This is the fourth 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 sections with the arrows are what is called “furnishings.” (source)
The furnishings are the last grooming section we need to discuss when it comes to grooming a Lakeland. They include the hair on the legs as well as the face (a Lakie’s signature fall and beard). On the furnishings, the hair is longest, and the undercoat is left in place (we need it for the volume it provides).
The arrows in the diagram above tell you the direction in which the hair is supposed to be brushed. This is pretty intuitive, except for the fall and beard. These hairs, when you look closely (you can see it clearly on puppies), grow from the nose towards the ears; in the opposite direction of the brushing arrows (which point from away from the ears towards the nose). This is the only area in which you are supposed to brush and groom the hairs against the direction it grows. Brushing and grooming the facial hair in the direction opposite of growth, is said to ‘train’ the hairs to grow in this direction. Whether this is fact or fable, I couldn’t tell you, because five minutes after brushing, Jaz’s facial hair already points in every which way… I’m just sharing what I’ve heard. 😉
Just like when it came to the jacket, for full disclosure, I want you to know that a) although I know the theory and techniques behind it, I’m still learning how to groom furnishings myself, b) you won’t see a huge difference in before and after pictures because I’m trying to keep Jaz her ‘haircut’ up on a weekly basis, and c) Jaz’s furnishings are still pretty skimpy (the more I groom them, the more hair will grow in… it requires time to develop luscious furnishings!). Good? Okay, here we go:
BEFORE – front legs, front view
The front legs are supposed to look like two perfectly round pillars. They do not taper, and the transition from flats into furnishings is supposed to be smooth. A lot of the time, even in the show-ring, you see a stark difference between flats and furnishings – a big no-no. To groom furnishings, I use my fingers only. The hair tends to come out easily, and I find that using my fingers gives me the most control. The way to strip the legs is by brushing all the hair out to one side, measuring it by taking it between two fingers (kind of like hairdressers do), and pulling out the hairs that stick out. You take off the longest bits, keeping in mind that when your dog is properly stacked on the table, the legs are supposed to look like two straight, identical, pillars or columns. Something like this:
AFTER – front legs, front view
You repeat this step all the way up, down, and around both front legs. Throughout the process, make sure to properly stack your dog on the table from time to time, to take a step back and make sure things are even and straight.
BEFORE – front legs, side view
Once everything seems pretty straight and even, you can start focusing on blending furnishings into flats and jacket, as well as finishing off the feet. Again, you want the transitions to be as smooth as you can make them without going into either of the extremes (i.e. making the top of the leg look either tapered or bulky). One should also strip the long hairs under the armpits, so the leg is nice and defined from the side.
As for the feet, slippers need to be avoided (you can use clippers between the pads of the feet, but will have to strip between the toes), and they are nicely rounded.
It’ll look something like this:
AFTER – front legs, side view. Note that you can really clearly see where the wrist starts. It’s not supposed to be this way. Once Jaz’s furnishings grow in more, I’ll be able to hide this and make the front legs look like perfectly straight pillars from the side as well.
Now we can move on to the back legs.
BEFORE – back legs, side view
The furnishings are brushed forward, and I find the best technique to be to simply follow the natural shape of the leg, making sure the lines are smooth, and there are no hairs sticking out. As always: anything that sticks out needs to go!
Then you need to make sure that you get a nice, gradual (but not too gradual, or your pup’s rear end may end up looking too wide!) blend from furnishings into jacket and flats (I use a medium stripper instead of fingers for this). As far as the area below the hock is concerned, you can work this the same way you did the front legs; making sure the hair is of equal length all the way around, and the feet are slightly rounded at the end.
AFTER – back legs, side view
The inside of the back legs is next.
BEFORE – back legs, rear view
Jaz has very little hair here. At the top, closest to the privates, the hair is stripped real short. You should allow it to get gradually longer until it matches up to the length you desire (right now, for Jaz, that is not very long, as I am trying to encourage new growth by continuously stripping, but regardless of this, you should match it up to the length of the rest of the leg-hairs). Then, you let the line continue straight down. Like so:
AFTER – back legs, rear view
All that is left is the fall and beard. This can be tricky. There are certain rules when it comes to shaping the fall and the beard:
– the head is supposed to be brick-shaped
– the eyes should be visible from the side, but not from the top
– the nose should be visible from the side as well as from the top
You groom the fall against the direction of the hair-growth, so you pull the hairs towards the nose, away from the ears. I brush the hair up, and take off the longest bits. Then I bush it back down, check, and repeat until I’m happy with it. You want the transition from head to fall to be smooth – so no bulky eyebrows (but be careful to leave enough eyebrows so that the eyes cannot be seen from the top)! The same goes for the transition of the side of the face into the fall and beard, as well as the transition under the chin into the beard. Keep it smooth! We don’t want any bumps where the fall and beard start. For blending, as the hair is shorter in these areas, I prefer to use the medium stripper.
AFTER – fall & beard, top view. No eyes visible here!
You can see that, in the above picture, Jaz’s face looks a little more hourglass-shaped than rectangular, as the brick-shape requires it to be. I’ll have to wait for the hair on the sides to come in some more to achieve this look. From the side, though, I think I’ve achieved something that is pretty brick-like, if I do say so myself…:
AFTER – fall & beard, side view. Brick shaped? Check! Both eyes and nose visible? Check!
In hope of clarifying the descriptions above, here is step-by-step video, showing you how I hand-strip the furnishings: