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How to Clip a King Charles Spaniel

I've learned about safe and correct dog-grooming methods and like to share tips for other King Charles Spaniel parents.

My King Charles Spaniel, Dylan.

My King Charles Spaniel, Dylan.

King Charles Spaniel Grooming

I recently took a dog-grooming course and am really glad I did. I normally send our dog, Dylan, to the groomers, but I decided to have a go myself. It is quite nice to spend the time with your dog and we both seem to enjoy it, although it does take quite a long time to complete.

The benefits of grooming your dog are:

  • Your dog will be clean, and a clean animal around the house is a good thing.
  • Your dog will feel better. Grooming removes dead hair, knots, and tangles.
  • Your dog will look shiny and healthy!
  • If you do the grooming yourself, you can give him or her a bit of a health check.
  • You and your dog will build a good relationship and understanding.

What You Will Need

  • Slicker brush: For getting out knots and tangles.
  • Nail clippers: Get good quality ones that cut cleanly.
  • Comb
  • Animal clippers: Choose ones that let you change the blade.
  • Blades: For my King Charles Spaniel, I use 7F and 10.
  • Scissors: Use thinning and bull-nose scissors.
  • Towel
  • Pet shampoo
  • Hairdryer: You can get pet dryers that have a small stand, which can be useful.
  • Bath mat: This is useful to stop your dog from slipping in the bath. Also, if you are clipping them on a table, stick the mat to the table. This helps to keep your dog from slipping.

Getting Started

Here is how you should start grooming your dog.

Put Your Dog on a Secure Surface

The best way to lift a dog up onto a table is to keep your own back straight, bend at the knees and lift. Clasping your hands together, wrap your arms around your dog's neck under the chin and under the base of the tail, with all four legs between your arms.

Remove the Knots

Start by brushing out any tangles or knots. Use thinning scissors if you need to cut out any knots. Your dog's coat must be knot- and tangle-free before bathing. It will make clipping and trimming easier.

Clean the Ears

Clean your dog's ears. Use either cotton wool moist with warm water or pet ear cleaning wipes. Gently rub inside the ears. Take care not to push too far in. Wipe away any wax. Use a different wipe or cotton wool for each ear. Thornit powder is helpful if your dog gets ear mites. Applying this powder during grooming can help reduce infections.

Bathe Them

Bathe your dog. Stand him on a bath mat so that they do not slip and hurt themselves. Use your shower hose to wet him, starting at the back and finishing on the head. Then lather him up with pet shampoo. Use enough so that the dog is nice a lathered, again finishing with the head and ears.

Protect the Ears

Be careful not to get any shampoo or water inside the ears as this can cause problems for them! Hold your finger or thumb over their ear hole so that no soap or shampoo goes inside. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to get all of the shampoo out so as not to irritate the skin.

Dry Them

Dry with a towel. You can get a pet towel that is lint-free and a bit like chamois leather. It stays damp at all times and is highly absorbent. After you dry your dog, ring it out and rub again. They are so much better than a normal towel that just gets wet. They are not very expensive. A normal towel can be used also.

Consider a Hair Dryer

Dry with a hairdryer. You can use your own or a pet drier. Pet driers come with a stand so that you can have both hands free for your dog. While drying your dog, be aware that the hair drier can get hot. Only stay for about 10 seconds in one place, combing downwards all the time. The ears will take the longest to dry. I tend to start with the ears and then move to the body, coming back to the ears periodically, so that Dylan does not get bored. The ears are the one place he doesn't like me doing very much. Drying takes an age!

Clip the Nails

Clip nails if needed. Waiting until after the bath will mean that the nails are warm and soft and a little easier to cut. When trimming the nails, be careful not to go too far back and cut the quick. This will make your dog bleed. Clip very small pieces at a time at a 45-degree angle. If you do nip the quick, apply pressure with a bit of cotton wool until the bleeding has stopped. Don't forget the nail that is up their leg a little, as this one does tend to get long as it does not get any wear.

Follow the blue arrows to clip downward and in the direction of the fur at all times.

Follow the blue arrows to clip downward and in the direction of the fur at all times.

The first time you clip your dog's fur will be a bit scary. Once your dog is used to the clippers, they will be okay. Even now and then, I turn the clippers on and let Dylan see them so he knows what is going on. I used a 10 blade under his ears and 7F on his body, head, and outer ears.

Tips for Safe and Successful Dog Grooming

  • Be careful with the chest area. The skin here can be loose. Clip downward all the way between the front legs. Always clipper to the lay of the fur, never upward.
  • See the diagram above to see directions to clip. Clip downward at all times, halfway down the body and halfway down the tail. Clipping King Charles Spaniels keeps them cool in the summer and there are fewer hairs over the house!
  • Clip as much or as little as you wish, but start off with a little as once done, you can't stick it back!
  • Check that the blades are not getting too hot, as they can burn the skin.
  • Use the bull-nosed scissors under the foot area. Bend the foot under so that you can get underneath and cut the fur which grows in between the pads. Cut the hair on the feet with scissors, keeping the foot to the table and one-half of the scissors on the table. Cut around the foot. Use the thinning scissors on the tops of the feet to thin out the hair.
  • Use scissors to cut the back area under the tail and back legs. Bring your dog to the edge of the table and cut the back of the legs upwards.
  • Cut any straggly bits under the belly with scissors.
  • Cut ears to the desired length. You may want to leave them long or cut them a bit shorter. I cut Dylan's ears a bit shorter to keep them out of his food. Hold the end of the fleshy part of the ear so as not to cut it and then trim hair to the length you like. Just make sure to keep both ears the same length. That is the trick here! You don't want a lop-sided dog going on his walks.
  • Then use the thinning scissors, cutting 3-4 times upwards and then combing out. Tidy any stray bits with scissors.
A good picture of the tail and how it should be cut.

A good picture of the tail and how it should be cut.

The Trick Tail

The hardest bit for me is the tail. Each time I try to hold his tail to do this, he sits down! What you are trying to achieve is a cut that is short at the base, thickens out, and tapers to short at the end, a bit like the shape of a banana.

If You Find Critters

You may find parasites on your dog's coat. Here is how to get rid of them:

  • Fleas: Fleas live on dogs for a very short period of time but can live in carpets and upholstery for months, and their eggs can live for years. Make sure to de-flea often to keep your own home flea-free. Use oral or drops on the back of the neck that last about a month. There are also sprays and powders for this.
  • Ticks: The size of a pea, ticks can be difficult to remove as they embed their legs into the dog's skin of the dog. Treatment is the same as for fleas.
  • Lungworm affects a dog's lungs and can cause coughing.
  • Tapeworm: Signs are scooting and anal irritation. Their eggs look like grains of rice and can be sometimes seen around the anus or in the fur.
  • Roundworm lives and feeds in the small intestine. They normally spread from mother to pup. Adult dogs ingest the eggs from other dogs.
  • For all worms, there are worming tablets. They can be bought from a vet or at a pet shop. De-worming should be done every 3-6 months.

Don't Forget a Treat

Give your dog a treat! They have been good through all of the bathing, clipping, and cutting.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Have you got a video of you clipping your dog Dylan? I would love to see it.

Answer: Sorry no, I don't have a video, but it is something I might do in the future. Thank you for the idea.

© 2013 Lavender Jade


Amber on December 06, 2016:

Hello, very nice article, one thing though, how did you cut his face? Can you use a blade on his face and if so what blade size? Please reply,

Thank you :)

Dani on December 01, 2016:

Great article! Thank you so much. My boy is 13, deaf and getting a little blurry in the eyesight department. As you said, the feet hair grows like crazy. He's slip-slidin' away on my wooden floors so I want to have a go myself. One things you didn't mention was how to get him to let me do it! He's had a traumatic first 6 years and is very tentative and quite anxious. He tolerates being touched below the neck and hates the feet. I don't want to tie him down with sticky-tape to do it :) Any hints? Give him a treat to chew on while I do it? I guess I should try it myself. Thanks again.

Kathy on September 20, 2016:

Hello! Wonderful article; thank you! I adopted an 18 mo old male Blenheim, and wasn't happy when I picked him up and his beautiful coat had been trimmed to a puppy cut! His photos had a gorgeous, smooth coat. Anyhow, it's growing in well, though the fur on his hind quarters is short and a bit unruly. He's my little love, so no matter. :)

My question is about facial hair. I had a female prior, so don't know if this is only with males, but now that Charlie is nearly two, he's getting quite a hefty set of (what I call) sideburns. They're growing straight out of his cheeks, and are thick and tend to stick out towards his ears. Is this normal fur for a male? And I assume if I want to keep his coat to breed standard, I shouldn't trim them? I can't find any photos of this on other Cavis. He is neutered (at 18 mos) and the sideburns began to come in at about 20 mos.

Thanks so much!


California, U.S.

Jo Franklin on September 05, 2016:

Hi - great advice, really helpful. Thank you.

My Cavalier black and tan boy puppy is 7 months old (neutered) his coat is so thick. I used to have a tri coloured cav and kept her clipped to short coat - which was great for her (and us). These are loved pets - not show dogs! I want to trim the puppy, had a dog groomer visit and he refused to do more than legs saying his adult coat wasn't fully through so he couldn't do as it would ruin his future coat......? He did trim his legs; poor little chap looks ridiculous! I'm going therefore clip him myself. Do you think there is any good reason, as a pure pet, that I shouldn't do this until he's 15 months old (as the groomer suggested) ? Any advice gratefully received. Thank you.


Claire Price on May 02, 2016:

Great info, can I ask where you purchase the equipment I'm looking at groomers, and Amazon at moment. Also I would like to keep belly and legs short do you recommend clipping or scissors?

Lavender Jade (author) from Derbyshire on April 30, 2016:

Hi Sorry my emails have been down so I did not get this.

It does take ages the first time, but you will get quicker, although, I also have two, Dylan and Bobby...Bob Dylan! if I am giving them the whole cut and not just a wash and trim, I do one, one day and the other the next, although, they like having a bath and cut, and I agree, they love the closeness, Dylan, the older one, now disappears when the cutting table and box get brought out!!

I am really glad you have had a go xx

Trudy on March 19, 2016:

Thank you!! I have two CKCS Nellie & Charlie, the first time I attempted to cut them it took me 3.5 hours each!!!

This is a great guide, which has given me the confidence to have another go as I thought my Charlie would fight me all the way, but he loved being close to me and later kept jumping up the table and barking as he wanted to go back up - it was so sweet!! I felt so proud to be able to look after my own fur-babies. Thank you for this guide x

Lavender Jade (author) from Derbyshire on July 27, 2013:

Hi Thelma, thank you for your comment. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the most lovely dogs aren't they. I know what you mean about the nail cutting, the first time I did it I was very hesitant and still don't like doing it now, their nails are so black that you can't tell. I have gone a bit too close once and made him bleed. I felt awful for ages..

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 26, 2013:

This is a very useful and informative hub. I have also a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pet whose name is Angus. When it comes to nail cutting, I brought him to the vet as I´m afraid to might hurt him. Thanks for sharing this. Have a lovely weekend!

Hayley LaGarce from Kansas City, MO on June 09, 2013:

You're right this does seem time consuming! But if you have the time this is an excellent guide.