Well, that was the song that was stuck in my head the entire time I was preparing for this blog post.
Just substitute "Follow the lay of the hair" for the words "Follow the yellow brick road" and it will help it to stick in your head.
Working with flat coats, like shihtzu that have no undercoat, or maltese with correct silky coats, or even westies and cairns with more of what I call a "field coat" can be very tricky. A lot of groomers, because they do not understand this type of coat, tell owners that all they can do is cut it really short to make it smooth, or they have to let it grow long.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is very possible with a few tricks, to leave the coats two or three inches long with minimal work. The key to it is the song above. Follow the lay of the hair. Follow the lay of the hair.
Meet KokoTanner. He is a big shihtzu with little to no undercoat. Just flat, hard hair that the dad likes left long. We usually use an A Stainless steel comb over a 40 setting on the Bravura for this clip. Last time another groomer did him while I was out of town and used a Zero instead of an A so there wasn't a lot of hair to take off. He comes every 4-6 weeks as well so there is little to do to him, but this was a great dog to show this technique on.
I am showing you the way the hair lays and how to acheive the best results in this clip.
In this next clip you can see what happens when a groomer went against the lay of the hair with a snap on comb. It cuts layers and leaves lines. In this type of coat, it is tricky to fix once this has happened and it will look choppy unless you k now how to fix it.
It takes good blenders of varying size tooth count to remove that type of choppiness. I used the "shear over comb" method to help minimize those marks left from incorrect technique, but it is time consuming and many times you end up with shorter hair than you would like to have in those areas trying to fix it. I use "chunkers" (shears with wider teeth that are lower in count) as well as my 48 tooth fine blenders on this coat.
Working on the area that was cut against the lay of the hair.
The side that was choppy from before after we were through.
For under the chin and ears I use a shorter snap on, again WITH the lay of the hair and float off into the longer hair then follow up with thinners to make it look more natural. This cuts a nec into the profile, reduces matting from collars and makes a neater apperance to the dogs. It is separating the head from the body and making them disctinct and clean in appearance.
Showing the finished results.
Just showing the other side as well. Note how smooth this looks? Like it grew this way naturally!
After the snap on work is done I follow up with my chunkers doing legs, underline and just touching up anywhere that is "out of whack" on the coat. The results are fast, easy and so pretty! Below you can see some more examples of dogs done using this technique.
This westie had been done once before and done fairly short on his back at an nother shop. His mother hated it. We did this with a A SS snapon and the Bravura. She booked for four weeks out! I tried carding him out but there is no undercoat to remove, but if your dogs have undercoat then by all means card it out some.
Closeup of the Westie
The maltese below has a softer coat than some but still not enough to be fluffy. I "fixed" her first haircut for free. It took a 7F to make it all the same length! Now she is a zero SS comb with the Bravura. her first groomer told her mom "It wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be to do her an inch long".
Once you master this type of coat you can build a client base of little fluffy dogs that you enjoy working on without dreading the ones that want Fluffy "Just a little shorter please". I lovwe this type of coat and for me it is easy. It can be for you too! Just remember: Follow the lay of the hair! Follow the lay of the hair!