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 Wyatt’s Grooming Adventure
The Utility Cut
by Barbara E Anderson

 

EQUIPMENT:  slicker brush, undercoat rake, stripping knife, greyhound comb, straight scissors, thinning shears, ½” clipper guard, electric clippers with a #10 blade.
 


BEFORE
:  This is what Wyatt’s “utility” cut looks like after about three month’s growth.  It is approximately 2 ½ - 3 inches all around.  Though it is still quite manageable, if you wait longer to trim back a utility cut, the process will take longer.

Note:  Wyatt’s eyebrows, head and ears were done prior to this photo.  For the eyebrows, comb out and trim with straight scissors in an arch (the arch should be longer at the frontfall, shorter on the ear side of the eye).  Blend with thinning shears, then the stripping knife (following the arch you’ve established).  I use electric clippers on the top of the head, shaving back part way down the neck and behind the ears.  Use the stripping knife to blend.  For the ears, I use electric clippers.  Shave the inside of the ears toward the direction of hair growth.  Fluff the outside of the ears with a comb.  Use a ½” clipper guard and shave against the direction of hair growth.  Then remove the clipper guard and carefully shave toward the direction of hair growth.  Blend with thinning shears.  Trim around the edge if the ears with straight scissors (or if you feel confident, electric clippers).
 


BRUSHING
:  I have Wyatt lie on his side while brushing, raking and combing because it’s easier for me and he doesn’t have to stand as long.  Beginning at the top of the shoulder, use the slicker brush to brush away from the direction of hair growth.  It’s important to brush in small sections (if you have to pull hard, your section is too large).  Be sure to get the brush all the way down to the skin and brush in an upward motion.  Brush in a consistent pattern (e.g. beard, side of the neck, front leg, ribs, back leg).  Hold the prolific skin on the neck taut to get a thorough brushing.  Turn the dog on its back to get the inside of the legs and the belly.


RAKING
:  After brushing, the coat will be smoothed upward against the direction of hair growth.  Starting at the feet (or chest, or jaw), rake toward the hair growth in small sections.  When you are done, you should be able to draw the rake easily through the coat all the way down the leg (or neck, or beard).  Sorry, no picture available!

COMBING:  Using a greyhound comb, comb the coat as directed in the raking section.  Turn the dog on its back to get the inside of the legs and the belly.  Be sure to comb the mats out of the “armpit” in the front legs.  Again, be sure to get all the way down to the skin when combing.

 

THE BACK:  I always do the back last and have Wyatt either sit or stand for this part.  Starting at the top of the neck, use the slicker brush to brush as directed above (direction = toward the head).  Because the hair on the back is thick and wiry, brush in very small sections.  Once the back is thoroughly brushed, rake it out in small sections starting at the rear (direction = toward the tail).  Be sure to get all the way to the skin!  If you have to pull hard, your section is too large.  Comb out with a greyhound comb starting at the rear (direction = toward the tail).

HINTS:  Always give the dog (and yourself!) a few minutes to walk around, stretch, etc. after doing a side.  If your dog is restless, give more breaks.  Especially for young dogs, you may want to do the brushing, raking and combing in the evening, and save clipping for the next day.  The more relaxed and comfortable you can make grooming, the easier it will be.  Have FUN, make grooming a time for bonding with your dog, even get a little silly!
 

CLIPPING:  A grooming table is the ideal setup for clipping.  If you don’t have access to one, get a partner to help hold the dog.  Pick a place for clipping that is easy to clean up, such as the kitchen, utility room, garage, or patio.  With a greyhound comb or pin brush, fluff the coat.  I use clippers with a #10 blade and ½” clipper guard for the body.  Clip the back from the neck toward the tail.  Clip the legs and sides from the withers toward the feet.  Clip the neck from the shoulders toward the chest.  After you clip a section, fluff the hair again.  Wyatt’s hair often lies down, so I have to touch it up with the clippers after the second fluff.  The end result will be about a 1” coat all around.  I recommend scissoring the lower legs, because the hair really tends to lie and the angle is tricky.

SCISSORING:  Use straight scissors to trim the lower part of the legs.  Follow the natural shape of the legs and balance the “thickness” of the legs with the rest of the cut (i.e.  don’t give the dog spindle legs!).  Trim around the feet following the natural curve.  Use thinning shears to blend this line and to define the tops of the feet.  Use straight scissors to trim the ribs/chest (following the natural curve) and blend with thinning shears.  Carefully trim the belly with a combo of straight scissors and thinning shears (this is a short cut overall, so don’t leave a boy dog’s manhood looking too hairy or short!).  Trim the top, bottom and sides of the tail with straight scissors and thinning shears.  The tail should be a natural extension of the back, so be careful not to taper it.  Don’t forget to trim under the tail (you know where I mean!).  Until you get confident with the electric clippers, carefully use straight scissors for that area.  Or, one delicate swipe with a #10 blade will do the job, using straight scissors for touch up.

FEET:  I find it easiest to trim the hair between the pads with straight scissors.

TOUCH UP:  Let the utility cut “rest” overnight.  This will make it much easier to see places that are a bit long or heavy.  Use straight scissors and/or thinning shears to even these places out.  Fluff the back out with a pin brush or greyhound comb and run across the back with a stripping knife.  Use long swipes with the stripping knife, NOT the short cutting motion.

TOTAL TIME:  1 - 1 ½ hours brushing; 45 minutes clipping (includes scissoring); 15 - 30 minutes touch up.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  The photos show only my third time using electric clippers, so take heart!  Be patient, you‘ll get the hang of it.  The most important lesson I learned about electric clippers is don’t use them when you’re in a hurry.  And finally, if the first couple of times turn out looking funny (like mine did!) remember, the hair will grow back.
 

(Wyatt with his post-grooming “Pomeranian”, and a well-deserved rest!)

 

Wyatt suffers from glaucoma; he lost one of his eyes.
To read this important story Click Here

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