Pet Terriers: Classic Clippered Terrier Trim

Styled Up

By Brittney Valle

We see plenty of terrier clients in the salon whose owners simply are not interested in the maintenance or price of handstripping. Clippered terrier trims are very common in the modern grooming salon. In this month’s edition of “Styled Up!” I’ll show you how to create a seamless clippered trim on our model, Tucker, while preserving as much of the coat texture, color and integrity as possible on a pet dog. 

I think it is important to point out that since Tucker is not handstripped and is on a pet schedule of six weeks between grooming appointments, he carries more undercoat than your typical terrier would. As part of his prepping process, I like to make sure he is fully dried with a high velocity dryer, as well as fluff dried with a hot stand dryer as this will help remove some of the excess undercoat.

Fig 1&2) To finish removing undercoat, I like to rake out my terriers with undercoat rakes before clippering. I begin with a wider–toothed rake, and when that fails to pull any more undercoat out, I move to the finer–toothed undercoat rake. Finally, I gently rake the top of his head and his muzzle to maintain as much wire and integrity as I can.

Fig 3) I begin his haircut by using a yellow snap–on comb (0 or 5/8”) over the #40 setting on my 5–in–1 clipper. I clip with the grain of the coat growth from the back of his neck down to his tail.

Fig 4) Continuing to clipper with the flow of coat growth, I clip straight down to the elbow and skim my attachment comb off at that point. This allows me to leave his legs a little fuller in order to maintain balance and maintain a trim as close to breed standard for a pet as possible.

Fig 5) My special trick when it comes to blending the ribcage on a terrier pattern (and a variety of other patterns with skirt or furnishings!) is to take my hand and gently roll the skin upward toward the opposite side of the dog. This roll will pop the coat out on the side you are clipping—I then clip straight toward the ground. Any coat sticking outside of the parallel lines of the dog’s side comes off. You might notice that on Tucker I dropped to a #1 snap–on comb for his ribcage. This will give him a sleeker trim and creates an instant tummy tuck illusion.

Fig 6) When clippering the rump I follow the musculature of the dog and clip the entire top muscle of the back leg and skim off the back end at the point of rump.

Fig 7) I clipped Tucker’s entire tail with the #1 snap–on comb.

Fig 8) To set in the chest of the dog, I find the point of chest and reverse the snap–on comb from point of chest up into the throat. Not only does this create a shorter surface on the front of the dog, but it allows you to have a clean, seamless transition from head to neck without compromising any of the necessary coat to create a rounded head shape.

Fig 9) Once I finish my clipper work, I begin scissor work by rounding the feet. I like to start at the front of the foot and trim a straight line while the foot is on the ground, just in front of the toenails. I then trim the sides of the foot in a straight line as well and round off the sides.

Fig 10) To create the illusion of correct upper arm proportions, I cut Tucker’s front assembly in with a 45 degree angle from point of chest toward withers, and another 45 degree angle from point of chest toward elbow. I clean up everything that sticks outside of these lines with an aggressive thinner. I like to use this thinner for clipper terriers as it gives a softer and more natural finish than the more blunt cut of a shear.

Figs 11) I finish my body–blending by using the same thinner and blending the clippered parts of the body in with what is left on the legs and skirt. There is little blending left since we used the skimming technique, but going back over these areas with thinners just ensures a nice finish.

Fig 12) To blend the chest in, I comb everything out and toward the front and use my thinners to trim the bib off in a straight vertical line.

Fig 13) I finish my body work by cleaning up the underline.

Fig 14) Before I start my head, I shave the tips of the ears with a blade that the dog’s skin will tolerate (Tucker got a #10 on the outside and a #30 on the inside). My rule of thumb for the amount to shave is usually about the length of my thumbnail. I follow that up with scissoring the tip of the ear to create a nice crisp peak. Keep in mind it is imperative that you use caution when scissoring ear tips—I like to lay my thumb along the edge of the ear to protect the skin in case the dog decides to jerk right as I am scissoring—we have all met those dogs that hear the sound of shears and twitch their ear! With this holding procedure, should Tucker move his head while I am scissoring, I would nick myself before him. The ultimate goal is neither of us, but I would prefer to accidentally cut myself before the dog.

Figs 15) Once you have the ear tips shaved, comb the hair on top of the head straight up and gather it around the ear—scissor it off at the same line to which you shaved the tip of the ear—again, protect the dog’s ear leather while doing this. I usually do this in stages and gather the hair around one ear, trim it and use that hair to measure across the top of the head until I reach the other ear. This way I know that the hair is the same length on top of the head.

Fig 16) Once I have set the length on the top of the head, I set the length of the cheeks and side of the head. To do this, I fold the ear over on itself and lay the tip of my shear at the shaved portion of the ear. Anything that falls within the blades of my shears is excess cheek hair and can come off.

Fig 17) I continue the shape of the cheek to the muzzle by cleaning up the outside edge of the head.

Fig 18) To finish the head, I trim the bottom of the chin in proportion with the rest of the head. I like a shorter chin as it helps to raise the balance point of the head up toward the eyes. I took about an inch off of Tucker’s chin. 

Fig 19) Finally, I comb the muzzle hair out to the side and round it in from bottom to top on both sides, as well as comb the muzzle hair forward and cut off any excess sticking out in front of the dog’s nose. 

Fig 20) My last step in grooming a clippered terrier is all about helping to maintain as much integrity of the coat as possible. Since these coats are meant to be plucked, they do get softer and lose their pigment as they get clipped. Carding not only helps to remove the rest of the excess undercoat, but it also helps to maintain some texture and color in the coat. The final thing it assists with is helping to remove any clipper or blender lines we have not scissored out.

I hope you got some great info to try out on your own clients. A lot of these tips and tricks might seem small but will really help set your style apart and keep your terriers coming back time after time! ✂️