|General Equipment/Tool Questions
If you just are looking for general recommendations on which type of scissors/clipper blades or other tools to use for general grooming, check out our Recommendations for Home Groomers. We give some general guidelines as to what quality and price range of items to look for depending on what type of grooming you want to do–from just standard pet grooming to more professional equipment for getting that “show dog” look.
What is the difference between “professional” and “home-use” clippers?
Most home-use clippers that you buy in stores, unless they specify that they are suited for pet trimming, are mainly for cutting human hair and, while they may look like the same style of clippers that are marketed as pet trimmers, it is the blades on them that are different. Blades used to cut human hair will almost always never work to cut animal hair/fur (except for some breeds whose hair is very similar to human hair) because animal fur has a much higher tensil strength than human hair. Therefore, blades used on pet clippers must be “hollow-ground” so that the teeth on the blades make a much tighter connection when moving to cut animal hair. As for the clippers themselves, the home-use clippers usually don’t have very powerful motors which will also affect the cutting ability of the blade on animal hair. Professional clippers have motors with much higher power outputs to help cut through animal coats quicker and the motors are rated for many more hours of use (which is why they cost so much more). They range from single speed to Super 2-speed models, and which one you would use depends on the type of coat you need to cut. Most people grooming their own pets don’t need the professional style clippers, but most of the home-use clippers aren’t good enough. Andis has a clipper kit that is perfectly suited for most pet owners–the Pro-Animal clipper kit. It has a motor that will give the same power output as the professional single speed clippers (it’s just not rated for as many hours of use) and uses the same snap-on style blades as the professional clippers. It also comes with 4 clip-on combs, oil and some simple grooming instructions.
How do I know what type of clipper blades will work on my clipper?
Depending on where you bought your clipper, what model it is and whether the blade set is screwed onto the clipper or “snaps on” will tell you what type clipper blades you need. Most of the professional model clippers for pet grooming are made by the Andis, Oster, Laube or Wahl companies and almost all of them use the “snap-on” type clipper blade sets. They are also referred to as A-5 style clipper blades because the Oster company is the one who developed this style of blade for use on their A-5 style clippers. We carry blades made by the Andis company that are the snap-on (or A-5) style. If you have a clipper that the blade is screwed onto, then you would have to contact the company who made the clipper to find out how to get replacement blades for that model clipper.
What is the difference between “Skip Tooth” and “Finish Cut” clipper blades?
The larger blades sizes (#7 down to #3-3/4) come in both Skip Tooth and Finish Cut styles and the main reason is because the Finish Cut blades sometimes have a hard time cutting through thicker coats and mats, but the Skip Tooth blades will cut through them easier. The Finish Cut blades leave a nicer “finish” look to the coat, so that is why Andis’ Official Blade Guide sometimes recommends that you use both a Skip Tooth and Finish Cut blade of the same size–the Skip Tooth to do the main cutting and the Finish Cut at the end to give the smoother finish look.
Why are there so many different sizes, styles and price ranges of scissors?
First off, let us just say that we feel that choosing scissors is a very personal thing and there are no right or wrong choices–a lot of it is simply personal preference as to what feels good in your hand and works well for what you are using it for. There are many schools of thought out there on why you should use a certain size or style depending on how you hold your hands when you scissor, the size of your hand and fingers, and other factors regarding ergonomics. We are just going to give you some general ideas as to what certain sizes, styles and price ranges of scissors are better suited for.
- Small scissors (4″ to 6-1/2″) – used mostly on small breeds or around the small areas of larger dogs, such as the head, face and feet (especially blunt nose or ball tip scissors).
- Medium to Large scissors (7-1/2″ up to 10″) – for medium to larger dogs on the main body areas
- Wider blades vs. thinner blades – Wider blades (“88 Style” or Filipino Style) are heavier and usually used for more rough cutting through thick coats. Thinner blades make the scissors more light weight and easier to hold; most expensive shears have thinner blades with better edges to give the high quality “show dog” finish to most cuts.
- Straight blades & Curved blades – Straight blades is the standard style of most scissors, curved blades were developed to help make cutting easier around body curves (at least that seems to be the reasoning behind it).
- Bent Shank or Offset scissors – the handles are actually bent so that the blades are on a different plane from the finger holes. This was developed to help keep the groomers fingers from leaving “trails” in the coat as they are cutting, and also can help with ergonomics depending on how a person holds their hand as they scissor.
- Price Ranges: Inexpensive ($5 – $20) – You can use these scissors for just about any trimming or cutting and you don’t really have to worry about ruining them. Medium ($20 – $40) – Good general use, should hold a decent edge as long as you don’t use them for rough cutting or drop them; ($40 – $60) – better quality, edge should last longer between sharpenings and give you good quality cuts; ($60 – $100) – good quality, should be made of the stronger stainless steel and have a really good finish and feel to them. Expensive ($100 and up) – most of these are the Japanese imports that are made of the highest quality stainless steel and finished to a super smooth feel. These scissors are usually used only by groomers in competitions and for high quality “show dog” cuts (at least that’s all we would recommend them for!).