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Camille Torkornoo

5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves for ALL Beginners!

dog grooming must-haves blog article camille mar 12 2021 feature image

Want to start a career in dog grooming? QC Pet Studies student, Camille Torkornoo, is here to reveal 5 dog grooming must-haves to get you started! Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

dog grooming must-haves article camille mar 12 2021 headshot

In the world of dog grooming, there are A LOT of different tools used for different purposes. It can be challenging to know which tools you should invest in when starting out.

Maybe you’re interested in becoming a dog groomer, or maybe you just want to learn how to groom your own pet at home. Either way, here are my Top 5 dog grooming must-haves for ALL beginners!

5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves

1. Combs

The very first dog grooming must-have for ALL beginners are combs. Combs are one of the most essential tools for the job! They come in many different lengths and sizes. For this reason, it can feel a bit tricky deciding which one to get when starting your career.

If you’re new to dog grooming, I recommend a basic steel comb with fine-coarse teeth. This type of comb should do just fine when starting out. It can be used to find matted spots and comb them out. Plus, you can use it comb out the hair before cutting or scissoring it. I find this kind of comb give dogs a nice fluffy finish to their groom, when used correctly!

2. Slicker Brushes

Like with combs, there are many different kinds of brushes. When deciding which kind to get when starting out, a slicker brush is the way to go! Slicker brushes are definitely one of the top dog grooming must-haves! They can be used for fluffing and brushing out coats. Plus, they work like a charm for de-matting heavily tangled coats!

groomer brushing dog with slicker brush

3. Nail Care Tools

Dog grooming isn’t just limited to cutting and styling hair. Nail maintenance is also an essential part of it! You can’t trim a dog’s nails without the proper tools. So, you’ll need a good pair of basic nail clippers.

Medium-sized nail clippers work well for most dogs. But for really big breeds with thick nails, a large-sized pair would work better. You’ll also want to invest in a nail grinder. Nail grinders will smooth out the nails after they’ve been clipped. Not to mention, they’ll get you a bit closer to the quick without cutting it and making the dog bleed.

When it comes to nail maintenance, styptic powder is another essential dog grooming must-have. If you accidently clip a dog’s nail too far and expose the quick, you can put some styptic powder on it to make the bleeding stop.

4. Clippers

We can’t talk about dog grooming must-haves without mentioning a good pair of clippers! There are a few different kinds, but the best ones for a beginner would be a pair of 5-in-1 clippers.

These clippers have an adjustable blade. Another perk is that they don’t tend to get hot as quickly as detachable blade clippers do! Since they’re not very expensive, this staple tool is also affordable for any budget. They make the perfect addition to your dog grooming kit when just starting out!

5-in-1 clippers are perfect for trimming faces, feet, ears, and paw pads. You can even use them for light bodywork on pretty much any dog. They’re a lot quieter and don’t vibrate as much as detachable blade clippers do. I find this great, especially when working on sensitive dogs and puppies.

dog grooming shaving dog with clippers

5. Shears

The last dog grooming must-have for all beginners is a good set of shears! Shears are also known as grooming scissors. Scissor work will complete every groom you do – and you can’t accomplish that without a good set a grooming shears.

There are quite a few kinds of shears, coming in all different lengths and styles. It can prove to be a difficult choice when selecting a pair to start out with. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! Here are 3 types of shears I recommend for all brand-new dog groomers:

#1 – Straight Shears

You’ll want to start by investing in is a good pair straight shears. Straight shears are used for creating nice, straight lines on any breed of dog. They’re the standard pair of shears used for every groom!

#2 – Curved Shears

The second kind you’ll want to get is a good quality pair of curved shears. Curved shears are perfect for cutting rounded edges on topknots, legs, and tails. They are definitely a must-have, especially if you’re working with Poodles and/or Poodle mixes on a regular basis!

#3 – Thinning Shears

The last kind you’ll want to get are a pair of thinning shears. Thinning shears have toothed blades. As a result, they only take off a fraction of the hair when you cut it. Thinning shears create a smoother look and they’re great for blending hair.

If you mess up when using straight or curved shears, you can use you pair of thinning shears to blend and hide the faulty cut. Plus, they’re great for working on double coated breeds. These are truly are a dog grooming must-have!

dog grooming must-haves shears

Choosing Shears: Food for Thought

Here are some other things to take into consideration when getting your set of shears:

  • You don’t want them to be too short, but you don’t want them too long either.
  • A good length to start out with would be 6 or 7 inches.
  • You also don’t need the most expensive pair out there – but you do want to invest in some good quality ones.
  • Good quality shears should have a sharp edge that’ll stay sharp. This will allow you to provide nice, clean cuts to your grooms and create a great finished look.

Now That You Know The 5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves…

…go forth and take the industry by storm! You’ve got this! 🙂

Set your career up for success by getting professionally trained and certified in less than one year. Enroll with QC Pet Studies today!

QC’s Dog Grooming Course: What I Learned in Unit A

Thinking of enrolling in QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Grooming Course? Camille Torkornoo, a current student, is here to break down what’s taught in Unit A! Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

Dog grooming course student, Camille Torkornoo

QC’s Dog Grooming Course: Unit A in a Nutshell

I learned a lot of important information from Unit A of my Dog Grooming Course. One of my favorite features included in this program is the feedback I get from my tutor, Lisa Day. I find it very helpful in my learning because a real industry expert is helping me see what I’ve done well, as well as what I can improve upon.

Unit A thoroughly covers what it means to be a dog groomer. You learn about canine anatomy and terminology, along with canine skincare and esthetics. QC also makes sure to teach you the risks that come with the profession and which precautions can be taken to prevent injuries. All of this information is essential!

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in Unit A Was…

…the Personal Health and Safety section! Dog grooming is a physically demanding job. As such, it has the potential to be dangerous as well. By taking the advised precautions outlined in Unit A, dog groomers can create a safer working environment. In turn, this will help reduce the risk of serious injuries.

Common Dog Grooming Risks

Naturally, some of the risks involved with grooming include bites and scratches. This is to be expected with any job involving animals. But dog groomers also risk developing long-term health issues, too.

For instance, groomers must constantly lift dogs and use loud equipment. These things, when combined with the constant repetitive motions involved when grooming dogs, can lead to physical bodily damage.

Groomers also need to watch out for carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, joint damage, and even hearing loss. The constant inhalation of dander, hair, chemicals, and bacteria can lead to respiratory damage. The consequences of this can range from a chronic cough, to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the world of dog grooming, general respiratory damage developed on the job is known as “Groomer’s Lung.”

This is why it’s extremely important to take a proper dog grooming course. Professional training will make you aware of these potential risks and teach you how to avoid them (to the best of your ability).

Preventative Measures Taught in Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course

Unit A provides the following tips to help prevent and/or lower the risk of contracting the above issues…

Preventing Hearing Loss / Damage

Groomers can wear earplugs or noise cancelling/reducing headphones. These will help prevent hearing loss or damage caused by the constant use of loud dryers.

Preventing Harmful Inhalation

Wearing a mask can help protect against the inhalation of dog hair, dander, ground nails, etc. As a result, masks can help lower the risk of contracting could “Groomer’s Lung.”

Preventing Eye Injuries

Using a form of eye protection can also be a wise precaution. It will help prevent debris from flying up into your eyes when clipping a dog, drying them, or grinding their nails.

Preventing Muscle / Joint Damage

Braces can be a smart investment for a dog groomer. For example, wrist braces and exercises can help reduce the risk of excess wrist strain caused by constant, repetitive clipping, brushing, de-matting, and scissoring on dogs. Back braces and exercises are also useful, too. As groomers, we constantly need to lift and bend while working with dogs. The last thing you want to do is blow out your back!

Other Health and Safety Tips

Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course also covers specific exercises for groomers to do. When done correctly and regularly, these exercises can aid in avoiding or decreasing muscle strain, pain, and injury.

The assignments in Unit A of my dog grooming course also added to my training. Specifically, they helped me gain a better understanding of ways to create a safe environment in different circumstances. The assignments gave hypothetical situations for me to navigate. I needed to provide a way to prevent injury and maintain safety in the proposed situations. It was a great learning experience!

Canine Anatomy

Canine anatomy is another critical topic your dog grooming course absolutely needs to teach you. In QC’s program, this is covered in Unit A. I found this particular lesson to be very important. The assignments helped me to become more familiar with the different parts of a dog. I also learned all about various types of conformation and physical attributes, coat types, coat features, and more!

Knowing canine anatomy and breed variations will take a groomer’s skill-set from good to great. This is because you’ll then understand how to properly create a look that highlights a dog’s breed-specific features. As a result, you’ll be capable of creating the breed’s profile look.

QC’s Dog Grooming Course will teach you how to create a balanced look on different types of dogs, as well as properly work on dogs with structural faults and/or physical restrictions.

side profile of German Shepherd dog

Skincare and Esthetics

In the Skincare and Esthetics portion of Unit A, I was taught about the anatomy of a dog’s hair and skin. I also learned about the different layers and cells, and their purposes. Proper skincare is important! As a groomer, you need to know how to maintain a healthy coat and the dog’s skin in general.

By taking a dog grooming course, you’ll discover the most common skin issues and conditions in dogs – from fleas to mange. I was grateful to learn about this in Unit A of QC’s program. As a groomer, the dog’s wellbeing always has to be your very first priority.

You must understand how a dog’s skin and coat work, as well as how to maintain it. That way, your clients’ dogs will leave in top condition and look great!

Dog Groomer vs. Veterinarian

All that being said, it’s crucial to remember that you’re a groomer. You’re not a veterinarian. As such, it’s important to stay in your lane. Never try to provide owners with a diagnosis, even if you think you know what the problem is.

Yes, as a groomer, you’ll deal with a dog’s coat and skin more than their vet will. But vets have extensive medical training – the kind of training you won’t find in any dog grooming course. If you do suspect that your client’s dog has some sort of medical issue, raise your concerns with the owner and recommend that they seek out their veterinarian’s professional opinion.

Sometimes, it’ll be the client who unknowingly blurs the line between your job description and a vet’s. They might ask you to do or recommend something that falls outside of your qualifications. This is why it’s important to always be clear that you are not a vet and can’t provide a diagnosis. All you can do is raise your concerns with them. After that, it’s the client’s responsibility to seek further medical advice from a trained expert.

If a dog comes into your shop with a suspected condition that could be potentially contagious, Unit A will provide you the knowledge to deal with it safely and accordingly.

Want to learn more about distinguishing your role as a groomer from that of a vet? Keep reading here!

dog grooming course unit a article camille torkornoo last in-post image

Overall, I learned a LOT of invaluable information from Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course. If your dream job is to work with dogs every day, perhaps grooming is the perfect career path for you. And if it is, there’s no grooming school I recommend more than QC Pet Studies.

Earn your professional certification in less than one year by enrolling in QC’s Dog Grooming Course today!

How to Groom a Poodle: A Crash Course

groom a poodle feature image

Want to learn how to groom a poodle? QC Pet Studies and poodle expert, Camille Torkornoo, is here to help! As an aspiring groomer, Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

Grooming a Poodle: Breeding Standards

A Poodle is one breed of dog that comes in three recognized sizes:

  1. Standard (16″ and over)
  2. Miniature (10″ to 15″)
  3. Toy (under 10″)
standard white poodle full body

Poodles are very active and intelligent dogs. When grooming a poodle, the way you make them look should reflect these incredible qualities!

To start, poodles should be squarely built and well-proportioned. Their eyes should be dark and oval shaped; set far enough apart and positioned to create an alert and intelligent expression. The ears are long and wide, and should be thickly feathered, hang close to the head, and set at (or slightly below) eye level.

A poodle’s skull should be moderately rounded, with a slight but deviate stop. Length from the occiput to the stop should be about the same as the length of the muzzle. The muzzle should be long, straight, and fine. It should also have a slight chiseling under the eyes.

Remember: it should be strong without lippiness, and complemented by the chin, which should be defined, without snippiness.

A poodle should have small, oval-shaped feet with well-arched toes that are cushioned on thick, firm pads. The angulation of the hindquarters should balance that of the forequarters. The hock should be short to the heel, and perpendicular to the ground. The neck should be well-proportioned, strong, and long enough to permit the head to be carried high with dignity.

Finally, the topline of a poodle should be level from the withers to the base of the tail. Never sloping or roached! Their chest should be deep and moderately wide, with well-sprung ribs. Last but not least, the forelegs should be straight and parallel.

The Challenges of Grooming a Poodle

Poodles are known to be one of the most challenging breeds to groom. This is to their high-maintenance, curly coats. In order to maintain a poodle’s coat properly, they must be bathed, brushed, and trimmed constantly. There are many different ways to style a poodle. A few of the most common pet trims are the:

  • Kennel Clip
  • Bikini Clip
  • Modern Clip

The Tools You’ll Need

Grooming a poodle requires a lot of tools! Some of the tools you’ll need include:

  • Combs of different lengths;
  • A slicker brush;
  • Clippers and comb attachments;
  • Straight and curved shears;
  • And more!

How to Groom a Poodle: A Walkthrough

Before you groom a poodle, they must be clean and fluff-dried. This will help make sure that the hair is completely straight, allowing you to cut it evenly throughout the whole body.

The Face

When the poodle is ready to be groomed, start with the face. Take a #15 or #30 blade and begin by flipping the ear up. Start clipping against the grain at the base of the ear, all the way to the corner of the eye. Remember to keep a straight line! This will set the line between the topknot and the face.

Next, clip the rest of the cheek and to the throat. Begin shaving down the neck, from below the ear to the throat. Do this on both sides in order to create either a V or a U shape (depending on your client’s preference) in the middle of the throat.

Finish cleaning up the face by shaving from the corner of the eye and the stop down to the nose. Then you’ll go around the eyes (but NOT above), from the corner of the mouth to the nose, and then the chin. A longer blade may be used on the chin to give the illusion of having more underjaw.

groom a poodle female groomer trimming black poodle's coat

The Feet

After the face is done, I move onto the poodle’s feet. Use the clippers to clean the paw pads, as well as between the toes. After that, you’ll want to clean up the front of the foot. Set the line at the wrist and make sure it goes evenly around the entire foot. Carefully shave between the toes and webbing. Don’t forget to go over the hair around the base of the nails, too!

The Tail

When grooming a poodle’s tail, how you’ll approach the process will depend on the tail set and the length of the tail. Generally, though, I measure approx. 3 fingers up from the base in order to set the line.

Take your clippers and clip from where you want the line set, down to the base of the tail. Do this all the way around. After that, you’ll want to make a V shape at the base. I draw a diagonal line from the hip to the pin bone on both sides. Where those lines intersect is where I put the tip of the V. Cut out the outline of the V with the corners of your clippers. From there, you’ll finish up by cleaning what’s in-between!

The Top Knot

Once it’s time to shape the top knot, start by combing out the poodle’s hair to one side. Next, use straight shears to cut a straight line from the corner of the eye to the center of the top of the ear. You’ll then comb the hair out to the other side and do the same thing.

After that, comb the hair forward and use curved shears to trim it. Don’t trim beyond the tops of the eyes, but make sure you do trim enough so that they are visible. Once you’re done trimming both sides, as well the front, use curved shears to trump the edges. This will create a balanced and rounded topknot.

Now your poodle is ready to style in whatever trim you want!

white poodle with top knot

Want to learn more about grooming poodles? QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Grooming Course will teach you everything you need to know to become a true expert! Learn more here!