Part 2: Poodle Grooming - Pre-Bath Brushing & Clipping by AKC Breeder, Cathy McGinnis


Welcome to Part 2  of Poodle grooming with AKC breeder, Cathy McGinnis

Looking for Part 1? Click Here - Part 1: Intro to Cathy McGinnis & Poodle Grooming Equipment


It is imperative that your dog be brushed AND combed completely, as any mats or snarls left in will only get worse after the bathing.

On pet trims, I find it easiest to divide the dog into sections when working. I will brush and comb one leg at a time, then go and brush the tail, topknot and ears. The biggest problem I have as a groomer are owners that do brush their dogs, but do not comb them. It is very easy to think that you are doing a proper job, but unless you run a comb through, you can never be sure that you have brushed all the way to the skin, and removed every knot and tangle.

If you are trying to grow a long coat, remember to never brush a coat dry, as the static can cause the ends to break.

Also, try not to brush a dirty coat. If you stay on top of things, and brush every couple of days (as needed) if your dog gets dirty - just put straight into the bath and brush carefully as you are drying.

When brushing a long coat/show coat, always start from the tips and work towards the skin in smooth motions. Learn not to flick your wrist as you near the ends, as this will break the ends off the coat. By working from the ends to the skin, you will lose less coat if you come across a tangle. If you start at the skin and pull up towards the ends, when you come across a knot, you will drag it through the whole length of the coat and cause more damage to the coat. Recommendation:

Chris Christensen - Fusion Pin Brush, 27mm Pins

I only use a pin brush on the long coat, as it is softer and easier on long hair than a slicker brush. I use a technique called LINE BRUSHING when working on long coats. My dogs lay on their side, and I part the hair from head to tail, and brush and comb this area, and then bring down a little more hair from above the part (moving the part from the spine to the belly). Each section is brushed and then combed before moving to the next section. Before I start brushing, I give a quick, LIGHT mist of conditioner over the coat.

#1 All Systems, Crown Royale - Magic Touch Formula #3 Concentrate or Ready-to-Use, Spray Bottle

This helps to keep the static down, and helps give the coat a little protection while brushing. I spray each section as I work on it. It is a VERY light mist, and the coat is NOT wet, only slightly damp. It dries very quickly - long before moving to the next section. In the winter, when there is more static in the air, I might have to spritz a second time to keep the static down.

Make sure your brush is in good condition - broken, bent or missing pins can damage the coat.

(damaged pin brush)

(new brush in good condition)

If you are not going to be able to brush the coat for more than a few days, and you are concerned about matting, brush an oil spray into the coat - make sure that you completely coat the hair all the way down to the skin. Recommendation:

Chris Christensen - Precious Drop OR Shine for Sure


I prefer to do all the close clipper work BEFORE the bath, so that the small irritating hairs can be washed away, and the skin soothed a bit with the bath water and conditioner. When I am working on shorter coats, I will also clip as much hair off before the bath, just so there is less to wash and dry, but I will go back over the body with the same blade after the bath and blow drying to leave a velvet smooth appearance.

these are the lines that I follow when clipping the face. Make sure you put some tension on the skin as you clip.

Move in the direction of the arrow (pictured), keeping the line between the ear & the eye.

When clipping under the eye, I move upwards to get the little hairs under the eye.

To set the line for the neck, I take the clipper and go down from the ear to the spot on the throat where I want to stop. I don't worry about getting a clean line - I just want to set WHERE it will go & then go back and clean it up.

The line has been set, and now I go back in the direction of the arrows and clean the neck & throat - with the line set from the previous picture, I can stretch the skin and not worry about clipping too wide, as long as I stay within the mark I have set.

To clip the mouth/lip area, stretch the skin towards the ear and then clip in the direction of the nose. Make sure you get that little flew near the canine tooth - it can collect food bits & cause problems and/or odors.

run the clipper down the nose

Setting the line on the other side clean from the ear to the eye

To find out which clippers and other tools Cathy recommends:Click Here - Part 1: Intro to Cathy McGinnis & Recommended Tools for Poodle Grooming


On a very dirty foot,  I don't clip above this line (pictured) - where the large pad

on the back of the foot ends.

Scoop out from the large pad towards the toes both sides of the pad

Spread the toes apart

clip from the toes inward towards the large pad

I like to clip a little between the toes from the back side of the foot

The line that you set on the back (at the top of the large pad) is carried over to the front - do not clip above this line - you can also feel the "wrist" bones, and use that for a reference as to where to clip.

(Clipping the top of the foot)

clip the hair that is left between the toes

To show more detail, I took off the vacuum attachment that I usually use - here are a couple pictures of clipping with the vacuum attached. It takes just a little getting used to, but is wonderful. It sucks all the clipped hair right off the dog, and the blades stay cooler because there is air flowing over the blade constantly.

This is what it looks like on the clipper, and you can see the base unit hanging on the wall behind it.

(Coming soon to


If you look at the underside of the tail, you will see the direction of the hair growth - it splits right down the middle - you want to take your clipper and GENTLY clip away from the anus.

I generally clip at the most one clipper blade width from the anus to the pompom - I set the line while the tail is up, and then put the tail down and continue the line onto the top of the tail

the basic clip around the tail

setting the "V" on the top of the tail

Once you have your line set, take the clipper and run it up to the line to clean in up - do it on both sides

-Cathy McGinnis, AKC Breeder

Tune in next week for Part 3: Bathing, Drying, Wrapping & Banding with AKC Breeder, Cathy McGinnis