Grooming your dog is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Some breeds do fine with routine brushing, while others need to be clipped to stay clean and free of mats. Clipper blades dull with frequent use, and must be sharpened to provide a clean shave.
Why Do Blades Dull?
Clipper blades dull for a variety of reasons. Despite seeming soft and gentle, dog hair is relatively thick and wears down the sharp cutting edges with repeated use. Every hair puts miniscule dents in the edge of the blades, transforming even the sharpest blades into dull, useless hunks of metal. The cleanliness of the dog’s coat also has an impact on the sharpness of your blades. The dirt and grime on unbathed dogs dulls the blades at a faster pace than clipping clean dogs. In addition, clipper blades heat up and expand slightly during use, causing the angle of the blades to change over time. This slight alteration in the angle causes uneven wear on every tooth along the blade, leading to dull clippers in just a few grooming sessions.
How Often Should Blades Be Sharpened?
The frequency of sharpening depends on the type of cut and duration of grooming sessions. Clippers used for small trimming jobs such as shaving around the feet will last longer than blades used for full-body cuts. If your clippers are used for just a few minutes a day, the blades only need to be sharpened every six months. Groomers that shave dogs every single day may need to sharpen their blades every four to six weeks.
The Sharpening Process
Sharpening clipper blades begins with a thorough cleaning. The clippers are placed blade-down in a small bowl of cleaning solution and turned on. The solution breaks down dirt and oils on the clippers, and strips away residue deposits between the teeth. Once the blades are clean, they are removed from the clippers and attached to a magnetic holder. A grinding disc is placed on a sturdy surface and blades are rubbed in small circles over the disc. This shaves tiny bits of metal from the edge of each tooth to restore a sharp cutting surface. The blades are then cleaned again to remove any metal filings, and oiled to provide proper lubrication. The newly sharpened blades are then re-attached to the clippers and are ready for use.
Keeping Blades Sharp
Proper maintenance and cleaning is the best way to prolong the life of your blades. Spray the blades with a cooling lubricant frequently during use to prevent overheating. Run the blades in a bowl of cleaning solution after every use. Dip a small toothbrush in the cleaning solution and brush the blades thoroughly to remove stubborn grime. Add a few drops of clipper oil once the blades are clean, and store the clippers in a case when not in use.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.