The Clean Feet Poodle: Why Shave Poodle Feet?

The Clean Feet Poodle: Why Shave Poodle Feet?

Should I shave my Poodle’s feet is just one of the more complex questions you’ll find yourself asking as a Poodle owner. You’ll only have to glance at Google to realize hundreds of other owners have asked exactly the same question. If nothing else, this shows it’s a legitimate question and it’s right to raise it.

So, just why do people shave their Poodle’s paws? Are there any real benefits or is it all about the Poodle look? We aim to tackle this subject in some depth and explore the pros and cons of having clean-shaven paws for your pooch. We also look at the origins of the so-called clean feet and how this became a trend.

Poodle Feet: Ultimate Grooming Guide
Poodle Feet: Ultimate Grooming Guide

Clean feet are easier to keep free from dirt and other debris. When the hair on the paws becomes long it can attract mud, grass, and thorns which can be uncomfortable. Achieving the clean feet Poodle look is quite difficult if you are not experienced. It can be best to have this done professionally.

Why Poodles Get Shaved: Is Shaving Necessary?
Why Poodles Get Shaved: Is Shaving Necessary?

Keep reading if you aren’t sure whether you’d like your Poodle to have clean feet. There are pros and cons and we will provide you with a step to step guide for achieving this look.

Why are Poodles Shaved?

Poodles are renowned for their curly coats which are often very stylish haircuts. It’s not all about achieving that typical Poodle look though – it’s often much more to do with ease of maintenance.

Keeping a Poodle shaved keeps their coats healthy and stops those knots from forming. Poodles need regular grooming to keep those curls at bay and shaving certain areas is all part of their care routine.

Take a look at our sister article what does a Poodle look like without a haircut to learn more about the history of the Poodle cut and why we shave them.

The Origins of The Clean Feet Poodle

  • Poodles were originally bred as water retrievers who fetched prey for their owners. It’s believed their hair was kept short to help them swim better and to stop them from getting tangled in debris from the water.
  • This same theory explains the clean feet idea – although back then it wasn’t such a close shave as they had to use the tools, they had available.

Why Do Poodle Feet Need Shaving?

  • You might now understand the practical reasons for shaving your Poodle, but their feet as well, is this necessary? It’s true that some Poodle owners prefer to keep their hair around the paws long as part of their overall look. However, it’s much more common for Poodles to also have their feet shaved regularly.
  • Keeping the hair around the paws as short as possible stops the feet from attracting dirt and other debris. Sometimes grit or mud can collect in the hair around the paws and can be uncomfortable for the pooch.
  • Poodles love nothing more than a good walk and they are naturally inquisitive which will often take them off the main track. It’s on walks they are most likely to get dirt stuck to their coats. They might also stand on a thorn or other foreign object, and it will be much easier to see any potential injuries if they have clean feet.
  • Sometimes, Poodle owners may let the hair around the feet grow longer during colder spells in the weather. This helps keep them warmer on walks when it’s snowy or icy outside. During hot spells though, your Poodle will be much more comfortable with short hair. As an added bonus, if your Poodle is particularly adventurous, it can limit the amount of mud that is traipsed through your home!

How Do You Shave Poodle Feet?

Most Poodle owners will opt to have their dog professionally groomed by someone who knows what they are doing. This is the best option if you aren’t confident that you can do the job properly yourself.

However, some do take on the task themselves by following online tutorials. Grooming your dog can be tricky and keeping them still enough is a task all on its own. It’s important your dog becomes used to the grooming routine right from the word go so that they feel at ease.

Follow our how-to guide for achieving the clean feet Poodle:

  • Grooming the feet is not an easy process and it’s important you select the right size blade for the task.
  • You also need to be aware of the direction the hair is growing and therefore, the direction to cut in.
  • Be sure the paw is clean and free from dirt before you begin.
  • Blade size may differ depending on if your dog is a show dog. It is important to use the correct size blade. The higher the blade number the closer the shave will be.
  • Some believe that lighter-colored Poodles are more prone to skin irritations after clipping so be mindful of this. In these situations, you might be best using a blade so that is not quite such a close shave.
  • Keep away from between your Poodle’s toes, the webbed part. You don’t need to do anything there as it’s a very delicate area of skin.
  • Start with the hair on top of the paws as this will get quite thick when left to grow.
  • Use the corner of the hair trimmer and move in upward strokes moving from left to right.
  • You can then use your spare hand to separate the toes so you can shave the hair next to the toes. Again, keep away from the webbing.
  • For the more stubborn hair around the dog’s nails, you can pull it taught with one hand and trim with the other.
  • A good trick for avoiding the webbing is to place your spare finger over it so you don’t get too close.
  • Should your Poodle become agitated or restless then stop for a few minutes before starting again. Standing on three legs doesn’t come that naturally to dogs!
  • You then need to move onto the underpart of the dog’s paws and again trim the long hair away.
  • Separate the toes to remove those long hairs that can be more stubborn.
  • You should then shave the hair above the large paw pad so that it matches the other side of the paw.
  • You can then assess how evenly cut it is all around the foot and if necessary, make further clips.
  • You can then brush the cuffs back down and your Poodle now has lovely clean feet.

How To Trim And Groom Poodles’ Feet

  • Select the correct size clipper blade. This is particularly important if you own a show dog. The higher the blade number, the closer a shave you will get.
  • If your poodle is a light-colored poodle or has sensitive skin, you might want to consider avoiding an ultra-close shave.
  • Next, clean the area and remove any debris.
  • Brush your poodle’s cuffs up and out of the way.
  • Pay attention to which direction the hair is growing. You’ll want to follow and cut in the hair’s direction to get a natural look.
  • Start with the hair that grows on top of your poodle’s paws.
  • Angle the corner of the trimmer and move it up and across from left to right.
  • With your free hand, use your thumb and ring finger to gently spread your pet’s claws to make space between them. This makes it easier to shave the space in between the toes.
  • It’s best to stay away from the delicate webbing to avoid cuts. You can place a finger over the area to avoid nicking it.
  • If your poodle acts restless, agitated, or pulls away, stop for a couple of minutes to give him or her a rest. It’s hard for a poodle to stand on three legs, so it’s okay to take a break.
  • Once you’ve finished the top of the foot, lift it to trim any long hair along the underside of your poodle’s paws.
  • Shave the hair above the large paw pad. That way, it will match the other side of the foot.
  • Take a moment to check if the hair is cut evenly all around the paw.
  • Clip any uneven areas or stubborn hairs.
  • Now you can brush your poodle’s cuffs back down.
  • Now your poodle has nicely cleaned and groomed feet.

Are Poodle Paws Different from Other Dogs?

Dogs are categorized into groups according to their history, uses, and purpose. The Poodle was originally bred as a water dog and retriever. This is because all dogs with webbed feet proved to be fantastic swimmers, so were put to work in that field and thus any descendent of a particularly proficient swimmer will have inherited the webbing.

This in turn produced a line of Poodles that all have the characteristic webbed toes.Other dogs with webbed feet are:

  • Dachshund
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Otterhound
  • German Short Haired Pointer
  • Newfoundland
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Labrador
  • Irish Water Spaniel

What Extra Care do Dogs’ Feet Need?

As the Poodle is a low shed dog, the hair in between the pads can get long and matted. This will cause the dog to nibble them as it feels uncomfortable (rather like when you get a stone in your shoe) and it would help them a lot if you snipped the knots out for them. A foot bath will help a lot, both with the smell, but also to flush away any gravel or seeds from in between the pads.


  • If pads have become dry and cracked, you can buy specialist balm to rub on the pads to moisturize them. Ensure it is dog friendly, as you can guarantee that your dog will want to lick their feet as soon as you have creamed them up.
  • Always check the pavement before going for a walk in the heat. Burned pads are excruciatingly painful for your dog and can take a long time to properly heal. Press the back of your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds. This will give you an idea of how hot it is. If you could not stand comfortably in bare feet on the pavement, neither can your dog.
  • Foreign objects can also wedge themselves in between the toes and cause your dog to limp or lick the feet excessively.

In Between the Pads

  • Keep the hair on the feet and underneath nice and short. Invest in a set of clippers with a narrow clipping edge to get to the hair that is growing in the deep crevices in between the pads.
  • Give the toes a good rub with your fingers to feel if there are any foreign objects jammed in between the toes. Grass seeds are notorious for getting stuck there. Try to ease any object out with your fingers or a set of tweezers. Give up and take your dog to a vet if you cannot remove the object. It may have hooked itself into the skin and you will cause more harm than good if you wrench it out.


Nails should be clipped short, just slightly longer than the quick. The quick is the blood supply running through the core of the nail. On white claws, you can see it as a pink center. On darker claws, it is impossible to see the quick. There is, however, a natural “v” shape that indicates where the quick ends. The point of the “v” points towards the end of the claw. Clip a couple of millimeters longer than the point of the “v”.

You may find that filing the edges smooth after clipping will keep the claws from catching on carpets and soft furnishings. Use just a regular nail file to do this. There are many fancier gadgets to do this that require batteries. These usually have a rotating disc that grinds away any sharp edges. I’ve never found one that my dogs will tolerate though, so I stick with scissors, clippers, and a nail file.

Do Poodles Self-Maintain Their Feet?

  • Poodles like to groom their paws and often lick their paws after a meal, after a walk, or when they are hot (cleaning the sweaty odor off). They will also self-maintain any rough edges around their claws and pads by nibbling on them.
  • Nails are usually kept naturally short if your dog largely walks on concrete or the sidewalk. The rough surface acts like sandpaper with every step and actively files the claw down to an ideal length where it is just long enough to gain traction if needed, but not so long that the tap-tap-tap with every step.
  • If your dog exercises on grass (my Labradoodle has arthritis, so I avoid all hard surface walks for him) then you will need to regularly clip the nails as they have nothing rubbing on them to file them down. As a rule of thumb, if I can hear the tapping of my dogs’ claws on my floors at home, I know it’s time for a quick clip.

Are There Any Cons to Having Clean Feet?

  • We’ve covered the reasons why Poodle owners opt for the clean feet method but are there any reasons not to shave their feet? Well, you might be tempted to keep those paw hairs longer during the cold season as it provides extra heat. Also, if your Poodle suffers from itching or other skin issues then it might not be in their best interests either.
  • Grooming was once a practical process for the purpose of much of their time being spent in the water. These days, it’s more a cosmetic decision so it’s really only one you can make. If you have a nervous dog, then you might find the task is too stressful for all involved. In this case, you can just use scissors and trim the fur instead. Some Poodle owners feel extra hair on the feet provides more protection against the harsh outside environment.
  • Clean feet or hairy feet – the decision is entirely yours to make. It’s worth remembering that Poodle hair is very curly and thick making it quite easy to become knotted. Grooming on some level is definitely a requirement as a Poodle owner – the question is, how far do you want to take it?
Edward Hollon is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Edward has been writing for petdii for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Edward has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Edward knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.