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Poodle Grooming Tips

All 4 Dogs photo

We are not professional groomers by any means,

but my 15-year-old daughter & i groom our own dogs.

So, here are some basics that work for us.

Extra special tip: When in doubt, leave it to a professional. :)

Poodle Cuts 

Grooming Supplies

Clipping Supplies


We have tried many inexpensive clippers that did not last long enough to make them worth the while. Many of the commonly found super store brands are light to medium duty that does not hold up to the heavy duty thick hair coat of a standard poodle for long. The motors burn out. Therefore, we have found that purchasing a heavy duty clipper is worth the money. 

We have found that Andis UltraEdge blades work the best for a clean shave. We typically keep our poodles pretty short because they run around with us on 40 acres regularly, unless, of course, we have frigid winter weather. We typically use a size #10 for the face, base of tail, belly, and at times the feet.

Top knot & Pom tail 

Curved shears [with a rounded tip] do a lot of the work for you in shaping a nice rounded top knot andpom tail. Note: Different lines of poodle have different hair consistency. For instance, those with Bijou lines tend to have softer, silkier hair that does not stand up and hold its shape as well as those with more course hair. Also, aside from the Bijou and Bijou-type lines, most lighter colors become more and more course with age.

A Grooming comb for dogs is very helpful in pulling the hair up straight to get an even body cut. There are lots of YouTube videos that show great technique. This takes a lot of practice to get the desired look.


Dogs with ears that don't get air flow because the ears are folded over, like Labradors, or have non-shedding hair, like Poodles, need regular ear maintenance to keep them healthy. For regular ear maintenance we use Top Performance ProEar ear wipes to loosen and remove any clogging debris & ear powder on the outer ear only (powder can clog the inner ear). Then we pull out any hair with our fingers (the powder helps to grip); for any stubborn hairs that are out of reach we carefully use a dog tweezer or small hemostat (be sure you do not pinch the folds of the ear). Hair that is left unpulled can clog the inner ear and cause bacteria to settle.  

After thoroughly cleaning and tweezing we use Virbac Epi-Otic ear cleanser, which is a non-irritating drying formula. This is the best process with the best products we have found to keep their ears in great shape even between groomings.

For those who are not used to a regular ear maintenance schedule, these 3 steps may seem daunting. However, after a couple of cleanings you will find that it is a quick and easy process. As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

A mini hair puller (hemostat-type style) is great for pulling the hair without having to worry about a tweezer twisting and losing the desired amount of control.

Desensitize nails

Dogs need their nails trimmed more often than that to prevent injuries and other problems associated with overgrown nails. You may find some Poodles are prone to brittle nails. Nails that chip and break off if left too long.You should start with Desensitizing those feet... This is easier to do when the dog is asleep. Start by resting your hand on the paw. If they wake up, simply remove your hand and act as if you didn't notice- don't even look at the dog. After a few nap interruptions (again, depending on the dog), you should be able to rest your hand on those paws indefinitely. Some dogs this takes from 1 time to a few weeks depending on the level of anxiety associated with getting their feet handled.Once they sleep though this, start lightly moving their toes apart, touching the toe nails, lightly tapping against the ends of the nails, expressing the nails forward from the nail bed, etc. Move in slow stages, and it'll go faster in the long run.

Dogs have nerve endings and blood vessels inside their nails called a quick or "Kwik" as is often called. If you clip too much off, you will make the dog bleed, and make the next trimming session harder! If you do nick the quick, you can apply a product like Kwik Stop (a styptic power), or even jam the nail into a bar of Ivory Soap which will plug it up and stop the bleeding.When you do toenails, take the time to check out the dogs feet. Check the pads for cracks or cuts. Check the webbing for burrs, foxtails or thorns.    

Kwik Stop Powder is so helpful in immediately stopping any blood flow from a nail that is clipped too short. No matter how careful you are, clipping the nail too short can happen. The longer you leave the nail the longer the Kwik can become. A good way to prevent cutting theKwik is to follow the diagram above and cut small slivers of the nail at a time until you reach the desired length.

For those who have asked what shampoo we use, we have found that Johnson's & Johnson's baby shampoo plus conditioner works great. We have also used Pantene color enhancing shampoos for our adult poodles.

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