Guide: Choosing & comparing dog grooming scissors
Scissors made for dog hair are different from paper or human hair scissors. They made to keep a sharp edge when dealing with dog hair. Human hair and paper scissors will blunt very quickly when used on dogs, as dog hair is much thicker than human hair. The wrong type of scissors will blunt even faster for dogs with difficult coats, like ‘oodles, terriers and mixed-texture, thick or double coats.
This guide helps you decide what scissor type, scissor length and scissor range best matches your needs.
Step 1: Choose your scissor type
The first step is deciding what type of scissor you need. Straight, curved or thinners? (the term ‘thinners’ are often used to describe blenders, thinners or chunkers - more about that coming up). There are other types of scissors, but these are the most popular.
The difference is the blade. A straight scissor has two, solid, straight blades. Curved scissors have two, solid, curved blades. Some straights and curved come with a safety tip (or ‘ball tip’) option, with a blunt end on the tip for delicate or injury prone areas.
Thinners, chunkers and blenders all have notched blades. Some thinners have two notched blades, but most have one solid blade and one notched blade. Thinners and blenders have thinner, smaller teeth, and smaller spaces between the teeth. Chunkers have wider spaces between the teeth, often with ‘T’ or ‘fishtail’ shaped teeth.
Straights are the easiest to get used to using as they are so similar to paper scissors. Curves tend to quickly become favourites once you get used to them, as almost no area of a dog’s body has straight lines. Curves help you get a smoother, more natural shape with less effort.
Blender-style thinners (that's the type with one notched and one solid blade) are popular as finishing scissors, as they trim and tidy coat without leaving blunt lines. Often used to blend shorter areas in to long, tidy up any uneven areas or blend in clipper and blade marks to give your groom a polished, and professional look. They leave a smooth but textured finish, compared to the blunt cut a straight or curved scissor leaves. Thinners are also very popular for use on the face, as they help to achieve a softer, more natural look that many pet owners desire.
Chunker-style thinners (that's the type with wider gaps and 'T' shaped teeth) are the newest addition to shears in the grooming world. They are almost a cross between a straight scissor and a blending-style thinner. The wide spaced notched blade combined with the solid straight blade creates a textured and natural finish, as opposed to the blunt cut of a straight scissor, but creates more texture and less uniformity than the blending-style thinners. The wider teeth spacing allows for larger sections of hair to be removed, and can result in faster work. Chunkers are great when wanting a more natural look on a larger area, such as the legs or bottom, especially on large dogs.
Once you know if you want straight, curved, or a type of thinner, step 2 is to decide scissor length. If you’re still unsure which type to get, these resources will help you decide:
Step 2: Choose your scissor length
Once you’ve decided scissor type, scissor length is the next step (the third and last step is to choose your range and handle). The second step is choosing the right scissor length.
As you start to narrow down your list, and begin looking at individual scissors, check the photo we include of each scissor against a measuring tape. We do this because scissors are usually measured based on the entire length, including the finger rest (some brands do and some don't include the finger rest). The measuring tape photos take any guesswork out of knowing the exact length of the scissor before you buy.
Here are typical uses for each scissor length to help you decide:
4.5" to 6.5"
Typically used for delicate or injury prone areas, such as face and feet, as well as toy breeds for body use. They give you the most precision. These shorter lengths are also available in safety-tip (or ‘ball tip’) scissors, which have rounded, blunt ends for extra protection from injury.
6.5" to 7.5"
Still on the shorter side for more control and precision compared to longer scissors. The increased length makes them better for body work for toy and small breeds compared to scissors under 6.5" which can get a bit fiddly (the very short lengths are better suited for face and feet work).
8” to 8.5”
The most popular ‘all rounder’ length for body work on all breeds, and for finishing. They may feel too long if you have toy or smaller breeds, or are less experienced.
9" and longer
Although not as popular sellers, these longer lengths are valued by groomers for faster grooming times. Best saved for more experienced users.
Thinners and Chunkers
For beginners, students, and anyone less experienced – it’s usual to start with a shorter length and higher teeth count when getting your first thinners. Around 6.5” with 40+ teeth is the most popular. In chunkers, longer lengths with fewer teeth are more popular, with chunkers favoured by more experienced users.
Step 3: Choose your scissor range
AllGroom stocks 4 scissor brands: Geib (also called Geib Buttercut), Witte Roseline (some call this brand just ‘Roseline’), Wahl and Shernbao. Geib and Witte Roseline are the best sellers. Wahl and Shernbao are more affordable scissors, but the quality is reflected in the price.
You can get scissors sharpened, but it’s recommended to start with a higher quality scissor when budget allows, which will stay sharper for much longer and be able to be sharpened with better results, typically for many years of use.
Geib come in ranges covering all experience levels. We stock levels 1, 2 and 3. In Witte Roseline we stock levels 1 and 2. Wahl and Shernbao would be classed more as entry-level ranges, an affordable option for home users.
Decide what scissor level to get
Best sellers to groomers across all experience levels, and for home users (especially those frustrated that their cheaper scissors have become blunt so fast). This level includes the well-known Geib Gators and most of the Witte Roseline range. The latest Geib Gator 008 are a high-level 1 with the robustness of a level 1, but up a level in lightness and smoothness closer to a level 2.
Level 1 scissors are dual-purpose. Designed for beginners and grooming students, however also popular with experienced groomers who use level 1 scissors as their ‘workhorse’ shears, saving their level 2 and 3 scissors for finishing and more specialist applications.
If you’re trying to get one scissor that ‘does it all’ the Gator (for beginners) and Gator 008 if ready to move up a level but not in need of a finishing scissor, are worth checking out in particular. Witte Roseline also make superb workhorse scissors and their thinners are a favourite for beginners (thinners have a habit of 'catching' with the wrong technique, but the Roseline thinners in general are less prone to that).
Level 1 are also popular for difficult coats and for block or rough work (the initial cut-down), and tough enough to handle ‘oodle and other difficult coat types. We have a category specially for Oodle Scissors. Overall you’ll find level 1's have a nice balance, a little heavier and more robust, usually with a micro-serrated edge to help ‘hold’ the hair as you cut. They'll withstand knocks and drops better also (not that we ever recommend dropping scissors!).
Popular with students ready to move up a level, as well as experienced groomers who want a lighter, finer or overall higher-quality scissor. Level 2 are typically saved for finishing work.
As well as being lighter, they tend to have a smoother action, and have a more ergonomic, offset handle (more about handles in a moment), for less fatigue. They’ll often have longer blades with shorter shanks for more cut with less movement required.
Some level 2 scissors are all-rounders, but most are intended for use after the initial block work or rough work is done using a level 1. Level 2 includes a wide range, from entry-level 2 Geib Entrée, up to the Geib Black Pearl which are a high-rated level 2 range (borderline level 3).
A smaller range again, for more specialist use, that tend to be reserved for Master Groomers and more experienced groomers, as well as those who find themselves specializing in breeds with higher scissor use, like Bichons, Poodles or Pomeranians, and groomers who compete, as well as breeders for showring preparation. Geib’s Poodle Hi-Tech meet level 3 rank requirements.
Last, but not least, handles...
Now you know the scissor type, scissor length, and scissor range/s that match your needs, handles are the last (but still important) consideration.
If you’re not using them frequently (ie: daily) the handle may be less important to you. The more frequently you use scissors, the more an ergonomic handle that suits your hands and palm, matters.
The right handle increases control, minimizes effort and reduces fatigue. The scissor handle guide explains the differences, and shows you the handles of most of the ranges we sell to help you choose.