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Novice Grooming


by Cyndy Young

As a novice to grooming cairns myself (8 months) I thought it might be helpful for the other novices to hear what has especially helped me with grooming my own dogs. This is not intended for those that wish to show but those that have rescues like mine who present their own problems.

Good stripping knives. I have the fine and course McClellan’s which I paid about $20 for both and it was well worth it. I hear that Mars are good also. My first knife was a Twinco from PetSmart and cost about $7. It was a good “practice” knife as it had very wide teeth and so I couldn’t do much damage with it. Once you get the good knives that are very sharp you will be amazed at how much more hair comes out at one time and how much more precise you can be with it.

Rubber fingertips. Available in all stationary supply stores. These are great for a quick all over strip as the hairs that are ready to come out seem to stick to them. This is also good for heads if you don’t need to do a show quality job. You can go around the head a couple of times pulling on the longer hairs before the ‘little darlings’ even realize what you are doing.
Stripping stone. This is like a flat square piece of lava. Some people use it for taking out excessive under coats. I find it extremely useful for my females’ chest and belly. She is really sensitive here and by laying it flat on her chest and doing long quick strokes I can get a lot of hair off without her even flinching.

Under coats. Both of my dogs have a LOT of undercoat. Too much undercoat (besides making them look like a bear and cause the hair to curl) can impede the growth of the outer coat so it is important to thin it. If you lay the coarse stripping knife flat against the coat and pull towards you, then you get the undercoat and not the outer coat unless the outer coat is really loose. This has really made a difference in how their hair lays.
Slicker brush. This is the brush with all the small pins. This brush will get out the loose under coat and it really helps to smooth out or pull out the tiny mats that can often be found on the inside of the legs and chest before combing or stripping. Although in my opinion once the hairs start to mat then the hair is too long, and this long coat should be pulled out.
Combs. You should also have a wide tooth metal comb and a fine toothed metal comb. The fine tooth especially on the head and legs can pull out a lot of loose hairs just by itself.

Frequency. Whether you do a complete strip twice a year or do touch ups every week is really your choice. If you have a rescue that was never stripped and the coat looks blown (long, listless and dead) then I would do a complete strip so you can start with a fresh coat. This is also a good time to thin the undercoat so the new hairs can grow in healthy.
Puppy grooming. If you have a puppy then I would suggest the weekly touch ups pulling out the hair as it dies so you always have a good healthy coat.

Supply box. You will end up with more tools than you ever thought for these dogs that “don’t shed” so get yourself a pretty little box to hold your grooming supplies in and ‘grin and bear it’.
I tend to do most of my grooming while they are laying on the bed and I am watching TV so it’s a relaxed atmosphere. I hope this helps you a little.