How To Trim Your Dog’s Face, Feet and Tail

Trimming a dog’s face, feet and tail can sometimes be difficult particularly if the dog is not used to it and does not keep very still.   The younger your dog is when you start doing this grooming, the better.  You may wish to refer to our Dog Grooming Training page to learn how to get your dog accustomed to being groomed.   Some dogs may need just the feet and tail trimmed up with scissors, for example breeds such as the Golden Retriever, Border Collie, etc.  Other breeds, generally the small fluffy dogs will need the face trimmed regularly as well as their feet and tail.  It is important to be careful with the scissors so you don’t cut the dog’s skin so to begin with it might be better doing a little at a time until you get used to it.


Scissoring the feet

For more detail on the actual trimming process please refer to our page on How To Trim Your Dog’s Paws.  Keeping the fur on your dog’s feet and paws trim is very important.  Not only does it keep the dog looking neat and tidy but it also can minimise the dog getting things like grass seeds and burrs and any other bit of environment stuck in between their paws.  It also minimises the dirt that the dog brings inside the house.  The fur in the “V” between the back pad and the toe pads can sometimes get matted if left long, and also particularly if bits of twig, grass seed or anything else gets caught there which could subsequently cause irritation and sores.   Keeping that area free from long fur will mean more comfort for the dog.

Trimming the dog’s feet can be tricky sometimes.  Dogs get very ticklish at the bottom of their paws in between the pads and this may perhaps cause the dog to squirm and wriggle.   If this is the case, you may find it easier to trim your dog’s paws a little at a time.  This means the dog doesn’t get too upset for a long period of time.  If you are clipping the dog off all over then you might find it easier alternating the clipping of the body with a paw at a time.  If your dog is used to having his paws trimmed then you might prefer to clip the body off first and then scissor the feet; or, alternatively you might find it easier to get two paws done after you have just gotten half way with the clippers.  It is a matter of working around what tolerance level your dog has for grooming different parts of the body.  If you haven’t trimmed the paws before and you’re not sure how the dog will go try doing one paw (or even just part of one paw) and then having  a break and going back to the next bit and so on until all four paws have been done.

A part of trimming the feet entails making sure the nails stay trimmed also.  Because there is a fair amount of information about trimming the feet and paws there is a separate page with instructions on how to  clip the dog’s nails and how to trim your dog’s paws.

The equipment you will need for trimming the dog’s paws are a pair of sharp straight-edged scissors and possibly a pair of dog nail clippers, if the nails need trimming.

Only Natural Pet Soothe & Shield Paw Balm
from: Only Natural Pet

We’re pleased to introduce our new petroleum-free all natural paw balm to moisturize and help heal cracked, dry foot pads. We’ve included rich shea and mango butters, plus avocado and coconut oils to moisturize your dog’s hard working feet. Soothing herbs like calendula, rosemary and aloe vera, along with Vitamin E help tender foot pads feel good fast.

Musher’s Secret All Natural Paw Protection Wax
from: Only Natural Pet

Musher’s Secret is an invisible boot for dogs, made of dense, barrier wax that forms a breathable bond with your dog’s paws. Developed in Canada for use with sledding dogs; it provides tenacious protection even in the most extreme conditions.


For dogs who have long furry tails you can either clip the fur off so it is the same length of coat as the body or you can simply brush it and trim the ends with scissors to the length that you would like it to be.  If you do choose to use the dog clippers over the tail it is important to be careful that you don’t cut into the skin, particularly around the tip of the tail area.  Run the clippers gently along the surface of the tail from the base at the body to the tip.  You might want to use a shorter blade (refer to our page on Dog Clipper Blades) for an inch or so where the tail joins the body near the anal area to avoid any faeces sticking to the coat.

If you decide to brush the tail out and trim with scissors then it will be important to get any knots out first.  A slicker brush or rake (refer to our page on Dog Grooming Brushes and Dog Grooming Rakes and Shedding Tools) is the best type of brush to use for this or it may be necessary to use a dematting comb to get the knots out (refer to our page on Dog Grooming Combs), if there are any.  You can tell if the dog has any knotted areas by running a normal comb through the fur.  If the comb gets stuck and you can’t pull it through then you know there is a knot to get out.  The best tool for this is the dematting comb.  Use this comb by starting at the outside of the knotted area and plucking gradually until the matted part is pulled away.  Hold the tail and coat tight between your fingers close to the skin surface in order to minimise pulling on the dog’s skin as you brush out the knotted section.  This dematting can cause discomfort to the dog as you are slicing the knot out and some dogs are not very tolerant.  If the area is too matted then it might be best to just use the clippers and shave the fur in these areas (refer to our page How to Groom a Matted Dog) or cut them out with the scissors.  Either way, take care not to cut the dog.

You may find that there are no real knots but the comb does get a caught a little.  It may be that you just need to brush it out a little with the slicker brush until the comb runs smoothly through the coat.

TrueBlue EasyComb Detangling Spray
from: Only Natural Pet

TrueBlue Pure and EasyComb Detangling Spray with aloe, lavender, jojoba & panthenolis is an all-natural botanical blend that makes brushing a breeze and gives your pet a smooth, shiny coat. Aloe naturally calms and soothes skin while lavender and panthenol leave your pet’s coat strong, smooth & shining. Use after a bath, or on a dry coat between baths.



Giving the face a trim

Scissoring above the eyes

Once again, particular care needs to be taken when trimming the face, especially around the eyes, ears and mouth area.  If you hold the ear up and back you can use the clippers to shave between the ear and the eye on each side.

It is personal preference as to whether you use clippers or scissors to trim the fur over the muzzle area.  Use the clippers in the same direction that the fur falls, unless you are doing a poodle face which has the fur shaved back to the skin all over the face.

If you are scissoring the face you can use straight-edged scissors however this will show all the lines and probably not look very even.  Thinning scissors work better because they don’t leave straight line scissoring cuts, they leave a more natural look and you can’t really tell that they dog’s face has been scissored.

Check out the great range of right and left-handed scissors for trimming the face, feet and tail here, at Groomers-Online!

If you decide to scissor your dog’s face firstly brush the fur around the muzzle so it gets rid of any bits of food or anything that might have stuck around the mouth area.  Be careful when using the thinning scissors to trim the fur which hangs below the muzzle flap of skin up to just below the skin so as not to cut the dog.  You can also use the thinning scissors to trim away the fur in the inner corner of the eye, however you need to be very careful here also to keep the dog still and not cut the skin.  You can use these scissors also to trim the fur right back to the skin across the bridge of the nose.  You might want to thin out the remaining fur on the muzzle.  If you brush the hair from just above the eyes forward over the eye area and then you can use the normal scissors to trim it back so you get a nice straight cut just above the eyes.  It is best to work on one side first and then the other.  You may not find doing around your dog’s face quite so easy  for the first couple of times but  with a little practice it should become easier.

Pet Planet Mikki Ear Face Care SetMikki Ear Face Care Set from Pet Planet UK

is the perfect grooming tool that is suitable for all coats to keep your pet looking neat and tidy! It is ideal for trimming around your pet’s ears, face and even paws and comprises a pair of stainless steel scissors and a special plastic comb.  The scissors have rounded tips for safety and feature precise cutting blades for really great results. The handy plastic comb can be used for combing long hair away from delicate areas before and after cutting, to avoid cutting any skin


Related Pages:

Clipping Your Dog’s Nails

How To Trim Your Dog’s Paws

Dog Grooming Brushes

Dog Grooming Combs

Dog Grooming Scissors

Dog Nail Clippers

 Dog Grooming Rakes and Shedding Tools