How to Clip a Curly Haired Dog

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Clipping a dog with curly hair can be very challenging! The curly hair tends to get caught up in clippers, and detangling the dog's fur can be a very trying experience indeed! But with a bit of know-how, virtually any dog owner can clip a dog with curly hair. You just need to know where to begin and how to proceed, which is what this article will teach you how to do.

Things You'll Need

  • Grooming scissors
  • Dog grooming brushes
  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog conditioner
  • Bathtub or sink
  • Second person
  • Detangler spray
  • Clippers (with an array of clipper head attachments that will determine how short you're clipping the dog's fur)

Grooming a Curly-Haired Dog

Begin by assessing the dog's fur. A curly long-haired dog will be more prone to developing matting and tangles, whereas a curly short-haired dog will be less prone to tangling and matting. Run your hands through the dog's fur to identify locations where matting or tangling is a problem.

Apply detangling spray to the dog's fur in areas where tangles are present, and begin gently teasing the tangles apart with your fingers, brushing gently as you go. If the tangles are left in place, this will catch the clippers, making the clipping process difficult and painful for the dog. Severe matting or tangles can be cut out; this is often the easier and less-painful method for both dog and groomer. Curly-haired dogs can usually hide short spots very well. With tangles and knots that are located near the end of the hair shaft, consider cutting these out--particularly if the knot is located on the section of hair that will be clipped away.

Once the major areas of matting and tangling are tended to, brush the dog's entire coat. Tend to any additional problem areas as you encounter them. Curly-haired dogs tend to require a fair bit of brushing to remove dead fur, as the curls often hold the dead hairs in place, rather than allowing the dog to shed those hair strands. It's important to brush the curly-coated dog very thoroughly, as this excess of dead fur can clog up the clipper head.

Once the dog is brushed out, bathe the dog. Begin by shampooing the dog with a detangling moisturizing dog shampoo. Then finish with a moisturizing, detangling dog conditioner. Conditioning is an important step as it will make removing any tangles much easier, particularly if the dog has longer fur. This bathing process will remove additional dead fur, making the clipping process much easier.

Towel the dog after the bath, and allow him to air dry. Air drying prevents the fur from losing moisture. This makes the fur less likely to tangle. As the dog is drying, spend this time to clip the dog's nails, clean ears and express anal glands. As the dog's hair dries, you can also brush his fur and to trim any areas that require hand trimming, like the face, between the paws and inside the ears. Remember, when a dog's fur is wet, this stretches the fur slightly. So leave the fur about 1/6 of an inch longer than you would when trimming dry fur.

Once the dog's fur has dried, the dog's curly fur should be smooth, tangle free and manageable. This is very important for a curly-haired dog; if you tried to clip the dog's fur before brushing and bathing, it would be painful for the dog and the fur would clog the clipper head. For longer-haired dogs, use scissors to clip off much of the length. Leave the fur about 2 inches longer than you want once clipping is complete.

Begin the trimming process with the dog clippers. Start with the largest clipper head attachment and start clipping the dog. Work in sections. The torso will be divided into five sections: each flank is divided into front leg area and rear leg area. The fifth section is the stomach. Start with the right rear leg and work toward the spine. Next, clip the left rear leg and work toward the spine. Then, the left front leg moving toward the spine, followed by the right front leg moving toward the spine. Follow by clipping the stomach. This will often require a second person to stand the dog on his rear legs so you can clip the dog's underside. Once the torso is complete, trim the head, neck, chest and tail.

Once the first round of clipping is complete, replace the clipper head with smaller attachment. Do not go down by more than 2 sizes. Curly-haired dogs tend to have longer fur, and this can clog the clipper head. The length of the dog's fur can also be deceptive. It often appears longer than it really is, and an inexperienced dog groomer can accidentally go overboard very easily with a curly-haired dog. So clipping in several rounds, using progressively smaller clipper heads, will prevent clogging and over clipping.

Once the second round of clipping is complete, use progressively smaller clipper heads to clip the dog's fur to the desired length.

Once clipping is complete, brush the dog thoroughly to remove clipped fur. Curly-haired dogs tend to require a bit more post-clipping brushing since the curls can hold the clipped fur.

After bathing and brushing, the dog's curls will typically take on a more wavy appearance. To return the dog's coat to a more curly appearance, use a spray bottle to mist the dog's fur and use your fingers to "scrunch" the fur. This will return the curls to the dog's coat, eliminating the wavy appearance.

Tips & Warnings

  • A curly-haired dog will take much longer to groom. For this reason, a second person may be required to assist if time is an issue.
  • Use extreme caution when removing tangles and matting. This can be painful, causing a dog to snap or bite. For some dogs, muzzling is required.

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