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In Pursuit of Well-Groomed Feet - Tips?

1130 Views 22 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Megora
In my intro thread I shared that I rode horses for 40 years. One of the only ways I could piece that together was to do my own grooming (and also I loved that aspect of it). I actually worked for horse trainers and was paid to do this for many years, I was able to do it a pro level.

SO with my first dog Bitsy, I am starting from zero, and trying to learn the ropes of at least some grooming basics for Goldens. One of the things I have seen and can’t unsee is what a properly groomed Golden foot looks like. It just looks so nice when it’s done well. It’s my goal to get really good at it. Got a long way to go but I enjoy practicing and learning. I have been trying to get better and better each time I have the chance to trim up Bits.

Some tips I already have received are:
  • Get a grooming table. Lucky to have a friend who has a dog grooming business, she recommended a budget friendly one. It certainly does not have electronics or hydraulics so we also use leftover hamburger and my old mounting block from horses (i.e. steps) for Bits to hop on and off. She’s agreeable.
  • Have a variety of scissors, including the curved scissors. Got ‘em, they might need to be nicer, I cheaped out on Amazon for my first go-round.
  • Try to trim the foot like a cat’s paw (using the slicker brush against the hair) - so hard.
  • Effectively, groom considering each toe, vs. thinking of it as one foot. This was a tip from B’s breeder who is a great + professional groomer; it helped to think of it in this way.

My biggest challenge is taking too much out between the toes and making them look cloven. Working on that.

I hope I get great at this as I learn more and time goes on.
If anyone else is into grooming feet, feel free to share some other tips.

Pics of a recent attempt - it’s impossible to hurt my feelings about this, I know I’m just a beginner.

1. Bitsy on the table - this is just for up/down agreeability. She’s secured in the nooses when she is being groomed.

Dog Window Carnivore Working animal Flooring

2. Back feet, took out too much of the “in betweens” and made them too cloven.

Wood Comfort Flooring Floor Fawn

Front feet: dang, that cat-paw look is tough to ach

Comfort Wood Textile Mammal Dog breed
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· Kate
24,995 Posts
I don’t, but I never let them get too “Grinchy.” I take a crack at it every 2 weeks.
The reason why I ask is that the more fur on your dog's feet - the easier it is to shape the paw. Then once you get it right, then you just maintain every 2 weeks. It is more difficult when the fur is relatively short on the feet to start with.

When I trim feet - I first focus on cleaning up under the feet, around the pads. This includes poking top fur down between toes and trimming any excess that comes out below. I use my cheap shears when doing this - my $9 6" conairs (which I think have actually gone up in price since I bought them 10-15 years ago LOL). I also close cut directly behind the big pad on each foot.

I also do a "notch" which is trimming very tight behind the back pad... difficult to describe....

Then I brush the feet upwards and use my curved shears (6" curved) to trim a "box" cut. <= I'm eating dinner right now (LOL) but if I have time/if I remember I will pop one of my dogs up on the table to demonstrate the angle of my shears when I'm doing this cut. My guys just got groomed (my every other Friday night thing) so there won't be any real show of how to, but you can see the angle of my shears at least. I do this while holding the foot.

Then I put the foot down and pick up the opposite front foot - which makes the dog keep his to-be-trimmed foot in place. Then I take my curved shears and trim right along the pads. This gives you the shape you want around the foot.

You can then backbrush and trim anything sticking way out - but feet should be fine at this point.

Rears are pretty much done the same way.

· Kate
24,995 Posts

^^^ I'm not sure if this helps, because to me I don't know of very many golden retrievers who have feet that look exactly like a Doberman pincher's foot (foot in the picture example of a cat foot). I also raised an eyebrow at the description of these feet as being "small" since lot of us with breeds like newfs or even goldens would not describe our dogs' feet as small. And then the golden breed standard never uses the term "cat feet" to describe the shape. They are described as medium sized, round, compact, and well knuckled. Mainly preference is to avoid flat feet or the appearance of flat feet (which I think incorrect grooming of the feet can do). So I puzzled a little over that.... But I found the information behind why X shape is for X purpose etc to be rather interesting.

In our breed, having hare feet is very UGH. We do not want to see long ugly feet like that.... :) But the purpose for having long toes - for speed and rapid change of direction, etc.... does tell you why certain breeds would be allowed or preferred to have hare feet. Then when you read the explanation for oval shaped feet, it does color in why many herding breeds would have that shape and likewise why these dogs may excel in sports like agility.


I had my youngest up on the grooming table to brush burrs out of his feathers and snapped a couple pics of his front feet.... I want to get one of those cell phone holders that hang around your neck or something so I could do a video or picture showing the cutting angles as I described previously. >.< Unfortunately do not have a second pair of hands this evening to help me with that. Maybe tomorrow when this same dog gets another bath (yes, second week in a row) and the person who normally would help me is around. :)

The pics show my Gleezie's feet.... just front feet. The top pic shows him slouching back on the table which affects the appearance of the paws. Second pic I have him up over himself more + I used some of the goop I'd use on his feet if showing. Not a lot, etc.... just showing I hope that if you are comparing a trim you do at home with what you see in the show ring or whatnot.... remember that more is done besides just trimming the feet with a lot of these dogs to get "that look".

I honestly don't know if your dog has oval feet or round feet just based on the pictures or more oval or less round than many dogs out there. I do agree that she doesn't have a lot of fur on the feet and then how you trim will affect how the foot looks. Like.... Do not shave between the toes! o_O! And I don't think you need to use clippers on the bottoms of the feet.

Dog Dog breed Carnivore Fawn Wood

Dog breed Felidae Carnivore Wood Companion dog

· Kate
24,995 Posts
Combined cost of my shears which I used on my dogs feet was about 45 bucks. The teeny tiny shears that I love for feet which have extra pointy tips are about 35 bucks. My garbage scissors which I use to trim the stuff under the feet were nine dollars when purchased. I have more expensive shears including my thinning shears, but my opinion is that how you trim the feet makes a big huge difference in the final product. My thinning shears cost about $200.

· Kate
24,995 Posts
I agree. My wording was not great.
Neither was mine - I was driving as I voice-typed that. :D

My thoughts were simply that so many go through shears like crazy trying to find THE PAIR that will make them good. And it really is just experience and getting it done. Hands on help, etc.

I think OP is on right track digging in and learning how to groom her own dog. The interesting thing is having less coat makes some things easy (less grooming needed if you are showing), but you have to be better at the grooming that you do. No clippers between the toes, etc. :)
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