Cricket is a whippet. That means that she has a very short, very fine, coat. The longest hairs on her body are what you may loosely describe as tail feathering. But you need a bit of imagination to detect the feather.
So she needs very little attention in the hair-trimming department.
Not so for most dogs on the planet. Most of them need quite a lot of hair attention.
Let’s have a look at the ways their lot can be improved by a pair of scissors (preferably very sharp hairdressers’ or groomers’ scissors), an electric hair trimmer, maybe dog-grooming clippers, and a haemostat.
Start at the front
First look at your dog.
Can you see him? Good.
Can he see you? Hmm.
Many breeds have hair covering their eyes. This may be from droopy eyebrows, hairs standing up on their muzzle, a shaggy fringe, a general mop of floppy curls.
Whatever the cause, you need to get the hair out of their eyes!
If they can’t see properly they will not be able to make good judgments about what they’re looking at. Getting their focus may be hard, and they will be continually surprised by things just outside their vision.
You can use hair gel (make sure it’s safely lickable), hair grips or bands, shaping with the scissors, trimming with the clippers - or a visit to the groomer.
But make sure your dog can see clearly.
Check the lugholes!
Working back from the eyes, take a look at the ears.
Dogs with floppy, hairy ears will suffer from knots and tangles, burrs and thorns, food dried on at the bottom of their ears, and mats tweaking the skin behind their ears (ouch!).
These can all be fairly easily dealt with with your high-quality scissors. If they’ve got a lot of hair on the underside of the ear you could thin that too.
The vital thing you must check for - especially with the fluffies (all the poodle crosses and suchlike) - is inside the ear canal. If there’s hair growing down inside you must remove it before it harbours grass seeds, mites, and general dirt and junk leading to infections.
This is where you need your haemostat. It’s shaped like scissors, but the two blunt “blades” clamp the hair instead of cutting it. It’s what surgeons use to clamp veins. You can see it in the Dog Grooming Essentials Guide download you can get below
It’s so much easier than using your fingers to pluck the hair out, reaches in far enough and does the job quickly and efficiently. Your dog doesn’t like it? No, that’s understandable, but he’d like the pain of an ear infection and red, swollen ears even less. So it’s just something that has to be did.
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Paws, Knees, and Boompsadaisy
Underbelly: check that the genital areas are free of excess hair, enabling the dog to keep himself clean.
If you have a fluffy - with constantly-growing hair - you’ll need to shave the area around the anus. Otherwise you’ll have a horrible dried-on mess to deal with!
Dogs with very soft wispy hair will get tight tangles in their armpits and groin, so you can trim the hair a bit shorter with scissors. In the summer they may be glad of much less hair on their belly.
Hold the hair between your first two fingers and keep your fingers between your dog and the scissors.
Lastly, have a look at your dog’s feet. Do they resemble floormops? If so, they’ll be slipping and sliding around when their feet are dry, and slopping mud and mess everywhere when they’re wet.
The tool de rigueur for this job is the trimmer. Often sold for beards, sideburns, etc. it’s safe and easy to use. You can’t snip the webs with it, and I find my dogs enjoy the gentle buzzing sensation it gives them.
Work down and up between the pads, and finish with shaping the outside of the paw.
Neat feet will prevent a lot of hazards - including mudpies between the toes, scalds, grass seeds, burrs and thorns. They’ll save you a lot of towelling dry and floor-cleaning. And your puppy will not slither and slip when you ask him to sit on the kitchen floor.
My Border Collies are regularly upside down on my lap having their feet trimmed. Coco Poodle has his feet shaven all over, and looks very trim and smart.
And even Cricket the Whippet has this one hair trimming treatment occasionally - her construction means that she props herself when she sits, so on a smooth floor her front feet slide away from her. So she doesn’t escape my ministrations entirely!
If all of this scares you rigid, find a good dog-friendly groomer and get her to do it. You may be surprised to hear me suggest a “dog-friendly” groomer! But - just like trainers - it’s the way they treat the dog that’s more important (to me) than their skill in trimming him neatly. You don’t want your dog regarding a trip to the groomer like some of us regard a trip to the dentist!
But these maintenance clips really are easy to do and you can quickly gain confidence and get good and efficient at it. Don’t try them all at once! One paw a day, or one ear, will be fine.
And seriously - if your dog is bald, you’ll need special care for his skin to keep it moist and healthy. And in our British winters, he’ll definitely need a woolly jumper!
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