I'm sort of mortified by this, actually. We've always taken really good care of our dogs, but have never really gotten into grooming much. Like, first of all, they've always been sorta self-cleaning and have been pretty good at taking care of their own coats. We've always brushed them here and there, and they haven't had almost any issues (though one of them likes to swim which has caused a few mats over the years). But lately, like maybe as much as the last couple of years, they've been getting messier and mattier looking. Does this happen with older dogs? They are 12 and 13. We've taken them to the vet quite a bit in the last 2 years, at least 3 or 4 times each and she has clipped their mats and toenails. They also both have hard to cut dark toenails (so fairly nightmarish to cut) that used to never need cutting (I think they just wore down from walks) but for some reason they really need cutting now. Gah!
Anyhow, they are looking TERRIBLE and one of them has some pretty bad matts and I can't figure out the best way to handle it. And we are broke. So, I want to do this as cheaply as possible. I thought I could get some good clippers and just take care of their coats at home, but it looks like good clippers will cost at least $125. Plus, I've never clipped a dog before. Before I buy any I want to know that it's impossible to hurt them with the clippers. (I tried to cut one of Ruby's mats out the other day and I cut her skin a bit and felt horrible about it.) Can you cut their skin with them or is there some sort of safety thing that keeps that from happening? Also, I'm wondering if maybe I don't need such expensive clippers. Are there cheaper alternatives that work well? I'm really wishing they made Nair for dogs right now...
And if I did take them in for grooming -- I'm thinking that would be around $70 per dog, does that sound right? -- how often would I have to do that? If it was like twice a year I could imagine doing it, but I feel like they'd need it like every six weeks or something which would feel pretty rough.
They're both around 55 pounds and one's a border collie/golden/chow mix and the other's an unknown mix but he looks exactly like a norwegian elkhound but with longer fur, possibly not as thick, but he does have that same sort of undercoat.