When Should Puppies Get Their First Haircut?

by | Puppy

This post contains affiliate links: Full Disclosure 

If you have a little bundle of puppy joy at home, then you’re probably wondering when you should be taking your pup in for their first haircut. Well, I spoke to some groomers and found the answer…

Medium- and long-haired puppies should get their first haircut when they are 12 to 16 weeks old. This is only a trim and gets the dog used to being groomed. Short-haired puppies can visit a groomer at 12-16 weeks old to get used to grooming, without a haircut. Most dogs need their first proper haircut when they get their adult coats.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about puppy haircuts and what really happens when you leave your puppy at the groomer. We’ll also look at the dangers of giving the wrong haircut or shaving a puppy, so you know how to best take care of your little guy or gal.

Is it okay to cut a puppy’s hair?

Photo of a Westie puppy getting a haircut

It’s okay to cut your puppy’s hair. But a young puppy has baby fur that only needs to be trimmed, not cut or shaved.

TIP: Make sure that your puppy’s vaccinations are up to date before visiting the groomer.

Grooming can be a scary process for a dog the first few times. Being sprayed with water, hearing the hairdryer’s loud noises, and having to stand still for long periods without moving are all things that puppies don’t usually like.

Taking your puppy to a groomer is not really about the haircut, it’s about getting your dog used to being groomed. This will make grooming a much more pleasant experience for your dog and groomer for the rest of your dog’s life.

A puppy grows its adult coat between 6 months and 1.5 years of age. Once the adult coat is fully grown, you can take your dog to the groomer for a haircut instead of a trim.

How short is too short for puppy hair?

While it’s perfectly okay to take your puppy to the groomer, don’t let the groomer take off too much hair. Puppies don’t need a full haircut until they’re older and have their adult coat, but even a short trim can cause problems.

Never shave your puppy unless your vet tells you to because of an underlying health issue.

There are plenty of problems that can arise from shaving your puppy or cutting their hair too short, including:

  • Ingrown hairs: This happens more with shaving than trimming, but when it does happen, it’s extremely painful for your furry friend and can cause long-lasting skin problems.
  • Damage to their adult coats: When a puppy’s fur is cut too short, it can cause permanent damage that will affect the way their adult coat grows out, especially if you have a double-coated dog.
  • Razor burn: Again, this is more of a shaving hazard, but razor burn is just as painful for dogs as humans.
  • Risk of sunburn: Whether the groomer shaves your dog or trims the hair too short, there’s a real risk of sunburn. A dog’s fur protects them against the harsh rays of the sun, especially if your pup loves lying in the sun. If you remove that protective fur or cut it too close to the skin, your puppy may get sunburnt.
  • Itchiness: Cutting a puppy’s hair too short can make the skin itchy and uncomfortable, so your puppy starts scratching and biting way more than usual. This can lead to skin allergies, or even stomach or digestive problems from swallowing their own skin and fur.

What is a puppy cut?

A puppy cut is an all-over haircut that leaves your dog’s coat evenly cut at about one to two inches in length. This is a cut that’s easy to do and easy to look after. In fact, a puppy cut isn’t just for puppies – many adult dogs get puppy cuts as well.

Puppy cuts work very well for puppies and for adult dogs with long hair that mats easily. It’s also perfect for hot summer months and outdoor dogs, who enjoy playing in the mud and getting dirty.

What does a groomer do to a puppy?

Photo of a puppy with a flower tie in her hair

Dog groomers do more than just trim your puppy’s hair. Different groomers have slightly different routines, but here are some of the things a groomer might do when your puppy visits:

  • Trim puppy’s hair
  • Trim puppy’s nails
  • Brush puppy
  • Bathe and dry puppy
  • Clean and thin puppy’s undercoat
  • Check and clean puppy’s ears
  • Brush puppy’s teeth
  • Inspect puppy’s paw pads

These services are fairly standard and you should speak to your groomer to find out what’s included in the service you are paying for.

Some dog groomers do even more than the list above, such as expressing anal glands when necessary, moisturizing paw pads, giving flea baths, painting nails, “prettying” dogs up with hairbows or bowties, repairing your puppy’s coat with treatments, cleaning tear stains, and perfuming them.

These services, if available, are generally considered “extras” and usually cost more.

How much does a puppy groom cost?

An average puppy bath and starter trim at a franchise store like Petsmart, without any extras, costs about $20. A private groomer may charge around $50 to $90 for a full puppy groom, and a groomer that comes to your house may charge $130 or more.

If you live in an expensive city like San Francisco, you will probably end up paying more than someone who lives in a rural area like Woodville, Alabama.

But other factors come into the cost of a puppy grooming session, such as:

  • The number and types of services provided
  • The size and weight of your puppy
  • If your puppy is difficult to handle or aggressive
  • Whether your puppy is long-haired, medium-haired, or short-haired
  • The pricing policies of the groomer – for example, the groomer might give discounted rates if you buy a package for regular grooms
  • How in demand the groomer is – the more in demand the more money the groomer can ask for

How often should you groom a puppy?

You should get your puppy groomed about once a month, at least until your puppy is comfortable with going to the groomer. This puppy groom should include, at the very least, a brush, bath, nail trim, and ear cleaning.

Overgrooming is not good for any puppy, so speak to your local groomer for advice on the grooming needed for your dog’s age, breed, coat type, and how your puppy is handling being groomed.

Brush your puppy and give your puppy baths in between grooms only when needed.

Final thoughts

All puppies need regular haircuts after 12 weeks of age, and definitely before they turn 16 weeks old.

Not only will grooming keep your puppy smelling nice and clean, but it will get your pup used to going to the groomer.

I'm Monique. I love animals and everything about them. "Ayo" means happy, and this is where I share all I know about having happy, healthy pets so you can have happy pets too.

Ayo Pets participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the ShareASale affiliate program, and other affiliate programs. This means that if you buy a product or service through one of our links, we may receive a small commission from the sale for referring you. Thank you for your support!


Monique has had pets all her life and will have them for the rest of it.

She currently has 4 adopted fur kids.

Monique loves researching and sharing what she finds out about taking the best care of animals.

Ayo is an African word for ‘happy’, which is why this site is called Ayo Pets (Happy Pets).


Does Puppy Dandruff Go Away? Causes And Treatments For Puppy Dandruff

Does Puppy Dandruff Go Away? Causes And Treatments For Puppy Dandruff

You may have noticed a sprinkling of white flakes on your puppy’s coat, which is most likely puppy dandruff. But will the dandruff go away on its own? Puppy dandruff goes away when a dog’s oil glands become fully developed. As a dog matures, the oil glands that keep...

Can You Leave Your Dog’s Harness On All Day: The Pros And Cons

Can You Leave Your Dog’s Harness On All Day: The Pros And Cons

Some dog owners let their dogs wear a harness all the time and others are against this practice. No matter which side of the harness debate you’re on, let’s take a look at whether or not a dog can wear a harness all the time and then explore both sides a little...