Most of us enjoy scissoring. Most of us enjoy charging a bit more for all of our skill and effort as well. What about being able to charge for a hand scissored groom, but still creating one in less time and with excellent results?
Does it sound like working smarter instead of harder? Yes.
Below I have a BichonPoo mix that comes in regularly for a scissored groom. The owner wanted a full neck and head, nice full legs, a cute “sassy” rear and long tail & ears, and he likes “the look of a nicely tailored and scissored groom”, but is not good about brushing. I on the other hand, need to do the groom in a unique and flattering way, yet I need to make it easy for me and do it in a reasonable amount of time!
So, instead, I clipper all of the dog that I can, and scissor the parts of the dog that get the best finish and look when scissored. This makes the trim easier for the owner to care for, and easier for me to do each time they come in.
I still play up parts of the dog’s structure to compliment his form, and I still spend a fair and honest amount of time doing scissor work, but not so much that this one groom takes up a full three hour slot, and the dog is happier getting in & out a little faster as well.
Below you can see the dog that I have to work with upon arrival. This is 10 weeks of growth (simply cannot get this one to rebook every 6 to 8 weeks…). And there are all sorts of matts in there; under both front arms, the tummy and groin, through the chest, and under his ears. Enough is enough! It is time to take off all of the coat that he doesn’t need to look handsome, and still be comfortable!
Doesn’t he LOOK like he’s unsure if he’s going to enjoy this?
So, the first thing I do? I resist the urge to just clip it all off, and instead go to a good bath with a clarifying shampoo. I dry him from very wet, squeezing the coat to take out most of the water (not rubbing!), and then I follow up with an overall drenching or Ice On Ice (or Detangle, or Simple Solution, etc.), giving it all a good squeeze to work it into the coat before I turn on the HV dryer. I dry a section at a time, loosening the tighter matts with a Poodle comb first and then a bit of tapping with a small soft slicker while the hair is still damp. This method saves breakage of the hair and pulling on the skin. Most of the matt pieces blow right out and the tangles that are left are very easy to comb thru.
Below you see the clean dog full of coat, that I then have to work with.
Alright, ready to start clipping!
So then, I set in the topline with the dog standing squarely. I lift the tail over the back as he would normally carry it to be sure he is nice and level on top. I then clip down his sides across his rib spring (widest part of his ribs), down his shoulder, down the muscle of the hip and thigh, up tight under his chin (you want a tight throat to accentuate a longer neckline and you want no throatiness under the chin as it will make your dog look chubby and front heavy- taking away from your dog’s overall profile) down to just above his chest bone all with a #3 ¾ blade. The blade you use is up to you, but the point is that you can clip the majority of a dog down in a shorter length, and still scissor finish the dog to a great style with minimal work.
Here is a photo of all the areas that are actually clippered on this style of trim.
Not too much left over to scissor!
It is still important to blend all of your clipper work well into your scissor work to make it look well tailored and tight. And you may find with some dogs that you need to also scissor in the topline if they have very poor structure, but most owners will not notice if the dog’s topline is completely level…
Next I will well hollow out the groin and sanitary areas.
There’s no sense in leaving all that hair under the legs and inner thigh just to matt back up. The overall look if the trim will not suffer from having the per inner leg and groin clippered tight with a #7 blade. See also that the back of each leg is clippered tightly with a #3 ¾ blade as well- to about 3 or 4 fingers above the point of the hock.
Next I will do pads tightly and as neatly as possible- here I used a #30, but a #40 is fine also.
At the same time, I will comb out the dog’s feet and set the curve of the foot from the underside with my shears, neaten up all of the hairs on the underside of the foot that will collect dirt and tangle easily, and double check for toe matts with a fine comb. You want to clip the hair up and away from the pad so that the foot is tight, yet does not show nail when the dog is standing. After setting the hair back from the pad with the foot lifted, place the foot down and stand the dog squarely to set in its bevels on each foot with your shears. I will use either straight or curved shears (curved shears make this easier!), at a 30 degree angle up from the table to scissor right around the foot, making the dog look up on toe and as if it is “elevated” from the table. A pancake foot will ruin the outline of the groom, make the dog look dumpy and give an disproportionate base for the dog to stand on. Round, tight feet and straight legs are the pedestal for your groom to be displayed on- and therefore the foundation for the groom itself.
Then I will move on to the rear angulation. I will scissor in lightly at the point on the hip to accentuate the angel there, and a little tighter right at the point of rump- along the croup to give a tight angle there.
Next I will scissor the bend of stifle at a soft curve to accentuate and good bend of the leg. And then I will blend the tuckup into the flank and across the top of the hip to remove e the clipper marks. Notice the tight and lifted foot as well.
A well let down hock as see here can easily be set at the proper angle…
By lifting the rear leg to a 90 degree angle from the table top, so that the pastern is completely horizontal. Then all you do is scissor straight up and down along the pastern.
When you reset the foot down, soften the point of hock and neaten up any strays at the back of the foot with your scissors, and the rear angulation is set! All you need to do then is to bring the line off the top of the thigh straight down to the line at the edge of the foot and create a neatly cylindrical leg.
And side view
*Remember that if you want a tighter rear leg, you can also use a clip comb attachment to fall off the top of the hip straight down towards the floor to set the length of the leg hair!
Next I set in the front angulation.
I have clippered all the way down the chest on this dog due to matting, but you could also leave a little hair at the point of chest and scissor the chest into a nice soft curve across the breastbone as shown here.
A slightly round chest creates depth of chest and creates a better overall spring of rib, giving the dog the look of being well developed thru the chest and shoulders add adds to a well developed barrel and therefor a tighter elbow.
Next I will scissor down the sides of the neck and across the withers to blend the clipper line into my scissored neckline.
So you can see that here I am really only blending in my clippered areas into my fuller areas across the should and the sides of the neck.. I personally always work from the top of the dog towards the floor when scissoring.
The next thing I do is to scissor the front legs. I actually
clipper the front of the leg with a clip comb as shown here,
and then drop the foot and stand the dog square to scissor the back of the leg straight towards the floor.
So again, I am only scissoring the elbow and rear of the front legs, and then creating a round foot across the top of the foot to create a cylinder shaped leg with a tighter foot that is up on toe. *Remember that by leaving more hair on the back of the front leg and taking more hair off the front of the front leg, as well as leaving more hair thru the tuckup, more hair on the front of the rear leg, and tightening up the hack of the hock, you are giving the illusion of the dog being shorter and more compact in body length. this helps give a better overall outline by drawing the eye away smoothly fromthe center of the dog to the front and rear of the dog, and keep the dog looking tight and nicely angled. This breed of dog per breed standard should be squarely built and well angled- so our clip style should reflect that as well, even if it is a pet trim.
Next I will tighten the side of the neck and the topline of the neck to create a nicely angled crest and to give length of neck.
Note that all that hair under the ears and the side of the neck has been clippered off. The actual shape of the hair that is left to create a neckline, if viewed from the top of the dog, resembles a teardrop shape, with the point of the teardrop at the middle of the withers.
Here is a photo of the dog’s topknot set and neckline.
Notice that his chin and throatlatch area are clippered tight to give a good strong jawline to the head and create a nice headset.
And here is a photo of his face.
The owner does like a fuller head than I would ideally keep, and a little more beard and ear hair than I would keep, but the face is soft and sweet in expression, and the eyes are clear of overhanging hair. Remember to snip back all of the slurpy hairs from the lips and to clean up the flews of the lip with your thinners to minimize buildup of dirt around the mouth.
That is it! The whole groom takes me about 1 and 2 half hours of work, and the dog is handsome, well tailored and easy for them to brush—if they ever decide to!