How To Cut a Dog's Hair With The Best Clippers We Ever Tested

The Wahl Arco Cordless Pet Clippers was a favorite with our testers

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How To Cut a Dog's Hair With Wahl Professional Animal ARCO Cordless Pet Clippers

The Spruce Pets / David Hattan

After testing 18 dog hair clippers, the Wahl Professional Animal Arco Cordless Pet Clippers emerged as our top choice. The cordless, battery-powered device has a long handle (6.75 inches) making it easy to maneuver and allowing for precision and careful grooming of ears, faces, and paws on dogs of all sizes. 

But once your new clippers arrive, where do you start?

Wahl Professional Animal Arco Cordless Pet Clipper Kit

Wahl Professional Animal ARCO Cordless Pet Clipper Kit


Blade Material: Carbon steel︱Battery Life: 80 minutes︱Accessories: Two NiMH rechargeable battery packs, storage case, charging stand, charger, four plastic guide combs, cleaning brush, blade oil, instruction book

Brush First:

Before trimming a dog’s hair with the Wahl Professional Animal Arco Cordless Pet Clippers, it’s important to brush your dog’s fur to get out any knots and mats. We've tested more than 20 different dog brushes, and while the right brush depends on your dog's coat, we recommend the Chris Christensen Original Series Oval Brush for most dog owners. It's a flexible pin brush that's available in three different sizes for different coat lengths.

Chris Christensen Original Series Oval Brush

Chris Christensen Original Series Oval Brush


Once your dog is brushed, you'll want to follow up with a bath, using shampoo and conditioner that’s suitable for your dog’s coat and skin. Once your cuddly pal is completely dry, it’s time to trim. 

Set the Stage: 

Wahl Professional Animal Purple ARCO SE Cordless Pet Clipper Kit
The Wahl Arco and accessories.

The Spruce Pets / Jenna Fortino

Place your pup on an elevated clean surface, like a table (or a grooming table, if you have one handy!), to give you control and visibility of the area you’d like to trim. It’s important to keep your dog comfortable and relaxed throughout the process. This is one reason why the Wahl Arco Cordless Pet Clippers were such a hit with our testers, since they're relatively quiet compared to other clippers and also don't get too hot.

How To Trim:

Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Pet

The Spruce Pets / Oleg Stashkiv

The cutting length on the Wahl Arco has five different settings built into the blade itself, allowing you to adjust the length between 0.7 and 3 millimeters. You have have noticed that this a relatively narrow range! The adjustments possible in the 5-in-1 blade are most useful for detail work, such as careful maneuvering around your dog's ears and face. But if you're attempting to shorten your dog's coat, without giving them a close shave, then you'll need to employ one of the included guide combs. These plastic attachments expand the possible cutting length, so that you can leave your dog's coat a little longer. To use a guide comb, first set your 5-in-1 blade to position "1," then snap on the plastic comb attachment.

Once you've selected and attached a guide comb at your preferred length, begin your trim behind your dog's shoulders, drawing the clipper down your dog's back—similar to how you might pet them. After the back, you should next trim your dog's sides, working your way down their haunches as you go.

Clipping Your Dog's Paws: 

Andis AGC 22340 ProClip 2-Speed Detachable Blade Clipper
Your dog's paws are a great place to start clipping, since you can easily gauge their reaction.

The Spruce Pets / Katie Macdonald

For the paw pad trim, you can start by snapping on guide comb #2 (¼  inch) or #1 (⅛ inch). We recommend starting with a longer length (#2 guide comb) and then passing over the spot you want to trim again as needed. 

Hold on to the paw you want to trim with your less dominant hand and hold the Professional Animal Arco Cordless Pet Clippers in your other hand. Hit the power switch and gently glide the clipper across the pad pads. You should always clip with the grain of the pet's hair.

Turn off the clippers and assess the length. If you want to trim more, you can switch to guide comb #1 for a closer, protected trim. 

Repeat on the remaining paws and then pause to admire your work!

Clean Up and Recharge:

To keep your Wahl Professional Animal Arco Cordless Pet Clippers in tip-top shape, first remove any comb attachments, then take off the blade by sliding it up—it should pop off. Use the provided cleaning brush to clear out any stray hairs from the guide comb and blade. You'll also see a little plastic nub beneath the brush head. This is the cleaning lever, and pressing it will push out any hairs caught between the bottom and top blades.

Whatever you do, don't immerse your Arco in water!

After your blade is clean, you can release the battery by pressing the two buttons on either side of the Arco's base. The battery slots into the charging cradle, which will activate a red light to indicate that it is charging. Once your Arco is ready for another trim, the red light will start blinking to indicate it is fully charged.

With 80 minutes of runtime with a full charge, you will probably be able to tackle two to four quick trimming sessions before you need to plug in. Thankfully, the two NiMh batteries that are provided only require 75 minutes for a full charge.

The Arco clippers and accessories can be stored in the included carry bag.

Wahl Professional Animal Purple ARCO SE Cordless Pet Clipper Kit
The Wahl Arco comes with a kit bag for easy storage between sessions.

The Spruce Pets / Jenna Fortino