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, August 8, 2012

What Would You Do? Clip or Scissor

I have been grooming this little guy since he was 6 weeks old.

He is about 8 years old now.

He once had a beautiful coat, and was kept in a Lamb clip with very full legs.

About 3 years ago he was hit with a skin condition that seems to effect a lot of Shih-Tzus.

At one point his skin problem was so bad, just brushing him would cause the skin to bleed.

The Vet had tried everything to help the dog, and finally gave up and recommended a Canine Dermatologist.

 Unfortunately, our local Canine Dermatologist costs close to $400 just to walk in the door for a consultation, without any tests.
His owner had been recently laid off and could not afford this doctor.

Recently his skin has been getting better.
The skin no longer bleeds and scabs up, but is still a little gooey and smelly.

Because the skin is always moist, the hair tends to appear greasy and clumpy close to the skin.
It is very hard to get the hair completely fluffed up.

 His owner has me clip him short now, so that she can keep an eye on his skin.

I have been clipping him with a #4F blade, but I am always frustrated with how choppy the coat looks after I clip it.
The blade would hit clumpy, moist areas and leave big chop marks in the hair that are almost impossible to even out with scissors.
I had thought about talking to the owner about taking him shorter in hope of making the cut smoother, but his hair was already so thin in some areas I really didn't want to take him shorter.
He had already lost so much of his beautiful coat.

I don't know why I suddenly thought of it one day, or why I didn't think of it sooner.

What the heck am I talking about?


Scissoring the coat instead of clipping it.

Maybe I didn't think of it because, I was clipping the dog with a #4F blade, and scissoring a dogs coat to a #4 length seems counter productive when you can achieve that length with a blade.

Did that made any sense? lol

So one day, after I had clipped one side of the body, and spent 10 minutes trying to even the coat out without much success, the light bulb finally went off.
I wondered how he would look if I just scissored the other side to the #4 length.

It looked so much better!

So, I scissor him all over now, to a #4F length.

His coat is still thin and sparse in places, so the coat still tends to look a little choppy.

But, it is so much better looking than what the blade was doing.

It may not be exactly a #4 length, but I think I get it pretty close.

Here is one side of him finished.

Here is the other side.

As I said before, this is the best his coat has looked in a long time.

Unfortunately, his skin could get worse again.

 As groomers we must always be on the look out for alternative ways of grooming to make the dogs comfortable and the cuts look the best we can. 

You don't always have to go by the book.

We must sometimes think out of the box.

Sometimes we just need to think! :)

I guess that I didn't think of scissoring before, because of the length I was doing.
I don't know why.. I have several other dogs that can't stand to have clippers taken down their legs, and I scissor their legs.
One to a #5 blade length and another to a #7 blade length.
It is so much easier than fighting to clip the legs with the clipper.

So, what would you do?

Would you have thought of scissors sooner than I did? :/

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. have you talked to his owners about diet at all? We have a few shih-tzus that have skin like this, it is often times caused by a grain allergy. Try to recommend a grain free food such as taste of the wild, or Orijin, or horizon. Give him time to detox, it may get worse before it gets better. He looks beautiful though. Scissoring is the answer! :)

    1. Hi,
      Yes! That was the very first thing that I talked to them about when I first noticed the problem with his skin. I am now sure what she is feeding him right now. I'll have to ask the next time she comes in to see if she is keeping him grain free. Other than going to the Dermatologist this owner has tried everything.
      Lisa, MFF

    2. hi yes he does look great! i too run across my shitzu clients with the same skin problem. i too clip the body short then scissor the legs. food is such a problem for all our lovely pets these days, i switch up the food every few months and stay away from chicken. and if they can feed raw or cook their own food this would be much better, buffalo, kangaroo and they might want to try some organic probiotic yogurt every day since he is very yeasty. keep up the good work. cheers
      tina's pet grooming

  2. I hope I can scissor half as good as you one day:)

    He looks great, I bet his owner was excited.

    1. Hi,
      Thank you very much for the compliment. Practice makes prefect. Scissor as much as you can and you will get better and better with time. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  3. Epi-Pet!!! This stuff is amazing! The skin spray and shampoo has cured so many of my clients and really fixed their skin issues. Also suggest Back 2 Basics or something chicken, grain, and potatoe free..

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for the information. I will check this shampoo out.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. I've had to start doing a lot of scissoring lately, and I'm grateful I have your blog to learn from :) In the last place I worked at we only used clippers, so I'm a bit slow, it normally takes me 2 hours to get a dog done. Hopefully I get faster!

    1. Hi Zhitong,
      Give it some time. The more you scissor, the more you build your confidence, the faster you will get. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  5. First off, if the vet is too expensive, you need to find out what the skin condition is and treat it. The internet might provide answers and then take it from there.