The Shih Tzu/Poodle Mix
Finding the right coat length for a pet that is prone to matting will result in a groom that is not only aesthetically appealing, but also practical for both the pet owner and stylist.
Bella is a five-year-old Shih Tzu/Poodle mix that comes in for grooming every eight weeks. Of course, this is a little longer than I would like, especially given the fact that we used to struggle with matting. Now I have gotten her into a comfortable length that keeps her looking cute but is also practical. To accomplish this, I use a 3-3/4 blade, which is a little longer than a #4 blade and can be used without brushing the dog out first. When using a snap-on comb, you run the risk of popping off the blade if it catches on a knot and cutting the hair very short.
Step 1: Bathe
To save time, head straight to the tub. I wash Bella in a deep-cleaning shampoo and conditioner.
Step 2: Force Dry
Use the force dryer to blow out all the water until the dog is 90 percent dry.
Step 3: Pre-Clip
Pre-clip before fluff drying. At this point, Bella still has knots, but I can still get excess hair off and cut much of the knotting off. Using the 3-3/4 blade, clip the entire body and legs.
Step 4: Trim Nails
Clip the nails and file if desired.
Step 5: Clean Ears
Pluck and clean the ears.
Step 6: Condition & Brush
Mist spray conditioner on the coat. Then, using a stand dryer and slicker brush, methodically move through the coat to remove knots, straighten and dry.
Step 7: Clip Pads
Using a #40 blade, clip the pads.
Step 8: Sanitary Trim
Using a #10 blade, clip the sanitary areas.
Step 9: Clip Body & Legs
Using the 3-3/4 blade, re-clip the body and legs, getting everything as smooth as possible.
Step 10: Trim Eye Corners
Using either thinning shears or a #10 blade on a clipper, clean just the inner-eye corners.
Step 11: Trim Visor
Start the head by combing the hair forward over the eyes and trimming a visor.
Step 12: Trim Top of Head
Comb the hair on top of the head up and trim round, blending the back of the head into the body.
Step 13: Trim Under Ears
Using a clip to hold the ears out of the way, trim the hair under the ears.
Step 14: Trim Jaw Line
Comb the beard hair down and, starting under the ear, trim toward the chin.
Step 15: Trim Chin
Comb the chin hair down and trim the chin line up with the sides, creating a round head.
Step 16: Trim Ears
Trim the ears to balance the head. I prefer a slight curve to the bottom of the ear, or a bell shape.
Step 17: Finish Rear Feet & Legs
Pick up each rear foot and trim it round. Comb the hair up and out on the rear legs, and trim any stray hairs. The blade has already set the length, so you are only neatening the legs with scissors.
Step 18: Finish Front Feet & Legs
Repeat step 17 on the front legs, but make the front legs into a column shape.
Step 19: Trim Tail
Comb the tail out and trim to the desired length. I prefer to “flag” the tail to prevent it from becoming matted.
Professional groomer Anne Francis is a grooming competitor and speaker. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass.
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