Shaping Up the Clipped Breeds

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Discovering the clipped breeds
  • Brushing the varied coats of the clipped breeds
  • Handling the coat clippers
  • Readying your clipper breed for a show

In this chapter, I discuss the clipped breeds, with the exception of Poodles (I devote Chapter Getting the Sticky and Stinky Stuff Out to that special breed). Certain dogs need clipping because their coats require it (being single coat) or because the breed standard calls for it.

Clipping a dog is a bit of an art form that requires a considerable amount of trial and error — not so much, it is hoped, however, on the error side.
If you have a clipped breed, you already know you have plenty of work ahead of you. Clipping takes time to practice and get good at — no book can teach you what experience and practice will.
Many of the stripped-breed dogs that I discuss in Chapter Tidying the Tresses of the Long-Haired Breeds arguably can also be considered among the clipped breeds within this chapter. However, for convenience, I distribute them between truly traditional clipped versus stripped lines within the two chapters and leave the decision up to you about which method of grooming you want to use for your particular dog.

That means here in Chapter Beautifying the Stripped Breeds, you’re going to find out everything you need to groom your traditionally clipped breed to look his very best.

Taking a Little off the Top: Introducing the Clipped Breeds

Somewhere along the evolutionary ladder between wolves and dogs, humans discovered that certain types of coats lurked in canine (canis lupus familiaris) genetics. Although I’m sure a bald wolf, one in need of a haircut, or one whose coat became naturally tangled didn’t last long in the wild, after humans started tinkering with these unusual canine breed characteristics, those kinds of dogs became popular. People not only liked the look and feel of the various coats, but in some circumstances, they actually sought out the right coat for the job. Here, however, I address the ones that need haircuts.
Clipped-breed dogs (see Figure 11-1) typically and primarily are characterized as being single-coated (or without an undercoat), although some sport double coats. Their coats also may be curly or straight, and they traditionally are clipped according to their standards. Dogs who fit this category include

  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Black Russian Terrier
  • Bouvier de Flandres
  • Brittany
  • Cesky Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel (American and English)
  • Curly-coated Retriever
  • English Setter

  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Field Spaniel
  • Gordon Setter
  • Irish Setter
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Löwchen
  • Poodle (all sizes)
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Springer Spaniel

Remember

As I indicated in the introduction to this chapter, you can include the stripped-breed dogs from Chapter Tidying the Tresses of the Long-Haired Breeds in this list — in a less traditional sense.

Figure 11-1: Clipped breed dogs include Field Spaniels (a) and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers (b).

Brushing Basics

The way you brush a clipped-breed dog often depends on the specific coat of each individual dog. If your dog has a curlier coat, you may find yourself reaching more for a pin brush rather than a slicker. Even so, you can find different ways to brush these kinds of dogs, depending on the specific coats.

Terrier-type coats

Terrier-type coats usually are wire-haired, but oddly enough, the five Terriers that I mention in this chapter don’t have the traditional Terrier coat. (Go figure!) However, some of the dogs listed in the chapter on stripped breeds (Chapter Tidying the Tresses of the Long-Haired Breeds) have wire-haired coats that can be clipped, and that’s why I talk about them here.
Nevertheless, a proper way to brush out a wire-haired (Terrier) coat does exist. Harsh, wire-haired coats tend to resist tangles a bit more than other breeds, and you can usually get by brushing these dogs only twice a week — except when the dog’s coat is in need of clipping — when the dog starts looking ratty. Here’s how to brush a Terrier-type coat:
1. Brush the entire dog with a slicker brush.

You can skip a second pass with a comb because these dogs usually don’t mat the way other breeds do because of the wire hair.

2. Backbrush, or brush against the lay of your dog’s fur, with a slicker brush if your dog’s coat type permits, and then brush it back into place.

Short-coated terriers such as Parson Russell Terriers may be harder to backbrush.

3. Remove any loose hairs your dog has using a shedding blade or undercoat rake.
4. Using a medium- or fine-toothed comb, finish brushing and combing out your dog’s coat.
5. Check for fleas by running a flea comb through your entire dog’s coat.

Be sure to comb from the roots of the hair to the tips.

Spaniel-type coats

When I refer to spaniel-type coats, I’m talking about the coats that you see on Cocker Spaniels, English Setters, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Field Spaniels. The spaniel-type coat is like the long-haired dogs (see Chapter Poodles: A Breed Apart) and needs to be treated as such. They need daily brushing to keep them clean and free of mats. Follow these instructions for brushing:
1. Check for and remove any tangles or mats with detangler solution and a medium-toothed comb.

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

2. Backbrush, or brush against the lay of your dog’s hair, first using a slicker brush and then again with a medium-toothed comb.
3. Then brush again with the lay of the hair using a slicker brush.
4. Check for fleas by going over your dog’s entire coat with a flea comb.

Poodle-type coats

What about the curly coats, that is, the Poodle-like coats? These dogs include the Portuguese Water Dog, the Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Bichon Frise, and they need special brushing. Poodle-type coats have a propensity for getting tangled and matted, so you must brush and comb them every day. Here’s how:
1. Check for tangles or mats and remove them using detangler solution and a medium-toothed comb.

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

2. Gently brush through the curly coat with a pin brush, and follow up with a slicker brush.

These two passes will help remove any loose hair and keep tangles from forming.

3. Comb through the curls using a medium-tooth comb.
4. Check for fleas and make sure you get out any tangles by running a flea comb through your dog’s entire coat.

Bathing

Clipped-breed dogs need baths about once every two weeks — more often when they get dirty. Because their hair acts like a dirt magnet, these dogs can end up looking dingy within only a short amount of time. In most cases, these dogs have hair that is similar to and behaves much like human hair. So, you need to give your dog a bath at least once every two weeks to be sure that he’s clean and sweet smelling.

The prebath clip

Many groomers like to do a prebath clip after the prebath brushing for clipped breeds. By doing so, you can get rid of the frizzy hair and split ends here, and you’ll have less hair to wash when you’re done.

Most of the prebath clip is just for neatening or tidying up the coat — not for a full clipping unless the hair is really frizzy and is going to tangle badly during subsequent grooming without it.

Remember

If you do a prebath clip, make sure your dog is thoroughly brushed out beforehand. Clip only what needs to be clipped until after the bath when your dog is clean. If your dog is really dirty, you need to skip the prebath clip entirely and take your lumps after the bath, doing a full clipping then.

Knowing when a dog needs to be clipped is mostly a judgment call on your part. If your dog starts looking like an amorphous, hairy blob, well, that’s a pretty good indication it’s time for some trimming. However, most people like to clip their dogs about once a month to keep them looking good and maybe even once a week, as needed.
When doing a prebath clip, use the type of clipper blade that matches the type of clip your dog previously was given. Remember, the prebath clipping is just a trim, and the real work occurs after the bath. A prebath clip concentrates on trimming out-of-place hairs and the frizzy stuff.

Bathing basics

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

Make sure that your dog’s coat gets wet all the way down to the skin. This requires you to totally soak down your dog either with a handheld shower head or tub faucet attachment or by pouring water over your dog. Feel the skin to find out whether your dog is completely wet.

2. Using a pH-balanced dog shampoo, thoroughly lather up your dog’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. Many shampoos are tearless, but you shouldn’t count on them not stinging your dog’s eyes.

3. Thoroughly rinse your dog’s coat.
4. Apply an excellent dog coat conditioner that prevents tangles and keeps the coat from drying out.
5. Repeat Step 3, squeezing out the excess water and rinsing again.

Remember

When rinsing your dog’s coat, be sure to remove all soap and conditioner residues. Even no-residue conditioners leave residues when not rinsed properly.

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 if your dog is small enough. Otherwise use a no-heat force hair dryer for dogs. 

Clipping

You can clip your clipped-breed dog in a variety of ways, depending, of course, on which kind of dog you have. You can check out other same-breed dogs and ask their owners how they groom them so you have a good idea of how you’d like your dog to look and how you can get the job done.
Even so, you can work with some basic, everyday cuts, including Terrier cuts (for Terrier-type coats), Spaniel cuts (for sporting dogs), and Poodle-type cuts (for those curly-coated dogs).
Please take note that the cuts described in the following sections aren’t intended to be show quality. If you want to do show-quality cuts, your best bet is to study the breed standard and have a show person demonstrate the correct cut for your dog.

Remember

Some general guidelines apply pretty much across the board when clipping your dog’s coat in virtually all of the cuts described in this section. Here are two important ones:

– A shorter coat is easier to maintain than a longer coat.

– Snapping a guide comb onto your clippers (see Chapter Spiffing Up Short- and Medium-Coated Breeds) can help you guide the clippers over your dog’s coat so that you cut it at a uniform length.

Warning!

Never dig your clippers into your dog’s skin. Even though they are guarded, a serious dig can cut and will hurt your dog. Clipper blades should run flat on the dog to avoid digging into the skin. You also need to make sure that the length of the blade is set accurately.

Terrier-type coats

If you have a Terrier (or a Terrier-like dog — and many of them are), you’re probably wondering what you can do to keep him looking good without stripping (see Chapter Tidying the Tresses of the Long-Haired Breeds) his coat. The three types of clips you can try with a Terrier are a single-length clip, a large-Terrier clip, and a small Terrier clip.

Finding the no-clip zone

You may be wondering what kind of dogs you can own that don’t have to be clipped. Well,
guess what? Plenty of them are out there. Here are ten no-clip dogs: 
  • Golden Retriever
  • Siberian Husky
  • Pug
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Samoyed
  • Greyhound

Single-length clip

The single-length clip (see Figure 11-2) is probably the easiest to do, and it’s one you can use on just about any dog, because you clip most of your dog’s coat at only one length. You may, however, need to trim the coat closer around specific areas — the abdomen, anus, ears, face, genitals, and so on. A single-length clip is just as the name sounds, you use a single blade or snap-on a guide comb and run it all over the dog’s body so most of the hair is one length. Use these steps to give your dog a single-length clip:
1. Select a clipper blade that works well with the type of coat your dog or breed of dog has.

A No. 10 usually is ideal for close trimming around the genitals and abdomen, and a No. 7 or wider (smaller number) is best for body cuts.

2. Trim the face with a No. 10 blade, starting from behind the eyebrows to the occiput (or the highest point on the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming).

You can trim along the cheek but leave the moustache and beard.

3. Trim the hair around the ears closely with a No. 10 blade, so that the ears look like triangles.
Remember

Trim the fur with the lay of the hair. Working against the grain can be very dangerous because you can cut the skin.

4. Switching to a body clipper blade (the one you chose earlier in Step 1 for your specific dog), trim the coat evenly down the legs and across the back, chest, and loin.

Even up any discrepancies in length by carefully using either the clippers or scissors.

Figure 11-2: The single-length cut.
5. Switch back to the No. 10 blade and trim the abdomen, around the genitals and anus, and the feet for a neater look.

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

Large-Terrier clip

The large-Terrier clip (see Figure 11-3) is seen on many larger Terriers such as Airedale and Welsh Terriers, and it looks pretty impressive even if it isn’t standard. The Terrier coats are stripped to meet the breed standard for showing.
1. Select a clipper blade that will work well with your dog.

Use a No. 10, No. 81⁄2, or No. 7 blade.

2. Using a No. 10 blade, trim your dog’s face from behind the eyebrows to the occiput (or the highest point on the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming).

You can trim along the cheek but leave the moustache and beard.

3. Trim the hair around the ears closely with a No. 10 blade, so that the ears look like triangles.
4. Trim the coat evenly down the neck, back, chest, and loin.

Most groomers recommend a 1⁄4-inch cut.

Figure 11-3: The large-Terrier clip.
5. Trim the tail and leave the legs untrimmed at this time.

Blend in the transition from the body to the legs so that it doesn’t look like you just stopped with the clippers. Even up any discrepancies in length either with the clippers or carefully with scissors.

6. Trim the abdomen and around the genitals and anus.

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

7. Trim the legs so that they look more or less like columns.

If the legs look unkempt as you’re trimming them, switch to a larger body-type blade, such as a No. 3 or No. 4, and trim the legs evenly so they look like columns.

Small-Terrier clip

Here’s a small Terrier clip you might enjoy seeing on your dog (see Figure 11-4):
1. Select a clipper blade that works well with your dog.

Use a No. 5, No. 7, or No. 81⁄2. You’ll also need a No. 10 clipper blade, if your dog has a standard Terrier head.

Figure 11-4: The small-Terrier clip.
2. If your breed has a standard Terrier look, meaning it has the look of a basic Terrier, start by trimming the face with a No. 10 blade starting from behind the eyebrows to the occiput (or the highest point on the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming).

You can trim along the cheek but leave the moustache and beard.

If your dog has a natural-looking face (one that is not usually trimmed up) skip the more intense trimming and only use a No. 3 or a No.4 blade to trim away unruly facial hair.

3. Trim the hair around the ears closely with a No. 10 blade, so that the ears look like triangles.
4. Trim the coat evenly down the neck, back, chest, and loin.

Most groomers recommend using a 1⁄4-inch cut.

5. Trim the tail, and leave the legs untrimmed at this time.

Blend in the transition so it doesn’t look like you just stopped with the clippers. Even up any discrepancies in length carefully with either the clippers or scissors.

Falling over yourself?

Some breeds don’t have moustaches and eyebrows, but instead they have falls. A fall is
simply long hair similar to bangs that covers the dog’s eyes. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Black Russian Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, and Sealyham Terriers all have falls that extend from the occiput, eyebrows, or somewhere in between down over the eyes.
To be technically correct, if you have one of these breeds, your dog needs to have a fall, but if your dog is a pet and isn’t being prepped for the show ring, you can skip the fall so you can see your dog’s gorgeously expressive eyes.
To keep a fall, trim the hair from the occiput (or the highest point on the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming) to the eyebrows in the shape of a V, so it falls over the eyes. Keep the fall trimmed so it looks nice.
6. Trim around the genitals and anus.

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

7. Trim the legs so that they look more or less like columns.

If the legs look unkempt as you’re trimming them, switch to a larger body-type blade, such as a No. 3 or No. 4, and trim the legs evenly to look like columns.

Spaniel-type coats

Spaniels are part of the Sporting Group and many dogs, such as Irish Setters and Gordon Setters, have Spaniel-type coats. Here’s the general way for you to clip your Spaniel-type dog (see Figure 11-5):
1. Select a clipper blade that will work well with your dog.

Use a No. 5 or No. 7 blade.

You’ll also need a No. 10 clipper blade for a close-in trim to the head and ears.

2. Trim the face with a No. 10 clipper blade.

You’ll trim the cheek, jaw, and up to the occiput (or the highest point on the dog’s skull; see Chapter Inside and Out: What Affects a Dog’s Coat and Grooming). Trim the top third of the ears.

3. Trim the throat down to the breastbone.
4. Trim the coat evenly down the neck, back, chest, and loin.

Blend in the transition so it doesn’t look like you just stopped with the clippers, but leave the legs untrimmed.

Figure 11-5: The Spaniel-type clip.

Even up any discrepancies in length either with the clippers or carefully with scissors.

5. Trim around the genitals and anus.

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

6. Although the legs need to look more or less natural, if they appear unkempt, switch to a larger body-type blade, such as a No. 3 or No. 4, and trim them evenly.

The Spaniel cut looks different than the Terrier cut because you keep the Spaniel leg hair long and straight.

Poodle-type coats

Dogs with Poodle-type coats include Bichon Frise, Kerry Blue Terriers, and Portuguese Water Dogs. Each has its own style and look.

Tip

Kerry Blue Terriers and Bedlington Terriers are trimmed similar to the standard Terrier cuts, but their heads and ears are trimmed differently. Check the breed standards for the correct show look.

Classic Retriever cut

The classic Retriever cut (see Figure 11-6) looks good on longer-bodied dogs like the Portuguese Water Dog and Poodles (see Chapter Getting the Sticky and Stinky Stuff Out for more about other popular Poodle cuts). Here’s how you clip a dog in the classic Retriever cut:
1. Select a clipper blade that will work well with your dog.

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

2. Trim the coat evenly all over your dog’s body. You need to leave about an inch of hair.

You can either leave the tail natural or trim it if you like a clean look.

3. Trim around the genitals and anus.

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

4. If you like a clean face, trim it with either a No. 10 or a No. 15 blade.
Figure 11-6: The classic Retriever cut.

Bichon-type cut

The Bichon-type cut looks great on Bichon Frise, but it looks great on any toy breed dog with curly hair, such as a Toy Poodle or a mixed breed of toy size (see Figure 11-7). When trimming a dog in this cut, you need to do the following:
1. Select a clipper blade that will work well with your dog.

Use a No. 3 or No. 4 blade for the body and a No. 10 blade for close-in trimming.

You need scissors to trim the Bichon-like coat.

Warning!

Be exceedingly careful with scissors, because they can seriously hurt a dog.

2. Trim the coat in a snowball configuration all over your dog’s body. By snowball configuration, I mean rounding the poofy fur, you know, like a snowball.

Use scissors to shape the fur so it has a uniform rounded look, but leave the tail natural.

If you’re not comfortable using scissors, you can use the clippers for this step.

You should leave as much hair as needed to obtain a rounded look.

Figure 11-7: The Bichon-type cut

3. Trim around the genitals and anus.

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

4. If you like a clean face, trim the face with either a No. 10 or No. 15 blade.

Preparing for Show

If you have a clipped breed that you plan to show in competition, you need to have your dog clipped in a cut that is appropriate for showing dogs of his particular breed. Remember the cuts I describe earlier in this chapter are pet cuts, not show cuts. Show cuts require much more attention to detail with regard to the breed standard and the appearance that standard dictates.

Remember

Always ask breeders and other people who show your breed what cuts are appropriate for your breed and be sure that you know your breed’s standard. A good place to look for breed standards is on the Internet at www.akc.org.

If you’re working with a clipped dog, you already know you have a lot of work ahead of you just maintaining the coat. Now, just imagine maintaining a show coat. For one thing, show cuts are usually specific. Each cut is more or less defined by the breed standard, which makes them precisely specific.
In most cases, you won’t simply make a dog’s pet cut into a show cut. A show cut usually takes anywhere from three to six months to start and maintain — until it is ready for show. Maintaining a show coat means clipping sometimes on a weekly basis to make sure that the coat is styled according to the breed standard.

Warning!

Few professional groomers actually know how to groom a dog properly for shows, and the ones who do, charge a fair amount of money for this expertise. Still, it’s worth the hassle to pay someone who can put your dog into a professional show cut that you can simply maintain.

To prepare for show, you must:
1. Make sure your dog’s clip is correct a week before the show.

Make any final corrections at that point.

2. Bathe and dry your dog, clean his teeth, brush out his coat, perform a coat maintenance clip, and trim his toenails the night before the show.
3. Add leave-in coat conditioners (if applicable) to your dog’s coat, and remove any tear stains right before the show.

by Margaret H.Bonham

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