My first home grooming experience


You can move the slider back and forth to see the before and after.

I made the assertion in my review of Jodi Murphy’s Havanese grooming instructional DVD that I thought the committed Havanese owner could successfully learn how to perform pet clips on their dogs at home.

Sunday afternoon after my Seattle Seahawks lost to the Chargers in San Diego I thought nothing else could go wrong, so I put my assertion to the test and took the Andis clippers to Rory for the first time ever.

If you’ve read any of my forum threads and know my grooming ‘history’ you know that I do not come out of the blocks confident about my ability to groom a Havanese. But on her instructional DVD, Jodi makes it look so easy and explains it so clearly that I watched the DVD once and felt ready to go.

If Norm Abrams can build an heirloom desk I can give my dog a haircut, right?

The same thing happens when I watch Norm Abrams on The New Yankee Workshop on PBS – I just know that I too can craft an heirloom quality oak roll-top desk with hand-carved dovetail joints after watching the second-generation master carpenter do it once.

Of course I am wrong about that, as I was wrong about being able to breeze through Jodi’s video once, perform a full grooming, and be 100% satisfied with my results the first time.

In retrospect I would have been better off to make a few notes and do my learning in stages. Jodi presents the process in a logical steps; the ‘prep’ (bathing and drying) is done first, then the sanitary, and pads. She then does the body, the rear, the legs and feet, head and face, neck, and finally tail – before stepping back to make sure it’s all laying nicely and flowing together.

When I told my adult son I was going to groom Rory, he winced and warned knowingly, “Oh Dad, that can go south in a hurry.”

So rather than just dive in headfirst and decide to do the whole dog, I should have done my ‘learning grooming’ in steps. During the process I would get to a point and try to remember exactly how she did something. How was she holding the comb? Which shears was she using? What angle was she cutting at? Being able to refer back to the DVD was great.



So why would somebody want to home groom their Havanese, a breed that is considered difficult by professional groomers?


We’ve all read the horror stories of Havanese owners that have gone to pick up their dogs from the grooming shop and been horrified to return and find their dog has been shaved down, or cut in some other way that was upsetting. In fairness to the groomers, these stories only tell one side of story and we never really know how good the owner communication was going in, but the end result is the same – an unhappy Hav owner.

In theory grooming your own dog means you have complete control over the end result and will never be unhappy.


Home grooming can save the average Havanese owner $7,215.

Grooming at home can save the average Havanese owner $7,215.

It is generally held in the fancy that in addition to weekly baths, a pet Havanese needs grooming about every six to eight weeks. For the purposes of this illustration I’ll pick the number in the middle – seven weeks. Over an average 15 year lifespan of a Havanese that would mean you would travel to the groomers about 111 times.

The cost of grooming differs throughout the United States based on location. For this calculation I’ll just use the rate that my neighborhood groomer charges which is $55.

Add a $10 gratuity and you’re at $65 which we will multiply by the 111 visits and arrive at an out-of-pocket expense of $7,215.00. That does not take into account your time or mileage.


  • You’re a Renaissance man or woman
  • You live really far away from a grooming shop
  • You’re the self-sufficient type
  • You’re a child of the Great Depression
  • You value and enjoy the time with your Hav
  • You’re saving up for an iPhone 6 Plus
  • You’re Norm Abrams

For me it’s a combination of a couple of those. Your motivations may well be different. Off we went to the home grooming ‘shop’ I set up in a coat closet. Despite my early trepidation, I found the Havanese grooming process very enjoyable: oddly challenging and relaxing at the same time. Many point to the bonding experience, and it certainly is that. Earning your dog’s trust for the process is very edifying.

The Jodi Murphy DVD instructs you on how to do two pet cuts; a longer pet cut done mostly with shears; and then a shorter puppy-type cut done with clippers, clip-on combs, and shears. She teaches you what blades to use when, what clip-on combs to use when, and when to use the curved, thinning, or straight shears.



Click on the image to order the DVD from Jodi for $34.95.

I left some ‘ledges’, something the DVD explains and I know I can remedy. I can see some chunks and will go back and fix those. I made her head blocky; I took too much off the side of her head so her ears look like bookends. Again, live and learn.

On whole, I’m satisfied with my first-time result in the sense that it gives me a place to start – a foundation on which to build my grooming skills.

I can now stand back, look at the results and see the things that I did wrong, understand how they happened, and know how to address them in the future. And this is a plus: beyond the basics of grooming, i.e. clip this, trim that – Jodi teaches you styling – things like how to cut to get visually pleasing angulation, framing the face, and tips like angling your shears to get a beveled foot.

Jodi’s DVD was a great place to start for me. I’ll need practice and a better, more aggressive pair of thinning shears moving forward. The great thing is my Hav’s hair continues to grow right on out, so I’ll have lots of time to get better. Which is good, because I need to start on that oak roll-top desk.


Postscript: I was self-conscious about taking Rory out in public, but the Woodmark Hotel down on Lake Washington was holding their last Yappy Hour of the summer and it was a gorgeous day – so we ventured out. As it turns out one of the very first people we ran into there was Alisa Cheadle, a professional groomer in our community rated 5-stars on Yelp. D’oh! I didn’t say anything, swallowed hard, and prepared for the worst.  Alisa knelt to pet Rory, “What a cute haircut you have Rory!” she said. How about that?

LINK: Here are the Andis 5-speed Clippers that Jodi Murphy uses.
LINK: Here is the single-speed Andis Clipper I bought. But with a Havanese I need a better one with more speeds.
LINK: This is the one I should have bought instead for just a few dollars more.

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