How to Choose the Right Clipper

Grooming your pet is a great way to deepen your bond while also staying in tune with any changes in their fur or skin, which can indicate potential health issues.

On your quest to become a groomer, whether at home or professionally, you’ve started researching pet clippers. Whoa, there are a ton of options! It can be overwhelming, but this guide is here to help break down the different clipper types to help you make the right purchase for your dog’s needs.

In order to determine the best clipper for your pup you’ll first you need to identify their coat type. Dog coat types can be broken into several different categories but, to make things simple, let’s use the following four classifications: Smooth/Short, Medium, Heavy, and Curly. We will also talk about which areas on the dog are referred to as “Trim Only”.

It is important to note that prior to any clipping, you should always bathe and brush your dog first. Not only will this help provide your pup with a stress and tangle free clip, but will help keep your blade from having to work in overdrive to power through dirt, debris, and mats.


Dog breeds that fall into this category include Jack Russell Terriers, Boxers, Great Danes, French Bulldogs, Smooth Fox Terriers, Dachshunds, and all other breeds with similar coats.

For breeds with smooth and/or short coats, you will not need a heavy-duty professional clipper. You can certainly purchase one if you’d like, especially if you plan to groom often, but will not need a heavy duty motored clipper for smooth/short coated breeds. When purchasing, look for clippers with a standard adjustable blade or a 5-in-1 adjustable blade to assist grooming your pet.

Look for the orange and blue icons to help you find the right clipper.

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Breeds in the medium coated category have a wide range of types, including Shih Tzus, Malteses, Bichons, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to Scottish Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Airedales, Cocker Spaniels, and everything in between. These are small to medium sized dogs with manageable coats.

If your pup falls into this category, your clipper options are plenty. Standard adjustable blade clippers will do a fine job clipping and trimming through a medium coat, but a 5-in-1 adjustable blade clipper will do even better. An adjustable 5-in-1 blade clipper is a professional style clipper that assists in finesse and precision cutting due to the number of cutting size adjustments which aids in leaving a smoother, more professional-grade finish to your pet’s coat.

Look for the orange Adjustable icon and blue 5-in-1 icon to help you find the right clipper.

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Heavy coated dog breeds include Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Great Pyreneeses, Samoyeds, and Sheep Dogs.

If you have a double-coated dog, such as an Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, or Newfoundland, please contact your groomer or vet before shaving. A double coat means that your dog’s coat has two distinct layers – a fluffy undercoat that provides insulation and an overcoat with longer hair that serves protection from the elements. Double coats protect your pup from the elements, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Improperly shaving a double coated dog can have unintended consequences such as sunburn, overheating, and can even damage their fur and cause it to grow back differently. A regular de-shed brushing routine can help curb unwanted shed and will help cool your pup in the warm months.

To shave down a heavy or thick-coated dog, you will need a powerful clipper. A common mistake owner’s make is purchasing a lower powered clipper intended for light use coats. If the clipper isn’t powerful enough, the blade can catch and pull your dog’s coat – causing grief for both you and your dog. When searching for a clipper, look for one that specifically calls out that it is for thick coats or heavy duty use. Often, a good indicator is a corded clipper that uses detachable blades, such as Wahl’s KM10™ which uses Wahl Competition Series or Ultimate Competition Series detachable blades. These are clippers built for professional use and tackling big jobs every day.

Look for the green Detachable icon to help you find the right clipper.

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Dog breeds that fall into the Curly category include Poodles, Portugese Water Dogs, Haveneses, Kerry Blue Terriers, Lagotto Romagnolos, and every type of “Doodle”. Technically, some of the smaller breeds such as Bedlington Terriers and Bichon Frises also have curly coats, but since these coats tend to be much lighter and easier to clip, we put them in the “Medium” category.

Like the heavy coats we mentioned above, for these breeds with thick, curly coats, you are going to need a clipper with a lot of torque to drive blades though your pet’s dense fur. You will want to look for a professional-grade clipper that uses detachable blades, such as Wahl’s Competition Series or Ultimate Competition Series. Options such as the Wahl KM10™ or Power Grip® have a built-in feature that provides extra power and torque when you need it most. 

Look for the green Detachable icon to help you find the right clipper.

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Trim Only

When researching grooming products, you might see the words “clipping” and “trimming” used interchangeably. Technically speaking, they are not the same in definition, but many products can be used as both a clipper and a trimmer depending on the size of the animal you’re grooming.

Trim work often refers to trimming hair around eyes (so they can see), trimming the fur that grows between their paws (so they don’t slip or track mud on your floor), or sometimes even trimming long hair around their private parts to help keep these areas clean and sanitary (referred to as a sanitary trim). Trimming does not include body clipping or shave downs.

For small breeds, a pocket-sized trimmer such as the Wahl Super Pocket Pro® or the Touch-Up® trimmer will help you access and trim these niche areas.

For medium-sized breeds, there are larger, professional-grade trimmers, like the BravMini+ and the Mini Arco, that have a little more power behind them to trim up larger areas quickly. Bonus – they’re quiet AND rechargeable!

For large or thick-coated breeds, you may want to consider a full-sized clipping for your trimming needs. An adjustable 5-in-1 blade clipper will be able to tackle trim work on large dogs, as well as trimming bridle paths, ears, muzzles, and fetlocks on horses.

Look for the purple Trimmer icon and blue 5-in-1 icon to help you find the right trimmer.

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