Over the years, I have learned that a pretty haircut doesn’t require a lot of hair—just hair in the right places. One of the easiest ways of giving a haircut personality or flare is with the style of the dog’s ears. Sometimes it even happens by accident. The dog comes in with matted ears, just having been treated for ear infections. In a case like this, we all know there’s no way they are getting brushed out. In fact, a complete shave of the ear leather may be required; but what blade length will go under the matting? Will a #4 blade produce the look you’re going for, or would a #10 blade be a better choice? Should you try tasseled ears? How far into the top knot should you shave the ear? Should you just shave the ear tips? Will the ears stand up on end once shaved? Sometimes full ears just need to be debulked. Some days, even simply getting both ears level is a struggle. Here I hope I inspire you to try different looks, get creative and keep yourself from cookie-cutter burnout. PB
The Tassel Ear
Step 1: Place your thumb in the middle of the ear leather, a third of the way from the bottom of the ear. On pets, I use a #15 blade setting and shave with the grain. For shows and competitions, I work my way up to a #40 blade. What you want the dog’s top knot to look like will dictate how far up on the ear you want to shave. I recommend leaving more hair and shaving off little by little until you’ve set your line where you want it. Shave on either side of your thumb, creating an inverted V.
Step 2: Repeat the shaving on the inside of ears, creating the inverted V on the inside, as well.
Step 3: Use your shears to edge the clipped part of the ear leather. Comb the tassel part of the ear down and trim to the desired length and shape (bell-bottom is most popular).
Getting Those Ears Even
Step 1: Make sure the ear is completely dry and knot free. Use an antistatic spray to tame and stray hairs.
Step 2: Hold the head as still and level as possible. I recommend letting the ear lay naturally while trimming. If you pick up the ear, the back of the bell will end up shorter—and the chase to make them even is on.
Debulking Ear Hair
This is a great trick for thick-coated ears of standard poodles, doodles and sporting breeds, to name a few.
Step 1: Using a #7f or #10 blade, shave the bottom of the inside of the ear flat. Take great care to avoid the king notches.
Step 2: Brush and comb the hair on the outside of the ear as usual. Trim the bottom to the desired length, keeping in mind that the shorter the hair is trimmed, the poofier it becomes.
The Butterfly Ear
This look will only work with pricked up ears.
Step 1: Shave the top third of the ear with a #10 blade.
Step 2: Determine how much feathering you want to leave on the sides of the head. Set the circle of the dog’s head before trying to trim the ears.
Step 3: Edge the top third of the ear to the leather, where you have already shaved. Trim the hair to gradually taper into the edged part of the ear. The length of the butterfly feathering will be determined by personal preference.
The Westie ear uses a technique similar to one used for the butterfly ear.
Step 1: Shave the ear tip with #10 blade, inside and out.
Step 2: Edge the shaved tip.
Step 3: Starting at the bottom of the shaved tip, trim the hair, getting gradually longer into the cheeks and chin. This should create a circle.
The Shaved Ear
Whether the ears stand straight up or lay flat to the head, the shaved ear can crate a very cute look.
Step 1: Pick the blade that will product look the look you’re going for—in this case, I shave the inside of the ear with a #10 blade and the outside with a # 4f. However, I have used up to a #10 blade on the outside ear as well.
Step 2: Using shears, edge the entire ear to the leather. Use your thumb and forefinger as a guide to protect the ear.
Professional groomer Anne Francis, CMG, is a grooming competitor, speaker and Andis educator. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. Is there a breed or cut that you’d like to see featured in the Grooming Table? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.