An Eye for Detail: Thinning Shears

by Jodi Murphy NCMG


Thinning shears are one of the most difficult tools to buy. Some groomers call them “thinning shears” while others say “blenders.” Manufacturers have started to call shears with teeth on both blades “thinning shears” and those with teeth on one blade, “blenders.” Call them what you will I prefer “thinning shears” to describe them as a whole.

All thinners “blend” specific coat types. Unfortunately, there is not one thinning shear that handles every job. The way a thinner feels in your hand is not as important as the teeth configuration.

As a rule more teeth equals smoother blending capabilities. The length of the shear is just as critical. A 48 tooth blender on a 6″ shear will cut completely different than a 48 tooth blender on a 5″ shear.

When purchasing a thinner take a good look at the teeth. Are the teeth and the spaces between each tooth approximately the same width?  When they are you will most likely get a nice even blending affect.  If the teeth are larger than the space between each tooth a lot of coat will be cut and less coat will fall between into the spaces producing a more natural finish.

It gets more confusing when you look at the “v” notch located on the top of each tooth. The deeper the notch the more coat will be trapped and cut. I call these very aggressive shears.

Aggressive shears work very well on soft coats because they texturize the ends of the coat and nicely remove scissor marks.

An aggressive shear works well when trimming flag tails, setter-like furnishings and trimming long ears. They cut off hair quickly but leave a natural look.

Chunkers are thinning shears that have a scissor-like tooth. Each tooth is very wide.  There is no “V” notch in this type of shear.  This shear is fabulous for going over scissor work to remove scissor marks. They also work very nicely on double coated breeds.

Thinning shears finish a trim and make it look flawless when used correctly. I have included photographs below to illustrate techniques utilizing various thinners to make your trims stand out.

scissor over comb 2








Lift the coat with a comb and thin the edges to remove scissor marks and blend beautifully. I recommend using a 48 tooth shear.

drop coats









Allow drop coats to fall naturally and thin the edges. I suggest using a very aggressive 46 tooth shear.

pattern lines 2








Blend pattern lines on Sporting dogs, Terriers and similar using a 48 tooth shear to produce beautiful blended lines.

pattern lines








under tail










Trim under tails for a natural appearance. Here I am using a 48 tooth shear.

flag tail








chunkers large








Use Chunkers to scissor over difficult coats and they will remove scissor lines.

fine detail work large








Blend clipper work into longer coat, i.e. Cocker heads, Terrier heads and eyebrows, shoulders, etc. I suggest using a small fine detail shear which has 40 teeth.

For more information on thinning shears visit and view the clip for “Thinning Shears: Theory & Techniques” DVD.   ♦