American Cocker Spaniel Pet Trim

The pet trim—alternatively called a suburban, puppy or summer cut—is a great groom for active, playful American Cocker Spaniels.



My dog Bubby is a four-year-old American Cocker Spaniel. I used to keep him in a full show coat that was carded on the back for grooming competitions, but I eventually retired him from the competition circuit because he wasn’t a big fan of all the traveling.


Bubby is a playful dog, so now I keep him in a pet trim. Salons call this trim by many different names—I’ve also heard it called the suburban or puppy cut, and in our salon we call it the summer cut. If the dog you are grooming has an excess amount of coat, or skin conditions, you may want to pre-clip.



Step 1: Clean Ears

I recommend cleaning cocker ears before or in the tub, as this breed is prone to ear infections.



Step 2: Bathe

I wash Bubby in a deep-cleaning shampoo. If I feel his legs might have knots, I use a conditioner as well.



Step 3: Dry

Using a high velocity dryer, dry the dog as much as he will allow. If he were a grooming client, I would then put him under a cage dryer that has no heat to finish drying.



Step 4: Remove Knots

Even after cage drying, I use a stand dryer and slicker brush to move methodically through the coat, drying, brushing and removing any knots.



Step 5: Trim Nails

Clip the nails to the quick and file.



Step 6: Clip Pads of Feet

Using a #30 blade, clip the pads. On sporting breeds, I do not clip into the pad hair unless there is matting in there.



Step 7: Sanitary Trim

Clip the sanitary areas. Normally, I use a #10 blade. However, because Bubby was in full coat, he never had his underside sanitary clipped. With that in mind, I use a dark purple snap-on comb to trim the hair short while avoiding irritation.



Step 8: Clip Ears

Clip the top third of the ear. On show dogs, it is done with a #10 against the grain, as I do here on Bubby.  Against the grain may be too short for pet trims, though, so using a #10 with the grain may be more appropriate. The inside top third is clipped as well.  I choose to clip the whole inside earflap on pets, as this allows more airflow and leaves less hair to brush on the ends of the ears.



Step 9: Clip Eye Corners

Using a #10 blade, clip out the stop and the inner eye corners.



Step 10: Clip Cheeks

Continuing with a #10 blade, clip the cheeks against the grain to the outside corners of the mouth.



Step 11: Clip Jaw

Clip the lower jaw, pulling the lip tight so you can clip all the hair from the flews.



Step 12: Clip Neck

Clip the “U” of the neck against the grain.



Step 13: Finish Eyes

Clip the eyelashes and right above the eye



Step 14: Finish Muzzle

To keep the muzzle looking plush, I use thinning shears. A clipper can be used but I like this look better. This works particularly well if the dog has a thin muzzle.



Step 15: Clip Body

Using a 7f blade, clip the entire trunk of the body, stopping just over the hip and elbows and leaving enough hair to blend these areas. I choose to not leave a skirt.



Step 16: Blend Neck

Using the 7f blade, clip against the grain into the crown.



Step 17: Trim Tail

Clip the entire tail.



Step 18: Clip Rear Legs

Using a size-A or light purple snap-on comb, clip the rear legs to set the length.



Step 19: Clip Front Legs

Sticking with the same snap-on comb, clip down the front legs.



Step 20: Trim Rear Feet

Pick the rear foot up and comb all the hair down towards the pads and trim around the foot.



Step 21: Round Feet

Place each foot on the table and trim round.



Step 22: Finish Rear Legs

Comb the hair the on each rear leg up and out and then scissor the leg plush. Use thinning shears at the hip to blend the hair into the leg.



Step 23: Trim & Round Front Feet

Follow the same instructions used for the rear feet.



Step 24: Finish Front Legs

Comb the hair on the front legs up and out and trim into a column. Use thinners at the elbow to blend into the leg.



Step 25: Finish Top of Ears

Edge the top third of the clipped part of the ears.



Step 26: Finish Bottom of Ears

Trim the bottom of the ears to the desired length and into a bell shape.



Step 27: Finish Top of Head

Using thinner shears, blend the crown of the head. I make it a half moon shape at the front of the skull.



Step 28: Remove Clipper Lines

I take a carding knife and go over the clipped parts of the dog. This helps remove any clipper lines.



Professional groomer Anne Francis is a grooming competitor and speaker. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass.


Is there a breed or cut that you’d like to see featured in the Grooming Table? Send your suggestions to abrewer@petbusiness.com.

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