Tools and Procedures for Trimming the Hair Around the Eyes

by Joyce Johanson

Question: We just got a 3 and a half month old energetic Lhasa Apso and are wondering about the safest way to clip the hair that is below and above his eyes. Right now it seems impossible to do without injury to the eyes.

Clipping the hair around your puppy's eyes is really not necessary at this age, but I realize the awkward length of the headfall makes putting it in topknots or otherwise holding it back in barrettes or bands not the easiest thing to do. And I also realize that owners like to see their puppies' pretty, expressive eyes!

The FIRST thing you need to do is get the puppy used to having his face "messed with" and to sitting still to allow you to do it. Without that, you risk serious injury to the eyes if you even try to get close with a scissors. Purchase a face comb, sometimes called a finishing comb. These metal combs are about 4.5 inches long and have teeth quite close together at one end and a little further apart at the other. Most wholesale pet supply companies carry them for about $10. I found mine online at PetEdge:

Using the face comb, get your puppy used to having his mustache and the hair above his eyes combed daily. Once he gets used to the small comb on his face, near his eyes, and once you trust that he will be still during the process, then if you really think it is necessary, you might consider trimming hair by his eyes. Most people do not cut hair above or below the eye. Trimming is generally done between the eyes, either all or part way across the nose. Use a small scissors (4 - 4.5") with ball tips. You also might consider a small battery-operated trimmer, like the type men use for trimming beards and mustaches. The online pet supply companies generally carry them. They are relatively inexpensive and are also quite handy for trimming between the pads of the feet. Again, because it buzzes and the buzzing might alarm the puppy, you need to get him used to the sound - especially near his face - before you try to use it on him.

Another option (if you have a pet and not a show puppy) is to trim his eyefall shorter, in effect creating "bangs" so you are able to see his eyes. You still need to trust him to sit quietly, but you can protect his eyes from the scissors somewhat by putting your left forefinger on the right side of his head, your left thumb on the left side of his head, combing his eyefall over your hand and then using the scissors to trim the hair. Get someone to help you hold the puppy still. You do not want to poke him in the eye with the scissors!

Recommended grooming tools:
4.5 inch face/finishing comb
Battery-operated trimmer
Small (4") scissors with a ball tip

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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