Published on: 12/03/2021, updated on: 12/04/2021

How to Groom a Poodle: An Easy Guide

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Keeping your poodle groomed is one of the most intimidating responsibilities of owning one. The curly hair and coat of these pooches are beautiful and iconic. Sometimes it can seem daunting to keep them looking their best, especially when it comes to grooming a poodle at home.

With the right approach and simple techniques, you can easily groom a poodle. Moreover, your bond with your pooch will be stronger when you learn to do it yourself. With patience and a simple willingness to practice, poodle grooming will be a breeze for you. For your convenience, this article will guide you through the whole process.

Why Is It Important to Get Your Poodle Groomed?

Other dogs generally have two layers of fur that shed after growing to a certain length. The fur of poodles is very different. They have long strands of curly hair on top and a light undercoat. If not brushed and groomed properly, their fur will form mats and get tangled easily just like human hair.

This leads to numerous diseases like dermatitis and also causes discomfort for the dog. The fluffy look and the aesthetic appeal are bonuses. Hence, it is vital to regularly get your poodle groomed.


The Different Types of Poodle Grooming Tools You Need

To get started, you need to make sure that you have everything you need for grooming your poodle without any issues. Here are the essential tools you will need:

  1. Slicker Brush
  2. Grooming Shears
  3. Stainless Steel Comb
  4. Attachment/Guard Combs
  5. Dog Clippers
  6. Dog-Safe Shampoo
  7. Towel
  8. Dog Toothbrush
  9. Dog Treats

Basics of Poodle Coat Care

Poodles are hypoallergenic dogs and are non-shedding. You need to brush your poodle’s hair every day regularly to prevent any formation of tangles and mats.

Their fur also needs to be regularly trimmed and clipped. If you neglect regular brushing and grooming, your poodle might end up bald or suffer from various skin infections. This will lead to frequent expensive trips to the vet.

If the coat is matted and tangled excessively beyond repair, your pooch needs to be shorn fully. This involves getting rid of all the fur without damaging the sensitive skin of the poodle. Basic grooming involves brushing the coat first, then bathing and rinsing, fluffing dry, and finally clipping and training your poodle.


How to Clean and Bathe Your Poodle

It is vital to bathe your dog first to get rid of any grease and dirt. It will make trimming easier and more manageable. The following poodle grooming instructions will guide you through this process.

1. Start by Brushing Your Poodle

It is recommended to brush the hair of the poodle to remove any tangles regularly, before bath time, and obviously before trimming their hair. Brushing their hair before bathing them makes it easier to clean them. Use a slicker brush to detangle and remove mats gently. Start brushing from the neck and move down toward the tail.

poodle brushing

2. Gently Remove Tangles

Some mats and tangles cannot be removed by brushing. You need to use scissors carefully to remove them. It’s essential to remove mats every time you encounter them. They cause discomfort to your pet as they pull at the skin.

Use scissors to cut in the direction of the hair coat, not across. Also, ensure that you can see the sharp end of the scissors before you cut to make sure that you don’t cut the skin. The mat should be loose enough to comb out after a bit of cutting.

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3. Prepare a Bath for Your Dog

Dirty and greasy fur can dull your clipper blades, making the grooming session a tad difficult. To avoid such issues, you need to know how to bathe a poodle before trimming and clipping its hair.

Fill your bathtub with a few inches of water, enough so it’s ankle-deep. It doesn’t need to be filled to the brim so that your dog can feel comfortable and splash around a bit.

4. Wet the Coat

You need to lift your dog into the tub and wet its coat. Use a pitcher or a cup to pour water gently all over your poodle from head to tail. Avoid getting water in their ears or eyes.

5. Shampoo from Head to Tail

Do not use human shampoo on your poodle. The pH levels of the skin of humans and dogs are very different. Moreover, the ingredients of the human shampoo can be harmful to your dog. Use dog-safe shampoo specially made for poodles or curly fur. Your dog might enjoy the bath and relax when you’re rubbing in the shampoo. 

poodle bath soap

6. Rinse Thoroughly

After shampooing, you need to rinse thoroughly. Continue rinsing until the water no longer appears soapy and runs clear. Be careful around your dog’s eyes and ears to ensure that no soapy water gets in.

7. Dry the Coat

Gently wipe and dab them from head to tail with a towel. Brush the coat again after the bath and then finish off with the towel again. Use clean paper towels or another towel to thoroughly clean and dry your poodle’s ears. Doing so will prevent any microbial infection.

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How to Prepare for Clipping Your Poodle

The bathing was the first part of preparing your poodle for clipping. Follow the steps below for complete preparation and to make the whole experience seamless.

1. Decide on a Cut for Your Poodle

The standard poodle cuts are the puppy clip, the bikini clip, and the continental clip. There are other poodle groom styles you can go for, but these common cuts are the easiest. All of these styles involve shaving or trimming the poodle’s feet, the base of the tail, and face. Depending on the selected clip, the style of the dog’s fur changes significantly.

poodle cuts

2. Invest in High-Quality Clippers and Scissors

Getting high-quality clipping tools will be better for your poodle and will benefit both of you in the long run. There is less of a chance of pulling the fur or scraping your dog’s skin with better quality clippers. It is easier to groom when using a cordless trimmer and sharp scissors with incredible grip.

3. Use the Appropriate Blades

You need to use the right blades when trimming. Clippers come with interchangeable blades that are numbered. These numbers indicate the length of fur that they will leave after the trim. Higher numbers indicate shorter hair.

You will likely need various clipper blades, usually 5, 7, 10, and 15. If you aren’t able to get them all at once, just start with a 10 or 15. It is best to not use 30 and 40 blades as they need expertise to be used. Improper use of these very short blades can burn or scrape the skin. They should only be used by professional groomers.

4. Introduce Your Poodle to the Clippers

Turn the clippers on around your dog before you start clipping. This is crucial for puppies and dogs who have not been groomed regularly. Over time, your poodle will become more accustomed and comfortable around the clippers.


How to Trim a Poodle’s Face and Top Knot

The following steps will guide you through trimming your poodle’s face and topknot.

1. Shave from the Ear to the Eye

Start by switching the clipper on and place it just under the opening in the poodle’s ear. By trimming from the ear opening towards the eye, create a line from the ear to the eye.

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2. Shave the Area Between the Eyes

Position the clippers right next to the inner eye corner and pull an inch or two down the nose. Then slowly move the trimmer over until the area between the eyes has been shaved.

3. Shave the Snout

Commence with the area you have just shaved between the pooch’s eyes and shave down the snout toward the nose. Then trim from the nose along the sides of the face back toward the ear. You may need to shave in more than one direction.

4. Trim the Neck

Lift the poodle’s snout gently and trim from the tip of the chin down the neck. Stop when you reach the chest. The shape can be either in a U or V shape beneath the ears down to the neck and chest junction.

poodle trim neck

5. Make the Fluffy Top Knot

To make the fluffy topknot, you need to leave the fur above the poodle’s eyes. Comb the hair on top of the dog’s head up and then forward to make it flop over the eyes. Then cut a visor line just above the eyes with scissors.

Trim a small arch above the poodle’s ears with scissors, then brush the topknot hair toward the ears and trim a straight line from the eye corner to the ear opening with scissors. You might need to flip the ears back to see the opening.

Then brush all the topknot hair to one side for styling and shaping. Trim overhanging or uneven fur with curved scissors. Then repeat on the other side.


How to Shave Your Poodle’s Feet

The following instructions will guide you through shaving your poodle’s feet.

poodle shave feet

1. Shave the Back of the Foot

Start above the feet pads and locate the ankle. Trim down with clippers from the ankle to the largest footpad. Trimming this area first should let you find the dog’s ankle and set the ankle line.

2. Trim Between the Dog’s Foot Pads

Stretch the pooch’s toe pads apart and trim in between each pad with clippers. There should be no long fur projecting from between the footpads.

3. Set the Poodle’s Ankle Line

The ankles should remain covered in long fur, but the feet must be cleanly shaved. Shave the area below the hocks by locating and trimming the joint where the ankle bends.

4. Shave the Top of the Poodle’s Foot

Start shaving from the ankle down the top of the paws. You might also need to reverse the direction and go up from the paws to the ankle.

poodle before and after shaving feet

5. Spread the Toes Apart and Trim

The sides and webbing of each toe need to be shaved. To access difficult areas easily, try pulling the skin tight over the toe, which will pull the fur out. Ensure that the ankle lines of each paw are at the same level. If one ankle looks higher, trim the other one level with the ankle line.


How to Trim a Poodle’s Fur

As stated earlier, there are three common types of poodle cuts: puppy, bikini, and continental. The following steps will guide you through each style of cut.

How to Puppy Clip Your Poodle

The puppy clip is mainly for show puppies that are below one year of age. The cut comprises longer fur that is about the same length with a short trimmed tail base, feet, and face. This clip is typically done with scissors to evenly cut the dog’s leg and body fur. If you use clippers, use the number 3, 4, or 5 blades. Brush your pooch’s fur neatly and then trim the fur at a uniform length along the body and legs.

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How to Bikini Clip Your Poodle

A bikini clip is also known as a Miami clip. It is ideal for poodles in regions with a warm climate. It has a closely cut tail base, feet, and face. The fur is left long in pom poms above the feet on each leg. The trim should be at a uniform length.

Using a 15 blade, trim the tail base, feet, and face. Then with a 7 or 5 blade, trim the legs and body. Use scissors to trim the tail pom, pom poms, and topknot. Then with a 10 blade, trim the stomach.

How to Continental Clip Your Poodle

The continental cut poodle is a classic poodle look and consists of a closely shaved tail base, feet, upper legs, hindquarters, and face. Fluffy pom poms are made just at the tail end and above the feet. The fur on the ears, head, and chest are neatly trimmed and left long. You need to first closely shave the feet and face. 

Then shave from the tail base to several inches above the base. The next step is to shave the front legs from below the elbow joint toward the ankle, leaving behind a poofy pom over the leg hocks. Shave the back legs, then leave two round furs or rosettes above the poodle’s hips in the back. Then shave from the rosettes down the legs to the rear hocks’ pom poms. All the fur should be trimmed evenly with scissors and kept rounded.


Useful Tips for Trimming

Here are some useful poodle grooming tips.

Keep Your Poodle Calm and Happy

It is vital to keep your poodle calm throughout the whole process. Talk to them in a soothing voice and tell them how nice their hair will be. Give them praise, pats, and other forms of positive reinforcement. Give your dog treats after shaving each part of the body along with verbal praise. Doing so will keep them calm, and they will be assured that there is nothing to worry about.

Take Your Time

Let your poodle sniff the grooming station and clippers. Let her walk a few steps and be familiar with the tools. You can also turn the clippers on and let them examine it from a safe distance so that they don’t get spooked by the noise. Take your time and be gentle when dealing with your dog. If necessary, you can also take a few breaks for a breather.


Are Poodles Easy to Groom?

Unfortunately, they are not easy to groom as their hair gets tangled easily, and they do not shed after reaching a certain length like other dogs.

Do You Need to Wash a Poodle Before Clipping?

Yes, you need to wash your poodle before grooming. The grease and dirt in the fur will blunt your clippers, making the whole process difficult. Shampooing is part of basic poodle hair care.

Can I Groom My Poodle Myself?

Yes, you can groom the poodle yourself with the right tools and patience.

How Often Do Poodles Need to Be Groomed?

Poodles need to be groomed about every six weeks. An ungroomed poodle will suffer various health issues.

How Do I Trim the Inside of My Poodle's Ears if She Gets Angry?

Ear hairs on poodles should be plucked rather than clipped. Pull only a few hairs at a time, and use the special tweezers developed for this purpose and to avoid grabbing too many hairs with your fingers. Your veterinarian should be able to show you how to perform it, or you can watch online video tutorials.


Poodles are smart dogs who are eager to please their owners. Keep your poodle calm and give positive reinforcement throughout the entire grooming session. Make sure you have all the tools you need and groom your pup’s hair regularly.

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