Our Home Grooming Journey
WHO IS MISO’S GROOMER?
I handle all of Miso’s grooming needs!
ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL GROOMER?
I am not. I have never received any formal training, but I am certainly open to the idea. Most of what I know, I learned from watching YouTube channels of other groomers. Miso’s first haircut was far from perfect. However, as time went by, I felt more confident with my technique and the urgency I once had to take professional lessons faded with time.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GROOM HER YOURSELF?
A part of me was always interested in grooming Miso myself, but the original plan had always been to find Miso a proper groomer. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time finding a groomer I was comfortable with. Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations, but I followed my heart. I had reached out to a handful of groomers in my area at the time and none of my conversations persuaded me to move forward for a variety of reasons. (I will bucket this discussion for another time.) In any case, I could not be happier about my decision.
To be clear, I was not against taking Miso to a professional groomer. I think there are plenty of great groomers out there, I just did not happen to find a situation that was a fit for us at the time. I spoke to a handful of groomers on and off over a span of two weeks and somewhere along the way I had a change of heart. I decided I wanted to have full control of Miso’s grooming experience.
HOW DID YOU LEARN?
I spent an insane amount of time watching grooming videos on YouTube. I had to mentally piece together different parts and sections of videos from various groomers that would allow me to visually walk-through Miso’s entire grooming process in my mind. 100% this is not a time effective strategy, but the process was very enjoyable for me and it did not feel like work. I remember sitting down for 3 to 4 our blocks almost every night for a week or two streaming grooming content. While this worked for me, I do not suggest this method of learning for everyone. Not only was it time consuming, but I had to be certain I did not overlook any safety tips that I should have been made aware.
These days I see more and more professional groomers on Instagram who not only share their knowledge, but also make themselves available for questions. I also spotted a few offering online classes too! It may also be worth asking a local groomer for a few private grooming sessions.
DO YOU RECOMMEND GROOMING YOUR OWN DOG?
It is not a decision that I took lightly, but that decision is entirely up to you! Most dog owners I know take their dog to the groomers, but I also believe that does not have to be your only option. After careful consideration and due diligence, home grooming could also be a possible alternative for those interested.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GROOM HER?
Ideally, I like to bathe and groom Miso all on the same day. I think her haircut always turns out best when I work with freshly bathed hair. The process takes several hours including the breaks I give her. One benefit of grooming Miso myself is that I never need to worry about my next appointment and she can have as many breaks as needed.
Unfortunately, these days, I find myself always short on time especially with the launch of our pet shop, Miso and Friends. So more often than I would like, I find myself breaking up her grooming process into multiple sessions. Lately, her schedule looks more like body and legs every six weeks, face every two to three weeks, nails four to six weeks, and paw pads every four weeks.
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
I’ve listed most of the grooming tools I use below but note that these are specific for Miso. Different breeds and sizes of pups may require different grooming tools. I have also incorporated some tidbits along the way that I thought were worth mentioning, but in no way are they meant to be a comprehensive risk guide.
1. Wahl’s Pet Professional Bravura Lithium Clippers (Link)
Overall, I am quite happy with these clippers. I use them on Miso’s body (excluding her legs and front neck/chest area). My main requirement for clippers is that they be cordless. Not only are these cordless, but they are lightweight (8.8oz) and carry a 90-minute battery life. This gives me about 5 to 6 grooming sessions with Miso before I need to recharge. As an added plus, the clippers come with a 5-in-1 blade that allows me to adjust for different lengths without having to buy separate blades. So far, I have had no issues with the blade or battery overheating.
These clippers also come with plastic guide combs which I opted not to use. From my research, I read that the plastic guides do not perform as well as stainless steel guides and your pup’s hair could get accidentally caught. I decided not to risk it, and separately bought their stainless steel guide combs instead, which Wahl sold separately. (Link)
Tidbits I learned.
- Depending on the clippers you use and the length of time you use it, they can sometimes overheat. As a good practice, I touch the blade now and then to make sure it is not too hot to go against Miso’s skin.
- While clippers appear to be relatively safe, they can still accidentally nick skin especially where the skin is loose. Miso does not have saggy skin anywhere, but as a precaution, I always pull her skin tight especially along her neck and armpit area. Aesthetically, I find the hair also trims much cleaner and neater when taut.
- When using the clippers, know that there is a huge difference when going with or against the grain of their hair. I personally always go with the grain of the hair and not against it. When I first started, I used the #2 guide comb, which was a longer length than I preferred. I like Miso with pretty short hair, but I opted for a longer length until I was more comfortable. Eventually, I went down to #4, #5, and now I don’t use the guide combs at all as my desired length for her is shorter than what the combs allow. Instead, I use the longest length blade on the clippers which is #9.
2. Wahl’s Pet Professional BravMini+ Cordless Pet Trimmer (Link)
This is a mini version of clippers I use on her body. The main difference is that it does not include a 5-in-1 blade. It comes with a #30 blade which I use to clean her sensitive area and trim her paw pads. The blade does not seem to be as sharp as the full-size version, but it does the job.
3. Wahl Clipper Oil (Link)
I try to take good care of her clippers. This means, I clean her blade after every use and oil the blade regularly. The oil reduces unnecessary friction when in use and keeps the blade from getting dull sooner than necessary.
As for the rest of Miso (face, front neck/chest, legs, and tail), I exclusively use shears. Currently, most of my shears are by Chris Christensen which I acknowledge are not priced cheaply. I find most of their shears to be of great quality and high performing. There are pet shears available at all price points these days, so there are plenty of options. However, I can not deny that a pair of high quality, high performing shears can make a huge difference in one’s grooming experience and worth the investment if one is planning on grooming their pup long term.
1. Chris Christensen Adalynn Rose Thinner 7” (Link)
I love these thinners so much that I bought a second pair when they went on sale. I use these to shape Miso’s face and legs, as well as thin out the hair on her ears. Thinners are great because unlike straight shears they don’t leave hard lines, so if you make a mistake they are not as apparent and can likely be blended out. It’s a more forgiving instrument than a straight shear. I think of it as giving me a second chance!
Disclaimer: The pair I own are a different color that have been discontinued. This is the same shear but in rose color.
Tidbit I learned.
- Thinners can have different numbers of teeth. In general, the more teeth on a pair of thinning shears the less hair that is removed. Shears that have fewer and more widely spaced teeth will remove more hair and can also be referred to as chunkers.
2. Zolitta Mirage 6.5 48TV thinning shears (Link)
These are the other pair of thinners I own. While I am incredibly happy with the Chris Christensen thinners, I was searching for a smaller pair. Sometimes the 7” shear felt a bit clumsy to work with around her tiny face. Seeing that these were 6.5” and designed by reputable groomer, Olga Zabelinskaya, I decided to give them a try. These don’t handle as well on my hands as the Chris Christensen ones (I am nitpicking), but the finish of the cut is beautiful and extremely polished. Also, I appreciate the shorter length. While half an inch may not seem to be a big difference, it is quite noticeable when you are working with them in your hand. With these thinners, I will also use them on Miso’s face and legs. I will use the Chris Christensen thinners first as they cut off more hair. I will then go back in with the Zolitta thinners for the final touch.
I like both the Chris Christensen thinners and the Zolitta thinners, but if I could only own one they would be the Chris Christensen ones.
3. Chris Christensen Adalynn Rose Chunky Blender 7” (Link)
As mentioned earlier, chunkers are meant to take off more hair than thinners. I only use these for Miso’s legs to help with the initial trim. They save me a lot of time. However, I will need to go back in with the thinners to help blend out the hair as these shears will leave teeth marks on the hair.
Disclaimer: The pair I own are a different color that have been discontinued. This is the same shear but in rose color.
4. Chris Christensen Adalynn Rose Straight Shears 5” (Link)
These shears are used to trim hair around Miso’s eye/nose area. When working with a very delicate area that requires precision work, investing in a good pair of shears can make a world’s difference from an aesthetic and safety point of view. With a good pair of shears, I can usually achieve her grooming needs with fewer cuts, which means less times the scissor needs to be around her eyes.
5. Chris Christensen Adalynn Rose Curved Shears 7” (Link)
These curved shears I will use to shape her tail as well as her nose bridge area. I do think these shears a bit too big for her nose bridge, but I don’t own a smaller pair at the moment. Since I can manage fine with these, I’ll probably continue using them for now.
6. Zolitta Colibri 6.25 curved Asian Style scissors (Link)
These curved shears are described as Asian style which mean they are extra curved and used in a lot of Asian styled dog cuts. In this case they are also more curved than the Chris Christensen Adalynn Rose Curved Shears I previously described. I primarily used these to shape Miso’s paws. In the past, I have also use these to trim her eye/nose area, but overtime I decided I wanted less of a curve aesthetic around her muzzle and stopped using them on her face, but not due to lack of shear performance in anyway.
7. Chris Christensen Professional Oil Tube (Link)
Just like the clippers, I want to take to make sure I am taking good care of the shears. Shears do require to be oiled from time to time. These are the ones I use. With each pair of Chris Christensen shears they usually provide a little container of oil along with your order.
8. Chris Christensen Grooming Tools Storage Box (Link)
This is what I use to hold most of my shears. I have two of them and each one can hold about 4 to 5 shears depending upon shear size. I use a variety of shears for Miso throughout her groom and this is a convenient way for me to safely hold her shears without having to put them back into individual cases each time. I do save all the individual shear cases as they are great for travel.
Currently it looks like these are sold out, but I still wanted to share as there may be similar products on the market if anyone was interested.
9. Chris Christensen Lifetime Shear Sharpening and Warranty (Link)
I also wanted to share that Chris Christensen does claim to offer lifetime shear sharpening services on any of their shears. I have never had any of my shears sharpened yet, although, I expect I will need to at some point in the future.
BRUSHES AND COMBS
How often do you brush Miso?
Ideally, I like to brush Miso daily, but realistically she gets a full brush out once every few days. Fortunately, due to her shorter hair length, this works pretty well. Every now and then I may notice a mat I need to take care of, but other than that she stays pretty tangle free.
Here are the different brushes and combs I use for Miso.
1.Tangle Teezer (Link)
I love these. Miso loves these. We share them. Truthfully, this is more of a massager for Miso, but these brushes put her in a very calm mood which is especially helpful when I’m getting ready to comb her out. I generally start with one of these brushes to begin the process as they help to gently separate and loosen up some of the hair. These are the only brushes I use on her. The rest are buttercombs.
2. Andis Pet 7.5” Steel Comb (Link)
Next, I will use the Andis Pet 7.5” Steel Comb to comb out her legs. The teeth on this buttercomb is pretty widely spread, so I consider this a first run through, I will need to go in again with finer combs. I like to start with a coarser combs and gradually moving towards finer combs. It’s more comfortable for her because I can get out more tangles without having to yank as much hair.
I also use this comb often when styling and trimming her legs. It helps me find shape and see where else I need to trim down hair.
3. Chris Christensen 006 Face Fine/Coarse Buttercomb (Link)
After that, I will reach for a finer comb such as the Chris Christensen 006 Face buttercomb. I use this comb all the time for her face, but will also use on her legs to get out tougher tangles. The teeth on this are really smooth and seem to generate much less static than some of the other combs I have.
4. Well & Good Flea Dog Comb (Link)
Finally, I’ll finish by using a flea comb over her face and entire body. By now, most of the tangles should have been taken out except for some tighter knots that may or may not need to be cut out.
Tibit I learned.
- I always start combing from the ends of the hair and work my way up towards the root. If I start at the root of the hair and comb downwards, I could unconsciously be creating more tangles than necessary and accidentally be forming dead knots that could have been saved.
5. Grooming Mat (Link)
There are professional grooming mats out there, but I repurposed an extra memory foam bathmat that I had purchased from Amazon a long time ago. The memory foam is comfortable for her for her to stand and lay on. After her session, I simply run a vacuum cleaner over the mat to pick up the hairs. If it ever feels too dirty, I can throw it into the washing machine on a delicate cold wash cycle, air dry. I can’t find the link of the exact one I own, but this one is almost identical. I am not saying these are better than professional grooming mats, just sharing what I use.
6. Grooming Cart (Link)
I keep all my grooming equipment on a utility cart I bought from IKEA. I love that it’s on wheels. It stays in my closet for the most part. I’ll wheel the entire cart out for her grooming session and everything goes back in the same spot, tucked away, when I’m done.
Where to buy grooming supplies?
I was able to link all the grooming supplies I mentioned above. For shears, most of my ‘go to’ places are Cherrybrook and Groomers Pro! It’s not often I’ll see sales on the shears I own, but I was able to grab a few on discount for Black Friday.
HOW DO YOU TRAIN HER TO BE SO CALM?
Just like giving her a bath or brushing her teeth, desensitizing is key. For example, before I ever used the clippers on her, I would place them in front of her so that she would have an opportunity to touch and smell. When she got use to its presence, I took it a step further. I would turn on the clippers and run it along her body (without cutting any hair) just so she could get use to the vibrations on her skin. With the shears, I took a similar approach. For a while, I would just open and close the shears near her face so that she could get use to the sounds of the blade. Breaking everything down into baby steps and moving at honestly, a glacial pace, really helped ease Miso into her grooming process.
DO YOU LIKE GROOMING MISO?
Being able to groom Miso myself has given me an incredible opportunity to bond with her. Yes, it’s a huge time commitment and there are definitely days where I wished I could delegate or outsource some of the work. But at the end of the day, I am truly grateful I am able to do this for her. I consider it precious time mommy and daughter time. Although, in this case, I may enjoy it slightly more than her.
For those who have been considering home grooming, I hope my grooming journey with Miso can help provide another perspective. I did not get a lot of encouragement from those around me when I first decided to take on this task. I acknowledge home grooming is not for everyone. It's a big time commitment and requires learning new skills. That's why the professionals get paid to do what they do. But for those who understand the commitment required and are not afraid to put in the time, I hope my journey can be that bit of encouragement I did not get.
YOU CAN FOLLOW MORE OF MISO'S ADVENTURES ON HER INSTAGRAM
Here is a previous live I did talking about all the products mentioned above.
This blog post is meant for readers who are interested in Miso. It is neither advice nor recommendation for any of the products mentioned or linked. We do not have a professional background in dog training or veterinary medicine. All thoughts and opinions in these posts are time stamped as of the date posted and may change at any time. Thank you for your readership.
This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you click through an affiliate link to purchase a product.