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The Utility Cut
by Barbara E Anderson
slicker brush, undercoat rake, stripping knife, greyhound comb, straight
scissors, thinning shears, ½” clipper guard, electric clippers with a #10
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).
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).
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
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.
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.
Got a question for Barbara, click on her name @ the top of the page
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