How to trim a St. Bernard

Updated April 17, 2017

Big, beefy St. Bernard dogs are originally an Alpine breed selected for strength, temperament and shaggy coats - known as a "double coat." While this makes them a striking and handsome breed, their thick coat and large size make grooming tricky. Trimming a St. Bernard in particular requires a steady hand and durable equipment. Before trimming, you must ensure the St. Bernard's coat is clean and tangle-free, or you could end up with a lopsided coat.

Rub your hands through and over the St. Bernard's coat. Look for obvious knots, tangles or clumps of debris caught in the hair. Remove or work these out with your fingers.

Brush the St. Bernard's coat with a stiff, large grooming brush. Move against the direction of hair growth at first, using a firm but gentle motion. Don't tug or pull at any tight matted hair.

Smooth out the hair with a large slicker brush. Brush in line with the hair, usually in a downward fashion. Use long, clean strokes to get the hair flowing and tangle-free.

Trim the hair around the ears and eyes using sharp but blunt-nosed scissors. Remove any stray hair covering the dog's eyes. Trim back hair growing over the ear openings, but be careful not to nick or cut the ear itself.

Position the dog standing on all four legs if possible. Look at it directly from the front. Note any scraggly areas or uneven sections on the flanks and hocks. The legs in particularly are likely to have some unruly coat growth.

Cut small locks of hair from the flanks and hocks until both sides of the dog look even and neat. Repeat the process looking at the St. Bernard from the rear and checking for uneven areas.

Snip away any sprouts of hair on the top of the dog's paws. Don't trim back too much. The St. Bernard generally has a natural, slightly shaggy style, even when entered into competition.

Use a thinner on the St. Bernard's bushy tail. It should have a thick feathered appearance, so avoid using normal trimmers as you may affect the appearance of the tail.


Wait three to four months until you next trim your St. Bernard, according to "Grooming Manual for the Dog and Cat," by Sue Dallas.

Use a detangler solution to remove tough or stubborn knots and tangles in the dog's coat.


Ask for help from a friend or family member. A St. Bernard is a big dog and having a helping hand can prevent scissor accidents from sudden movements.

Never use sharp-ended scissors to cut a dog's hair.

Things You'll Need

  • Large grooming brush
  • Slicker brush
  • Dog coat thinner
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