Clipper Combs for Dogs: How & When to Use Them

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With more and more cities going in quarantine, I’ve seen a lot of pet owners opting for DIY dog grooming. Local salons are closed for some. Others just want to learn how to cut their dog’s hair to save money.

 

Wahl Kit Combs

Wahl combs

Snap on, secure fit & stainless steel precision. 8 combs to cover various lengths up to 1″.

 

Oster Combs for Dogs

Oster dog combs

More diversity with 10 sizes to use on your dog. Great for longer cuts as the guards go up to 2″.

 

There are two main things that confuse newcomers:

  • Dog grooming combs and their sizes.
  • The difference between clipper combs vs blades for pets.

Let’s take a look. I’ll discuss comb attachments from the big three – Wahl, Andis, and Oster.

Generally, I’ve found Wahl’s dog clipper comb attachments to be the best. First, they also fit both Andis and Oster clippers. Second, they’re snap-on guards made of stainless steel. Meaning, they don’t slip like plastic combs.

Wahl Kit Combs

Wahl combs

Snap on, secure fit & stainless steel precision. 8 combs to cover various lengths up to 1″.

 

Feel free to navigate to whichever part of the guide interests you the most.

Using clipper combs for dog grooming:
Why and when?

This is a pretty valid question. You already have so many different blade sizes…Why would you supplement these with guards?

The first reason is your pet’s safety. Clipper blades that can get hot when you groom for a longer time. Additionally, they can be quite sharp.

Pair that with an anxious pet that doesn’t stay put during the grooming session…For the newcomer, this can be a total nightmare:

What if you poke the skin beneath that coat with a pointy blade?

Dog grooming comb attachments minimize the risk of hurting your dog. They snug right onto the blade and control the length of the cut, all the while softening its sharpness. They also help with dissipating blade heat.

Simply said, clipper guards are the safer way to learn the ropes of dog grooming for both DIYers and beginner stylists. They also achieve a softer, blending-style finish.

There’s a catch, though: they’re limited by their maximum length. These Oster pet combs leave hair the longest at 2″, while Andis and Wahl dog guards max at 1″.

Oster Combs for Dogs

Oster dog combs

More diversity with 10 sizes to use on your dog. Great for longer cuts as the guards go up to 2″.

 

Remember that these inches indicate the amount of hair left on your pet after using them.

In that sense, you can’t really use combs for sanitary/surgical cut areas. You’ll have to go for the close-cutting naked blades.

Another issue with comb attachments is they don’t deal well with undercoats.

If there are any mats, tangles or dead undercoat, you have to first remove them using a naked blade. Otherwise the remaining hair will jam the gap between the blade and the comb.

The result would be uneven cuts and the comb teeth snagging hair.

Once you’ve taken care of the undercoat, clipper combs for dogs actually ensure a more proportionate cut! Combined with the safety element, this is why I’d recommend them for beginners.

Dog Grooming With Combs Clippers

Snap on comb attachments across brands:
Wahl, Andis and Oster

All three brands have versatile guards for dog hair. As I mentioned before, though, I think currently Wahl’s pet combs are the best.

Let’s start with them, before moving to Andis and Oster.

Wahl have two sets of dog clipper attachments:

Both sets include 8 combs, ranging from 1/8″ to 1″ in terms of length.

Wahl Combs Pet

Important: Never use the #3390-100 combs with any #40 size blade. They’re not compatible and violating this will hurt your pet.

You can safely use them with:

  • #10, #15 and #30 size blades for optimal performance (or other sizes too).
  • Both Andis and Oster dog clippers like the classic Andis AGC2 or Oster A5.

These are the go-to guards on Wahl’s models like the KM10, KM2, Stable Pro and Power Grip.

Andis clipper comb attachments for dogs used to be more diverse. You could pick steel guards, chrome-plated ones, or plastic combs.

For some reason, you can only get these plastic attachments for pets right now.

The good news is: they’re cheap. The bad news is…they’re way flimsier than Wahl or Oster combs.

Once again, they fit with #10, #15 and #30 blade sizes, as well as #9. You can use them on any detachable blade clipper from Wahl and Oster too.

Andis Pet Combs Kit

Compared to Wahl, the set of comb attachments has 9 sizes: 1/16″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″ and 9/16″.

Oster combs for dogs (check them here) are famous due to the brand’s legendary A5 clipper.

The biggest benefit here are two very important factors to consider:

  • You get a bigger kit of 10 stainless steel combs.
  • Oster attachments go from 1/16″ to 2″, covering more coat lengths.

There’s a downside to that…

Oster’s guards for dogs don’t fit Wahl or Andis clippers snugly at all. Forget about optimal interchangeability between models here.

Quick note:
Blade sizes pet combs usually deal with

Most detachable blade clippers for dog grooming are equipped with a #10 blade. This one leaves pet hair at 1/16” or 1.5mm. While attachments also work well with #9 blades, anything shorter might not be as optimal.

I’d like to talk about the three ‘standard’ blade sizes you see recommended in most kits of dog grooming attachments.

While the #10 blade size is the same across all brands, there are some differences with the #30 and #40 blades.

For #30 dog clipper blades: Andis and Oster products leave hair at 1/50″ or 0.5mm. Wahl leaves fur at 1/32″ or 0.8mm, so a little longer.

For #40 blades: Andis and Oster are at 1/100″ (0.25mm), Wahl’s catalogue points at 3/128″ or 0.6mm on their Ultimate/Competition series.

How to use snap on guards:
A nice video!

A picture’s worth a thousand words…And a video much, much more. Comb attachments are perfect for dealing with short to medium coats or breeds like poodles who have a single coat without any undercoat issues.

Here’s one of my favorite videos on technique and methods you can use while learning how to DIY your affectionate pooch!

If during quarantine you’re also considering cutting your own (or your family’s hair), remember that dog and human hair clippers differ a bit. Focusing on Oster’s clippers, I have a special guide on blade lengths for human hair you can check out!

How To Take Care of Your Clipper Combs

Every tool needs to be taken care of to ensure its longevity and improve its functionality. The same case goes for clipper combs. As a professional groomer, you need to take care of your clipper combs to ensure that they can serve you for long.

Oil The Hinges

The first thing to do is to oil the hinges. Once you have used the clipper combs for some time, they’ll begin to feel tight. Although this is not bad, the tightness can make it challenging to change the clippers. 

To work properly and avoid bad service, apply a clipper oil drop or two to ensure the hinges are moving and working properly. 

Keep The Combs Clean

It is not hygienic to keep the combs with all the matted hair on them. The matted hair is not only unsanitary but can also reduce the quality of the cutting blade. This is especially true if you use metal clipping blades, which can erode the teeth and the clipper combs’ hinges. 

Hair is acidic, so if you store your clipper combs with hair on it, the hair can do a number on your combs. 

Moreover, the hair can carry some bacteria, which can be hazardous, especially for professional dog groomers. The bacteria can transfer a rash from one dog to another if you do not clean your clipper combs. 

Cleaning should be part of your daily routine to keep the bacteria at bay. In addition, some soaps and sprays have antimicrobial properties that help keep the blades free of bacteria. 

When Is It Better to Use Dog Grooming Combs?

Dog clipper guards or snap-on combs are a safer method of controlling the length of your pet’s hair.

This is important, especially if you are a beginner and do not feel confident enough as you are afraid of hurting your beloved dog.

Steering away from using naked blades is recommended until you’re accustomed to it. On top of that, grooming your dog free-hand is tricky as the animal can be fidgeting, creating room for error.

The grooming process is not easy; it takes years of experience before you can do what professional groomers can. 

The good news is that clipper combs can help rid you of the fear of hurting your dog or messing with its fur. 

The snap-on combs are fixed to the clipper’s blade end. This helps soften the cutting edge as it’s made of plastic. 

A comb attachment will be a sure way of giving your pet an even proportionate cut all-round. If you desire your puppy’s coat length to be somewhere under 2 inches, you just need to snap on a comb and start clipping. This way, you won’t overdo the clipping. 

In addition, the clipper guards can be useful when you want to leave more hair on your pup’s body. However, naked blades can cut quite close to the dog’s skin, which can be risky if your cutting technique is not that good. 

Even if you’re a pro DIY groomer, the snap-on combs will be suitable as some dog breeds don’t feel very comfortable with the blades close to their skin, making them fidget even more. 

There are 3 top brands of snap combs for pro dog grooming tools. They include Oster, Andis, and Wahl. No matter which you pick, these three brands are ideal as they are durable and comfortable on your pet’s skin. 

On top of that, Oster, Andis, and Wahl snap-on combs are ideal for dogs with matted or thick fur. Their teeth don’t bend, making them glide much better. 

 Conclusion

Grooming your pouch is not easy, especially if you’ve had no training. In addition, proper tools must be used to ensure your pet’s safety and for beautiful fur on your pet. However, with proper training and tools like the ones reviewed above, I believe you will do a decent job of ensuring your dog’s fur is short, neat, and clean.

7 thoughts on “Clipper Combs for Dogs: How & When to Use Them”

  1. Hi Alex,
    Many thanks for the article, very good information. I have a question, can Wahl or Andis guards be used also for humans? I presume the answer is yes for plastic Andis, one just needs to check the size, but what about the stainless steel ones from Wahl and eventually Oster? I have an A5 with #10 blade and was about to purchase some guards for all human and animal members of the family, but two sets of guards cost a lot.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi, Vincent!

      I get your pain — especially with COVID-19, the prices on anything clipper-related have skyrocketed…

      Onto your question: while this is not their primary intended purpose, yes, you should be able to use them for human hair too. I’ve actually seen some people put the dog combs on their Oster 76 and cut their own hair. One of the top Amazon reviews on the Oster combs also mentions this.

      Basically, the Oster A5 is like a buffed version of the Oster Classic 76. Aside from its stock blade, the only other difference is that its motor is more powerful.

      The same should apply to Wahl’s dog combs, though I haven’t tried this exact set for human hair. I’ve only used Wahl’s stainless steel guards coming with the Elite Pro (human hair) clipper.

      Just checked and Wahl’s animal division says that it should be OK if you a) keep in mind the different numbering system (#E comb = 1” etc) and b) have a #30 or ‘human equivalent’ blade. I think the #10 blade should be OK too, honestly.

      However, I’d urge caution. Go slow and be extra careful considering the difference in motor, especially if you have the 2-speed version of the A5.

      Additionally, make sure you clean the blade/combs really well between human/pet use.

      Cheers & stay safe,
      Alex

  2. Anne Isaacson

    Hi Alex

    Enjoyed your comb use instruction but have another question for you.

    I homed a Scottie from SPCA – he is +- 7yrs old & came from a neglected situation. He has a beautiful nature but is paranoid & terrified of bathing, brushing grooming … have had to have him sedated to groom him.

    We have had him just under a year – bathed him a few times but only cut once at Vet supervision of sedation. Now he his very badly matted & tangled again & needs cutting!!

    Any home tips re keeping him calm for grooming? Have heard covering eyes removes panic…. is this true??

    Your help greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey there, Anne!

      Glad the article helped you out. I’m so happy to hear of your noble adoption of your Scottie; I myself have been involved with some local animal rescue initiatives.

      This is a tricky situation…While I don’t know your little guy well, the usual practice is to spend some time getting them used to:

      – The clippers/scissors themselves
      – A specific, designated area where you’ll groom them

      Treat giving helps a lot. Try to get your Scottie to get used to the smell of the clippers, to their sound…I know it sounds hard if your pet’s too paranoid, but that’s the best you can do.

      Another thing that matters a lot is the clipper itself. There are some clippers that are a bit better in terms of noise/vibrations which will help with reducing anxiety too. Wahl Bravura comes off the top of my head, it’s one of the quieter ones. The Oster A5 I’ve mentioned above, for example, has a noisier motor.

      Covering their eyes can backfire in my opinion, as the dog will get further confused why exactly are you doing that all of a sudden. But who knows, in your case it might work?

      From a behavioral point of view, I think the woman in this video demonstrates good control over dog anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSzMBQaOSAU

      Hopefully I could help a little bit. I understand your pain, some dogs never get used to grooming, no matter what you try to do…

      Best regards and keep safe,
      Alex

  3. hey there I have a classic 76 oster that was given to me , I have pets and there hair gets matted a lot . the blade on the oster right now is a 1 1/2 .is there a better blade for the 76 that would get thru the matted hair .I realize this is not a pet cliper and the a5 is a better choice ,would rather try to make this work if poss . I cant seem to find any advice on the classic for pets . any help would be appreciated
    thanks
    tom

  4. JONNIE GUERRISI

    I’m confused between clipper blades and clipper guards. I want to cut my Goldendoodle short for the summer. Her coat is more wavy than curly and only thick behind the neck and down her back. No mats. Does the blade or guard determine the length of the cut. If I order an Andis 5FC blade do I need to order a 5 guard? My groomer is closed due to the virus but she messaged me and said she uses a 30FC under the guard. I didn’t see an 30 Andis blade, just 3 3/4 – 4FC. What size guard? Thank you!

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