Poodle Grooming Basics from Shyre Poodles

First grooming note

ALWAYS groom on a table. You may find your puppy and adult fights you incessantly on the floor but behaves like an angel on the table. Take my word for it and dedicate a space or purchase a grooming table. This is what I have, but there are cheaper and smaller ones that work just as well.

Grooming Tools

It is best to brush your poodle at least 1-2 times a week, focusing with you comb/favorite brush on areas of long hair to prevent matting. Make sure to part the hair to the skin so you get to the base of the coat, otherwise you may get matting at the base. Your groomer will love you or you will thank yourself

  • Slicker brush- used to brush out hair and matts over the entire body, good brush for a quick brush out, I also use when blow drying

    • CC Slicker (I LOVE THIS BRUSH expensive but WELL worth it!)

  • Pin brush- used by me when blow drying the poodle’s coat and line brushing

    • Suggested item: CC pin brush

  • Comb- used to remove mats and pick out dense areas (I send my homes a comb in their puppy packet), I use this as my final brush out when blow drying

  • Matt rake- used to help get out very difficult and thick mats

  • Blow dryer- high powered so your poodle doesn’t get cold!

    • K9III dryer- expensive but awesome!

    • A more affordable alternative may be Flying Pig dryer, I have heard good things but not tried it personally!

  • Andis pro clippers- I have gone through MANY clippers with my dogs, and usually they die after one use or a few uses. Andis pro clippers aren’t cheap but will last a longer time. We have gotten ours from amazon.

  • Extra 10 blade clippers (Andis brand)- your clipper blades will get dull over time and you will need to trade them out. At some point you can mail them to someone who specializes in re-sharpening them (around 3$ a blade or so). I recommend the CERAMIC kind because they last longer before they get dull.

  • Wahl Bravura clippers- good for show trims

    • Wahl bravura- expensive but great for face feet and tail trims. You can also use it for body work

  • Clipper oil- this keeps the blades from getting too hot against your poodle’s skin

  • Clipper blade cleaner- use to clean your blades after each groom, will help them last much longer!

  • Guide combs: Andis compatible guide combs are used to make sure you clip your dog to the desired length.

  • Grooming Shears: these are for even cuts with scissors, perhaps for the more advanced aspiring groomers! I use Fromm and heritage grooming shears. Miracle coat grooming shears are a budget alternative (on amazon)

    • Suggested item: Heritage shears- these are my "pet trim" shears and have last a long time

  • Geib crocodile shears - my show trim sheats, do not use on a dirty coat or on mats, it will dull them

  • Dremel- good for keeping nails short, video here on how to dremel (

Grooming your poodle

First: Bathe and blow dry your poodle!

The very best way to groom your poodle is after a bath and blow dry- this makes your clipper blades last longer. You can do dry clipping as well but your blades will dull faster due to the dirt in the coat.

While blow-drying use a pin brush or slicker brush to get it free of mats and it to ensure it is even. If the coat is free of mats you can also use a comb.

The clip:

The puppy clip requires the face, feet, and tail be shaved. This is abbreviated FFT frequently! For the FFT we use a 10 blade on normal pet clips, but you can use 20, 30 or 40 blades for closer clips (this can cause clipper burn- which looks like your dog has many abrasions on his face).


I shave from the base of the ear to the snout of the dog. I then work along the face to clip to the nose- from under the eye, between the eyes (not above the eyes), and from the Adams apple region of the neck to the base of his mouth. Under the chin I form a semi-circle from the Adams apple to the ears.


People tend to over clip this area. To determine where to stop clipping place your dog’s tail to their back leg and then clip only to the place where the tail touches the “point of rump” of the poodle (see above diagram).

Then groom the tail in to a puff so to speak with rounded edges.


This is difficult to do! You clip from the top of the toes to the nails, and then use your thumb to spread the toes and clip between. This can be done underneath as well. I clip about to where the foot bends when it hits the ground.

Topknot (the distinctive part of poodle hair clips):

This is best done right after being blow-dried!!

Scissor the topknot to look like a circle on the dog’s head. When you look at the dog from all directions it should be rounded.

To begin the topknot locate the top of your dog’s ear. Slide your shears on top of this area and clip the hair at about a 45 degree angle the top of the ear. This will begin your topknot. Then continue this line around your dog’s head. Then round up from the line. After you have created the top knot blend the hair below the line to match with the coat length.


Should be kept level at the bottom and long. Occasionally people shave the ears (caution it takes a long time to grow back!) when they get matted.

Whole body:

If your dog has a thinner coat you will be able to use guide combs to clip your dog’s body hair to a desired length. Myself, I usually shave them completely down every four months or so when I am not intending to show. My favorite clipper blade without guide combs is the # 4FC blade from Andis.

For fancier clips you can leave the hair long on their legs. I also look at pictures online. The more you groom and experiment the more you will learn what you like.

Puppy clip:

I use the guide combs or my 4FC blade to trim along the back of the back legs to give a curved look and leave/trim the front of the back legs only. I shave the body with my 4FC blade to the point of the tuckup (on the back leg) and to the elbow on the front (shave on underside as desired). On the front legs trim the front of the leg hair a bit more than the back.


I like to leave puffs at the bottom of my dog’s legs, and so do many others! But where do you stop cutting?

When trimming the leg stop just above (two finger lengths) “the point of hock (above diagram)” of the back leg! Then in the front leg try to make the front puffs as level to the back ones as possible.