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Should you trim dogs paw hair?

Winter care for your dog’s paws and skin

There is no denying that winters in Canada can be harsh, for both dogs and humans. For dogs, exposure to the cold air and snow can cause dry, itchy skin, cracked paws or discomfort during dog walks. Extra care also needs to be taken to ensure paws are kept clean from ice-melting chemicals, which can be harmful if left on the skin or ingested.

Luckily there are a few products, as well as steps you can take to provide care and relief for your pup’s irritated paws and skin this winter.

Winter grooming

Grooming is an important part of keeping your dog’s paws healthy this winter. If your dog has long hair, trim the hair between the paw pads and around the paws. This serves several functions: it minimizes painful ice balls from forming on your dog’s paws; it reduces the amount of road salt and de-icing chemicals that are picked up; and it makes it easier for you to clean and apply moisturizing balm to your dog’s paws after your walks.

Don’t forget to keep your dog’s nails trimmed all year round, including the winter. Long nails tend to splay your dog’s paws while walking, making it easier for irritants to get between paw pads.

As for your dog’s skin, brushing your dog’s coat on a regular basis will help get rid of dead hair, distribute natural oils throughout the coat, and help invigorate the skin.

Keep paws clean

Thoroughly wash and dry your dog’s paws after going on a walk, making sure to also clean the area between their toes. This removes any de-icing chemicals that may be on your dog’s paws. Use this opportunity to inspect their paws for any cracks or redness. Once the paw is clean, you can apply a paw balm or petroleum jelly to sooth any irritation or treat dryness. Avoid using moisturizers made for humans, since this can soften paws and leave them vulnerable to injury.


Being exposed to cold, wet weather followed by warm, dry air inside your house can cause your dog to develop itchy, flakey skin. If dry skin is a problem with your dog, consider getting a humidifier to control the humidity in your house.

Fewer baths

While it’s important to keep your dog’s feet clean, try to avoid bathing them too often in the winter. Frequent washing removes essential oils, which can dry out your dog’s skin. If you must wash your dog in the winter months, ask your vet for recommendations on a gentle moisturizing shampoo or try these water-less bathing options.

Paw protectors

While your dog may not love them, dog boots can help minimize contact between your dog’s feet and harmful chemicals. Another option is to use a paw balm or petroleum jelly to create a protective layer on your dog’s paw pads. You should still wash your dog’s paws afterwards to make sure your pooch doesn’t accidentally lick any chemicals left on its paws. Watch our video for tips on fitting your dog for winter boots.

We all know how rough winter can be. By minimizing the impact cold weather and icy conditions can have on your dog, it will be a safer, more enjoyable season for everyone!

Does Your Dog Have Grinch Feet?

What are Grinch feet in dogs? The name probably immediately conjures images of the green character who stole Christmas.

Well, that’s precisely what we’re talking about.

Officer Edith of San Francisco Animal Care & Control posted an image to Twitter that had the internet awash with discussion. It spawned multiple news stories and hundreds of comments from pet owners who had seen something similar in their own pets. Specifically, it was to do with Dr. Seuss style feet in dogs whose hair had gotten a little too long. The Internet then took it over and now refers to the feet as Grinch Feet.

rescue dog tweet having dr seuss grinch feet

So, what exactly are Grinch feet, and what do they mean for your pup? Should you cut Grinch feet in dogs or leave them alone? Read on for the answers.

What Are Grinch Feet in Dogs?

You’ve probably put two and two together already from the above photo. When the hair on your pup’s feet starts to get excessively long, you could be mistaken for thinking that they’re starring in a holiday season pantomime. Their paws turn into little furry slippers.

This happens quickly, too. Often, the fur on our pups’ feet grows more quickly or noticeably than the hair on the rest of their bodies. This leaves us with the unique problem of them needing a puppy pedicure more frequently than their dog grooming appointments.

mixed breed dog with grinch feet

Should You Cut Grinch Feet in Dogs?

Unfortunately, as well as being cute, Grinch feet in dogs can become uncomfortable over time if left to grow. While some amount of fur is necessary for protection against the cold, too much can be a nuisance. It can cause debris and even snow to get caught between their toes, as well as giving them less traction when they’re walking on slippery surfaces.

So, yes, you should absolutely trim the hair that’s causing your dog’s Grinch feet. This will allow them to be more comfortable, while reducing the chance of accidents or breakages occurring as a result of slipping around on wooden floors at home.

Should You Use Dog Grooming to Cut the Hair?

If you’re confident in your ability to trim your own dog’s hair, then there’s no reason that you can’t take care of their fur slippers. It should be no more difficult than keeping the rest of their body in-check.

Your dog’s fur should be kept dry, and you can use a soft-bristled comb to gather the hairs into a uniform length that’s easy to cut. Be sure to use the tips of your shears, which will help to avoid accidental injuries if your dog suddenly jerks away. Please be advised that we only recommend this if you know how! We want to avoid all injuries.

Remember, it’s important for dogs to retain a little fur, so you shouldn’t cut too short. Ideally, the hair should be trimmed back so that it’s no longer than the paw itself. It should remain nestled over the gaps between their toes, offering enough protection for their digits during cold weather.

If you are not confident, do not attempt this. Please seek the assistance of a dog groomer who is comfortable handling and cutting a dog’s hair. Safety first!

Which Dogs Get Grinch Feet?

Since Grinch feet are due to the length of fur, and not linked to some other genetic factor, they can appear in most long-haired breeds. If you own one of the following breeds of dog, then you might have to keep an eye out for this phenomenon:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Collie
  • Setters
  • Pomeranian
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pekingese

Fortunately, it’s an easily rectifiable situation with a quick trip to your usual dog grooming salon. And in the meantime, it’s not going to cause them any serious or long-term problems, save for embarrassment when you spot the pitter-patter of their Grinch paws and have to stifle a laugh.

Does your pup have a nice set of Grinch feet? We want to see them!

Send over your pup’s paw photos to

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If you don’t have some of these tools, this article will explain some alternative ways to trim dog paws.

PRO TIP: Many groomers and vets offer touch up services – such as trimming between the eyes, sanitary shaves or paw pad shaving. This is a safe option if you are struggling to trim your dog’s feet.

Before learning how to trim dog paws, have treats ready to keep the experience positive.

Step 1 : Restrain your dog in a standing position

To avoid injuring your dog with grooming scissors, have someone safely restrain your dog.

Restraining the dog in the standing position is the most common restraint method. In this method, the restrainer wraps one arm snugly under the dog’s neck and the other arm tucked under its abdomen. From here, the dog’s body is pulled against the restrainer’s body for added support and control. This controls the head and body from any sudden movement.

Step 2: Use a slicker brush to fluff up the hair

A hard or soft slicker brush works just as well for this step.

PRO TIP: I recommend using a small curved slicker. It is ergonomically designed and it contours the shape of the paw.

The slicker brush has many fine metal teeth that easily catches hair between each toe. Brush upwards against the top of the paw. Generally, I brush up against the paw about 2 to 3 times.

If you don’t have a slicker brush, you can use your fingers and lift up the excess hair between each toe.

As an example, the photo below shows how the hair should fluff up between each toe.


Step 3: Use curved scissors to trim the raised hair

Use curved scissors to trim each raised section of hair between each toe. You will notice how the curved scissors contours the shape of the paw.

If you don’t have curved scissors, then straight scissors can also get the job done. However, straight scissors do not contour to the shape of the paw, so just be careful to avoid accidental nicks to the foot.

PRO TIP: As a safety tip , make sure to aim your scissors away from foot. If you are holding your scissors towards the foot, an injury can happen if the dog moves forward.

As an example, the photos below show the correct and incorrect way to angle your scissors. In addition, make sure to get ball-pointed scissors – it blunts the edge of the scissors to avoid any stabbing injuries.

PRO TIP: If your dog keeps lifting its foot as you trim. A trick is to use your left hand and slightly hold up the foot beside the one you are trimming. This will force the dog to keep its weight on the foot being trimmed.

After trimming the excess hair, the paw will look neater. However, there may be chop marks and a few tufts of stray hairs. For example, the photo below illustrates this:


Step 4: Use the slicker brush again

After trimming the raised sections of hair between each toe, you may notice harsh chop marks. To achieve a natural furnished look to the trimmed feet, use the slicker brush to brush up against the paw. This will also catch any tiny excess hairs you may have missed.

After brushing up against the paw, small raised sections of hair may be seen between each toe.

Step 5: Use thinning shears to furnish the look

Use a pair of thinning shears to trim each section of raised hair between each toe. This will help trim down extra hair and achieve a texturized natural look to your dog’s feet.


Sep 6: Trim excess hair around the paw

Secure the foot in your left hand before trimming excess hair. Use curved shears to trace around the paw to trim away excess hair.

Step 7: Shaving the paw pad

For home grooming, I recommend using a #10 blade. For groomers, I recommend a #40 blade – a close shaving blade.

Please be advised that for home grooming, a #10 blade leaves the hair at 1/16 of an inch – therefore, it will not cut into skin.

A #40 blade is a surgical shaving blade and can easily cut into the skin if not handled professionally. For home groomers, a #10 blade will give you piece of mind that the edge has enough of a guard to protect the skin.

When you have the # 10 blade attached to the clippers, make sure to secure the paw in your left hand. Your fingers should wrap snugly around the foot as the paw is lifted upward to face you.

The correct technique to shave the pad involves using a scooping motion with the blade. This is similar to scooping out ice cream with a spoon.

PRO TIP: However, the blade should never dig into the pad – this can lead to nicks if done with force. If you are nervous about scooping into the paw pads, you can keep the blade flat against the pad and only shave what has grown beyond the pad.

Your groomer or vet can help shave more deeply when its time for your pet’s next visit.

-By Nikita King, Certified Pet Groomer

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