DIY: How to groom your Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terriers getting ready for bath
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Many readers have expressed interest in grooming their own dogs so we asked D0-It-Yourself Scottish Terrier groomer Lallee of Lallee’s Cottage for her tips. And, boy, did she deliver.

Take it away, Lallee:

I am flattered that you would ask me about how to groom a Scottie. (Do I hear breeders guffawing out there?) I still think of myself as an amateur.

I’m glad to share what info I can on the process of grooming. My learning began with a few helps. First, Oliver was my first Scottie, now 9 years old. Living in a small town, I was unsuccessful finding a groomer who knew how to groom a Scottie properly. I was a member of an ST list on AOL, with many members transferring later to Ed’s ScottyLovers on Yahoo. I learned and continue to learn a wealth of information on ScottieLovers. Also, I met a breeder in a nearby town who encouraged me to learn to groom myself. She generously offered for me to bring Oliver over for her to groom and teach me.

I would say my ‘education’ was threefold:

  1. ScottyLovers discussions from helpful breeders and groomers on tools and techniques.
  2. This online tutorial which I printed out at the time:
  3. The hands on tutorial from the breeder.

As with everything, it was an ongoing learning experience. I never looked back because even my first efforts were far better than what I had been paying for. Hair grows back, so other than maybe some brief embarrassment of owner and dog, what is to lose?

My first investment was good clippers. My Oster Golden A5 still works like the day I bought it. You would want a clipper that the blades can be interchangeable. One area of grooming I was always nervous about was using the clippers on the ear edges. I was so frightened of cutting them, and saw that one groomer already had nipped Oliver’s! I discovered (on ScottyLovers) that there was a small trimmer for this purpose that cannot cut the ears, and also works so well between the toes. It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made! Later additions in grooming tools I made were a grooming table, better scissors, and thinning shears. There may be other models of clippers that would be recommended. Mine are 9 years old.

Different size blades determine the length of trimmed hair. I like using a 5F blade on Baggins who has a beautiful thick coat. It doesn’t trim too close. I use an 8-1/2 on Oliver’s back which cuts shorter. He has a thin coat and the 5F just doesn’t trim on his coat.

I joined the Tampa Bay Scottish Terrier Club and they had a grooming seminar not long after I started doing my own grooming. While they were showing how to strip, etc., for showing, I still learned some great techniques for finer finishing.

I find breeders to be generously helpful. If there is one nearby, I would make contact and ask for help. Also, join a breed club if there is one nearby. Last but equally informative and helpful is the Internet, of course. Scottish Terrier Club of America is helpful relating to all things Scottie and a good source for finding local breeders:

Please let me know if I can offer anymore info. I hope this makes sense. Your blog is delightful and I enjoy catching up all the news and interest you gather!

You heard it folks. Ask Lallee your grooming questions.

The Scottish Terrier and Dog News will kick things off with a query from Elizabeth of Houston, Texas, owner of 13-month-old Oliver. “I need an opinion on whether or not I should cut his hair,” she writes. “I like the teddy bear look and have tried a short Scottie cut on him during the summer months (we live in Houston) and he looked odd.”

That’s shaggy Oliver above on the left (click to enlarge) and Oliver with what we dubbed the Scottie Brazilian below. Elizabeth thinks he appears miserable and we have to agree he looks far less confident than above.

The Scottie News’ recommends that next summer you opt for a Traditional Scottie haircut and not a Brazilian. While we too love the Teddy Bear look and favour it for getting through Canadian winters, all that black fur is just too hot for the summer. And we’re in Montreal not Houston! We think young Oliver would be proud to have a classic cut even if it might take him a day or two to get used to it.

Read more on Scottish Terrier grooming.

Buy the Oster Golden A5 clipper that Lally uses on Amazon

Buy the 5F blade on Amazon

Buy the 8-1/2 blade on Amazon

16 thoughts on “DIY: How to groom your Scottish Terrier

  1. Oliver is adorable! I think a cut somewhere between the “teddy bear” look and the “brazilian” would work just fine!

  2. Hi. Thanks for your bit on Scottie Grooming. I have a 12 year old Scottie rescue with Cerebellar abiotrophy – do you have any articles about that? Check out for info and you can even see a picture of Casey badly needing a trim! Groomers really stress him out. david

  3. Hi! I love this bit..”Hair grows back, so other than maybe some brief embarassment of owner and dog, what is to lose?” It has comforted me greatly in my hour of need!

    I have finished doing a grooming course and as I was waiting quite a while to get my equipment and set up, it was about 6 weeks since I picked up a clippers/scissors…as a result my yorkie who I did last night looks absolutely terrible and will now be on nighttime walks for a while until enough hair grows back so I can fix her! My next dog to do is a Scottie which is why I found this site! I’m pretty much gathering as much info as possible before laying a hand on him :)

    Anyway…love the site and Oliver is gorgeous!

  4. Do they tell you how to pin a scottie down when grooming him?!? My husband has to get Macintosh in a rugby tackle so I can trim his eyebrows..

    One more question, does anyone elses scottie resemble a seal pup when they come back from the groomers? We have to avoid the sea for a few weeks after grooming in case he gets harpooned!

  5. My question is do you all actually go with the grain of the hair on the back and around the neck. With both of our Scotties I have tried this, and I seem to not get anything with our clippers. Granted I don’t have the greatest clippers in the world, but it seems that unless I go against the grain, I don’t actually cut anything.

  6. I took Duffy, my 11 year old Scottie to a new groomer who said that she new how to give a Scottie cut. When I picked him up I was not happy with his cut. He had no ear tuffs and his tail looked like a feather duster. What to do; nothing except trim the feather duster a bit at a time. Time does heal all bad cuts, but it’s painful watching them grow out, though I must admit that it doesn’t seem to bother Duffy in the least.

  7. My Scottie “Bogie” just can’t tolerate the grooming. One time he didn’t eat for almost a week and a half. He is sooo upset…and I have taken him to several groomers; only one does a good job but he was done in. The one today said she just couldn’t do it, even with a muzzle on him…I am at my witts end.

    I tried tranquilizers (1-1/2) the vet gave me for the stress…and it took forever to take…like 4 hours. Are all Scotties upset at the groomers or just mine? Bogie is going to be 6 in June. So now I think I will try and groom him myself and take him to the vet to get his nails cut…anyone with advice?

  8. Hi…can you me the name of the clippers that you use around the ears? I groomed Bailey for the first time and used the clippers on part of his ears and then hand cut the rest because I was so afraid of hurting him! Thanks!

  9. I’ve enjoyed reading how to. I’ve recently adopted a 2 year old, her name is Dusty and alot of fun! I started grooming her today wow what a job, she is sooo good though. My question is we are not for show but for fun, she is my little companion she wears dresses and I’m wondering if it is ok for her to wear barrett in her hair.
    Thankyou so much for your time.

  10. Our Brody came to us when he was 4 years olf (now 5 1/2) but does not like the grooming hardly at all. I do not believe the groomer has much experience in doing Scotties. We have to have our vet trim his nails and clean the gland that builds up
    Any suggestions to make him more confortable? I doubt he has ever had much grooming before we ended up with him. We love him very much and want the best for him. He is our 3rd Scottie and our last was a wonderful little girl who became ill and had to go to Heaven.

  11. Set your grooming table up outside with a view of something for your Scottie to look at. Even if its kids playing on the street, or the mail truck going by. It keeps them occupied while you work as fast as you can! Also, break the haircut up into 2 days. I do all clipping on the first day and all the scissor work on the second. Give them lots of breaks off of the table, and a few treats. Also, C. Milan recommends a good long walk before hand. It does help if you work on a tired dog.

  12. I am venturing into learning to groom my scotty myself. But I am wondering what clippers are referred to in the article above when stated…

    “I was so frightened of cutting them, and saw that one groomer already had nipped Oliver’s! I discovered (on ScottyLovers) that there was a small trimmer for this purpose that cannot cut the ears, and also works so well between the toes. It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made!”

    I can’t seem to find the name of that trimmer. Please let me know. Thanks!


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