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Grooming Your Pet Scottish Terrier

By Susan Morris, Stornoway Scottish Terriers

These directions are for clippering a PET Scottish Terrier. If you are thinking about showing your dog, DO NOT clipper your Scottie! Hard coated terriers in the show ring must be hand stripped and clippering will ruin the show coat! These instructions are simply one idea for your pet Scottie.

Tools You Are Going To Need:
• Animal Clippers
• Bristle Brush
• #10 Blade
• Nail Clippers
• Blade Wash
• Clipper Oil
• Clipper Cool/Lube
• Shampoo
• Clotting Powder
• Pin Brush
• Metal Comb
• Straight edge scissors
• Thinning Shears (44 tooth, single sided)

Prepare Your Grooming Area
Gather your grooming tools in an area with good lighting. Always groom on an elevated surface such as a table or counter that is at a comfortable height for you and is steady and secure for your Scot. A grooming noose is very helpful, to leave both your hands free and to keep Scot still! I find it is best to have a private space in which to groom. You'll both have a much easier time if you can concentrate undistracted.

Let's Get Started - The Basics
Begin your grooming session by thoroughly brushing your Scot with the pin brush, be sure to brush behind the elbows; between the hind legs; furnishings under the tummy - these are usually the most troublesome spots if neglected. Brush eyebrows and beard forward. When you have brushed his coat thoroughly, go over him with the comb. Be relentless, picking out every single tangle/mat in his coat with the comb. His coat and furnishings will lie nicely and you will remove dead, shedding hairs - encouraging new and dense growth at all times.

Your Scot should be completely brushed and combed in this manner once a week. Take this opportunity to check for lumps, cuts, scrapes, swellings, discharges, weight loss or gain, lameness, etc.

It is very important to completely brush and comb your Scot before he is bathed or clippered. If you bathe a tangled dog, it only gets worse and you'll never get the tangles out after they are wet!

Trimming Nails
With your nail clippers trim his nails, paying close attention to the dewclaws on the front feet. If neglected, in time these could grow in a circle, poking into the flesh of his paw, causing him much pain. An easy guide to nail trimming is to cut the excess nail where it forms a hook, see Diagram 5. Trim the nails regularly to keep them short, preventing foot problems. Follow up with the nail file to smooth any rough edges.

If you happen to snip a nail too short dab on a bit of clotting powder to stop the bleeding. If you don't have that, flour will work in a pinch, though not as quickly.

Splish Splash, I Was Takin' A Bath...
If your Scot is dirty, now is the time to bathe him - BEFORE you clip his coat. If you attempt to clipper a dirty dog you will be very frustrated as you work and disappointed with the results. Clippers cannot slide through dirty hair smoothly and will become dull very quickly.

A sprayer attachment is a luxury at bath time. They are inexpensive and sure save your back! Use a shampoo that lathers well and rinses away easily. I prefer a tearless formula so that I can confidently wash their forehead and beard thoroughly. Lather every part, beard too! Rinse thoroughly, paying special attention to tummy and between the legs. Lather and rinse again, if necessary.

Towel dry as best you can. Finish drying with a blow dryer. Brush against the grain as you blow dry until he is almost dry. Finish up by brushing the coat with the grain, the furnishings down and his beard and eyebrows forward toward his nose as you completely dry him. He is going to look pretty nice at this point, even if his coat is long. You are now ready to go on to the actual trimming...

A Note About Clippers, Blades, Brushes & Combs
To do a good job of trimming your Scot you must have a high quality clipper made for trimming dogs. A human clipper will cause you nothing but frustration and will result in a very poor grooming job. Either an Oster A-5 or Andis AG are good clippers and will last a lifetime with proper maintenance. I prefer the Andis AG - it is quieter, does not blow hair into eyes, it is smaller and fits my hand better.

Blades come in a wide variety of lengths. Remember, the smaller the number, the longer it leaves the hair. For instance, a #5 blade leaves hair about 1/4" long; a #10 blade leaves hair about 1/16" long; and a #40 is considered a surgical blade, leaving hair just 1/125" long.

IMPORTANT: When you are trimming in sensitive areas...such as ears, tummy, penis, anus, etc. always use a #10 or closer blade. This way you will not usually be able to nick or cut the skin. See for yourself, run the blade against the palm of your hand, you'll see that the teeth of the blade are close enough not to allow a nipple or fold of skin to get between.

If you can only afford one blade right now, get a #10. If you can have two blades, I would also suggest you also get a #8-1/2, which is great for clippering in the winter months when your dog might appreciate a bit longer coat for extra warmth.

As your budget allows and as your technique improves, you might want to add a few other blades for extra touches. A #30 is wonderful for ears - a closer, neater trim there. You might want to experiment with the #5 or #7 plucking blades which gives a textured, rougher clip, designed to resemble a terrier's stripped coat. I never use the plucking blades because I don't like the rough, uneven result. I prefer a slick sleek look that the #10 gives.

Everyone develops a style of their own and along with that, preferences for grooming tools. There are no right and wrong tools - whatever works for you is what's right! Here are some of my favorite tools, most of which can be purchased through Cherrybrook, Inc. (www.cherrybrook.com or 1-800-524-0820) or UPCO (www.upco.com or 1-800-254-8726). Call them for free catalogs, they are much less expensive than buying grooming supplies locally.

• Andis AG 1-speed Clipper
• Andis Blades #10, #30, #15, #8-1/2
• Kim Laub "Mr. Kool Lube" Spray (cools/lubes/disinfects clipper blades)
• Oster Razor Steel 930-27 Straight Edge Scissors
• DoVo #50 6-1/2 Thinning Shears
• #1 All Systems Pin Brush
• Resco #280 Medium/Coarse Comb (1-1/2" teeth make this comb a necessity!)
• Diamond Deb "Peticure" nail file
• Clotisol (clotting liquid in a squeeze bottle)
• Pet Bath Sprayer (with connection for faucet plus button spray control)
• Bio-Groom Protein Lanolin Tearless and Mr. Christal's Medicated Shampoos
• Oti-Clens ear cleaner
• Grooming Arm & Noose

What You are Trying To Achieve
The goal of grooming your Scot is to accentuate the overall look of sturdiness, compactness and squareness that sets this breed apart from all others. You should look at as many pictures of show trimmed Scotties as you can, setting that unique outline in your mind's eye. Then, take closer looks at the "parts" of those pictured dogs. Notice the way their faces are groomed, their ears, their tails, their feet, etc.

In all you do on the grooming table, you'll be striving for a compact look to the body and a "brick" shape to the head as viewed from the front (Diagrams 3 & 4). Visualizing and trimming all stray hairs outside this imaginary box will be the key to achieving the correct look. Strive for an overall picture...no abrupt lines, no clipper marks, long hair must blend into short hair, etc.

Clippering Your Scot
Okay, here we go. Attach the #10 blade to your clippers. In the direction of hair growth, begin clipping the head: 1) from above the eyebrows to just in front of the ears (leaving a fringe of hair here). 2) from outer corner of eye to the side of the neck where the hair forms a cowlick. 3) from mole under the chin to the breastbone, forming a "necklace" (see Diagrams 1, 3 & 4) from the base of the ears to the tips.

Keep the hair under and around anus short, but be very careful in this sensitive area. Using the #10 blade, clip in the direction of growth down just to where the hair forms two cowlicks (Diagram 2). You may prefer to use thinning shears and/or scissors to tidy this area. DO NOT use clippers up the back side of the tail. This will be scissored later.

On males it's a good idea to also rid the penis of excess hair. Again, use the #10 blade. ALWAYS clip in the direction of hair growth - from base (body) to tip of penis. Also clip his tummy just in front of the penis about 3 inches.

Now you're ready to clip the neck, shoulders, sides, back and hips. Again, clip in the direction of hair growth at all times. Don't push the clippers - let them do the work. Use short, overlapping strokes. This will take practice. If you are using the correct technique, you will not see any clipper marks in the coat, it will be smooth as velvet. NOTE: you can use a #8 blade for the body portion if you prefer a longer coat length.

Clip from behind the ears down the neck, along the backbone to the base of the tail. DO NOT clip the tail. It will be scissored later.

With overlapping strokes, clip down the sides and over the shoulders to the furnishing line. You will notice in Diagram 3 that the furnishings line is not simply a straight line parallel to the ground, but rather, it begins at the breastbone and tapers down around the front of the shoulder, to the ELBOW (not ending at the shoulder), and across the bottom of the ribs and up to the bend of the thigh, across the thigh and around to meet the closely clipped area beneath the tail. IMPORTANT: What will set your grooming apart from "the rest" is following this pattern. Most groomers only clip to the point of the shoulder instead of all the way to the elbows; only to the widest part of the rib cage instead of further down the sides. They leave a "hula skirt". Not only is this incorrect, but most unattractive, as it makes the dog look long backed and fat at the same time! The correct pattern most enhances the correct shape of a well-bred Scot: deep chest, short back, sturdy legs, muscular hindquarters, etc. Remember that the furnishings do not begin at the shoulders or the widest part of the ribs (Diagram 3). You don't want to see a definite change in hair length between short clippered hair and long furnishings but instead, a blending of short into long.

Pay close attention that both sides of your Scot match! The lines must be even on both sides. A mirror opposite your grooming table is a great help.

Leave a full, thick growth of hair on the front side of the tail - just scissor to tidy up. Do scissor the back side closely, this helps to keep the Scot looking short-backed and compact.

Ears
With the #10 blade (or #15) begin clipping the back of the ears from the base of the ear to the tip and 2/3 of the front of the ears (Diagram 4). The fringes you left on the front of the ears will become ear "tufts". At the inside corner the tufts should be about 1/2 the length of the ear, gradually becoming shorter at the outside edge (Diagram 4). Thin with thinning shears if necessary, striving for a balanced amount of hair - a fan shape always inside the outline of the ear. You never want tufts of hair jutting beyond the outside edge. Always work toward small neat ears. I like to think of the tufts as little fans. They eliminate a stark expression and are a distinctive feature of our breed.

Next, with your straight edged scissors carefully trim the outside edges of the ears to make them look as neat and small as possible. Trim the top 1/3 of the inside edge of the ear, not cutting away any of the tuft (Diagram 4). Always trim from the base of the ear to the tip, never pointing the scissors toward the skull or eyes.

Remove any cut hairs that may have fallen in the ear. Check for dirt or signs of ear infection. Clean the ears with Oti-Clens on a cotton pad or ball. Wipe the inside of the ear from base to tip until the cotton comes clean.

Eyebrows
Properly groomed eyebrows do much to give the Scot his distinctive expression. They should resemble two triangles, the longest hair at the inside corner of the eye approximately 1-1/2" long and tapering to about 1/2" or less at the outside corner. Hair just under the eye is cut with scissors held parallel to the side of the head, always cutting AWAY from the eye.

Never clip under the eyes or on the bridge of the nose with the clippers, as a Poodle is done. Merely part the hair down the center of the nose and comb into the beard. Remember, a properly groomed Scot's head resembles a brick! I use my thinning shears to trim the hair between the eyes, as it is too narrow for clippers.

Brush beard and eyebrows forward in one motion; trim only straggly hairs from beard. Encourage long, dense growth.

Finishing Touches
Using the grooming surface as a guide, trim around the bottom of the feet to neaten their appearance. Pick each foot up and trim excess hair from between the pads.

With your bristle brush, give him a good "once over" to remove loose hair. He should look great!

Parting Thoughts
If you are a beginner these instructions probably sound pretty complicated. But believe me, grooming your Scot is not hard and I guarantee you will do a better job than many grooming parlors. As with anything else, all it takes is practice. You'll make mistakes - but don't get discouraged, HAIR ALWAYS GROWS BACK!

Keep in mind that everyone develops individual style. You will probably modify these instructions to suit your own taste and individual dog. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO GROOM A DOG. These instructions are just one way to groom a Scottie. There are as many different styles as their are groomers. That's the great part about doing it yourself, you'll be free to do it your way, at your own pace and as often as you like. You will see many different styles of trims, so have fun experimenting with different looks, try new things to accentuate your dog's strengths and camouflage his faults. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Grooming Diagrams

DIAGRAM 1 (FRONT)
Diagram 1
Clip in the direction of hair growth, using thinning shears to tidy the line between neck and shoulders.

Back To Clipping Instructions

 

 

 

DIAGRAM 2 (REAR)
Diagram 2
Clip in the direction of hair growth
from the back to the "cowlicks"
under the tail. Use thinning shears to
tidy up any stray hairs. Trim carefully around rectum.

Scissor the tail closely on
the back of tail, in direction of hair growth.

Back To Clipping Instructions

 

DIAGRAM 3 Visualize Your Scot in a Box...
Diagram 3

Encourage the growth of hair on the front of the tail, but keep the hair short on the back of the tail. This aids in the short-backed, square shape you are striving for.

Trim the tail to resemble an upside down carrot - thick at the base and tapering to a point.
NEVER clipper the tail, avoid the "rat tail" look.
NEVER leave a "flag" on the tail.
Trim any hair extending past the imaginary square.

Notice the furnishings line. Clipper all the way to the elbows,
past the widest part of the ribcage and to the widest part
of the thigh. DON'T STOP AT THE SHOULDERS!

Back To Clipping Instructions

DIAGRAM 4 (HEAD)
Diagram 4

 

 


Head viewed from the front, notice the "brick" shape. Keep eyebrows, ear tufts, beard, etc. inside this imaginary brick shape. Use thinning shears between the eyebrows.

Back To Clipping Instructions

 

 

 

 

 

DIAGRAM 5 (NAILS)
Diagram 5
Trim at the "hook" of the overgrown nail.

Back To Trimming Nails

 

 

 

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