Neat Feet

There are a couple of tricks to getting feet to look neat no matter how short the dog is taken on the body. I am going to show you how to get the feet tight, round and neat in appearance easily and quickly.

No matter whether you are doing a long scissored trim or a short, 7F blade all over this technique works wonderfully.

Start with the pads, and clipper the hair as short as you can go with a trimmer or a tight blade. I also take the hair that is hanging down between the toe pads off with the same blade to ensure the foot is neat. Then trim your nails and remember, the shorter they are the easier the foot is to trim.


Then you clipper the body and the legs. When using a blade or snap on comb on the legs make sure that the blade or comb goes down the entire length of the leg on all sides, coming completely off the foot. It is important to hold the leg as straight as you can to prevent a "dip" below the knee or at the ankle. The video clips show you how to do that on both front and back legs. If the videos appear to be cropped, double click on them and they will open in the full size window at YouTube.




After you have the leg hair trimmed to the length you want, pick up the foot and comb the hair down, holding it tight in your hand and forcing the hair down past the foot. I then hold curved shears at a slight angle and trim off any hair that is falling outside the line my hand creates. If the hair falls past the toes, the pads or beyond my hand it comes off.


Then, I sit the foot down on the table and comb the hair to one side, then the other, trimming any hair that falls outside the line of my foot. I continue this up into the leg as well to ensure the leg and foot are neat and tidy.

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With the foot still on the table, I then round off the foot again, using a small curved shear at a slight angle. When you are trimming it helps to start in the front and make sure the foot is round not pointed. Starting at the back can lead to a point in the front.


By beveling the foot slightly and raising the hair off the floor you will get a foot that is tight in appearance and will nt drag in as much "trash" from the yard. Once you realize the technique is the same for any length of leg it is easy to get a nice, neat foot. Sometimes, on harsh hair, it may be neccesary to use thinners to blend and soften the hair but it is just not something that I do a lot. 

On a ten shave down, which we do see some of this time of year, I will sometimes take my clipper and skim out the hair in between the toes, not doing poodle feet per say but simply removing the hair that otherwise would stick up and is usually matted. 

I need to add something here. My left hand is fused and does not bend fully. As a result it sometimes looks like I have a leg or foot at a weird angle but usually it is just the realtionship bewteen my hand and the foot that is "off". I assure you no dogs are put into weird positions, only my hand is. 

Terriers in a SNAP!


We all get terrier type dogs that come in the shop that “should” get stripped, but either they have never been stripped, or the owner doesn’t want to pay for stripping, or the groomer doesn’t know HOW to strip or doesn’t have TIME to strip.

There is a technique using snapon combs, that will mimic a handstripped look, keeping the pets looking natural and saving you time and energy.

The candidates for this technique are not always purebreds. However, they can be. Cairns, Westies, Scotties, Border Terriers, and of course, Norwich, Norfolk, and any mix that has a hard coat texture is a perfect candidate for this technique, and if the owner is wanting a more natural look they will appreciate your efforts.


I begin by bathing the pet and making sure I use a texturing shampoo, like EZ Groom’s Structure. On terrier type coat I use a spray on conditioner while drying the coat, rather than a rinse out, and I like Ruff Coat by Show Seasons the best of any I have tried on this type of coat. It is important on this harsh coat that drying be done properly as well. It MUST be dried flat against the body rather than fluffed out from the body.


Once the pup is prepped, you have to decide what length comb is going to work the best on the dog you are working on. That length will be long enough to lay flat, but short enough to look as if there was a hair cut given to the dog. I decide which comb I am going to use by running the comb through the coat without turning the clipper on. That way I can gauge how much hair is coming off and adjust before actually cutting any hair.

I tend to gravitate toward my Laube Speed Feed for this type of coat more often than anything else, but you can use a Wahl Stainless steel snap on or a plastic com by any of the other manufacturers, depending on your preference and your equipment availability.


The biggest thing to remember is to always follow the direction the hair is growing on the dog’s body. Even if you find that the hair is changing direction, you have to adjust your clipper to follow the new line. If you cross the direction of the hair’s natural growth you will get gaps and lines that are hard to erase and it will diminish the natural appearance of the groom.


Under the neck, I switch to a shorter snap on length, and trim the area from under the jawline to the breastbone, shorter, following the lay of the coat, and only trimming the area that is between the cowlicks. You will see the area to be clipped when you tip the head back slightly. Generally it is a U shaped area similar to that on a poodle.


The ears on the puppies featured were plucked slightly on the outside to keep color and only scissored along the edges to make the shape more defined. If the ears are to be tipped, I only trim the inside of the ears short, using a longer blade on the outside or plucking them when possible. This makes the ear appear more natural.

By using thinning shears to shape the legs, underline and head, blending the neckline into the body, you will keep a natural appearance and reduce lines.



These techniques work tremendously well on schnauzers that have a harsh coat are are sensitive to clipping as well. You can virtually eliminate clipper irritation by using snap on combs, as the blade never touches the dog’s skin.

Follow up with a light  hand carding the coat and you will have a halthy coat that appears as if you hand stripped it in a short time and you will have a happy dog and owner. 

My apprenctice Ashley did most of the grooming on this page. Thanks to the owners of the pups for allowing us to use their pets photos.