Answered question...

A newer groomer recently emailed me and said, "I am having a really hard time with these dogs that have small eyes and long eyelashes - I understand that we want to save the eye lashes but I do not seem to get enough hair off to see their eyes or have their eyes pop.  Their eyes always seem so hooded and hairy." I thought the topic was a good one for a blog post, so here are my thoughts on the matter. 

First let me address the eyelash part of her mail.  Not all owners are into having dogs with long eye lashes. But some are, and it can be very tricky to avoid cutting lashes when you are working on the pets face.  In some cases those super long lashes are really impressive.  Like on this girl: 


I took a few pictures of a new puppy yesterday to show you how I groom fuzzy faces.  This is Ollie. His mom is a mini poodle, his dad a small standard.  At first his owner thought she wanted a traditional shaved face and topknot, but then she decided she liked him looking like a teddy bear. I thought this was a good choice because he is big boned. In this picture he has been washed and dried. 


The first thing I did was comb the hair on the front of his skull forward a bit. Then, using 7 inch curved shears I carefully wacked a bunch of that stuff off. 

IMG_8675Once I had some hair removed and could see what I was doing,  checked to see if he happened to have pretty eyelashes.  Since he is a baby, his lashes are still short, but for purposes of this blog, I proceeded to save them.   IMG_8687I learned this trick on line a few years ago, and sorely wish I remember the brilliant soul that shared it.  Simply moisten your fingertips with water, and gently grasp the lashes between finger and thumb. Now, gingerly twist them, just a bit, so they clump together. The water will make them a bit darker, so they are easier to see, and will hold them in place for a few seconds so you have time to trim around the eyes.  

IMG_8693Once the lashes are safely out of the way and in clear view, you can use your scissors (and you may choose smaller ones than this) to trim a neat, close line, right over each eyelid. When you do this, the eyelashes will look more defined, and not blend in with other facial hair so much.  I use a trimmer to clean out the eye corners and the area between the eyes on the bridge of the nose. Ollie, experiencing his first groom, wiggled big and I made this space too large, but he still looked cute.  One thing about dog grooming, if you make an "oops" the hair grows back and you can fix the error next time around. 


IMG_8702Once I have the hair around the eyes cleaned up, I use chunkers, thinners or regular scissors to shape the face the way I want. In this case, since he didn't have a ton of coat to begin with, I  merely shortened his ears, and used curved scissors to tidy up his beard and shape his cheeks, blending into the top of the head.  His body was done with the longest Wahl snap on comb.  I didn't get the greatest "after" picture, but he looked cute, plush, and well balanced. His owners with tickled pink and rebooked an appointment for 6 weeks.  (The hair over his left eye is too full. I did shape that up before he went home. His owners arrived a bit early and my chance for further photos was nixed. Ollie turned into a blur of happy puppy energy.)

I hope this is a bit helpful to those of you who might struggle with grooming heads like this.  Happy clipping!  


Scottish Terrier Pet Groom

I live in Maine, which is known as "Vacationland."  I groom a lot of dogs in the summer that live elsewhere much of the year.  Today I had two Scottish Terriers come in.  I took a few pictures to share.  


IMG_4164The dogs had not been groomed for 8 weeks, but the back was barely the length of a 5f blade.  I think they had been taken down with a 10 blade. It is impossible to blend nicely if the back is taken that short. A 5f or even a 7f is so much nicer!  The line for the furnishings is set too low, especially over the hip area.  Then there is the problem of the huge, fluffy tails. And the ears!  Lots and lots of hair left, front, back and side. Instead of eyebrows, there was a strange little visor.  The whole effect was off.  And in case you are wondering, the owner did not request these things.  

Scotties seem to be a breed that many groomers struggle with.  But really, they are not that difficult.  

I bathed these dogs, dried and brushed them.  I used a 5f blade on their backs to slightly even things up.  Using the same blade on the underside of the tail, I zipped off a LOT of long fringe.  Then I combed the hair against the grain and used straight shears to begin to create a "carrot" shape.  Next I combed the hair all to the right, and trimmed again.  Then all to the left, and more trimming.  It looked so much better.  

Next I tackled the ears.  


This is the back view.  I often see Scotties with way, WAY too much hair left on their ears. I think it is because groomers know they are supposed to leave something, but are not sure what, so they leave too much. The best description I have ever seen on Scottie ears is in Sam Kohl's most recent edition of The All Breed Grooming Guide.  The basic idea with Scottie ears is that if you shave them completely they look silly, like big triangles stuck to the head awkwardly.  You just want to leave a little hair at the inside corner, to soften the ear and expression, and make the ears look like they are anchored to the head.

IMG_4185I left a bit too much here, and went back to tighten things up a bit.  But doesn't this look better than all those wads of hair in the first pictures? 



I can't fix how low the pattern line is this time, but at least now this dog resembles the way it should look, without a silly, fluffy tail and shrubby ears.  I made a definition between the brows and have started to shape them up to look the way they should.  

There is no shame in not knowing how to properly groom a certain breed of dog, but if you don't know, do a little research.  Look at photos of the breed under their AKC  page.  Look at recently published grooming books, (grooming styles change, keep up with the times!) or, go to a dog show and/or grooming show.  It does not take much more effort to groom a dog right than it does to groom it wrong. Keep on learning... it makes our jobs more fun, and you will get many referrals from customers who appreciate the fact that you did the job correctly.