From Mangy Mutt to Strut-Your-Stuff! - Groomer to Groomer

Styled Up

From Mangy Mutt to Strut-Your-Stuff!

Many mixed–breed dogs grace our presence these days. There are many terms for them—mutt, mixed–breed, cross, doodle—but they are all our clients.  With a few tips and tricks and a dash of purebreed profile thrown in, you can transform these dogs from disheveled to dashing. 

This tutorial will walk you through a simple terrier–inspired trim on a mixed–breed dog.  As an added bonus, we will you teach you how to achieve the same style in three separate lengths so you can suit this style and trim to all of your individual clients’ maintenance schedules.

Fig 1) As always, begin the trim with the dog bathed, properly dried for its coat type and all prep–work completed.

Fig 2) To set the length on this dog all over, I used the scissor–over–comb method. Pick up the coat from the skin and scissor over the comb as you move across the body.  This can take some practice to master, but once you do, this is a skill you can use on all drop–coated dogs to make getting their coats an even length all over much easier. 


Fig 3) This dog is very long in body and short on leg, so to try to correct that, I took her chest and rear very tight to shorten her body up as much as possible.  The area from her pin bone to the bend in the back of her leg is extremely short.  The shortest point of the rear leg should be right where it bends when you lift the leg.

Fig 4) Once the length is set all over and the rear of the dog has been set in, trim the neck and shoulders appropriately with the rest of the dog.  The area right behind the ear on this dog was trimmed extremely short and tight.  

Fig 5) From the throat, wrap this scissor line around to the sides of the neck and scissor straight down from the area behind the ear to the shoulder, stopping  just above the elbow.

Fig 6) To begin trimming the feet, start at the top of the stopper pad to set the length. Then return the foot to the ground and scissor a rounded shape.  

Fig 7) Next, scissor the rear legs. This shows a completed rear leg and an unscissored rear leg. When executing this, you want to make sure you create straight, parallel lines on the inside and outside of the leg when viewed from the rear.  You can also see that this appears to have “straightened” this dog’s rear leg. This is done simply by pretending the leg was straight to begin with. 

Fig 8) Trim the front foot with the foot on the ground and as close to the toenails as possible.  This not only helps set the foot underneath the dog and helps make a straight column, but also sets the length for the front of the leg.  

Fig 9) When scissoring the front legs, pick the foot up and hold the leg straight out, then scissor up the outside of the leg, keeping your shear straight. Beginning at the foot, scissor up to the elbow.  

Fig 10) Repeat this process on the inside of the leg, being mindful to begin at the foot and scissor straight up into the armpit.

Fig 11) Next, scissor the underline by beginning at the tuck–up and in a straight line towards the elbow of the dog.  If you have a dog that is lower on leg (such as this one), you can cheat this line a little by scissoring from the tuck–up area to a spot above the elbow instead.

Fig 12) To even up the topline, comb it all forward, and then scissor the topline as flat as possible. I prefer to trim from the tail towards the neck.  

Fig 13) Then you can blendthe tail into the shorter hair on the topline.

Fig 14) For those pet owners that prefer their dogs’ coats to look a little more natural, you can Marcel the coat after your scissoring is complete.  This technique is common in certain terriers, such as the Kerry Blue, and is completed by spritzing the coat down until fully saturated and then combing to add wave back into the full jacket of the dog.

Fig 15) To begin the head, use thinning shears to clean out the corners of the eyes. 

Fig 16) Next, take a shear to set the length on the beard.  

Fig 17) Once the length has been set, use the length on the chin to help set the length on the sides of the face. I trimmed this dog’s beard to lie just under the natural lay of the ear.  

Fig 18) You can then round off the corners of the face to soften the look.

Fig 19) At this point, the hand–scissored look of this dog is complete. For clients that prefer a longer style and stick to a shorter maintenance schedule, this style could be very appropriate for them.

Fig 20) If you have a client who prefers a little longer maintenance schedule, or needs a slightly shorter trim, a snap–on comb can be used to achieve the look instead.  Just remember, after you use an attachment comb, you need to run your scissor or thinners back over the coat to ensure a great finish.

Fig 21) And for those clients who want to go longer between appointments, or who just really prefer a shorter style, the dog’s entire body can be clippered, beginning at the withers and stopping at the elbow, just below the ribcage and at the bend of the back leg in the rear.  

Fig 22) With the body going shorter and the legs and pattern staying longer, you will probably need to spend a few minutes blending.

I hope this tutorial helps you to see the variety of ways you can tailor each groom to suit the dog’s conformation, your individual style, and your client’s maintenance schedule and needs all at once. Now, no matter what type of mutt you come across, you will have tools in your back pocket to take these dogs from wooly to “WOW!” ✂️

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