Poodle Grooming

Poodle Grooming Hairstyles

The Poodle is a breed that can have a variety of different trims. This is the way to go if you want a typical breed trim with a topknot, pom-pom tail, and clean-shaved feet and face.
To begin, the Poodle must be clean and dry, with all hair blown-dry straight and fluffed to ensure an even trim.

Poodle Faces

The inverted “V” between the dog’s eyes in the photo on this page is what you can shave to keep hair out of your dog’s face. Shaving hair over the Poodle’s eyes to remove excess hair ruins the appearance of the topknot. If you do this, the only way to correct the situation is to let the hair grow out.

Hold the skin taut and shave against the lay of the hair from the ear to the outside corner of the eye when shaving a Poodle face. This will aid in the definition of the face from the topknot. Shave the entire face with a light touch and extreme caution around the lips.

Lip Folds

When you get to the lip fold on the bottom lip of the dog’s face, put your finger inside the corner of the mouth and pull it back to straighten the lip fold, then carefully clip the lip fold area. If this area is not carefully shaved and cleaned, bacteria can build up and cause sores in many breeds, including Poodles and Spaniels.

Poodle Tails

Many breeds, including the Poodle, have their tails docked, at least in the United States. You can make a nice ball at the end of the tail if it was docked correctly, leaving about two-thirds of the tail length. When held straight up in the air, the end of the Poodle tail should reach the level of the occiput, or back of the head. Whatever is missing in the tail will be compensated for with hair on the tail’s tip. The length of the dog’s tail will determine how it is clipped. You don’t want the tail to look long and gangly, like a ball on the end of a long stick, nor do you want it to look like a bunny tail, with no separation between the dog’s back and the tail. If the tail was docked incorrectly or the dog’s tail was amputated short, there isn’t always much choice.

Where Do You Trim It?

Many pet owners who groom their own pets make mistakes with the tail. The tail of this Poodle has been docked very short. To compensate, extra hair is being allowed to grow on the ends. This leaves you with little room to separate the ball from the tail. If you trim the tail closer to the end, there will be insufficient hair to form a ball, and it will appear sparse. The dotted lines in the above photo indicate where you should shave the tail very short. The inverted “V” on the top of the tail is an option for a dog with a very short docked tail; it creates the illusion of a longer tail. However, the owner of this dog prefers not to have the “V,” so it will be trimmed to their specifications.

Poodle Feet

The Poodle’s shaved feet help to define the breed. No other breed’s grooming standards include shaved feet. The trick is to shave the foot so that it appears bare, but not to shave it too high, exposing the ankles.

The groomer holds the foot bones on the sides of the foot to mark the area where she wants the foot trimmed.

High Waters

High waters — when someone trims the dog’s foot too high up — is a groomer’s pet peeve. Both sides of the foot have bones (see arrow in photo above). That’s the limit for shaved feet; any higher and you’ll have high waters that look rather silly.


The most difficult aspect of trimming Poodle feet is getting between the toes. Trimming between the toes from the bottom of the foot is preferred by most groomers. This allows you to spread your toes apart and clip between each toe, making it easier to get along your toenails. It is beneficial to use a small clipper. Shave the underside of the foot and remove any hair between the pads.

To make a Poodle foot, shave it from the bottom, between the toes, carefully spreading the toes apart to avoid nicking.

Shaving Feet

Once you’ve clipped the bottom of the foot and between each toe, you can finish by clipping any hairs that stick out around the nail bed. The foot of the Poodle should be neat and smooth.


To complete the look of a Poodle foot, a bevel on the leg hair just above each foot is required. This causes the hair to angle down toward the foot and removes overgrown hair that would otherwise conceal the foot.

Hair Shrinkage

After you’ve shaved your Poodle foot, it’s time to set your bevel on the leg hair. Comb the leg hair down and secure it just past the bone where you trimmed your foot. Take your clipper and gently tap the foot with the pointed end of the blade to remove any hair that is hanging over. This will result in a lovely foot. Remember, curly hair tends to shrink up; if you cut it too short it will look funny.


The Poodle topknot is its crowning glory, and it can be difficult to achieve the desired look. One mistake many owners make in order to get hair out of the eyes of the dog is to cut into the topknot hair over the eyes. This makes it impossible to straighten up the topknot until it has grown out for some time. Instead of cutting the hair over the eyes, lay your shears on the bridge of the nose and trim the hair straight across.

To define the topknot from the ear of the dog, lay your shears over the top of the dog’s ear from the corner of the eye to the top of the ear and trim that hair.

Curved shears work great on Poodle topknots and any area that needs a slight curve. They are another valuable piece of equipment many groomers refuse to do without.

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