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This is the third installment in my five-part series on grooming. Because we are showing Jaz, I’ve been very interested in the what, why, and how behind the grooming of wire-coated terriers. Jaz received her first “haircut” from her breeder (Judy Gruzelier) at the age of 8 weeks, right before we took her home. When she turned 12 weeks, the breeder gave me my first grooming lesson, and ever since I have been slowly but steadily acquiring the eye and skill required to hand-strip a Lakie from her. In a way, grooming is an art. A groomer can be seen as a sculptor, and the well-groomed dogs she produces as living sculptures. I am no professional, and still learning the tricks of the trade myself, but in this series of posts on grooming, I will try to communicate what I have learned so far…
Grooming sections. The section labelled “C” is what is called the “jacket.” The sections labelled “B” are transition-areas between the jacket and flats (“A”) or furnishings (sections with the arrows). (source)
The jacket is arguably the hardest part of the dog to groom. The undercoat is raked out weekly (see this video), after which the coarse wire hair is groomed to sit tight around the body. I am still struggling with grooming the jacket myself. You can spend hours, even days on this, because it can always be improved by removing just one more hair… It’s hard to know when you’ve done enough!
If you just want to do a pet-trim, you can trim the jacket a couple of times a year. But if you want to keep your dog in near-show-condition, you should work on the jacket at least bi-weekly. I’m trying to work on Jaz’s jacket each week, not only to get better at it by doing, but also because as soon as I lift her off the table, I seem to be finding at least 10 more things that could be improved… 😉 Despite the fact that the results may not be perfect, I hope the following tips, pictures and video are helpful to you!
There are two stripping knives that I use to groom the jacket:
– Pearson Products finishing stripper medium
– Pearson Products regular stripper fine
They are pictured below, along with a Chris Christensen buttercomb #002, which is what I use to brush through Jaz’s furnishings before I start grooming. I didn’t picture this comb in the last post, so I figured I’d include it now. The comb is nice and coarse, so it doesn’t pull any hairs out that aren’t ready to come out yet.
[Of course, as also goes for my last post, you don’t have to use these specific tools. I’m just showing you the different tools I own and how I use them. Some people use mostly their hands and maybe one stripping knife or stone. It all depends on personal preference!]
Alright. Below you can see the “before” picture of Jaz’s jacket. I’ve already given her a thorough brush-through:
BEFORE – jacket (note that, due to the fact that I am trying hard to keep up with the grooming, Jaz’s jacket looks pretty decent in this “before” shot!)
The hair on the jacket is kept longer than the hair on the flats. I use the fine stripper to strip the center of the jacket, where most of the hair will be trimmed down to roughly the same length. I use the medium stripper (which is a little more forgiving) along the edges, where the coat gradually needs to transition from longer to shorter (when blending jacket into flats) or shorter to longer (when blending jacket into furnishings). To figure out which hairs need to go, I pull/brush them up and see which ones are longest. Once you’ve done a rough all-over, you can start comparing sides making sure your dog isn’t furry on the left and bare on the right.
The goal is to trim the jacket to sit tight around the body (anything that sticks up or out needs to go!), with minimal waves or “creases,” as it’s called. The smoother the better. To prevent your terrier from looking like an armadillo (which is what creases will result in), you must be careful not to use the full length of your stripping knife’s blade, but just the tip. This guarantees that you pull out little locks of the hair at a time (whatever you can pinch between the tip of the blade and your thumb), not entire rows at a time. The latter will result in creasing, for rows of hair pulled out together will also grow back together in continuous, waving motion, resulting in creases in the coat. Just using the tip of the blade will make the grooming process more lengthy, but the results are well-worth the extra effort.
When looking at your dog’s profile (when properly stacked on the table), the arch from the top of the head to the middle of the back needs to be smooth, and the back and bum need to be level. Make sure you step back a few times during the grooming process, to assure yourself you are achieving the desired outline.
AFTER – jacket (the difference is not huge, but if you scroll back to the picture above, you will notice a difference in overall length as well as a much smoother blend from the neck into the chest and the body into the legs! Notice also that, due to the fact that Jaz is not perfectly stacked (in excitement over the bait she locked her knees, raising her bum), which makes it seem as if her back and bum aren’t level. They are level, trust me! Amateur mistake on my part; Jaz was pretty tired after 3.5 hours on the table that day!)
Here is step-by-step video, showing you how I use the tools:
|<— Part 2: flats||Part 4: furnishings —>|