The Ultimate Poodle Clippers & Grooming Guide
Of the many breeds we get asked for advice about, the Poodle and Poodle crosses are one of the most frequent. If your dog has a Poodle coat, this guide is for you. There’s also a specific guide for the Labradoodle, Cavoodle, Spoodle and other ‘Oodle coats: The Ultimate ‘Oodle Grooming Guide >
When does the adult coat come in?
Poodles are a breed which should be introduced to grooming at a young age to get them used to being brushed, scissored and clipped regularly for the rest of their life, even though the puppy coat won’t require much maintenance until they are older. The work put in when young will make the world of difference.
Anywhere from around 6 to 10 months of age, the curlier adult coat will start to come through and that soft, wavy puppy coat will fall out. Suddenly a pup’s easy-care coat becomes very tangle and knot-prone, and will form nasty mats if knots are not quickly found and removed.
Being ‘non shed’ (although they actually do shed), and because the Poodle’s wool coat is so curly, dead hair just gets trapped in the coat, so knots can form surprisingly fast. This coat change can happen again around the 2 year mark when the adult coat is fully through, but some Poodles won’t grow in to their full adult coat until they are 3 years old.
Genetics play a part, but in general, Standard Poodles go through the coat change later but faster, with the coat change starting around 9 to 16 months but only taking around 3 months to complete, whereas the smaller guys like Toy Poodles may take the longest, around 9 months or so. A Poodle that has not been fixed can experience coat changes also, often seen as thinning, sometimes only in patches that can get so thin you can easily see the skin.
What coat type does an adult Poodle have?
A Poodle’s adult coat is a thick, dense, coarse, single-layer coat of very curly hair. If your dog is a Poodle mix, what the adult coat will turn out like is harder to predict when they’re young. Adult Poodle curls can range from softer wavier curls to coarse, tight spiral curls and even cord-like ringlets. Daily brushing (with a pin brush, not just a bristle brush) is recommended. A wide-toothed comb and slicker brush are popular also for targeting removal of tangles and knots to prevent matting.
TIP: Avoid the shampoo mistake! Remember never skip conditioner with the Poodle coat (whether it’s a rinse off conditioner, a spray-on or a leave in formula). Using conditioner after shampoo will help close and smooth the cuticle to reduce knots forming and make brushing easier. Coat sprays – especially oil-based ones (like argan oil or mink oil), or an anti-stat spray - are particularly popular with the Poodle coat to prevent frizz, damaged ends and fly-aways. Those types of sprays also help prevent knotting and are best when used before and during brushing.
Which clippers are best for the Poodle coat?
There are a lot of clipper models to choose from. We’ve included a list below of the best selling corded and cordless clippers all rated for the Poodle coat. With that dense, curly, wool coat, you’re looking for super duty level clippers, rated for ‘full body’ clipping for ‘difficult’ coats. That way even if your dog gets a bad mat, or if your Poodle has an extra dense or corded coat, your clippers will cope easily. In general, look for a multi-speed, professional clipper. Read the clipper description and look for a clipper that says it’s rated for all coat types. The description might mention something like ...for difficult, thick, double, wool or mixed texture coats... which is what you want, as you need the right combination of power, speed and torque.
TIP: ‘Light use’ clippers are an option when your Poodle pup still has their puppy coat. These are often cheaper too. A clipper that says it’s for ‘light use’ or lighter or thinner coats, will do the job when your Poodle still has their puppy coat, but is likely to struggle when they get their adult coat. Some trimmers can be used as full body clippers temporarily also when your Poodle is a puppy and yet to get their adult coat, making ‘light use’ clippers or trimmers an ideal first clipper if you don’t want to get full power clippers straight away (note that light use clippers or trimmers will need to be upgraded later when the adult coat comes through).
Clippers for Poodles
TIP before you buy any clippers > Know what A5 means
If the clipper description says A5 model (or A5 style or A5 type), that tells you the clipper is compatible with all universal comb attachments, and all A5 type blades, by all brands - so you have no restrictions on you now or later. A5 model clippers give you the widest range of accessories.
Some clippers have a limited range of blades and comb attachments, but A5 model clippers fit almost every blade and comb attachment available by all brands. Trimmers are not A5 models. They normally have their own, smaller blades and unique combs that only fit that exact model of trimmer.
The clippers below are all from our current best sellers list, and all are A5 models, all rated for the Poodle coat. This is not a complete list though! Just a handy starting point so you're not overwhelmed with options. Don't rule out other clippers just because they are not listed here. You can use the advice above to compare any clipper.
CORDED clippers for the Poodle coat
Andis AGC Super 2 Speed Brushless > A newer tech brushless motor, A5 model clipper, with 2 speeds. Two AGC models are available. Look for the one with 'Super' in the name. Brushless motors run quieter, weigh less, yet have more power and torque for difficult coats.
Wahl KM5 > A standard rotary motor, A5 model clipper with 2 speeds.
Wahl KM10 > Wahl's brushless motor option. A level up from the KM5 (similar level to the Andis AGC). A 2 speed, A5 model clipper.
Andis Excel 5 > A smaller body clipper for smaller hands. Rotary motor, A5 model, but with the extra benefit of 5 speeds. Same top 2 speeds with 3 extra slower speeds that 2 speed models don't have. Slower speeds reduce blade heat, run quieter with less vibration for sensitive areas.
CORDLESS clippers for the Poodle coat
Andis Pulse ZR II > Links to the black model, but available in different colours. A 5 speed cordless that comes with 2 batteries for endless run-time. A5 model. Storage carry case included.
Heiniger Opal > Heiniger's newer, brushless motor, A5 model cordless. 2 speeds. Comes with 1 battery but has a very long run-time (3 to 4 hours).
Wahl KM Cordless > Wahl's brushless cordless. Different than typical, no removable battery, so clipper itself plugs in to charge. Can use corded or cordless.
Heiniger Saphir > Heiniger's single speed, A5 model cordless. Although single speed, has the power and torque to handle the Poodle coat with ease. Available either with 1 battery, or with 2 batteries + case.
TIP: If budget allows, a 5 speed clipper is worth considering (there are corded and cordless options), as having those extra, lower speeds, means you can turn them down to run quieter with less vibration, ideal for puppies, for anxious dogs, for sensitive areas, and for when you’re learning to clip. Lower speeds also means the blade stays cooler for longer to help avoid blade burn so you can take your time. 5 speed clippers still give you the high speeds and the extra torque you need for difficult, thick or knotted areas.
TIP: BEFORE you buy any clipper …
All the clippers listed above come with a standard #10 blade included free. They do NOT come with longer blades, or with comb attachments though, so to get longer coat lengths check the guide below to avoid disappointment. You'll need to purchase what you want separately with your clipper.
With most clippers you'll also need oil and coolant, and for longer coat lengths, either one comb attachment, or one longer blade (depending on your preference on coat length). You don't have to get multiple blades though, you can just use different lengths of comb attachments on the 10 blade that comes with your clippers, however with only one blade it will need sharpening or replacing more often.
Trimmers for Poodles
Many Poodle owners also get a trimmer to use on delicate, smaller, injury-prone areas. Like the feet, between paw pads, for the face, ears, nose and eyes, and around the rectum, groin and genitals (called a ‘sanitary trim’). Full-size clippers can be used for these areas instead, however factors to consider are how sensitive your dog is, which size Poodle you own, whether you want to go cordless for tricky areas, if you want a smaller blade to get to difficult areas more easily, or if your dog is noise or vibration sensitive. Trimmers are almost essential for Toy Poodles for example with everything being that much tinier!
If your dog is anxious about being groomed, a trimmer is ideal for anywhere sensitive. Trimmers are much lighter, smaller and quieter than clippers. A trimmer's much narrower blade width makes access to tricky or delicate areas a lot easier, also reducing the risk of injury, ideal if you're a beginner.
Trimmers for the Poodle coat
MINI Trimmers have around a 3cm blade width. Ideal size for both Toy and Miniature Poodles, for paws, faces, genitals, armpits, and for trimming any delicate or tricky areas.
Shernbao Mini > A budget-friendly option. may not last as long as the models below but such a good price it's hard to resist.
Wahl Brav Mini > A popular trimmer model that comes with a starter kit for 5 coat lengths.
Heiniger Mini > Swiss-made quality. Lovely model that comes with a starter kit with 4 coat lengths.
MIDI Trimmers have a medium width blade around 4cm. This size is popular as a first clipper for all-over use for puppies before they get their adult coat, but you can use the midi size as trimmers for adults too, especially for Standard Poodles (although many do prefer the mini size).
Codos > A budget-friendly option that comes with a starter kit for 8 coat lengths.
Wahl Arco > A popular midi size model complete with a starter kit for 9 coat lengths.
What blades are best for the Poodle coat?
Check what type your clipper is first. If you have an A5 model clipper in any brand, almost every blade we sell will fit on your clipper, no matter what brand your clipper is, or what brand the blade is. You can then mix and match to suit your needs, so an Andis blade can go on a Wahl clipper, a Geib blade on an Andis clipper, a Wahl comb attachment on an Andis blade and so on.
The most popular clipper blades for the Poodle coat depend on the look you want to achieve. The 10 (and the 15 if you don’t have trimmers) – and body lengths 3, 4, 5 and 7 - are the most popular blades. There are longer (and shorter) options available also.
Keep in mind there are two ways to achieve longer coat lengths with clippers. Either with a longer blade, or by clipping a comb attachment on a short blade.
Poodle Blade Guide
#10 blade > The ‘standard blade’. Included free with most clippers. Leaves the coat around 1.5mm when used by itself (different brands do give slightly different lengths, some size 10’s are 1.6mm, some are 1.8mm). A 10 of any brand also fits all universal comb attachments, that gives you coat lengths from 3mm to over 3cm.
Use a 10 by itself for anywhere you want short, such as under the jaw, the throat, between paw pads, under the ears, the bridge of the nose, base of the tail, around the genitals, groin or around the anal opening.
TIP: We recommend stainless steel comb attachments for the dense, curly Poodle coat, as these have a more secure fit on the blade, so are better suited for clipping thicker, curlier coats.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW before you buy any longer blade:
Blades long than a 10, come in two types. Skip Tooth (ST) or Finish Cut (called F or FC). Unless you are experienced or trained using them, only get the finish cut version in any blade longer than a #10. Longer blades, such as 3, 4, 5 and 7, come in both ST or F / FC. All blades 10 or shorter, such as 10, 15 or 30, are always finish cut.
Depending on your Poodle’s coat type and the look you prefer, you may want to go longer or shorter. 3, 4, 5 and 7 length blades are all popular. The 7 gives the shortest cut of those 4 body length blades.
#7 blade > Slightly longer than a 10. Leaves the coat nice and short, around 3mm. Good for knot-prone or matted coats and for short summer cuts. Get the FC version of this blade unless experienced.
#5 blade > For a longer body length than a 7. Leaves the coat around 6mm. Get the F or FC version unless experienced.
#4 blade > A popular length for a Poodle pet clip, especially for a short summer length. Leaves the coat around 1cm (9mm). Get the F or FC version unless experienced.
#3 blade > The most popular body blade for a longer finish than a 4. The coat needs to be knot and tangle free when using any longer blade like this. Leaves the coat around 13mm. There’s a longer 3 blade also available, called a 3/4, that leaves the coat 19mm but a blade with teeth that long is not recommended unless experienced. For all 3 blades, only get the F or FC version unless experienced, not the ST.
Longer coat lengths:
For longer body lengths than the blades above, the other option is comb attachments for coat lengths from 1.5mm to over 3cm so you can choose the length you'd like the coat to be, or have some areas (like the legs, top of the body and top of the head and ears), longer than others.
Although most buy comb attachments as a set, giving you the most choice of coat lengths for different areas of the body, and for going shorter in summer and longer in winter, you can also buy comb attachments individually.
Keep in mind the longer you want the coat, the more coat prep matters. For a knotted coat where you can remove knots before you clip, you may have to go for a shorter blade to go 'under' the knots as blades and comb attachments can't go 'through' them. Alternatively you can carefully cut out the knots using a safety tip scissor, or brush them out with a slicker brush with the help of detangler spray.
Scissors > After you clip
For a smooth finish after using any blade, especially after using comb attachments (which tend not to leave as smooth or even a finish as a longer blade), use thinners to go over the coat to remove any track lines or uneven areas, blend shorter into longer areas, and get a natural fluffy, softer finish.If you haven't used thinner before, the Witte Roseline are a more beginner friendly. A shorter thinner (around 6.5") with a higher teeth count (around 40+) is a good all-purpose blender-style thinner.
If you haven’t used clippers or scissors on your Poodle before, we recommend seeking advice first from a groomer, getting advice or lessons from your breeder, or watching ‘How to clip a Poodle’ videos on YouTube for tutorials before you start. The book Theory of 5 is a great resource for pet clips also.
Different types of traditional Poodle cuts
Tips for Poodle ear care
Some Poodles are more prone than others to wax and dirt build-up in their ears. At least once a month, put a few drops of ear cleaner on a cotton wool pad or pet body wipe and gently rub the inside areas and folds of the ears to remove any visible wax and dirt – don’t clean what you can’t see! This helps prevent worse ear problems from developing. We like using the Fidos Ear Drops for this.
Tips for Poodle eyes and for tear and saliva staining
Any white or light coated breed in particular is more prone to eye, mouth and ear staining from tears and saliva. Regular use of a product like Fidos Tear Stain Remover is recommended for Poodles. Ideally best used as a preventative also by regularly cleaning the eye area to help prevent build-up and staining in the first place. Keep watch for longer eyebrow hairs or eyelashes. If they touch the eye they can irritate it, causing excessive tearing, leading to tear staining. However if your dog has constant eye discharge, and trimming eyebrows and eyelashes makes no difference, it’s time for a visit to the Vet.
Dealing with tangles and knots
A detangler spray and slicker brush are a great combo to remove tangles. A typical bristle brush won’t be enough for knot removal for the Poodle coat (but a pin brush or comb pin and bristle brush is recommended for all over brushing for the Poodle coat).
For bad tangles, start with a wide tooth grooming comb to gently tease apart the knot first (a detangler spray helps a lot too). For very bad knots you may have to cut them out, or clip under them, or use a dematter. Take care as skin may be pulled in to the knot, so it’s best for a professional to remove felted or matted knots. When using scissors for knot removal, safety tip scissors are recommended unless experienced.
One common Poodle mistake we often see pet owners make is to skip conditioner! Many dog owners use shampoo only - but even the gentlest shampoo will strip condition from the coat, as shampoo is designed to open the cuticle so it can remove oil, dirt and build-up. Using conditioner after shampoo is even more important if you like to keep your Poodle’s coat long.
Conditioner helps 'close' and seal the cuticle back up again following shampoo use. It restores hydration and moisture. Conditioner helps you remove existing knots and tangles, and reduces knots and tangles forming in the future, as the cuticle is closed back up again, rather than left rough and open. It also restores elasticity and helps to smooth the hair cuticle, allowing brushes and combs, as well as comb attachments and clipper blades, to go through the coat more easily.
Whitening shampoo is very popular for light-coloured Poodles. We like Bio-Groom Super White in particular. Whitening shampoo doesn't bleach the coat, but can still be more drying than normal shampoo, so conditioner is extra important to use after any whitening shampoo.
As the Poodle is (or should be!) a very frequently brushed breed, conditioner also helps to fill in damage caused by frequent brushing and dryer use, while reducing dry, frizzy ends and reducing static. Keep in mind as well (and this applies for all breeds), that the more frequently you wash any dog, the more important not skipping conditioner becomes.