Saving Money

I learned to groom my own dogs and saved $800 a year

Miniature schnauzer in a festive holiday sweater

I love my schnauzers. I’ve never loved paying their grooming bills. Every seven weeks or so, I’d cough up $120 for the two of them to be washed and brushed and body clipped.

And Luke, bless him, has anxiety. I used to think people who said their pets had anxiety were forcing human concepts onto animals, but he’s terrified of loud noises like fireworks and gunfire, and has spectacular meltdowns when we’re separated. Dropping him off to get groomed was always an adventure.

After his first groomer moved on (I miss you, Micki, wherever you are), I couldn’t find someone willing to hug the poor dog for a half hour before grooming him. (She’d groomed him since he was a puppy, so they were pals.)

So. I did a little research, and did you know you can groom your own dog? You probably did, and I don’t know why this was a mystery to me. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was something I could learn to do. As I sit here typing this, I’ve been grooming them myself for a couple of years, and while the haircuts I give them could never stand up to a pro’s, I’m getting better!

If you want to groom your own dog, here’s what you’ll probably need:

  • Some dog shampoo. Which you likely have. We do baths on a different day because the schnauzers don’t like the hair dryer. They don’t like baths, either.
  • A good quality clipper if your dogs needs to be body clipped. Schnauzers don’t shed, so I have to clip mine or they turn into fluff balls. I read a slew of clipper reviews before I settled on mine, which is a two-speed Andis. I also have a set of clipper combs.
  • Replacement blades. I have a number 10 and 7C. The 10 is my workhorse. My current 7C is ceramic, but honestly, I’m not sure I’ve noticed a difference.
  • Blade oil and cooling spray. You have to keep the blades well oiled or they can rust. I’ve never experienced any rust and I live in a humid area. Cooling spray can help clean and cool the blade when it gets hot. And it will get hot!
  • A grooming table OR a table you can comfortably stand at for 1-2 hours. After being in pretty intense pain the first two times, I sprung for an affordable table with good ratings I found on Amazon.
  • Very sharp scissors with rounded tips. I use the ConairPRO which I found on Chewy. Mine are still super sharp after a lot of use.
  • Assorted brushes and combs. You must get all mats and snags out before you start clipping, or you can catch things in the blades.
  • Something to file their nails. My dogs are afraid of noisy things, so we use this glass file for back nails. For front feet, we use the DiggerDog Nail File which was worth every cent.
  • A vacuum with good suction to clean up afterwards. We groom in the kitchen/laundry because it’s the only place with a hard floor. I keep everything contained to a corner and sweep immediately afterwards. I have a little Dyson, and we’re very happy together.

I spent roughly what I would on one grooming session to get myself set up, and probably spend $20-$40 a year on new blades if mine are dull.

How to learn technique

Once you’ve gathered what you need, look up dog grooming example videos on YouTube. There were several “how to groom a schnauzer” videos from professional groomers, which made me feel a lot more confident.

There are likely guides to your breed’s grooming style if you ask Google.

Take your time and don’t worry if it’s not perfect

Is your dog going to look as amazing as he does coming back from the groomer? No! Are you going to save a lot of money over time? Yes. And because there’s no waiting for an appointment, you can groom your dog whenever he looks a little fluffy or overheated.

I generally don’t groom both of mine on the same day because it takes too long (and I’m allergic to them, so if I get too much hair on me, I have to take extra antihistamines). I almost always listen to Jurassic Park while we do grooming. I have no idea how we started that, but it’s become our routine.

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