How long should a dog blade stay sharp?
The cutting edge on a dog blade tends to last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks between sharpening for professionals (when used daily on multiple dogs), to an average of 3 to 6 months for home users, depending on a number of factors - however it is possible to blunt even a brand new, sharp blade within minutes (keep reading for the ways to avoid this). A blade just used for trimming (such as between paw pads), will stay sharper longer than a blade used for all-over coat clipping.
A dog's coat will blunt a blade much faster than human hair does, and a horse's coat will dull a blade even faster again, however there are steps you can take to retain a sharper edge on your clipper blades for longer, and avoid a brand new sharp blade becoming dull from the first use.
The most common factors that cause blades to become blunt
Coat prep is a key factor. Clipping a 'dirty' coat is the number one cause of a blade becoming blunt faster than it should. Only clip a freshly washed, 100% dry coat, directly after washing and drying. Even a coat washed the day before can quickly attract dirt and dust.
Modern clippers can run at 3,800+ strokes per minute (SPM) on high speed - that's around 40 fine metal teeth cutting back-and-forth 60+ times a second - each tooth acting like a tiny pair of scissors. Even a little dirt, sand, grit etc acts like sandpaper on those fine teeth, causing even a brand new, sharp blade to become dull or blunt surprisingly fast.
Coat condition is also a factor. A knotted or matted coat for example traps a lot of dirt in the coat, which is difficult to wash out before clipping. Remove all knots possible before washing.
Coat type is also a factor. Coarser, thicker or double coats will dull a blade faster than finer, lighter coats. Of course hair, dirt and other debris cannot be completely avoided, so even a clipper that's touched nothing but clean, dry coats, will become dull then blunt over time, which is normal wear and tear.
Friction causes blades to heat up, and is another cause of blades becoming dull sooner than normal. Whether metal or ceramic, blades can get very hot (ceramic blades can stay cooler up to 5x longer than steel, but will still heat up). It's important to always apply oil before using any blade, and during clipping if needed. Touch the blade every 10 minutes or so to check it's not too hot (less often for lighter coats and when clippers are on lower speeds).
Search our help section for the 'how to oil' video that shows you where and how to apply oil. Clipper oil is different from other types of oil (which can be too heavy or too light) so be sure to use clipper oil (any brand is fine, it does not have to be the same brand as your blades or clippers). Oil lubricates the blade which reduces friction and heat.
If your blade is too hot, either swap it for a cool blade, put it down until it cools down, or if you prefer not to wait, apply coolant (such as a spray or dip). Remember coolant will usually strip the oil on the blade at the same time as it cools the blade, so always apply a couple of drops of oil again and run your blade to distribute the oil after using any coolant, before continuing to clip.
Another overlooked cause of a sharp blade going blunt sooner than expected, is your blade sharpener. The right equipment plus experience is needed to sharpen a blade correctly. A blade must be hollow ground, to the right depth, and at the correct angle, then re-assembled with the correct tension. A good sharpener can give you a sharper edge on your blades for longer.
AllGroom offers blade sharpening (look for it under the Blades category).