! I have wondered how you get those round beveled foots!!! In tha dog it doesnt show the beveled so much but i have loved it!!! Of course i only have a straight haired dog to practice (no help at all) :(

  5. Great Pictures, and really nice feet! Also, you have been tagged!

  6. Hi Everybody!
    Wow, let's see if I can answer everyone. :)

    Anonymous 1:
    I love Airedales. Unfortunately I don't see too many. So many Airedale owners like to keep them shaggy, and don't get them groomed often. I personally like the Airedale style cut. I think that they look so handsome.
    I had a Terrier mix for 19 1/2 years. I handstriped her coat for 16 years. When she turned 16 I felt that the handstriping was too much for her.
    First you need to decide if you would like to keep your dog handstriped. If you do, I would go on-line and look for some handstriping videos by professional groomers. Handstriping a large breed is a big commitment. You may have to work on the coat at least every two weeks to keep up with it. It depends on the coat that your dog has.
    You can achieve the same Airedale style with clippers, but clipping the coat will change it. Personally I think they look nice clipped also.
    If you decide to clip your Airedale, find a good groomer who will set the pattern for you and answer some of your questions. Then maybe once the pattern is set, you can keep up with it. I hope this helps you a little. Thanks for reading my blog.

    Hi Trudy!

    Hi Anonymous2,
    The clipper that I use is the WAHL Arco clipper with the 5 in 1 blade. The clip combs are the 5 in 1 Stainless Steel Attachment Combs. I love them. I use them with the #30 setting. I will say that the blade that I use with the clip combs is ONLY used with my clip combs. I have another 5 in 1 blade for everything else.

    Hi Jessica,
    I will have to take some pictures of a straight haired foot for you. :)

    Hi D,

    Lisa, MFF

  7. Thanks for answering my question! I think hand stripping is a lot of work and I'm impressed by anyone that does it for a profession. I live in Europe and we have a brilliant groomer that does our hand stripping. She loves our guy and she says he does well. She said to bring him in every 3 months to keep up with it, or if I'd like to save some money learn to do it myself and have her clean it up a couple of times a year.

    It's somewhere around €140 each time, so we're going to try it ourselves a bit. Having a bit of trouble with the legs, so I'll take a look online for a video to order and try again. If you have any recommendations, just let me know! Thanks!

  8. Very nice description of how to do that, I've been doing 'topknot' feet for a long time, I never knew how to word it though..

    I've been using a #30 for the feet since I started reading your blog, WOW what a difference! I'd only used a 10 or 15 before, I thought any smaller would leave it red, but it looks really nice <3

  9. Hi Kat!
    Sorry to take so long to respond to your comment. It was a crazy week last week. I am glad something that I wrote was a help to you. Please keep reading. :)

  10. That would be great and if u find time some videos would be good too