As the needs of our clients change, so must we. Many of us groom dogs for generation after generation of a family. We see children grow up and parents start to slow down. At the same time, dogs get older and may not tolerate grooming as well as they did in their younger years.
Keeping the lines of communication open throughout this journey is important. For example, we have to be able to explain to an owner why we have to maintain their pet at a shorter length. When this month’s subject, Tucker, started coming to me, he had a full beautiful Westie trim. However, years have gone by and now that he is a little old man, he gets a modified Westie trim that may be short, but still stays true to the standards identified with his breed. PB
Step 1: Bathe
If the dog’s coat is short enough, like Tucker’s, you can put them right into the tub and use a deep-cleansing shampooing conditioner. While you can do ears and nails prior to bathing, I wait and cut Tucker’s nails last before putting his collar on—as he bites.
Step 2: Dry
Use a high-velocity dryer to get as much water out of the coat as possible. As dogs get older, they are more affected by the noise and strength of high-velocity dryers, so keep a close eye on the pet during this process. There are many products that help pets that are sensitive to HV dryers, including equipment with adjustable settings, Happy Hoodies and various nozzles.
Step 3: Detangle
Using a stand dryer and slicker brush, methodically move through the coat, drying and removing any tangles. Something to keep in mind is that using the same drying routine for every dog will help you work faster.
Step 4: Clip Pads
Using a #40 blade, clean the hair from the pads of the feet.
Step 5: Sanitary Trim
Clip the sanitary areas with a #10 blade.
Step 6: Clip Pattern
Using a #2 or blue snap-on comb, cut in the pattern. Start a finger behind the back of the head and work down to the tail. Clip down the shoulders, skimming off at the elbow. Clip down the sides, skimming off at the skirt. This should be under a Westie, so make sure to take the line low enough. Clip over the hip, down to the cowlicks on the rear. Clip the outside of the back leg down to the knee, leaving feathers on the front, back and bottom of the leg. Always skim off at the clipped part into feathers. Clip the chest in an inverted "V" pattern, making sure to clip into the front leg. It may take a few passes with the snap-on comb for the coat to look smooth.
Step 7: Clip Head
Use a size-C snap-on comb to clip from the back of the head forward, and from the jaw to the top of the head.
Step 8: Clip Ear Tips
Shave the tips of the ears with a #30 blade.
Step 9: Card Body
Take a carding knife to the clipped body to get undercoat out and blend the clipper lines.
Step 10: Trim Tail
Trim the tail into a carrot shape. You can leave hair in front of the base of the tail as fill, but this is a quick and easy pet trim.
Step 11: Blend Cowlicks
Use thinning shears to blend the cowlicks on the rear.
Step 12: Blend Clipper Lines
Use thinners to blend the clipped lines on the back leg.
Step 13: Trim Rear Feet
Trim the rear feet round.
Step 14: Trim Rear Knees
Scissor the bend of the knee. If the dog can stand for it, I recommend using thinning shears to trim the legs. However, Tucker cannot, so I use curved shears instead.
Step 15: Trim Inside Rear Legs
Trim the inside of the rear legs parallel.
Step 16: Trim Bottom of Rear Legs
Trim the bottom of the rear legs into a column shape. The legs should still show angulation with hair feathers on the back and front.
Step 17: Trim Skirt
Blend and trim the skirt to the desired length. Tucker’s is kept short, as he gets very displeased if I have to brush matting out of him here.
Step 18: Trim Front Legs
Trim the front legs into columns.
Step 19: Edge Ears
Edge the clipped tips of the ears. Keep in mind that when the head is complete, no hair should hang over the clipped lines.
Step 20: Round Head
Using the clipper line as a guide, comb the hair on the ear out and start to trim the head round.
Step 21: Trim Visor
Comb the hair on the top of the head forward and trim a visor.
Step 22: Trim Jaw
Trim the jaw hair from the chin into the line coming down from the ear
Step 23: Finish Chin
Trim the chin to complete the circle. Thin or trim the points from the muzzle.
Step 24: Trim Eye Corner
Use thinners to trim the eye corners. Since Tucker is a pet, I clean this area out well.
Step 25: Finish Head
Using a bit of ear powder, twist and scrunch into the head to give a little volume.
Professional groomer Anne Francis is a grooming competitor and speaker. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass.
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