How to Groom a Poodle

Kelly Roper
Apricot Poodle in pet trim

Learning how to groom a Poodle takes some practice. However, you really should have a basic understanding of what it takes to keep these dogs in good condition if you're going to live with one.

About Poodle Hair

Poodles have a thick, wavy coat that grows constantly. When the coat sheds, the loose hairs remain trapped in the coat to form mats. If you don't groom your dog, he'll soon wind up a walking hairball. So, it's important to either learn to groom your pet yourself or hire a groomer and stick with a regular schedule.

How to Groom a Poodle in a Pet Trim

A Poodle's coat must be brushed frequently to keep it free from tangles. A periodic trimming will make brushing easier, so check out the directions below to learn what's involved.

Preparation

Supplies needed:

  • A good set of clippers
  • A 10 blade and either a 5 or 7F blade
  • A can of Cool Lube to periodically clean and cool the clipper blades as you work (Directions on can)
  • Trimming shears/scissors
  • Pin brush and comb

First, give the dog a rough cut with scissors to remove the bulk of any overgrown hair. This will make it easier to bathe and blow dry the rest of the coat prior to trimming.

Head and Muzzle

With the dog facing you, lightly grip the muzzle to steady the head. Gripping too tightly will make the dog uncomfortable while gripping too lightly won't provide enough control. Using a 10 blade, you'll first cut the hair with the grain which runs from the nose towards the eyes. Clip the entire top half of the muzzle in this fashion. Follow up with light strokes from the corner of eyes to the start of each ear fold.

Once a line is established from the eye to the ear, imagine a V starting at the Adam's apple and ending at the front of each ear fold. With the clipper blade held facing upward, start at the adams apple and trim the hair to the ear fold. Remember your V pattern, and repeat on the other side. Next, use the clippers to trim all the hair on that portion of the neck and underneath the muzzle so it all matches. Be careful not to nick your dog's tongue if he licks, or it will bleed. Between the eyes, trim out a small, inverted V from the head fall to give the eyes prominence and accent the stop (where the muzzle and head meet).

Topknot

The topknot is brushed and scissored into either a round cap or an oblong cap, whichever best fits the dog's facial features. Holding the muzzle, gently comb all the topknot hair from the rear of the dog's head forward. Carefully trim the hair straight across while being extremely careful around the eyes. Next, comb the topknot back from the front of the dog's head toward the back of the skull. Trim the hair across in a straight line just as you did when the hair was pulled forward. Repeat this procedure on both sides of the topknot, and trim the hair flush with the skull above the ears. Now fluff the hair up, and a manageable square shape will appear. Gently round out the shape and shorten the hair to the length you desire.

If you prefer not to have a topknot, you can shave the top of the head with a 10 blade for a clean look.

Ears

The ears can be brushed out and trimmed neatly around the edges or shaved to match the length of the facial hair. The hair inside the ear canals should be plucked to increase air circulation and help prevent infections

Body

For a pet/puppy trim, switch to a 5 or 7F blade and clip the dog from the back of the skull to the rear. Clip down the ribs from the topline to under the dog to cleanly remove the side hair. You must be extremely careful around the dog's nipples so you don't cut them.

Switch back to a 10 blade and clip with the direction of the hair growth to clean the area from the chest to belly. Work very carefully around the genitals and anus.

Tail

Scissoring Poodle legs

Using the 10 blade, clip the hair from the base of the tail to halfway up, and leave the hair long on the rest of the tail. Gather the long hair, twist it tightly into a hair rope, and then use scissors to cut the end of your rope just about one inch above the tip of tail itself. Shake the tail out, and you'll have a rough circle that you can then shape into a "pom" with finishing shears

Legs

Working on one leg at a time, brush the hair upward to fluff it out. Trim it with scissors to create a cylinder that blends into the body hair at the shoulders and hips. Or, use same blade (5 or 7F) that you used on the body and clip the hair from shoulder to foot for a maintenance-free trim.

Feet

The feet can be shaped with the scissors to match the body, or you can opt for the traditional hair-free Poodle foot by using a 10 blade to clip against the grain under and on top of the foot. Spread the toes and carefully "scoop" out hair in between with the clippers. Most dog's feet are ticklish, so take your time. Trim just to the top of the foot where it meets the dog's ankle.


Now you have a basic understanding of how to groom a Poodle. Remember that mistakes will happen, but the hair will grow back. Just keep trying until you perfect your technique. Eventually, you'll be ready to try some of the more complicated Poodle trims.

How to Groom a Poodle