In order to get a really nice finish on a groom it is important to know how to backbrush and comb. I know this sounds simple, but correct combing can mean the difference between a mediocre finish and an excellent finish. We all know how critical it is to dry a coat properly, but combing and brushing during clippering and scissoring are just as critical to a good finish.
When I first started competing I noticed that the judges combed differently than I did. They could always pull up hair that I thought I had already gotten. The reason why, was that I was not combing the hair correctly.
I had always thought that by combing the hair up I was going to get the best finish, but you really need to be pulling their hair out towards you at a 90° angle to the skin to get the best finish. I use a wide toothed comb like the one in the photo above on the right to fluff the hair. A longer comb makes lifting the coat easier for me.
I also learned that by using a spray of some sort you can get an even better finish. What you use is completely up to you. With me what I use will vary from dog to dog. On some dogs I use Animology’s Knot sure, some I choose water, and other times I use Stazko Spray.
What I use is based on thickness, length and the feel I want. It takes a while to figure out what works best for you, but once you do you will find you will be getting a nicer more consistent finish. The spray helps hold the hair in place and allows for better, crisper scissor work. I always hold my spray bottle far enough away from the coat that the spray settles lightly on the coat and you do not want to wet the coat, so a light mist is best. After misting the coat, I fluff comb and then scissor.
The proper combing motion can best be described as a whipping. As if you are beating eggs, or whipped cream. You started the skin you brush out and up, and I tend to find myself twisting my hand as I do it so that I am getting a motion very similar to the way you would dry your hair if you were trying to curl it. If I were sketching it out it would look like the bottom of a J. And the trick is to make it stand outward.
I have noticed that awful lot of people do not know how to backbrush correctly. I use this technique when using snap on Combs or blades on curly coated dogs. I make my first pass with my clipper on a well prepped coat, doing a fairly quick job of removing the hair I want off. Then I take my slicker brush and brush backwards: from tail to head, from feet to hip, against the lay of the hair. Then I clip it again, back brush one more time, clip one last time. I don’t back brush more than twice because it will shorten the hair.
When using a longer snap on Combs however, I tend to fluff with my comb not a brush.
Now it’s important to note that I do not back brush drop coats. Those coats need to fall down in a natural manner so I find myself combing towards the table more so than fluffing the hair upward. I will left hair while scissoring but for the finish I comb down words and use my thinners pointing towards the table to neat and finish the scissoring.
Today working on Bella the standard poodle and made this short video clip that might help you figure out exactly what I’m talking about:
I hope this helps you get better finishes faster. It works for me!