Trimming tends to be a bit of a personal issue, the essence being to produce a �neat� dog for the show ring and the user friendly dog for home life. As such a home trim may be a little more brutal in taking a bit more feathering off, or leaving trim lines a bite rougher in finish. But overall, I find I keep the home bodies in a show trim all their life as a show trim tidies and removes soft coat that may tend to matt and also removes the wicks for moisture and mud that can collect in the coat.
I never clip a whole coat, to do so breaks the natural oil circulation cycle and so destroys nature�s marvellous chemical structure and natural cooling processes. If you let a coat get to a state where it needs clipping I have a suspicion you should not have a Clumber � they aren�t a high demand grooming breed but they may be too demanding for you. It is sometimes asserted that a dog with allergies should be clipped � not knowing each and every individual case I cannot comment on these, but having lived with dozens of Clumbers over the years and used a raw based diet I have never had such skin complaints to warrant denuding areas or clipping the whole dog. Those so treated that I have seen do not benefit from clipping, but allowed to grow out their coat on a suitable diet they have healthy skin and silky coats and the skin issues are kept at bay forever with a clean bristle brush through the coat weekly.
Kennel Chervood, Denmark, recommend trimming every two to three weeks and always before bathing.
Lyn Durrington, Australia, says �All of my Clumbers get trimmed & nails done monthly if they are not naturally worn down. Show dogs are trimmed before each show or as needed.
�I trim the edges of the ear to define the vine leaf shape and comb the straight longer overhanging hair at the rear of the ear straight down and then trim across to the level of the bottom of the ear lobe in a straight line.
�I personally never thin out the actual hair covering the complete ear or part of it.
�With the dog standing as follows…
�I trim and thin out/blend the hair from the hocks down to foot with thinning scissors and also blend the hair on the top and around the feet and maybe under their ear if required.
�I trim /shape their natural bib and underbelly coat to show a flow through line .
�I use only straight scissors (Wahl or human hairdressing scissors both small and long bladed) and thinning scissors(German brand some 32yrs old now) with one flat and one toothed side.
�With the long tails, I roll the hair around the tail from butt to tip and then cut straight across the hair at the tail tip, then comb the feathering straight down with the dog standing and tail extended , neatening up any straggly hair along the full length of the free flowing feathering.
�Leg feathering I trim by pushing the feathering down from the elbow to ankle and then cutting straight across the hair at the extended level with straight scissors .
�None of my dogs are trimmed until they are thoroughly dry following a bath.�
Lyn gives a lovely word picture of her regime, although it is interesting to see she trims after bathing whereas others trim before bathing. For the home owner trimming when the dog is reasonably clean is probably ok as you don�t want to damage the hair or the scissors by cutting through even fine dirt.
Ira Sarlin (Spice Twice, Finland) says �If my dogs are not going to shows I trim them every four to six weeks, always after a bath and blowing. Some of my dogs require trimming of paws and ears more often. I always keep the hair on the bottom of paws very short, to ensure �airconditioning� between the pads. I grind the nails about every four weeks � I never cut the nails.
�For tails (undocked) and feathering I use long straight scissors (which we call here �poodle scissors�). Then I also have shorter straight scissors and thinning scissors (double sided). Most of my scissors are made by Eicker-Solingens.�
In Great Britain, one of the top current exhibitors is Lee Cox of Vanitonia kennels, who has experience with a number of breeds other than Clumbers. Lee advises, �There is nothing more likely to start a spirited debate than the subject of trimming. It seems to be a bone of contention for so many and we all have our own ideas. I appreciate many different styles and this doesn�t necessarily differ from country to country, as there seem to be a multitude of different ideas in just the UK, for example, alone. Trimming to me is the icing on the cake and as long as it is neat, tidy and not too exaggerated, then I don�t have a problem.
�I like to trim every time the dog is bathed, as I feel it lessens the work involved and therefore is less demanding on the dog. Clumbers are notorious for having ticklish feet and so the quicker they are done the better. This includes nail care; I find a nail grinder a real asset and is far less stressful for all involved. With regard to feet, I use small straight scissors for underneath and blenders for the tops, producing the desired shape. Thinners and then blenders are used from hock to heel.
�I do thin out the hair on ears, as I feel it can be unsightly and a little tidy up adds to the finished article. However, I loathe the trend to thin out down the throat. This completely unbalances the outline of the dog and gives it a more Cockery appearance.
�Tails are kept clean and tidy using blenders. However, now that we are showing undocked dogs, I just tidy the end and trim in a setter type fashion. I do clean hair away from the anus, just for hygiene reasons.
�On the subject of whiskers, I feel it should be left up to the individual. If you don�t agree with it, then you are entitled to your opinion and vice versa. However, let�s just say I have campaigned many Poodles over the last 20 years; none have been left mentally disturbed or scarred by having their faces clipped. None have lost their sense of balance or distance and none have screamed in agony when having it done.
�All trimming takes place after a bath. This is for two reasons; firstly it is far easier trimming clean hair and secondly, clean hair is far less damaging to the scissors.�
One point not discussed in much detail in this article is the direction in which to cut hair, I prefer to cut in line with the �lay� of the hair but have seen lovely jobs accomplished when the groomer trims against the lay of the hair – so have a go and see what satisfies you best.=
Intro on Scissors
I was recently looking at upgrading and replacing my scissors and blending scissors so did quite a bit of research into these topics. I have to confess I haven�t actually bought a new blending shear yet, having (in my research) learned to appreciate the pair I have. Anyway, here is what I found!
Scissors are those hand operated two edge pivoted tools we all know; shears are usually 6 inches or more in the blade.
Straight scissors have, yes that�s right, straight blades, there are curved blades and a huge variety of options from blunt points to curved points.
Most Clumber owners seem to favour the smaller hairdressing scissors, light weight, straight edge � they are really nice for cleaning and trimming around the �hems� of the feet, and snipping off sneaky little matts that may develop during an undercoat moult in the friction areas under ears and elbows. Many hairdressers will be able to sell you a pair of quality ones that rarely need sharpening, and of course the hairdresser can arrange sharpening.
The longer blade scissors (same style as the hairdressing ones but with blades say 8 to 12 inches long) are favoured by Poodle groomers for finishing off the smooth ball effect of their clips, they are also nice for blending off a hock to heel if you have the skill.
There is an �art� to handling or holding grooming scissors – don�t just pop your thumb in one ring and your first finger in the other!. In fact yes, your thumb goes in the thumb ring, but use your second or third finger in the other ring; the first (and perhaps your second) finger rests under and supports and stablizes the shaft of the scissors. Your little finger catches under the sprig on the finger ring.
The other common dog grooming scissor/shear are the blender and the thinner. For whatever reason, just as shear and scissor are terms misapplied and confused in common language, so the strictest definitions of blender and thinner are now interchanged in common use. The blender is the one sided toothed blade, the thinner has two toothed blades � both blades are toothed. Just always double check when talking about a blender it is a pair with one blade only toothed. Blenders act a bit like a comb and a scissor combined. You possibly have seen a hairdresser using a comb and straight edge scissor blending in a layering cut, your blending scissors can do this too. The blenders cut only on the tooth, the hair that falls in the tooth gaps is not cut.
The thinning scissors, the scissors with toothed edges on both blades, actually remove more hair. Hence the name �thinning�, they are used for quick and relatively neat de-bulking of coats, not common in a Clumber, but may be under the ear in a winter coat and for removing the bulk of the undercoat padding in a stuffy necked show dog. You can work these up into the coat, so not damaging the outer coat to any great degree so keeping the lustre that a stripping knife (used from the outside of a coat) would remove � which affects the shine and the texture of the coat.
So that gives you the basics, one day I may even go into more detail! =