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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tails, Tails, and More Tails

Before I start this particular blog post I must write a little disclaimer.

I was asked to show the way that I groom tails.
This post is about some of the different ways that I clip or scissor tails.
These tails are on 'Pet grooms', meaning the way some of them are scissored, or clipped would not be considered acceptable in the show ring or competition rings.

As with all of my grooming; I groom for the 'pet' and 'owner request'.
I am not worried about what would be considered correct by another groomer, a  show judge, or a breeder.
I know that this can be a very touchy subject with some groomers who feel that every dog should be groomed to breed and/or show standards.

Sorry.....I groom for the dog and for the owner that is paying me.
If an owner wants the tail left long, or dragging the ground, so be it.
If the owner of a Poodle wants the tail shaved off like a Schaunzer...okay.
If they want that Poodle tail left to grow as long as possible.....okay.
If a Schnauzer owner wants the tail to grow as long as possible, even though the rest of the dog is being clipped in a Schnauzer style.....okay.
After all, it IS their dog not mine.

So, if you are reading this post, looking for the 'correct' ways to clip, trim, or scissor a tail, you better keep searching the web.

Now, on to some tails.....

It took me a few days to get this post together.
I was going to try to take new, recent pictures of tails, (I did get some) but we have been so busy at work that I have not had a chance to take as many pictures as I wanted to.
So, I searched through many, many, many pictures looking for tails that I have groomed in the past.

Let me say first that tails are a lot like ears for me.
I do not trim a tail unless the pet owner has given the okay on it.
I have found that a lot of owners like the tails on their dogs to grow long....very long.
I ask, I make sure that they want their dogs tail trimmed.
Then I find out exactly how much they want off of the tail.
And, where they want the hair off.

~Do they want the tail to just be neatened without taking any length off?
~Do they want just the very end of the tail trimmed, so that the hair does not drag the ground when they hold their tail down, but they still want the rest of the tail long?
~Do they want the tail scissored like a flag, and how much do they want off?
~Do they want the base of the tail trimmed short while keeping the rest of the tail long? (to keep poop from getting caught in the hair)
~Do they want their Poodle to have a traditional Poodle tail?
~Do they want the curl left on the end of their Cockers tail? (have had a few of those)
~Do they want their Westie to have a traditional Westie tail, or a flag tail, or do they just want you to leave it the length it is?
~Do they want most of the tail shaved off with the body blade and just leave a brush on the end? (lions tail)

So many questions for just one little body part. :p

The first pictures I will show examples of what I end up doing to most of my customers dogs that have long tails.

Neatened the Tail:

The tail is one of the last things I groom on a dog.

If the dogs body has been clipped or scissored I will either use my scissors or the blade that I used on the dogs body to skim and blend the base of the tail into the body.

I want it to look as smooth and natural as possible.

You could also use thinners, but I like scissors.

I only take off enough to blend unless the owner wanted more hair off at the base for sanitary reasons.

Next I will hold up the tail and part it down the middle of the top of the tail, letting all of the hair drop down on either side.

This owner only wants this tail neatened without take any length off.

Meaning only scissor the uneven hair to make the tail look neat.


Nice and neat but still long.

I will do the same on all flag tails and then scissor whatever the owner wants off the length....1/2", 1", 2" ect.

The body blade is used all around the base of the tail when the owner wants hair off under the tail, away from the rectum to keep poop from getting caught.

Bushy Tail:

This owner left the length of the tail up to me.

Even when an owner leaves it up to me, I tell them exactly what I plan to do, so that they have an opportunity to say, "no, not that." (and sometimes they do)

I told the owner that I would scissor the tail in proportion with the rest of the cut.

First, I skimmed the base of the tail to help blend it into the body.

Side view.

Top view.

Because this tail has a bushy type of hair, I don't bother to try to part it, but I do brush the hair down on each side.

Then I hold the top of the tail to keep the hair in place while I scissor.

I also like to gently waggle the tail back and forth to help the hair settle naturally before I scissor.

Then I make my first cut to set the length.

Because the hair on the tail is bushy and does not naturally hang straight down, I like to turn the tail towards me, while still holding it, to see if the hair is even on the the other side.

As you can see, the opposite side still needed more scissoring.

After I have the bottom of the tail even, I take my scissors (or thinning shears) and lightly scissor the sides of the tail to give it a softer round shape, and get rid of those bushy, wild stray hairs.

This is what the tail would look like when this Pug/Schnauzer mix lifted his tail over his back.

This is what the tail looks like when he holds it down.

Tight, but not Shaved Tail:

This owner likes the tail short and tight like the body, but does not want the tail shaved.

With this tail, I used the body blade to blend into the body and continue down the top of the tail.

I also use the blade to skim off the sides of the tail a little.

That leaves the bottom of the tail to scissor.
(I personally do not like using a blade on the bottom/underneath the tail)

Again I comb the hair down and hold the top of the tail to scissor.

Then I scissor the bottom of the tail to the length that I want.

I also scissor the sides up to soften and blend.

Turn the dog around, comb the hair down on the sides again and scissor any uneven hair.

Blend and shape the sides.

Lastly,  gently wiggle the tail a little to see if there are any sticky outies.

Trimming the end of the tail:

Sometimes owners only want length off the very end of the tail so that it does not drag the ground, but they want the rest of the tail to stay long.

First, I take hold of the tail and slide my hand down with the tail hair cupped in my hand.

I slide my hand down till only the hair that I want to cut is left showing.

Then I cut off only the hair at the end of the tail.

I like to cut it with just a hint of a curve to it.

Then I let go, shake the tail a little to let the hair settle naturally and neaten up any stray hair.

The rest of the tail hair is still long, but it no longer drags the ground when she holds it down.

You can also use this same technique to scissor a tail that you don't want to drag the ground and want to shorten up at the same time.

Comb out the tail, slide hand down to the tip of the tail and where you want to cut.

(not trying to insult anyone here, but remember to always be aware where the tip if the tail bone ends)

Cut the end of the tail hair.

Next, I part the hair, and brush the sides down to shorten the rest of the tail.

Now the tail is shortened, and also will not drag the ground when held down.

What I call a Tube Tail:

 The owner of this Shepard Mix wanted the tail scissored short and tight but still in proportion with the body.

As with other tails, I part the hair and brush the sides down.


Next I scissor the tail to the length I want it to be.

(I use scissors, but thinners will do the same)

Lastly, I lightly scissor the sides and sharp edges to give a soft round shape to the sides of the tail.

I also round off the very end of the tail.

 Use your comb to lift the hair a little on the sides of the tail to help you see what you want to scissor.

Westie Tail:

I like the carrot shape of the Westie tail.

I am glad when owners like it too and don't want to leave the tail long.

For me, I like to scissor the tail from end to base.

It helps me to better set the shape.

I also do not use a blade on it.

I like to use only scissors to have more control over the shape.

I also like to tease the hair up, gently shake the tail, and then scissor.

This Westie owner likes under the tail base short, short.

I scissor under the base without taking away from the shape of the tail on the top and sides.

Matted Tails:

I have this thing about matted tails.

I hate shaving a tail totally off because of matting.

I can't stand a rats tail.

So, I always try to save something.

 The worst of the matting on this tail was at the base and part of the way down the tail.

I could not get the body blade through, so I used the next blade down and clipped half way down the tail.

Once the worst part of the matting was removed, the rest of the matting was loosened enough to be brushed out easily.

Scissor to shape up.

At least the dog was left with a little bit of tail hair, and not a rats tail.

A Tip for clipping under a Schnauzers Tail:

Many Schnauzers do not like their stub lifted to clip underneath it.

Try putting your arm under the dog, bring your hand around the back of the dog and very slowly lift the tail.

Lifting the tail too fast, or forcefully will cause the dog to lock the tail down to its body.

Lift very slowly and give the dog a chance to relax and understand what you want him/her to do.

Sometimes I will left a little, and if I feel them start to resist, I stop, (still holding the tail) wait to feel them relax the tail muscle, then continue to slowly lift the tail the rest of the way.

Holding the tail up with your arm under their belly helps to keep them from sitting down.
It also helps you to hold their butt still while you clip under the tail.

 When clipping under a Schnauzers tail, I skim with the #10 or #15 blade.

I try not to use any pressure on the sensitive skin under the tail.

I do this even if the owner wants to leave the hair on the Schnauzer tail long.

Poodle Tails:

I am not going to talk about what the 'correct' band width should be on a Poodle tail.
So many 'pet' poodles have had their tails docked to the wrong length.
I decide on the width of the band when I see the tail, and the texture and thickness of the tail hair before I decide what size the band is going to be.

How the Poodle tail is groomed also depends on the owners wishes.

For example, I started out grooming this Poodles tail the 'correct' way.

The owner did not want that.

So, she showed me how far she wanted the tail shaved.

She also wanted the pom pom on the tail to look like a small round ball.

I did exactly what she wanted.

Other poodle owners do not want any pom pom, or shaved band around the base of the tail at all.

This Poodle owner likes the tail the same length as the body.

Those are some of the types of tails that I do.

If I come across any other types of tails, or get different tail requests I will post again with more (de)tails. :)

That was a really bad joke. (shaking head) 
It's late, I need to go to sleep.

I hope this helped. :)


  1. On scissoring the bushy, and flag/neatening, what's the best way to get the dog to stand while you're doing it? (they always want to sit!)

    1. Hi Laura,
      If tickling the belly to make them stand, and very slowly lifting the tail does not work, I go ahead and let them sit. Then I slide the dogs butt over to the edge of the table (just far enough for the whole tail to hang over the edge) Then I gently lift the tail and scissor it.
      I hope that that makes sense to you.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. Thank you so much, very very helpful :-)

  3. You have such a cute little blog, you can tell that you genuinely love what you do. I need to take my little doggy somewhere to be beautified. Thank you for the post.
    Cynthia |t. http://www.nwanimalhospital.com/professional-pet-grooming.html

  4. Very well composed!!! A professional hair salon isn’t complete without a good pair of hair thinning scissors, to blend styles and add your own unique touch to customers hair. Hair thinning scissors differ from regular cutting scissors due to their unique blades which are teethed like a comb and their function is somewhat alike. Keep on sharing!!!

  5. I would say that Japanese scissors, are high end scissors. Use them to trim our Afghan Hounds, and the scissors work like fine surgical instruments. Rather than just getting by with the lesser stuff made you-know-where, these are a world apart. Well worth the investment. Thanks!!!