I’ve lost track of how many groomers have told me, “I hate clipping poodle feet.” The smoothly clipped, tidy look of a nicely groomed poodle paw is classic, but many groomers dislike the process so much that they refuse to do it. However, trimming poodle feet is possible and can be done quickly and safely with the right tools and techniques. With practice, a skilled groomer can clip four beautiful feet in around 5 minutes.
Here is how. An excellent tool for the job is a trimmer with an adjustable blade, such as the Wahl Bravura Lithium Clipper. They are light, quiet, don’t get hot, and are perfect for getting between little toes and pads to leave a tidy, trimmed foot. Most dogs can tolerate a #15 or even #30 length. Always work on freshly washed, thoroughly dried fur.
Begin by lifting the foot and working on the underside.
1. Working against the grain, clip the hair up and away just a fraction from the large paw pad.
2. Scoop the hair out from the area between the toes and the large pad, so the area is clean.
3. Starting on the outside edge at the base of the nail on the outer toe, clip from the nail to the desired line, which is where the foot naturally bends when the dog is standing.
4. On the inside edge of the toes, clip from the nail to where the webbing of the toes begins.
5. Repeat this on both sides of each toe.
6. Flip the foot over and clip the top of the toes and foot. Because you have removed all the hair on the underside and between the toes, this step takes just a moment.
7. If there are any “sticky outie” hairs around the nail bed, try setting the clipping length shorter and just touching up those areas to get a clean look.
When grooming a poodle with shaved feet, I make an extra effort to get the nails trimmed and buffed as short and smooth as possible. Angling the tip of the claw back towards the body a bit with the Dremmel tool will make them look shorter and neater.
A beautifully trimmed foot is a pretty finishing touch to a nicely executed poodle style. There is no need to dread creating this look if you have the correct tools and take some time to practice the technique.
By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG
Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years. You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism. She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.