Home Grooming The Companion Old English Sheepdog

Trimming Around An Old
English Sheepdog's Foot Pads

Below is just one way an Old English Sheepdog owner tends to a dog's feet.  The vibration of electric clippers can startle or tickle so dogs need to be slowly desensitized to the process.  Because some dogs are more sensitive to having their feet handled, grooming can be more challenging for some owners.  You need to proceed slowly, respect the dog's limits, praise and reward lavishly so the dog will learn to tolerate it.  Only you know your dog and how he or she may respond.  Seek assistance from a professional if there is any chance your dog could be harmed by it's exuberance or fear or if the dog could display an aggressive behavior. Follow all product safety instructions provided by individual manufacturers.  Try to make grooming a special one-on-one time that both you and your dog will look forward to.   These instructions are offered as-is and without guarantee or warranty.

What you're trying to accomplish...

Trimming hair between the Old English Sheepdog's pads improves traction, prevents painful matting and also allows for better air flow.  Less hair to carry in sand/dirt from the backyard too.  Dogs sweat through their foot pads so removing this hair helps their feet dry faster too.  Hairy feet can hold dirt, moisture, bacteria, yeast, etc. 

Tools I Use To Trim
A Dog's Pad/Foot Hair

You don't need fancy or expensive tools for this job.  I use a small, inexpensive battery operated palm clipper by Conairpet™ to shave the hair from between my Old English Sheepdogs pads.  It’s now yellow & black.   It's small so it's easy to get between the pads.  I found that rechargeable batteries provide more power for a longer duration.  I like the shorter version of The Untangler® for the feet but you can use any good comb.  I also use small scissors with stainless steel blades found at the grocery store… any scissors that cut hair well are fine.  Once you get used to scissoring, you’ll enjoy better quality scissors.

Palm Clipper Tips

  • Glide the clipper blade over the skin, don't apply much pressure or you could cause razor burn. 

  • Keep the blade level with the skin as you shave so you don't cut skin.  Use extra care when there are narrow or raised areas of skin like the top of the webbing.


  • The little battery operated palm clipper I used in this demo doesn't heat up like a standard size clipper.  If using a larger clipper and say a #15 blade, frequently touch the blade with YOUR fingers to be certain the blade isn't heating up... hot clipper blades will cause your dog pain and possibly a burn.  I no longer use a spray blade coolant... it seemed to clog up and bog down my blades.  I remove a blade that's gotten too warm, place in on a cool surface and replace it with another blade.  I've also used a cold pack, the kind you keep in the freezer for a sprain, and will place a too warm blade between it for faster cooling.  You need to be careful of condensation though... keep the blade dry and oil it after use.

Before trimming an OES's feet for the first time, get to know how the dog's feet were created.  Each foot has a large pad in the back and 4 smaller toe pads to the front.  Front legs also have a  pad on the back of the leg where it bends at the "wrist".  OESs that have not had dewclaws removed in the first few days after birth will also a small toe with a pad, webbing and toenail on the inside of the front legs... you may occasionally find back dewclaws also.  

Webbing between the toes.

The following technique is based on a dog that is already used
to both having their feet handled and the vibration of electric clippers...

When using electric clippers or scissors to trim our dog's feet, I'm very care that I don't accidentally nick or cut the dog.  Especially important in the foot area is the webbing between each toe... this webbing is a ridge of skin that separates the area between the toes from the area around the larger pad. I like to clip the hair short but I don't apply much pressure doing so... I don't want to cause razor burn.  Some dogs may be more sensitive to shaving... if this is the case, you may wish to use a clipper blade that will leave the hair a little longer.  My 5 OESs and Border Collie-mix all have their feet tended to in this manner.

Above is a little neater example of trimming hair around the outside of the feet. NOTE that the length you cut the hair depends
 on the overall hair length on the dog.  If the OESs hair is longer, you'll need to trim farther way from the outside of the pads.

Finally, I scissor around the outside of the feet as the dog stands being careful not to
cut the pads.  Visit this page to see one way to round up foot hair.  Inspect the finished
feet for any accidental nicks because it can happen.  I wash the feet and apply a little
antibacterial salve if one is found... then check the next day to be sure it's healing.

Copyright 2010-13  J. Dunne.  All rights reserved.  The photographs and instructions on this page are the property of the author. This website page address and the PDF formatted version can be shared publicly.  However, do not reproduce, copy or alter it for public or for-profit use without written permission from the author.


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