Combing and Backbrushing

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!

We are not alone (at grooming shows)!

Worst thing I ever saw at a grooming show was the young member of the Wood Brothers racing team (NASCAR) that was cleaning up urine in the elevator area of the Hilton, Atlanta Airport this past weekend on the 12th floor where I was staying.

Woodbrothers I went to walk my two dogs and noticed there was liquid on the elevator door and running across the marble floor onto the carpet. I had poop bags, but nothing to clean up liquid, so since it was after midnight I decided I would clean it up when we returned. When we stepped out of the elevator the young man from Woods Brothers was on his hands and knees with a hotel towel cleaning it up "So no one slipped". Now I have to tell you I told him to go to bed that I would get it, since he had a race the next day and they had just gotten back from the track that night. HE said "It wasn't your dogs!" and I said "IT WASN'T YOURS EITHER!" I apologized profusely and he said "Well, ma'am, there are some in every group that make all of us look bad!"Wood brothers 

My point is that it is critical to remember that we are not the only guests at the hotels we stay in. In this case Hilton sponsors several race teams and they stay in the Hiltons during race week. Not the drivers mind you, but crew members. WHY should they have to walk through the poop that was spread all over the sidewalks? WHY should they have to clean up urine? WHY should they have to listen to barking dogs walking down the hallway at 2:30am? I know you can't always control a dog barking but if you are in the hallway at an hour that most people are sleeping, then TRY at least to correct the dog. This happened almost every night this weekend. I got an extremely small amount of sleep.

WHY should WE have to listen to excessive noise or put up with messes? When I go to shows I do not want to have to pick up after other people's dogs or hear them bark in the hallways at all hours. I do not want to hear people having parties in the hallways either. Sorry, but once I go to bed I want to go to sleep! The shows wear me out.

Clean up after your pet Sunday morning at 8am when I walked my dogs I took extra time to clean up poop that was in the flower beds and on top of plants, as well as all over the sidewalk. With the aide of two other kind souls we picked up over 25 poop bags full of other peoples dogs messes! UNCALLED FOR in my opinion.

If you would not do it at your house or in your shop, then WHY do it at a show? Show respect and consideration for those of us around you and those of us that are not part of the show especially deserve to be treated with respect.

Imagine you are on a business trip or a vacation and you find dog poop or urine in the hallways or sidewalks where you are staying! What would you do?