In these dog days of summer, it is more important than ever to make sure your pooch is properly groomed.
Going to the groomers can be costly, but cutting down your dog’s coat on your own seems daunting. Even the first task — buying grooming clippers that will work for you and your pup — can seem insurmountable.
In this article, we will break down and explain 5 aspects of grooming clippers that are often advertised with lots of jargon and little explanation. Then, we’ll discuss the care and keeping of grooming clippers and recommend 5 of our favorites. But first, we’ll look at how your own grooming situation might affect your purchasing decision.
Quick Picks: Best Dog Clippers
- #1 Pick. Wahl Delux U-Clip Pet Clipper (Best For Owners) Great clippers & grooming kit for beginners or owners who want to groom their own dog. Includes instructional DVD and several different guide combs.
- #2 Pick. Wahl Professional Bravura Lithium Clipper (Best For Professional Use) Stainless steel high-speed cordless model great for regular professional grooming.
Assessing Your Dog’s Grooming Needs
Which grooming clippers you should buy depends on why you need them.
If you are a dog parent with an only puppy, your needs will be different from someone who owns three dogs with different coat types. A professional groomer will have different needs still.
When grooming a dog, you will first need to assess what type of coat he has.
Does Fido have a double coat? Thick, curly hair? Fur that tends to get matted from a few too many romps through the mud? Long, thin hair that drags the floor? Or is his coat manageable, but too warm, in the summer?
If you have only one pup, answering these questions will narrow down greatly what type of clippers you should purchase. On the other hand, if you are trimming down more than one dog with your clippers, you will need a versatile pair that can handle a variety of coat types.
If you are going for snazzy canine hairstyles (like the many hairdos at a Maltese pup’s disposal), this goes doubly.
There are factors to consider beyond coat type as well, such as your dog’s personality and your experience level with grooming. Many dogs get anxious or frightened when being trimmed down because of the sound the clippers make. In this case, you will want to buy the quietest pair possible. Similarly, novice groomers may not want an expensive pair of clippers with a hundred indecipherable settings.
In the next section, we discuss 5 variables to consider when comparing grooming clippers. Try to keep your grooming needs in mind as you read. Then, when you go to buy, you will know what technical aspects of grooming clippers matter most for your situation.
5 Factors to Consider when Buying Grooming Clippers
1. Corded vs. Cordless Clippers
Probably the first decision you’ll make about your grooming clippers is whether or not you want one that plugs into the wall or one that can be charged and used without a cord.
Cordless clippers have some obvious advantages. For one, you have more freedom about where you cut your dog (maybe you prefer to keep the dog hair mess outdoors). Without a cord in the way, it’s also easier to maneuver rechargeable clippers around a squirmy dog or get to hard-to-reach areas.
Moreover, some owners suggest that cordless clippers are better to use with pups who are easily frightened or anxious.
But this freedom of movement comes at a price. The battery of rechargeable clippers runs out in about 60-90 minutes, so if you have a lot of dogs to cut (or one particularly complicated pup), this can be restrictive. Plug-in clippers also tend to pack more power than their cordless counterparts.
For the best of both worlds, be sure to keep an eye out for an extra long cord or clippers that can be used with or without a cord attachment.
2. The Blades
There are 3 aspects of the blade that should be taken into consideration: the material of the blade, the type of blade, and the blade size.
Blades are primarily made out of steel or ceramic. Steel blades are easier to sharpen and clean, plus they are easier on the pocketbook.
However, they also conduct heat, which is why ceramic blades have been becoming more popular. Ceramic blades also won’t corrode, although they are easier to break than steel, and more expensive.
Sometimes you will see blades that are edged or coated in other materials. For example, steel blades that are infused with carbon are supposed to stay sharper longer.
There are two types of blades that pet clippers use: a skip blade or a finishing blade. Skip blades cut more fur at once, so they are great to use with dogs who have thick or matted coats. A cut with a skip blade will look more rough, while the finishing blade creates a neater look.
If you’re worried about nicking your dog, you might want to stick with a finishing blade. The wide space between the teeth of a skip blade can sometimes snag your pup’s skin if you aren’t careful.
Blade size is also important to consider since that will determine how long your pup’s coat will be. The higher the blade size, the shorter the cut. For example, Blade #3 leaves your dog with a half-inch coat while Blade #30 leaves just half a millimeter.
Of course, these questions are most important to consider if you are buying a clipper with a proprietary blade; that is, only the company’s blade will fit with the razor.
These blades tend to be more expensive and more difficult to come by. If you buy a clipper with interchangeable blades, however, you can easily shop around and try different blades after your purchase.
3. The Motor
There are two interconnected aspects of the motor to consider when buying the right clippers for you and your pooch: the type of motor and the rotary speed.
If you’re not mechanically-inclined (like me), you may be tempted to skip the mumbo-jumbo about different motor types and go right to the rotary speed.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the rotary speed, the faster you can trim down your dog and the easier it will be to cut through thick or matted hair. In this article, you are looking at clippers with rotary speeds between 2,000 and 7,000 strokes per minute.
But rotary speed cannot be considered apart from motor type. Most grooming clippers have either an electromagnetic motor or a rotary motor. If you are looking solely at rotary speed, electromagnetic motors would appear to be superior, since they often have much higher rotary speeds than clippers with a rotary motor. This would be a mistaken assumption.
Rotary motors are often preferred because they are stronger, thus packing more power in lower rotary speeds. For this reason, clippers with a rotary motor are the best for cutting through thick, matted, or long hair. In addition, rotary motor clippers don’t need to work as hard to give your pup a fabulous cut, so they will heat up less quickly. These clippers are also the only type that allow for variable-speed.
Electromagnetic motors still have their advantages. They tend to be quieter, crucial for those pups who are skittish of trims. They are also more energy-efficient and longer-lasting. You’ll note, for example, that electromagnetic motor clippers often come with a longer warranty than their rotary motor counterparts. This is not to mention that clippers running on an electromagnetic motor are generally much cheaper.
4. Single-Speed vs. Variable-Speed
If you go for a clipper with a rotary motor, you will have to decide whether or not you want one with just one speed (that is, you cannot change the strokes per minute of your razor) or a variable-speed model.
This will largely depend on your experience with dog grooming, your dog’s temperament, and whether or not you need the clippers for more than one dog.
If you are a newbie to grooming, a single-speed model is probably the best choice for you. Keep things simple! Leave the show-stopping cuts to the experts.
There are few reasons even someone new to grooming might want or need clippers with variable-speed. If you have a dog that is easily frightened or sensitive to noise, a variable-speed clipper will let you put the clippers on a quieter (that is, slower) speed as you get closer to his ears.
Also, for dog moms and dads with more than one puppy-child, variable-speed clippers are great if you have dogs with different types of fur.
5. Shape, Size, and Weight
The shape, size, and weight of the clippers all affect how easily you, the (aspiring) groomer, will be able to use them.
Lightweight clippers (usually under a pound) are perfect for owners who are prone to aching wrists. However, remember that you will also be able to feel the razor’s vibration more with these devices.
Smaller grooming clippers offer owners more dexterity than larger ones. If your pup is a chewer, though, you might want to look for a brand that prioritizes durability over maneuverability.
More high-end clippers will tend to advertise “ergonomic” designs – a highfalutin way of saying that the clippers are user-friendly. They feature hand grips that make them more comfortable and easier to hold. Owners who use the clippers often (or tend to be a little clumsy) should look out for such features.
General Clipper Grooming Tips Before You Begin
Grooming your pup at home can be an intimidating task for the uninitiated, and there are a few simple things you might not know that can help you get the most out of your grooming clippers.
Here are a few simple tips and reminders:
1. Wash and Comb Your Dog Before Grooming. While it is possible to trim down your pup without a bath or a brush beforehand, it is easier on you and your clippers if you do.
Dirt, oils, and whatever else might be hiding in your pooch’s coat can gunk up the clippers. This means:
- You may have more clean up to do with your clippers when you’re finished grooming.
- The clippers may not run across your pup’s body as smoothly or evenly.
- The clippers will heat up more quickly. Even with professional quality dog clippers, particles from your dog’s fur will get into the motor, creating more friction and so heat.
2. Use a Comb Guide. A comb guide is an attachment to your grooming clippers. They come in different lengths and help you give your pup an even trim.
For newbies, these are especially useful because they decrease your chances of nicking your pup with a poorly thought-out hand maneuver. Sometimes your grooming clippers will come with a guide comb or two, but they can also be purchased separately.
3. Oil the Blade of the Clippers. Oiling the blade of the clippers makes it more difficult for your dog’s hair to get stuck in your clippers, making them less effective. It also helps the clippers from overheating by decreasing friction.
Over time, keeping your blade well-oiled will ensure your blade stays sharp and increase the longevity of your clippers. Just be sure not to oil too much! It’s best to follow closely the recommendation that comes with your clippers.
Also take a peek at this video by Wahl for more clipper grooming tips in action:
5 Best Dog Clippers on the Market
About: The Wahl Professional Delux U-Clip Pet Clipper is a great option for owners new to grooming. Not only are these clippers a bargain, they come with a full kit which even includes a DVD teaching you how to give your pup a snazzy trim.
- The Deluxe U-Clip pet clipper and grooming kit is ideal to clip, trim, and groom fine to medium...
- Ideal for Yorkies, Cavaliers, Shih Tzus, Spaniels, Maltese, and other medium-duty pet fur clipping,...
- Powerful speeds up to 7, 200 strokes per minute make clipping quick and easy; this clipper provides...
- This 16-piece kit offers a standard adjustable #30-15-10 blade (Wahl #1037-400) and includes all the...
Features: The Wahl Deluxe U-Clip Pet Clippers weighs about one pound and is 6.5 inches in length. It needs to be plugged in and has an 8-foot cord.
These clippers are one-speed. Running on an electromagnetic motor, they can reach up to 7200 strokes per minute.
The steel blade of these clippers is adjustable, allowing the user to easily switch between blades #30, #15, or #10. These blades are specific to Wahl products, and replacements can be ordered here.
The clippers come in a 16-piece set which, in addition to the clippers, includes blade oil and a cleaning brush, a blade guard, stainless steel scissors, 7 different attachment guide combs and a pet styling comb, an apron, a DVD guide, and a storage case.
This product comes with a 2-year limited warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
These clippers are by far the cheapest option on our list. Some owners also pointed out that they are very quiet, especially compare to the professional grade clippers which often spook nervous pups. With proper care, many owners felt that these clippers are durable and likely to last a long time.
These clippers are intended to be used on pups with medium coats such as labradors and spaniels. If you have a pup with thick or matted fur, you will need to buy something with a powerful motor. Some owners also felt that they did not work well on breeds with fine, but long hair. A number of customers reported that, after 10-15 minutes, these clippers got quite hot.
About: Oster is a long-trusted brand in the world of hair trimming, and the Golden A5 Animal Grooming Clippers live up to the name. These clippers are heavy-duty, durable, and reasonably-priced given the quality.
- Heavy-duty electric grooming clippers offer enough power and torque to handle thick, matted coats
- Powerful, universal rotary motor delivers over 2,100 strokes per minute
- Chew-proof housing helps protect motor from wearing down
- Included detachable #10 CryogenX blade is cryogenically treated for exceptional hardness and...
Features: The Oster Golden A5 Clippers are 8.2 inches in length and are just shy of 2 pounds. These clippers are a little bigger and heavier than other brands, but their heft makes them durable and chewproof. These clippers must be plugged in, and feature a 12-foot long cord.
Running on a powerful rotary motor, these single-speed clippers get 2100 strokes per minute. They are able to cut through even very thick and matted hair.
These clippers come with a #10 blade that is detachable and made from high-carbon which has been hardened through a cryogenic process. Additional blade sizes and types can be bought separately.
The clippers are compatible with all Oster A5 blades and a variety of others as well as universal guide combs (sold separately).
Owners loved that the blades are so easy to switch out in this clipper, making it easy to clean and use on multiple dogs with different types of fur. People report that these clippers are also exceptionally long-lasting, with one reviewer buying a new one only after his last Oster clipper of 25-years finally gave out.
This is the heaviest product that we have reviewed, although many customers report that it is still very easy to use. Reviewers also noted that it tends to get quite hot quickly, so owners who need some time to trim their pup might want to consider buying a coolant spray.
About: The Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Lithium Clipper is a great choice for owners who prefer cordless clippers. Featuring constant speed control, these clippers won’t slow down even as it nears the end of its 9-minute battery life.
- Combines the power and durability of lithium ion battery innovation with Wahl's adjustable 5-in-1...
- The 5-in-1 blade adjusts between sizes #9, 10, 15, 30, and 40, offering a convenient variety of...
- The rechargeable lithium ion battery has a 90-minute cordless run time of cool running, low...
- Ideal for the feet, face, and all finish work on all dog breeds, light body clipping on small- and...
Features: The Wahl Professional Bravura Lithium Clipper is only 8.8 ounces (just over half a pound) and 7 inches in length. It is also specially designed to be easy for you to hold and has a nice grip.
This is a cordless model which requires about 60 minutes to charge for 90 minutes of run time. However, it can also be used with its cord when it runs out of battery juice. This cord is about 3 feet long.
These are single speed clippers, running at about 5500 strokes per minute. They feature a rotary motor with constant speed control. This means that you can expect consistent performance even as the battery starts to get low.
The stainless steel blade, like other Wahl models, can be adjusted to different sizes. This particular model features a 5-in-1 blade with sizes #9, #10, #15, #30, and #40. The blade is detachable, but is not compatible with the A5 blades of most major razor companies.
This clipper comes with a 6 plastic attachment guide combs, a charge stand and charger, a soft storage case, a cleaning brush, blade oil, and an instruction book.
Compared to other products on the market, users were very happy with how cool and quiet these clippers are. One owner, a dog groomer, commented that they are excellent for trimming the faces of pups who are afraid of noise. These clippers are also expected to last a long time; users recommend making sure to clean them out after each use to ensure their longevity.
Some users felt that these clippers were not the best option for a full body trim of larger dogs or dogs with a very coarse coat; they are better suited for spot trimming or full body trims of small dogs. Some owners also had a problem with the plastic piece breaking off which holds the blade in place. It should be noted, however, that Wahl has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a one-year limited warranty.
About: Andis is a well-established company for hair trimming products (like the other 2 featured in this list) that started in the United States. The UltraEdge Super 2-Speed Detachable Blade Clipper is slightly more expensive than some other choices, but it can be used in a wide variety of situations since it can cut through any fur type and has two different speeds.
- Cool and quiet running , Volts - 120 V
- Perfect for all coats and breeds.
- Detachable blade design for ease of changing and cleaning.
- Super two-speed rotary motor for performance that pros demand.
Features: The Andis UltraEdge clipper weighs about 1.10 pounds and is 7.13 inches in length. It features an extra long, 14-foot cord so that you can easily move around your pup.
These clippers have a rotary motor that runs at two speeds: 3400 strokes per minute and 4400 strokes per minute. They come with a size #10 UltraEdge blade, a carbon steel blade with chrome coating to prevent erosion. For easy cleaning and replacement, the blade is detachable.
If you prefer a different size or type of blade, the clippers are compatible with other Andis blades (like the CeramicEdge and ShowEdge) as well as Oster-5 blades.
This clipper is also extra durable and feature a shatter-proof exterior made of polymer.
Most owners found these clippers to be very easy-to-use, even on dogs with different coat types. The long cord gave them plenty of room to move around their pup and the two different speeds helped with getting hard-to-trim areas around joints. One user also mentioned that the handle is narrow and comfortable to hold. The clippers also run exceptionally well according to many owners; they are quiet and don’t get quickly.
This clipper is more expensive than other options and does not include many of the bells and whistles (like attachment combs) that other products come with. A small number of owners found that the clippers did heat up; however, many users found that having an extra clean blade to switch out during grooming often helped with overheating.
About: The Andis ProClip Excel 5-Speed Detachable Blade Clipper is a professional grade clipper. For owners who are looking to achieve the perfect doo for Fido or who simply need to trim down the family pup more quickly, these pricey clippers may be well worth the investment.
- Powerful, rotary motor for complete animal grooming.
- Variable 5-speed clipping - use lower speeds for cooler running and clipping around sensitive areas,...
- Soft-grip anti-slip housing for comfort and safety.
- 10% faster than the AGC Super 2-Speed.
Features: The Andis ProClip Excel 5-Speed Detachable Blade Clipper is 12.8 ounces (a little more than three-quarters of a pound) and 6.5 inches long. The body of the clipper is made to fit your hand and features a soft, anti-slip grip.
The clippers need to be plugged in and, like the other Andi clippers, have an extra-long 14-inch cord.
These clippers showcase a rotary motor that has 5 speed options. The slowest speed is 2500 strokes per minute and can be used when the clippers start to get hot or when cutting sensitive areas of your pup. The highest speed is 4500 strokes per minute and is recommended to give your pup’s coat an elegant finish.
The company advertises that the Andis ProClip Excel 5-Speed is 10% faster than the Andis UltraEdge Super 2-Speed (previously reviewed).
The clippers come with a detachable #10 CeramicEdge blade. The CeramicEdge blade runs cooler than steel blades; moreover, it’s more durable than most other ceramic blades because it made from zicronium oxide ceramic, which is more resistant to cracking. More blade can be purchased separately. This clipper is compatible with other Andis blades (like the UltraEdge and ShowEdge) as well as Oster-5 blades.
A blade brush is included with these clippers. It can be used between grooming to help keep the blade clean.
Users were most satisfied with the clipper’s adjustable speeds, finding that being able to switch to a lower speed when possible helped prevent the clippers from overheating and burning their pooch. Most owners found that these clippers were effective with different coat types, including even long and thick hair or fur. Finally, many people commented that the clippers were very comfortable to use, being both lightweight and having an excellent grip.
Some users had problems with the switch or cord suddenly malfunctioning; however, if such a problem occurs, this product is covered by a 1-year warranty that many users report is well-respected by the company. As with any grooming clippers, there were some complaints that the dog hair clippers did get hot, although most users found these clippers to run much cooler than other clippers, heating up after heavy use on a higher speed setting.
Have you ever bought grooming clippers? Are you happy with them? Why? Any tips and tricks about which blades work best or how to keep the clippers from heating up? Let us know in the comments below!