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Removing Paw Hair


© 2003 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Who knows why the Kerry Blue Terrier with their blue curly/wavy coat has that very same hair growing from in between the pads of their feet. If we take our Kerry to a groomer, we do not have to worry about this. If we groom our Kerry ourselves, we will discover that not only do we have to trim their coats, pluck their ears, and trim their whiskers we will also have to trim their paw hair.

Why do it?

How do we go about doing this? Suggestions from experienced Kerry owners who groom their Kerries will help those of us who are novices to the Kerry Cutting Experience.



  1. Dog's feet, like human feet, are ticklish, or at least, the dog version of ticklish and so you have to prepare your Kerry for the hair cutting process. Spend some time preparing her for paw hair removal by handling her feet and any mats that might be present so that she gets used to this process. It will help when you actually start to do the cutting.
  2. What to use-- scissors or a clipper? If a clipper, what blade? The recommendations are varied but the users report good results with either. For experienced groomers:
    Scissors-Use a small (6") straight pair (surgical straight scissors). With all scissors, the better the quality, the better the cut. Prices range from $8.50 to slightly more than $90 for a pair of 6" scissors. Do not scrimp on the cost of the scissor if you are going to use this method. It was suggested that curved nail scissors might work, but might not be heavy enough for the thick hair, especially if it is heavily matted.

    For novice groomers:
    Small Clipper-Success is reported using a Wahl battery-operated clipper. Its advantages are that it is reasonably quiet and the small head will allow you to get into the small places safely. It may also be less expensive ($18.88 plus $11 for the blade) than a good pair of scissors.

    Regular Clipper-A good cut is reported using your regular clipper with either a #40 (1/100") blade (very fine) or a #15 (3/64") blade. A 5/8T (trim 1/32") was also reported as being used.


  3. Where should you place your Kerry for the pad hair grooming? There seem to be two trends of thought-either the grooming table or the floor. Recommended position of the Kerry while cutting was on its side, either on the grooming table or on the floor.

With these preliminaries over, how does one proceed? Once you have your Kerry in your chosen position:

  1. With your hand, spread open the paw.
  2. Use your fingers to tease up any lumps of hair apart.
  3. Once teased up, lift any mats away from the pad so as to avoid clipping the pad.
  4. Spread the toes gently and feel the webbing of your dog's foot. This will also help you gauge where to make initial cuts.
  5. Scissor or clip away the hair.
  6. Be sure to scissor up the sides of the pads and in between the toes, close to the leather-like pad.
  7. Be careful to not cut up through to the front of the foot as you might end up giving your darling a slight bald spot when viewed from the front.
  8. The cutting may take two or more passes on each foot, both on the inside and the outside of the foot. Attend to 'tough mats' as discussed below.
  9. Continue with all four feet.
  10. Reinforce your Kerry's cooperation with a belly rub.
  11. This might be a good time to trim your Kerry's nails.
  12. Be prepared for a significant amount of very tiny, black/blue hair to be on your grooming table and/or floor, and on whatever clothing you are wearing. Kerry hair seems to especially like to stick to sweat shirt fabric, so be forewarned.

Nasty Mats

If you run into a particularly nasty mat, try making cross cuts into the mat itself. Pull the mat up, and holding it in your hand between thumb and finger, make an "X" cut as deeply into the mat as you can. Don't forget your fingers are in there! This will help you spread the mat and free some of the tangle before you have to get closer to the skin. Continue to make these cross cuts into the mat and work as much of it out as possible, thereby making the closer cuts almost unneeded until the last bit which will be easier with the mat now removed.

Thanks to the following KB-L Newslist subscribers for contributing ideas to this article: Gary Alu, Connie Spicer, Victoria Kniering, Lynette Murphy, Marilyn Brotherton, Diane Ridd, Mary King, and Judith Young.

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