The Poodle - Groomer to Groomer

Bread & Butter Grooming
Fast & Easy Pet Trims for the Salon

The Poodle

By Kathy Rose

The Poodle is one of the few breeds that has many styles that adhere to breed profile without actually being breed ring acceptable. The concept is to keep your sights on the outline of the dog and try to accentuate the dog’s attributes and minimize the structural faults. This is what is meant by “grooming to breed profile,” and it transcends to all breeds.

With that said, the Poodle is the only pure breed that can be styled in a trim other than that which is accepted in the AKC show ring for grooming competition purposes in pure breed classes. They really are a breed of their own, so to speak.

This trim has many names, but I usually refer to it as a pet puppy trim. This concept connotes a shorter body with fuller legs and scissored crest. For the dog pictured, I used a “0” snap-on comb on the back, neck, undercarriage, and back of the rear legs. I then switched to an “A” comb for the remainder of the body. For the legs, I used an “E” comb. When using snap-on combs to “block in” your trims, remember that it is only necessary to tidy up afterward with your scissors, not take off more length.

As always, meticulous preparation including fluff drying, nail clipping and sanitary are done in advance and not covered here.


Fig. 1: After shaving the feet, use your clipper with a #40 blade to create a cuff. With one hand, grip the dog’s leg at the wrist. Trim the hair beyond your hand with the clipper. You will need to “tidy” the bevel a little with scissors.

Fig. 2: To determine how far down the throat to trim, place your thumb on the hollow at the dog’s throat and your index finger on his nose. While keeping your finger and thumb spread, place your index finger on the hollow. Where your thumb places on the throat is where you stop clipping. The length of throat necklace is roughly the length of the dog’s muzzle.

Fig. 3: Trim a pyramid-shaped tail band, point toward the front of the dog. The tail band helps to set the appearance of the tail set. A low tail set can be improved by placing the band higher on the dog’s croup.

Fig. 4: Starting a few inches behind the withers, clip the back, falling off just above the point of rump.

Fig. 5: Continue clipping down the back of the upper thigh, stopping a few inches above the hock.

Fig. 6: Beginning just behind the ear, clip down the neck, throat, and shoulder. Leave a triangle of coat on the back of the neck, ending in a point a bit behind the withers (where you began clipping the topline). “Fall off” before clipping into the leg coat.

Fig. 7: Clipping against the coat growth direction, trim the undercarriage. If the dog is thin, use a slightly longer guard for the rib cage, loin, and undercarriage.

Fig. 8: Switch to a longer snap-on comb. Usually at least two lengths longer provides the best results. Clip down the front and side portions of the front legs, falling off before clipping into the rear portion of the front leg. With the dog standing, skim down the rear portion of the front leg.

Trim the rear legs down the sides, falling off at the hock and only skimming on the front portion of the rear legs.

You can trim the inside of the rear legs by holding up the opposite leg.

Fig. 9: Bevel the triangle tail band and clean up the edges. Tidy the upper thigh to the pin bone, creating a ledge from the pin bone to the rump.

Fig. 10: To determine an approximate tuck up placement, lift the rear leg naturally. The spot where the knee meets the groin is where to place the tuck up.

Fig. 11: Scissor a continuous line from the forechest to the undercarriage.

Fig. 12: Scissor a contoured waist.

Fig. 13: Bevel the “V” in the necklace.

Using long curved shears, scissor the forechest and shoulders. The areas at the point of shoulders should be very tight, which will help to place the front legs under the dog.

Fig. 14: Blend the sides of the neck into the neck and crest.

Fig. 15: Tidy the coat on the legs. Remember you have already clippered this coat, so you only need to tidy the stray hair.

Lift the rear leg and trim straight to the knee, then turn and trim up to the tuck up. This will help show a bend in stifle.

The rear legs should look parallel when viewed from the rear.

Fig. 16: Slightly lift the front leg straight forward and trim the stray hairs. Again, remember you have already removed length with your clippers so you only need to tidy the stray hairs.

Fig. 17: With the dog standing, trim the stray hairs on the sides and rear of the front legs. To trim the back of the rear leg, lift the leg straight back and trim from behind.

Fig. 18: Placing your scissors on a 45-degree angle outward from the top knot, trim across the front of the top knot. Still at an angle, trim the sides to form a rectangular box. Using long curved shears, round the edges of the box to form the rounded topknot.

Fig. 19: Using long curves inverted, blend the top knot into the crest and neck.

Fig. 20: Comb the tail hair toward the tip, and then trim the end. Holding the tail upright, comb the coat toward the base and cuff. Finish by shaping into a ball.

This elegant dog is probably one of our most popular Bread & Butter clients. The variety of sizes, coats, and client preferences provides a limitless menu of styles to create.

Always keep in mind the breed standard when grooming, even if you are not providing a “show” trim. The client, although they may not know the difference, will recognize the more attractive appearance. This not only will help to keep them coming back but will help keep you motivated to continue to learn and expand your skills as a professional!

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