grooming brush-up

For many pets, grooming is as simple as a bath, blow-dry and nail trim, but some breeds need a bit more than “wash, rinse, repeat” to maintain their coats. Without the help of a groomer (or well-trained pet parent), fur can mat, hair can tangle and skin infections can fester. The following “outside the box” grooming techniques not only give some breeds their distinctive looks, they also help maintain a healthy coat and body.

Clipping: When you think of a “clipped” coat, you might picture a stunningly coiffed Poodle sporting puffy cuffs and pompoms on the head and hips (known as the Continental clip). But many other different styles of clip may suit your pet.

  • Keeping up appearances: Most clipped styles — which can be done with electric clippers or hand-held scissors — need to be trimmed every four to six weeks to maintain shape.
  • Trim away tangles: Breeds with hair (as opposed to fur) coats, such as Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers, are best served by hand trimming with scissors and frequent combing to prevent tangles and mats.
    • Ferocious form: Long- or mediumhair cats prone to matting can benefit from a “lion cut,” in which the body is shaved and fur left on the face, feet and tail tip.

      Cording: The signature look of some breeds, like the Komondor, Puli and Bergamasco, involves long dreadlocks or cords. Curly, wool-like coats begin growing when puppies are 6 to 9 months old; then pet parents or groomers help shape these tendrils into cords.

      • Mop locks: Cords act like mops, gathering stray leaves, dust bunnies and mud — and these dogs can’t simply be brushed! Cords need to be separated by hand to avoid painful mats and stray burrs.
      • Delicate wash: Depending on how dirty he gets, a corded dog may need a bath every one to four weeks. Leave plenty of time to air-dry, to avoid mold forming in the cords.
      • Cut it out! Cords can be trimmed, clipped short or tied up to stay clear of debris.

      Stripping: Stripping is a technique that removes a dead outer coat, rather than clipping it. It helps the dog stay cool, while allowing a new rough coat to grow in, maintaining the wiry look prized by some breeds.

      • Down to the wire: Breeds that commonly need stripping include Wirehaired Dachshunds, German Wirehaired Pointers, Schnauzers and terrier breeds like Airedales and Scotties.
      • Plucky pups: Whether plucked by hand or done with a special tool, stripping may sound painful, but most dogs don’t mind it when done properly.
      • Skip the strip: If stripping sounds like too much work, that’s ok — there are no health risks from not doing so. Clipping will cut off the hair’s wiry tips, though, resulting in a softer coat.