How to Clip Your Dog's Facial Hair

By Krissi Maarx

Home dog grooming can be more convenient and cost-effective than taking your dog to a professional groomer, but clipping a dog’s facial hair is often difficult—especially if it’s your first time or if the dog is jumpy. Use safety precautions and appropriate tools and techniques when clipping dog fur, and opt for professional grooming if you lack confidence in your abilities or the dog’s behaviors. If washing a dog beforehand, dry the fur thoroughly before clipping, because wet fur can jam the clipper blades and shorten their duration of usefulness.

Walk your dog before grooming or clipping its facial hair. A 30- to 45-minute walk can improve the dog’s cooperation with the process, because it reduces anxiety, provides a bathroom break and tires the dog.

Confine the dog in a small room with you so that it cannot run off, or employ the help of another person to hold and gently restrain the dog.

Brush the fur with a slicker brush, going with the grain of hair growth, and then brush the fur away from the dog’s eyes. The slicker brush separates and smooths the hairs, which eases the clipping process.

Fasten a plastic comb attachment to the main clipper blade. The proper size of the attachment depends on your desired length of fur; a longer attachment leaves longer fur.

Turn on the clippers, and place the clipper head flat against the top of the dog’s head with the blade spokes facing the rear of the dog. Pull the clippers toward the dog’s rear to clip fur away from the upper brow.

Clip along the muzzle by beginning at the bridge of the nose and pulling the clippers down toward the dog’s mouth or the floor.

Clip between the eyes by placing the clipper head flat against the forehead with the blade spokes facing the nose, and pulling the clippers toward the noise. Use extreme caution with this step or skip it, because the blade spokes can injure the dog’s eyes if the dog jerks its head.

Wrap your free hand around the dog’s muzzle, gently point it toward the ceiling, and hold it in place.

Place the blade head against the chin with the spokes facing the throat, and run the clippers toward the throat to trim the dog’s “beard.”

Trim leftover hairs with blunt-nosed scissors. Hold the hairs between your fingers and trim above your fingers to reduce the chance of cutting into the dog’s skin.

Hold the ear tip between your fingers so that fur--and no skin--rests above your fingers, and trim this fur above your fingers with the blunt-nosed scissors. Repeat along the edges of the ear and on the other ear.