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There are tons of different tools available for grooming your dog; here you will find the tools that are most useful in getting the job done. A description of the tool and photos as to how it is used, if needed, will help you decide which tools are right for you.

Wire Slicker Brush: This is an all around brush for medium to long coated breeds. The bent wire bristles get into the coat catching dead hair and separating the coat for a silky look when finished. If you are working on a dog that is destined for the show ring you must use this brush with care as you can pull out to much undercoat or break really long hair. When using this brush you have to be careful not to scratch the skin especially when the brush is new and very stiff. If you brush too long in one spot or brush too hard you can give the dog a “brush burn” (scratches and reddens the skin, the dog will scratch at the area, because it stings, possibly causing a hot spot; a weeping oozing sore). When brushing the dog keep the brush flat so as to use the whole surface not just the first few lines of bristles.

Pin Brush: This brush is meant for longer finer coats or coats of show dogs. It will not damage or break off hair like the wire slicker but on the other hand it will not break apart a tangled are very well either. The dogs coat must be maintained in a mat free state for this brush to be really effective. There are many different types of pin brushes, some costing as much as $45.00 although you do not need one of that expense to work on your pet dog.

Soft Bristle Brush: This brush has very soft dense bristles and is meant for slick haired dogs. It will remove the loose dead hair from the dog and leaves a nice shine as it spreads the dogs’ natural oils throughout the coat.

Rubber Curry: These are nice for grabbing dead hair and massaging the skin. This type of tool can be used during the bath to remove dead coat while the dog is wet. The dead hair comes off quite easily once it is soapy. Rubber curries come in different styles with some in cute dog or cat shapes.

Metal Comb: Metal is better than plastic when working on thick dog fur. Plastic will bend and break, metal will last forever. There are several different types of combs; all one width like a show poodle comb which has long tines with fairly wide spacing in between them. Course/medium combination and Course/fine combination. I find the course/fine to be the most useful. The comb is used to finish the coat, following the brushing, to make sure no tangles remain. It is a very useful tool for removing tangles as well; use one edge to split through a mat (tangle) to make the mat easier to remove.

Mat Splitter: There are many different models of mat splitters today. Finding one that you feel is comfortable in your hand is important. Most mat splitters are extremely sharp and must be used with great care so that you don’t cut the dog or yourself. If the tool comes with instructions read them carefully, if there are no instructions try asking your local groomer to show you how to correctly use the tool you choose. The mat splitter is designed to cut through most tangles. The problem with using it is that it cuts/breaks the hair so use on a show dog is usually out of the question.

Stripping Knife: This tool is mostly used on terrier coats to strip or card (remove dead hair) the coat. The stripping knife comes in different styles and length of teeth. I have found this tool very useful for de-shedding a lot of different breeds. The very fine teeth of the stripping knife catch the dead hair and remove it very easily. You have to be very careful when using this tool as you can cut off the hair and leave lines or you can cut the skin.
For de-shedding you use the tool somewhat like a comb. Always go with the grain of the hair with the teeth facing the opposite direction you are combing. The stripping knife is held almost flat against the coat. If you angle the teeth into the coat it will cut the hair off.
Stripping the coat is a learned talent and is used on show dogs; pet dogs can be clippered rather than stripped. The purpose is to remove long coat that is overgrown and soft so that the wiry texture returns. The dog is stripped down to the skin in the areas that require short wiry hair. For stripping you grab the hair between your thumb and the stripping knife and quickly pull it out. Follow instructions from you breeder as to how the terrier coat needs to be stripped. Different breeds have different needs as far as stripping goes.
Carding is similar to the method for de-shedding. When carding you are removing only the dead hair versus stripping; this is removing all the hair.

De-Shedding Blades/Undercoat Rakes: This tool comes in different styles and different tooth configuration. There are: single short tooth, single long tooth, double short and double long. The short teeth are used on short and medium length coats and the long teeth are use on medium to long coats. The single toothed blade easily takes out mild to moderate blown coat (dead hair), the double row of teeth takes out thick amounts of dead hair.

Nail Trimmers: There are two main types of nail trimmers; the plier style and the guillotine style. I find the plier style to work the best. Both come in small and large to suit a wide range of nail size.

Nail Grinder: This is like a “moto-tool” in fact you can use one if you have it. The nails are ground with fine grit paper leaving them short and smooth. One word of caution here; if you have a long coated dog it is easy to catch the hair which winds around the tool and has to be cut out! Use great care when using the grinder. Ask for help in holding the dog still while you grind until both you and the dog get used to this tool. The one thing I do not like about the grinder is the smell it creates while grinding!

When using nail trimmers or grinders you will want to have some styptic powder, gel or sticks on hand in case you cut into the quick (blood vessel). Don’t panic if you do cut into the quick, just apply some styptic product to the end of the nail to make the bleeding stop. The product does sting a bit so the dog will show some discomfort when you use it. Do not make a big fuss over the dog if you do cut a nail too short, if you do the dog will be less cooperative the next time.

Scissors: There are hundreds of different types of scissors so picking a pair is personal choice. You want to choose scissors that feel comfortable and balanced in your hand. The length is also a personal choice. I suggest getting the longest length you can use comfortably. Straight or curved shears are another choice you have to make. Curved shears help you get rounded edges easier that straights and can be used with the curve facing away from the coat to get a straight line.

Thinning Shears: Thinner shears come in different styles and tooth count so choosing a pair is personal choice. The more teeth the shear has the smoother it cuts. If you want a textured look use a shear with fewer teeth, if you are trying to blend and want an overall smoother finish use a shear with more teeth.

Clippers: Again there are many brands and styles to choose from. You will want to choose a clipper that suits the job you are trying to do. The mini clippers and some of the cordless clippers are not good for doing big jobs! Even if you only have one dog to clip you will want to get a good quality clipper. The Oster, Andis, Conair and Wahl all use interchangeable clipper blades (each company’s blade will fit the other clippers) which is really nice. I use the Andis clipper which I like because it does not blow air on the dog from a motor vent like the Oster clipper does. I have not tried the other two brands.

Clipper Blades: Blades come in a variety of sizes. The higher the blade number the shorter it cuts. The #40 is a very close cutting blade used in veterinary clinics for shaving areas for surgery. Show Poodle owners use this blade on face, feet and pattern areas. I do not advise using that short of a blade for pet dogs!! The other blade sizes are 30, 15, 10, 9, 8 ½, 7, 7F, 5, 5F, 4, 4F, 3, 3F. The “F” stands for finishing with the blade tines all the same length which gives a more satiny finish to the coat. The other blades are skip tooth blades which leaves a slightly rougher more natural look.
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