Poodles: A Breed Apart

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Understanding why you need to brush your Poodle every day
  • Getting the basics of Poodle styling and grooming
  • Deciding between a pet cut or show clip for your Poodle
  • Discovering the grooming specifics of showing a Poodle

If you own a Poodle, you’re probably familiar with the many ways you can clip and cut your Poodle’s coat. But there’s more to Poodles than just clipping; brushing and bathing also are important.

Poodles receive special treatment because, well, they can be groomed in most styles. Technically these dogs are curly coated canines, meaning their coats are clipped (see Chapter Beautifying the Stripped Breeds). But wow, what choices and what variety! You can find out why the Poodle is a breed apart from other dogs in this chapter.

Brushing

Brushing a Poodle every day is an absolute must, because their coats are incredibly dense and prone to tangling. Loose hair comes out and easily tangles with other hairs. Chapter Caring for Your Canine’s Teeth, Toes, Ears, Face, and Ahem, Other Areas tells you how to make brushing a fun routine for you and your dog.
When brushing and combing your Poodle, you need to look for mats and for tangles that can quickly turn into mats. The only way to prevent tangles and mats in a Poodle coat is to keep your dog clean and thoroughly brushed out. If you don’t, those curly hairs will tangle all by themselves. The instructions that follow explain how to brush out your Poodle properly:
1. Look for any tangles or mats and remove them using detangler solution and a medium-toothed comb.

You can try a slicker brush on the mat, but I’ve found they don’t really do much other than take remarkably longer than a comb to remove the mat (if at all).

If that method doesn’t work, consider using a mat splitter or mat rake (see Chapter Caring for Your Canine’s Teeth, Toes, Ears, Face, and Ahem, Other Areas for specific instructions).

2. Brush through the coat using a pin brush and then a slicker brush.
3. Use a medium-toothed comb to comb through the curls.
4. Check for fleas by running a flea comb through your Poodle’s coat.

You can also use a flea comb to separate small tangles.

Bathing

Poodles need baths about once every two weeks — more often when they get dirty. Because their hair usually acts like a dirt magnet, Poodles can look dingy after only a short time. So give your Poodle a bath at least once every two weeks to be sure he’s clean and sweet smelling.

The prebath clip

Many groomers like to give their Poodles a prebath clip right after the prebath brushing. Doing so helps you get rid of frizzy hair and split ends, and you end up with less hair to wash when you’re done.
If you decide on a prebath clip, make sure your dog is thoroughly brushed out, and then clip only what you need to clip. You can also clip your Poodle’s coat after the bath when your dog is clean.

Bathing basics

Bathing a poodle is similar to bathing other clipped-breed dogs (see Chapters Caring for Your Canine’s Teeth, Toes, Ears, Face, and Ahem, Other Areas and Beautifying the Stripped Breeds). Just be sure to do the following:
1. Wet down your Poodle thoroughly with tepid water in a tub that’s an appropriate size for your dog.

Make sure that your dog’s coat gets wet all the way down to the skin.

2. Using a pH-balanced dog shampoo, thoroughly lather up your Poodle’s entire coat except around the face and eyes — which you must do separately with a wet cloth.

Keep the shampoo out of your dog’s eyes — ouch.

Be sure to run your fingers through those dense Poodle curls as you wash them. Doing so is a benefit to the Poodle’s coat because it helps break up any straggling tangles as you soap up the hair.

3. Thoroughly rinse your dog’s coat.

While rinsing, again run your hands through the thickest parts of the coat, helping to remove the soap residue from those curls and preventing them from tangling.

4. Apply an excellent pH-balanced dog coat conditioner that prevents tangles and keeps the coat from drying out.

Make sure you use a conditioner that doesn’t make the Poodle’s hair too soft.

5. Repeat Step 3, squeezing out excess water and rinsing again.

Remember

When rinsing your Poodle’s coat, be sure to remove all soap and conditioner residues. Run your hands through the coat to make sure the water penetrates those areas, and feel for soap or conditioner residue until it’s completely rinsed out.

6. Dry your dog’s coat thoroughly before clipping.

You can use a doggie hair dryer or one intended for human use that has a “no-heat” setting.

Tip

While drying, backbrush the Poodle coat with a comb. As the hair dries, you want to make sure it stands up as much as possible to ensure a good, even clip.

Clipping

Poodles can be kept in all sorts of cuts, including cuts for pets and for show dogs. Most show clips can be used for pets; however, with the exception of the Sporting clip, most show clips are too difficult for the average pet owner to maintain.

Warning!

When clipping your Poodle, or any dog for that matter, always heed these words of advice:

– Be careful when using clippers around your dog’s eyes and other sensitive areas.

– Although scissors may be the best tool to use when trimming your Poodle, be careful when using them on your dog. They can cause severe injuries to you and your dog.

Poodle pet cuts

The many Poodle pet cuts include the Retriever cut (also mentioned in Chapter Beautifying the Stripped Breeds), the Teddy Bear or Puppy cut (also mentioned in Chapter Spiffing Up Short- and Medium-Coated Breeds), and the Lamb, the Dutch, the Town and Country, the Bikini, the New Yorker, and the Miami cuts. The sections that follow look at each of them.

The Retriever cut

The following instructions explain how to make the Retriever cut (see Figure 14-1):
1. Select a clipper blade that works well with your dog.

Use either a No. 5 or No. 7 blade for the body and a No. 10 or No. 15 blade for close-in trimming around the feet, face, tail, genitals, and anus.

You can also snap-on a guide comb to help you guide the clippers to a uniform cut. If you do, you need to use a No. 30 blade.

2. Trim the coat evenly all over your dog’s body, but leave the face and ears alone.

Run the clipper over the head and down the neck, following the lay of the hair. Clip the entire body following the lay of the hair until it is even.

Figure 14-1: The Retriever cut.

3. Using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade carefully shave:
  • The face, following the lay of the hair
  • The feet
  • The tail, from where the base of the tail meets the body (excluding any hair from the rump) to two or three inches below the tip of the tail (to make the pompom)
4. Trim around the genitals and anus.

Use a No. 10 blade, but be careful not to touch any sensitive areas with the clippers.

5. Finish trimming your Poodle’s Retriever cut with scissors.

Trim the tail into a rounded pompom.

The Teddy Bear or Puppy cut 

The Teddy Bear or Puppy cut is a pet cut that’s intended for pet owners who don’t have the time to maintain a really awesome clip for their dogs (see Figure 14-2).

Warning!

Don’t confuse the Puppy cut with the (Poodle) Puppy clip that I describe later in this chapter, which applies only to show Poodles.

For the Teddy Bear cut, do the following:
1. Equip your electric clippers with a No. 30 blade and a snap-on guide comb for the length of coat you desired.

You can choose between a 1-inch, 11⁄2-inch, or 2-inch guide comb, depending on how long you want your Poodle’s hair.

2. Starting at the top of the eyebrows, run the clipper over the head and down the neck, following the lay of the hair.

Clip the entire body following the lay of the hair until it’s even.

Trim the tail, but leave the face, ears, and jaw alone.

3. Switch to a No. 10 blade and trim the abdomen around the genitals.

Be very careful!

4. Using scissors, finish trimming the rest of the coat.
5. Fluff the coat with a slicker brush or a comb.
6. Carefully trim hair around your dog’s face.

If you want your Poodle to sport a mustache, trim both sides of your dog’s face so that the mustache is even.

If you want your Poodle to sport a beard, shape the hair under the jaw with the scissors into the shape of a V.

Otherwise, use your clippers with a No. 15 blade to trim the jaw.

Figure 14-2: The Teddy Bear cut.
7. Trim the ears so that they hang in the shape of a U.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the skin and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

8. Blend in any transition areas where the hair goes from one length to another.

You can use your clippers with a No. 3F blade or thinning scissors.

The Lamb cut

The Lamb cut (see Figure 14-3) is the pet version of the (Poodle) Puppy clip (see the “Poodle show clips” section later on). The face, feet, throat, and base of the tail are shaved, and the rest of the tail is trimmed in a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a Lamb cut, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Work away from the eyes and down toward the base of the throat.

2. Clip the abdomen using a No. 10 blade.

3. Shave your dog’s feet and the base of the tail using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

4. Shape the dog’s body according to Figure 14-3 using a No. 4, No. 5, or No. 7 blade.

Figure 14-3: The Lamb cut.

The Dutch cut

The Dutch cut (see Figure 14-4) is a showy cut with less work than some of the show clips. The feet, face, neck, rib cage and flank, and base of the tail are shaved, and the tail is shaped like a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a Dutch cut, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Work away from the eyes and down to the base of the throat, continuing to shave the entire neck from the occiput (or the highest point of the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming) to the shoulders.

2. Shave your dog’s feet and the base of the tail using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.
3. Shave a straight line along the base of your dog’s spine to the base of the tail using a No. 5⁄8 blade.
4. Shave your dog’s flanks (loins) from the spine to the abdomen on each side using the No. 5⁄8 blade.
5. Shave your dog’s abdomen with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

6. Shape your dog’s fur to blend in so there’s a smooth transition between different hair lengths using a No. 30 blade with a one-inch guide comb or a No. 3F blade.

Figure 14-4: The Dutch cut. 

Blend in any abrupt transition areas (where the hair goes from one length to another) with the clippers and a No. 3F blade or thinning scissors.

7. Round off the cap (topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.
8. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The Town and Country cut

The Town and Country cut (see Figure 14-5), like the Dutch cut, is a showy cut with less work than some of the show clips. The feet, face, neck, rib cage, and base of the tail are shaved; the tail is shaped in a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a Town and Country cut, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat, and shave the entire neck from the cap (or topknot) to shoulders (the cap is the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows).

2. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Figure 14-5: The Town and Country cut.
3. Shave a straight line along the base of your dog’s withers (or the top point of the shoulders; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming) to the base of the tail using a No. 5⁄8 blade.
4. Shave your dog’s flanks from about an inch behind your dog’s elbow to the hind legs with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade, so your dog’s middle is exposed from belly to spine for a clean look.

Clip with the grain to avoid digging the clipper into the skin. You need to clip from top to abdomen and from front to back; it will come naturally.

5. Shave your dog’s abdomen with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.
6. Shape your dog’s fur to blend in so there’s a smooth transition between different hair lengths using a No. 30 blade with a one-inch guide comb or a No. 3F blade.

Blend in any abrupt transition areas (where the hair goes from one length to another) with the clippers and a No. 3F blade or thinning scissors.

7. Round off the cap (or topknot) using scissors.
8. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The Bikini cut

The Bikini cut (Figure 14-6) is similar to the Retriever cut with a few interesting flourishes that make it look a bit more fancy. To groom your Poodle in a Bikini cut, try the following:
1. Select a clipper blade that works well with your dog.

Use a No. 5 or No. 7 blade for the body and a No. 10 or No. 15 blade for close-in trimming around the feet, face, tail, genitals, and anus.

You can also use a snap-on guide comb to help you guide the clippers to a uniform cut. If you do, you need to use a No. 30 blade.

2. Wrap VetWrap — or another kind of self-sticking bandage that won’t stick to your dog’s coat — loosely around each of your dog’s legs just above the feet.

Use four two-inch wide pieces.

3. Trim the coat evenly all over your dog’s body, using the body blade you selected or a No. 30 blade with a snap-on guide comb, leaving the face, ears, and of course the covered portions of the legs untouched.

Run the clippers over the head, down the neck, and over the entire coat, following the lay of the hair.

Figure 14-6: The Bikini cut.

4. Using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade, carefully shave:

  • The face, following the lay of the hair
  • The feet
  • The tail, from where the base of the tail meets the body (excluding any hair from the rump) to two or three inches below the tip of the tail (to make the pompom)

5. Trim around the genitals and anus using a No. 10 blade.

Be careful not to touch any sensitive areas with the clippers.

6. Finish trimming your Poodle’s Bikini cut with scissors.

Trim the tail into a rounded pompom.

7. Remove the leg wraps so you can fluff and carefully trim the hair underneath into a rounded pompom on each leg.
8. Round off the cap (topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.
9. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The New Yorker cut

The New Yorker cut (see Figure 14-7), is another showy cut that is just another pet-cut variation. The feet, face, neck, rib cage, and base of the tail are shaved; the tail is shaped in a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a New Yorker cut, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat and shave the entire neck from the occiput or (or the highest point of the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming) to the shoulders.

2. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.
3. Shave your dog’s flanks from about an inch behind your dog’s elbow to the hind legs with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

This step exposes your dog’s middle from belly to spine for a clean look.

Clip with the grain to avoid digging the clipper into the skin. You need to clip from top to abdomen and from front to back; it will come naturally.

4. Shave your dog’s abdomen with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Figure 14-7: The New Yorker cut.
5. Shape your dog’s fur to blend in so there’s a smooth transition between different hair lengths using a No. 30 blade with a one-inch guide comb or a No. 3F blade.

Blend in any abrupt transition areas (where the hair goes from one length to another) with the clippers and a No. 3F blade or thinning scissors.

6. Round off the cap (topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.
7. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The Miami cut

The Miami cut (see Figure 14-8), is almost identical to the Town and Country cut, except that it doesn’t have the line that goes from withers to spine. The feet, face, neck, rib cage, and base of the tail are shaved; the tail is shaped in a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a Miami cut, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat and shave the entire neck from the cap (or top knot) to shoulders.

 Figure 14-8: The Miami cut.
2. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.
3. Shave your dog’s flanks from about an inch behind your dog’s elbow to the hind legs with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade, so your dog’s middle is exposed from belly to spine for a clean look.

Clip with the grain to avoid digging the clipper into the skin. You need to clip from top to abdomen and from front to back; it will come naturally.

4. Shave your dog’s abdomen with a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.
5. Shape your dog’s fur to blend in so there’s a smooth transition between different hair lengths using a No. 30 blade with a one-inch guide comb or a No. 3F blade.

Blend in any abrupt transition areas (where the hair goes from one length to another) with the clippers and a No. 3F blade or thinning scissors.

6. Round off the cap (or topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.
7. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

Poodle show clips

Four basic show clips are permitted by the AKC breed standard: the Puppy, English Saddle, the Continental, and the Sporting clips. No other clips are allowed in AKC.
Because these are show clips, they are very difficult to execute. All of them are difficult to achieve because they’re time-and labor-intensive and you’re working with hair that can be more than a foot — and sometimes even a foot and a half — long.

Tip

If you want to learn how to do these clips properly, the best thing you can do is to ask a show person to be your mentor and show you how.

The sections that follow provide more information about each Poodle show clip.

The Puppy clip

The Puppy clip (see Figure 14-9) is the only show clip permitted for dogs who are younger than 12 months old. The Puppy clip needs to leave as much hair as possible on the dog with a shaved face, feet, throat, and base of the tail. The tail is shaped in a pompom. To groom your Poodle in a Puppy clip, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat. Stop at the point of the throat or Adam’s apple.

2. Clip your dog’s abdomen using a No. 10 blade.
3. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).
4. Shape your dog’s body coat according to Figure 14-9 using a No. 30 blade with a one-inch guide comb or a No. 3F blade.

Note: Scissoring will work better.

Figure 14-9: The Puppy clip.

The Continental clip

The Continental clip (see Figure 14-10) is the standard cut that most Poodle people show with. The face, throat, feet, tail, legs, and hindquarters are shaved. Pompoms of fur are shaped on the wrists, ankles, and the tail, and two pompoms around the kidneys are optional. To groom your Poodle in a Continental clip, try the following:
1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat. Stop at the point of the throat or Adam’s apple.

2. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).
3. Shave your dog’s forelegs from the rounded mane (elbow joint) just about two inches or so using either a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade.

Leave several inches of hair to make the pompoms on the wrists and scissor this hair into an oval.

Figure 14-10: The Continental clip.
4. Trim two rounded rosettes the size of saucers over your dog’s kidneys (just behind the last rib along either side of the spine) using your scissors.

Tip

Some breeders recommend using saucers as models for each one. Simply trim around the saucers with the scissors.

5. Shave your dog’s hindquarters down to the hock and your dog’s abdomen from the mane using your clippers with the same blade you used for Step 1.
6. Use scissors to round the mane and pompoms.
7. Round off the cap (or topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.
8. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The English Saddle clip

The English Saddle clip (see Figure 14-11) is an alternative to the Continental clip. The face, throat, feet, tail, and forelegs are shaved, and pompoms are shaped on the wrists and tail. The hindquarters have closer-shaved fur with bracelets (like pompoms) above the knee and below the hock of shaved fur. To groom your Poodle in an English Saddle clip, try the following:

1. Shave your dog’s face using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat. Stop at the point of the throat or Adam’s apple.

2. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).
3. Shave the forelegs from the rounded mane (elbow joint) just about two inches or so, using your No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).

Leave several inches of hair to make the pompoms on the wrists, and scissor this hair into an oval shape.

4. Part the coat behind the rib cage and shape the dog’s body and hindquarters according to Figure 14-11 using scissors.
5. Cut thin bracelets an inch above the hock on the hind legs using a 5⁄8 blade.

Make sure the bracelets match.

6. Cut thin bracelets just above the knee or stifle on the hind legs using a 5⁄8 blade.

Make sure the bracelets match.

7. Shape the dog’s body according to Figure 14-11 using scissors.
Figure 14-11: The English Saddle clip.

8. Round off the cap (or topknot) — that is, the hair from the occiput to the eyebrows — using scissors.

Note: Scissoring will work better. In fact, you need to scissor and shape the hair so that it’s rounded.

9. Trim the ears with scissors.

Tip

Keep your fingers between the ear flaps and the scissors, using them as a guide to prevent you from cutting your dog’s ears.

The Sporting clip

The Sporting clip (see Figure 14-12) is used for dogs competing in the Stud or Brood Bitch classes and in the Parade of Champions. It’s also a nice cut for pets, because it’s easy to maintain. The face, feet, throat, and tail are shaved with a pompom on the tail and a smaller cap (or top knot) on the head. To groom your Poodle in a Sporting clip, try the following:
1. Save your dog’s face using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).

Work away from the eyes down to the base of the throat.

2. Clip your dog’s abdomen using a No. 10 blade.
3. Shave your dog’s feet and base of the tail using a No. 10, No. 15, or No. 30 blade (for very close cuts).
Figure 14-12: The Sporting clip.
4. Shape your dog’s body according to Figure 14-12 using a No. 5 blade for summer or a No. 4 blade for winter.
5. Trim the pompoms on the tail and legs and the cap (or topknot) in a rounded shape using scissors.

Preparing for Show

As you may have surmised, preparing a Poodle for show is just like everyday grooming times ten.

Remember

If you’re preparing for a show, you have to begin preparing your Poodle’s coat well in advance of the show. In fact, preparing your Poodle for a show takes months, not hours. So if you’re planning to enter shows with your Poodle, you’re going to have to start planning way ahead.

Much of the show planning is the equivalent of watching grass grow — waiting for the hair to grow. As your Poodle’s hair grows out, you have to start shaping it into the eventual show coat. In puppies, that means the Puppy clip, which is just a simplified version of the Continental clip. When your puppy is out of the show Puppy competition and into the Open, Bred-by, American-bred, or other competitions, reshaping the coat into a Continental clip takes less than it would if you started from scratch.
If you’re starting from scratch with an adult dog, you have to clip your Poodle in the basic Continental clip, but it won’t have the amount of hair that a normal show coat has. From there you need to work on maintaining that style until the coat fills out and becomes more beautiful. Remember that Poodles can have up to a foot and a half of coat on them at show time, and it takes at least six months of constant maintenance to groom the show coat you want. You can count on trimming your dog about once a week to get the shape of the coat just right.

Warning!

Don’t expect to take your Poodle to a professional groomer and thereby get your dog done up into show condition overnight. Remember, these types of coiffures (fancy for hairdos) take considerable time and effort to create.

Although getting a Poodle ready for a show is time-consuming, grooming tasks that you need to do right before the show include:
  • Trimming toenails
  • Brushing out your dog’s coat
  • Removing any tangles and mats
  • Clipping your dog prior to his bath
  • Bathing your dog
  • Drying your dog
  • Brushing out your dog again
  • Trimming your dog
  • Applying a coat dressing whenever appropriate
After you put all that work into getting your Poodle in top shape, you’re probably wondering how you move him from home to the show without that gorgeous coat picking up lots of dirt and other debris.
  • Tip
  • To protect the hair, show people often wrap their dog’s ears and manes. You can wrap your dog in a variety of ways, but the main issue is keeping the dog’s hair clean. You can use:

– VetWrap or another type of wrap or bandage that sticks to itself and not your dog’s coat, to wrap the ears.

– An ouchless pony tail holder (sometimes) to hold the topknot.

– Towels and clips to keep the mane from rubbing against dirty things.

Be forewarned that after you use any of these devices, you have to totally brush out your Poodle once the two of you arrive at the show.
by Margaret H.Bonham

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