Improve Your Clipper Work
There are several notable areas where a little extra attention can go a long way in enhancing a groomer's clipper work.
While most professional groomers can and should be proud of their skills with a clipper, there is always room for improvement. With this in mind, there are several notable areas where attention needs to be paid, as they can have a clear effect on your clipper work.
The Tract Pattern
The tract pattern refers to the direction the hair grows from the skin. Knowing the exact direction the hair grows is so important. If you cross it, you will leave tract marks that are almost impossible to remove. If you know the tract pattern well and follow it—whether with or against the direction the coat lays—you will produce the best clippered finish.
Removing Dead Coat
Before clipping, you always want to remove all dead undercoat, no matter what the breed. Dead coat interrupts the smooth flow of coat through the teeth of a clipper blade. I find one of the best tools to use is one of the many undercoat rakes on the market.
Use a Spray
I find that using a light finishing spray before I comb upward with a long smooth stroke gives a little extra lift, allowing for a great clipper finish.
Trimming with Clippers—Learning new tricks using your clippers and blades not only saves time, but makes your work more consistent. Blades measure the coat by design and leave it exactly the length the customer desires.
Using a Skip Tooth vs. Full Tooth
While they work best on drop coats or flat-laying coats, F blades can be used safely on any coat. I recommend an F blade over a skip tooth to novice groomers because an F blade is much safer with its tooth pattern much closer together. The skip tooth blade is best used by more experienced groomers on fluffy type coats and, in some cases, matted coats.
Comb attachments are your friends. Learning the lengths and trusting your comb attachments can be a lifesaver when you are starting out. These attachments give you a softer finish, like a blending shear. They also do a wonderful job of almost finishing any coat with or against the lay or grain of coat, provided the dead coat is removed. Comb attachments set your coat lengths, and with some of the newer lengths—like the two inch, 1.5 inch and 1.25 inch—you can leave a good amount of coat without spending forever getting it even. Don’t forget the metal comb attachment can only be used over a 10, 15 or a 30 blade.
Christina Pawlosky is a Certified Master Groomer, professional handler, breeder, grooming show judge and successful pet store and grooming shop owner (The Pet Connection) since 1985. For 20 years, she served as national training manager for Oster Professional Products, where she developed new initiative educational material to educate at schools and conventions all over the world. Pawlosky is currently working with Judy Hudson to produce the Grooming Professors (groomingprofessors.com)—a service through which the two industry veterans share their many years of grooming, competing, dog show conditioning and handling with groomers across the country via Facebook and through an interactive website where visitors can access webcasts and videos about everything grooming related.