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Clipping and stripping

Long coated non-shedding breeds like Poodles, Bedlington Terrier and Kerry Blue Terrier need regular clipping. Schnauzers and wire terriers also should be stripped. These procedures are mainly regarded as hygienic. Beside this, there are certain breed standards, which assume grooming according to the prescribed type. Clipping and stripping are indeed laborious procedures, and one can't just grab it in several hours. Therefore owners not skilled in this business are recommended to seek help from the specialist.

For clipping you will need a set of tools:
1. Two pairs of scissors: one with straight long blades and sharp tips, another - with short blades and rounded tips,
2. metal pin comb,
3. fluffing up brush,
4. multiple nozzle clipper - mechanic or electric one*
* Of course, the mechanic clipper is not as convenient as the electric but it doesn't disturb the dog. The electric clipper warms up and buzzes and scares the animal.

For cutting you will also need a grooming table with a non-slippery table-top so as the dog feels herself sure. The best height is 75 cm.

Trim styles are different for each breed and their details change every year. Therefore those who are going to seriously practice showing business must keep up with fashion. In general, all styles are designed to emphasize the best sides of a given breed. On the other hand, clipping and stripping allow to hide or to smooth some faults in a dog.

Comb the dog carefully, then wash and dry the coat. Some breeds are to be combed with a wire-pin brush while drying, right after bathing. Others - only when the fur is dry. One more tip: if you've purchased a breed that needs to be clipped, but you don't know how to make a cut and you have nobody to help you, then you should at list once a year cut the dog's coat close (of course, better to do it in summer). Otherwise you'll have to all the time look at the matted and untidy hair.

When starting talks about clipping you most likely imagine a Poodle, don't you? Trim styles for poodle are very diverse. He is the champion among dogs in number of cuts. Curly and dense fur grows evenly on all parts of body and gives vast possibilities for the groomer's imagination. At a show only two styles are admitted: Classic (like a lion) and Modern [ed. - according to contemporary requirements the typical are "English Saddle" and "Continental"]. For juvenile dogs one more cut acceptable: Puppy trim, at which only legs and face are worked up, plus the topknot is slightly evened. In the last years the face is assumed to be very shortly clipped, while recently mustache and beard were in fashion. The topknot may be arranged separately or together with ears, crown-like.

The Classic clip in each of its versions supposes the more volume in the front part of body. Neck and chest are blended together like in a lion. Legs may be shaved with puffs left down on feet or stay coated clipped in the form of "pants". In the first variant the hind legs may be decorated with spiral puffs.

The Modern clip answers the dog's natural shapes. The shortest hair covers face, base of neck, back and the waistline. The tip of tail is finished with a traditional pompon.

For poodles with a corded fur structure, which are very rare now, only face and feet are clipped. The rest coat is divided into long equal cords.

With two terriers (Kerry Blue and Bedlington Terrier), who are done only by clipping, the coat grows evenly on all body parts too. For Kerry Blue Terrier the length of head is emphasized by leaving fringe, mustache and a beard; ears, forehead, cheek-bones, throat and the bottom of neck are clipped close. On the rest of body gradual passages from one length into another make the dog square and accentuate his harmonious shapes, well developed hocks and tight topline.

Bedlington is the most unusual among terriers. Soft light coat, when clipped, make him very much look like a lamb. Typical topknot, prominently arced back, pudgy flanks, tail put between legs and fringed ears - these are the breed-specific features. Bedlington Terrier should be the embodiment of lightness and grace.

Wire breeds, like terriers and schnauzers, are almost non-shedding. Loosened hair should be pulled out (stripped) at least twice a year. There is a special tool for this procedure, resembling a jagged blade (stripping knife). The time when the hair grows is different for different dogs, but on average, the basic stripping is conducted 1 to 3 months before the show. Starting from the withers and proceeding along the back and to the hips pull the hair out in small tufts with the grain. Don't tug up but drive along the skin in confident movements. If the coat is really harsh you can strip the head too. Undercoat should be combed or stripped every 1 to 2 weeks. Owners often want to speed up the process and cut the undercoat with a clipper. But the fault becomes apparent when the short and thick undercoat becomes longer after clipping, mixes up with the growing main hairs and breaks the coat color and structure. After stripping the main hair fits close to skin and is springy at touch. To the contrary, if the dog is always clipped, she loses her becoming "shirt". Anyway hair roots should be from time to time removed since they may cause serious irritation.

The details of clipping and stripping among breeds may differ but in general they are as follows.

Square styled terriers (Airedale, Fox, Lakeland and Welsh): the head should have a straight flat appearance, lower jaw is decorated with a small wedge-shaped beard, a narrow shaved stripe is possible, as well as small eyebrows. On ears, bottom of neck and hind part of hips the coat is very close to skin. Legs should be shaped as posts. Hocks are well pronounced. Sometimes lower thighs stay shortly feathered giving the dog a decorative tint.

For short-legged terriers, like Scottish, Sealyham, West Highland White and Cairn, the trim is characterized by a skirt, which is about going down to the ground. The head is shaped according to breed. For instance, in Scottish Terrier the head is emphasized as elongated by doing mustache and beard, beetling brows and small "horns" in front of pointed ears. On the contrary, in West Highland White Terrier the head shape is tended to be shown as round as possible, topped with pointed ears.

In schnauzers the stripping principle is the same as in wire terriers. The most typical feature in their trim style is the fringe, resembling a cap peak. It may be a complete triangle or separated in two above each eyebrow.

However that may be, each owner, whichever breed he has, should get to know about the grooming. Thus, striping is sometimes necessary for spaniels and setters to emphasize the head sculpture, neck and topline.

The most laborious is the coat of American Cocker Spaniel. Hair is long and dense, underneath forming a fluffy skirt reaching to the ground. Make a neat tuft on the forehead. Muzzle, cheek-bones and base of ears are clipped very close. Remove excess hair from back and sides. Neck and tail are also clipped close. Skirt is thinned out with thinning scissors.

Long-coated breeds with running hair, such as Skye Terrier, Maltese, Lhasa Apso and Yorkshire Terrier, should be combed from the tip of nose to the end of tail parting in the middle. With some dogs that have an outstanding hair it should be winded on curlers in between shows to allow dog move without spoiling his unique coat that spreads on the earth.

Afghans with their flowing coat should be in the condition as not to turn the dog into clumsy bear. Remove excess hair from muzzle, temples, neck (lay the key point onto the upper side), back, flanks and the upper side of tail. A breed-specific "saddle" on the back is slightly plucked out. Trim the feet hair to achieve a smooth outline and clip away hair between toes. The dog should give the impression of lightness and grace, and his luxurious coat should not raise a doubt if this is a borzoi.

Other breeds may also need some work to do to make the coat look neat, when it is straggly or too long. For example, such breed-specific feature as the ear shape in rough Collie, Samoyed and Spitz should be well-pronounced. Bichon Frise and Poodles need to keep up their clip too. Corded breeds like Komondor and Puli require regular hand separation in even cords. This should be thoroughly watched in the period when the corded coat begins in a young dog, since this is the time when cords can tangle and mat.

by Georges W. Roucayrol, Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).