DIY dog grooming not only saves you money… it also gives you that certain rewarding feeling. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it helps you bond even closer with your pet.
It can sure feel confusing, though. What often puzzles people are clipper combs for dogs, how they exactly work, and how they compare to dog clipper blades.
Let’s clarify things a bit, shall we?
I’ll focus on the most convenient clipper combs. That would be the snap on type, with this Andis’ set from Amazon.com being their best representative.
When is it better to use dog grooming combs?
Snap on combs (sometimes referred as dog clipper guards too) are generally a safer approach to controlling the length of your pet’s hair.
If you’re a total beginner, a DIY grooming session with your pooch might make you feel anxious. What if you hurt your dog?
That’s why some people tend to steer away from cutting dog hair with naked blades until they feel more confident. Doing freehand work on a non moving subject is tricky enough. Now trying it on a fidgety dog can be a recipe for disaster. It takes years of experience before you would feel like you could do it yourself. Clipper combs can take away all of that fear and years of messing up your dog’s fur.
Snap-on combs are attached to the clipper’s blade end. This means they “soften” the cutting edge with their plastic.
Using a comb attachment is the best way to give your pooch and even and proportionate cut all the way around. If you want the length of the coat to be somewhere under 2 inches long then you need only snap on a comb and work your way around. There is no way to go too short this way.
Even if your hand slips or your technique isn’t that great, you shouldn’t be able to poke your pet and hurt them. In this sense, attachment guards are a beginner-friendly starting point to proper pet grooming.
You would also want to use snap-on combs when you want to leave more hair on your dog’s body. It’s no secret naked blades cut quite close to the skin which might be too much for some breeds.
I can’t know what breed your dog is, but in some cases, going with snap-on combs is the better choice even if you’re a pro DIY groomer.
Are all snap on combs the same?
Not really. I mean, the top 3 brands – Oster, Andis and Wahl, all have their snap combs for pro dog grooming tools.
I’m usually a big fan of Oster products, but in this case the nod definitely goes to Andis. No matter which combs you get, they are all very durable and very comfortable on your pet’s skin. They glide much better and the teeth don’t bend. They are ideal for those with dogs with thick or matted fur. Be careful around the matted coat though as they will pop off if you haven’t attached them securely!
Where things get different is the material they’re made of.
Andis pet grooming comb attachments from Amazon.com are the most diverse bunch. You have the standard plastic combs, but you can also get chrome or stainless steel snap on sets.
Wahl don’t fall behind either and their stainless steel combs from Amazon.com are outstanding:
Honestly, if you have the opportunity, I recommend always picking the steel clipper combs for dogs.
They attach more securely to the blade which means they won’t slip/move while you’re grooming your dog. This allows for more comfortable, more precise grooming sessions.
The stainless steel blades are thinner than the plastic ones so they separate the hair much more evenly. This means you won’t have to keep running over the same spot multiple times.
They are a huge time saver also for the fact that you won’t need to use your scissors as often. You can run the clipper with combs attached to get the hair down to a specific length, usually around an inch long or so and not even touch your scissors until you need to do some detail work.
Keep in mind that combs can be used across clipper brands!
So for example, Wahl’s set can be used over Andis’ pet clipper blades. Andis recommend using snap on combs on their #10 size blade, while Wahl recommends using their #30 size blade for optimum results.
They can be used across all brands so even if you don’t have Wahl clippers you can still use these combs. The only caveat is that you can’t use them with the #40 blade of any model. They won’t fit right and will likely pop off during the cut. Especially if you are faced with thick or matted fur.
The main thing to look for is a sturdy construction. If the combs are prone to bending when faced with a lot of thick fur, then you’re going to end up with an uneven cut. Then you’re forced to keep going over the same spot. When time is of the essence as your dog only has so much patience before he starts to get antsy, then you want to make sure your tools help you work quickly and efficiently. I like Andis clipper guards as I feel they have a very sturdy construction.
There are some limitations to clipper combs for dogs. First, using them over blades that leave hair shorter is your best option. That would be #30 or #40 blades, leaving hair at 1/50″ or 1/100″ respectively.
The major downside to using these combs is that you are boxed in by the longest length. If your combs only go up to an inch, for example, then that is the longest you can leave the coat. What do you do if you want to leave the fur 1.5 inches? You can either shop around until you find a guard that goes to that length or you have to freehand.
You can use a clipper over comb technique so you don’t have to worry about balding your pup by accident. But, the best way to make sure the coat is evenly cut is with combs.
For the novice or the DIY dog groomer, then these are your best bet.
Most clippers come with a #10 blade (1/16″.) Snap on combs perform somewhat okay with a #10 blade or lower, but they aren’t the most optimal solution. At that point, just going with naked blades is a better option.
Also, let’s get this clear: clipper combs and their attachments have nothing on pure blades on breeds with thicker hair.
If your dog has matted hair, you not only want to have the proper clippers for that. You also want to skip on the snap on combs, because they’ll just get stuck in the tangles.
Even the sturdier steel combs can’t take on matted hair with good results. You’ll be left frustrated with a pooch that’s not properly groomed at all.
Combs aren’t that great for sanitary areas either. I know you might be scared about poking around there, but sanitary and intimate areas are best kept quite short. Dog guards will keep in your way in this case.
How to take care of your clipper combs
Like any tool, the better you take care of your clipper combs the better they will treat you. Here are a few ideas to make sure you get the most out of them.
Keep them clean
You really don’t want to put these away with hair on them still. It is unsanitary and the hair will actually corrode the teeth if they are metal and the hinge where the combs clip onto the blade.
Hair is quite acidic and will eventually do a number on your clips.
There also might be some bacteria creeping around on there so it is best to get rid of that hair so you don’t transfer a rash to your dog.
I like to use a can of compressed air to blow the hair off it quickly and easily. I do this before I have cleaned up my station so I don’t have to clean up twice.
Oil the hinge
After being used for a while, the hinge will start to get very tight. This is good so it doesn’t slip off, but it makes it hard to change them. Give them a drop or two of clipper oil to keep the hinge working properly.
Here’s a great video that elaborates further on snap on combs and how/when to use them:
When to use blades instead of comb attachments for dog clippers
It is not easy to groom your dogs hair if you have not had the proper training. In fact, most people don’t even have the proper tools, nevermind the know how. Any tools you can use to make it easier to give your pooch a good looking fur cut is something indispensable. The only downside to these clipper combs for dog clippers is that they may not leave the fur as long as you’d like to keep it. In which case you will have to learn to freehand cut. For short haired dogs, I wouldn’t attempt a cut without using guards unless I had a lot of experience. Do you have any questions about clipper guards? Want to know which ones will fit your model of clipper? Simply drop us a comment in the box below and we will get back to you as soon as we can!