Last week I had someone ask me how I got the feet on my dogs so neat and round.
This is one of the things that I used to obsess about when I first started grooming.
I hate pointy looking feet.
I like the feet to look nice and round on every dog, even clipdowns.
I don't like the toes to show.
Of course it is not always possible to do this, especially if you have a matted dog with a lot of mats between the toes.
Those feet tend to look like a modified poodle foot when you are done.
Anyway, this is how I get most of my feet neat and round.
No matter what blade I am using on the body, I don't use full pressure on the top of the foot when clipping.
As I clip down the leg, I let up on my pressure just above the ankle joint and skim off of the top of the foot.
How much pressure I use, and how much hair I leave on the top of the foot depends on the thickness of the hair on the feet, and of course, the length of the over all clip.
I want to leave enough hair on the foot to be able to sculpt a round foot even if the dogs foot is naturally pointy.
I start out shaping the foot by clipping the pads out with a #30 blade.
I try to make sure only to clip the area right around the edges of the pads.
Next, I comb all of the hair straight down, so that the long hair hangs over the pads and toenails.
I comb several times to make sure that I get all of those long stray hairs that seem to try to cling to the toes so that when you think you are done, or you are about to hand the dog over to the owner, you look down, and low and behold there is one lone piece of long hair sticking out from between a couple of toes.
That just drives me crazy.
Now I scissor off all of the long hair around the outside of the foot, being careful to shape the foot round.
At the same time I am also angling the scissors to make a bevel.
Be careful not to cut off too much when you are scissoring the sides and front of the underside of the foot.
The bottom of the foot will look something likes this after you scissor the bottoms of the feet.
Note the top of the foot is still pretty furry.
Next, I work on the front of the foot.
I comb the hair down again, towards the sides and the toes.
Then I round up the foot from the front.
Right now I am only concentrating on scissoring and shaping the outside edges of the foot.
Lastly, I take my brush and brush up all of the hair around and on top of the foot.
Then I give the foot a tiny shake so that the hair will fall naturally.
Time for the sculpting and shaping of the top of the foot.
I don't know how else to describe what I am doing, except to say that it is like scissoring a tiny topknot.
I want the foot to have a round appearance on top of the foot as well as around the front of the foot.
Now is the true test, to see if the foot will look round once the dog puts it down.
Every once and awhile you will have a foot that looks really nice while you are holding it up, but as soon as it touches the table and the toes spread, there goes your nice round foot.
Luckily, on this guy, his foot stayed round after he sat it on the ground.
I like to scissor the feet first and then scissor the legs to match and blend into the feet.
Sometimes I need to go back and shape up the feet a little more once the foot is resting on the table.
I leave the foot down on the table, because sometimes what you see that needs to be scissored, will disappear when you pick the foot up again.
I am sure that reading this makes it sound like it takes me forever to scissor a foot, but it doesn't.
The way that I scissor my feet is such a routine for me, that it doesn't take me much time at all to go through all of these steps.
On some dogs I will use my clippers and skim to do a lot of the work.
This is the way that I get nice, neat round feet.
This is what works for me.
Another groomer may scissor a different way.
As you can see by this picture, this guy has been licking his feet so much that he did not have a lot of hair left on his front toes, so I was not able to get the front feet as round as I would like them.
If only every dog had perfectly round, tight feet.
It would make scissoring them so much easier. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF