The “Guess What” Groom

Styled Up

By Brittney Valle

Sometimes as groomers we have to play a guessing game with our clients. They will walk in and exclaim, “Guess what breed Fido is!” And we literally have no idea. They might bring us a not–so–ideal specimen of their breed and ask us to make it look like a show dog. Instead of rolling your eyes and finding your favorite meme to commemorate the occasion, I’d like to show you a few ways you can attempt to find the “Wow!” in the “You want me to do what?”

Chloe is a senior Yorkshire Terrier client. She suffers from some hair loss but her owner would like to maintain the “look” of a yorkie as long as she can. She doesn’t have ideal body conformation or coat texture, and she will not be able to achieve the cute breed–type head her owner presented at check–in, but I can utilize corrective grooming techniques to bring breed worthiness to her groom. 

In the tutorial below, I’ll show you a few tricks to help this messy senior turn polished and sassy! Chloe is mostly just getting an outline trim; however, these steps can be followed after you have taken any length off with a snap–on comb, should a shorter trim be desired. As always, I begin the grooming process after Chloe has been bathed, force and fluff dried, nails clipped, ears cleaned, and pads and sanitary trimmed.

Fig 1) Begin this groom by scissoring the feet. Make a box on the foot by scissoring first the front of the foot (in front of the toenails) and then each side. After this, round the corners off slightly to give a nice polished look. Then pick the foot up and make sure the bottoms of each side are clean and trim the lightest amount across the back of the foot.

Fig 2) This is an example of how the front feet will look when finished.

Fig 3) When working on the back feet, reverse the order of the box steps by trimming the back of the pad first. 

Fig 4) Don’t forget to round your corners off ever so slightly when setting the length on the front of the hind foot, as well as the sides, when finished.

Fig 5) Using thinning shears, trim any bulk hair hanging off the sides of the foot. This helps allow a clean transition and a seamless blend from foot to leg.

Fig 6) In order to achieve a younger, more balanced appearance, take as much hair off of the rear as possible. Not only does this hair grow straight out and get messy, it also is lengthening the appearance from chest to rump. Achieve this by using thinning shears and trimming off everything from the pin bone back.

Fig 7) Once the bulk of hair from the rear has been removed, you can still help shorten the appearance of the body by laying your thinning shear on the pin bone and taking some bulk out. Follow the angle of the pin bone and continue down the upper thigh. This maintains the appearance of a drop coat, but takes length off to keep the dog low–maintenance.

Fig 8) Use thinning shears to scissor parallel lines on the inside and outside of the rear legs. Even though it is a drop coat, it can still have the appearance of a columned leg. You can continue this method for all four legs.

Fig 9) Hold the tail out and trim the bottom. You can also clean up the end with shears.

Fig 10) To begin the front, clipper the throat and down to the breastbone with a #2 (blue) snap–on comb. Then, take the thinning shears and bulk–thin the sides of the neck and blend into the shoulder. This will help give the appearance of a longer neck, as well as take length off for easier maintenance at home.

Fig 11) Take the thinning shears and trim from the breastbone straight towards the return of upper arm (or where the front of the front leg attaches to the shoulder).

Fig 12) Trim the underline with a slight rise at the last rib and angled shears toward the elbow. A clean, straight line is one of the most important hallmarks of this trim. Chloe’s underline was also trimmed a little shorter than normal to give her the appearance of having a longer leg.

Fig 13) Take your thinning shears and blend off any part of the coat that is sticking out. Pay particular attention to problem areas like elbows and knees.

Fig 14) Begin trimming the head by scissoring the tips of the ear. On some yorkies, you can choose to shave the tip with a #10 blade; however, Chloe didn’t have enough hair to warrant shaving. While you are scissoring the ear tip, keep your fingers on the edge of the ear leather so as to not accidentally cut the ear.

Fig 15) Then, fold the ear on top of itself so the front edge of the ear matches up with the back edge of the ear. Scissor from the cheek and round up into the peak of the ear.

Fig 16) Clean out the corners of the eyes with thinning shears.

Fig 17) Scissor the visor. I like to angle my shears from the outside corner of the eye towards the center and repeat on the other side.

Fig 18) Once you have the visor scissored, execute an “X” cut by laying your thinning shears across the bridge of the nose, pointing toward the upper inner corner of the opposite eye. And repeat for the other side. This allows you to take off any extra visor in the center from the last step, as well as lift the hair up off of the inside corners of the eye.

Fig 19) Trim the chin to the desired length and be sure it is even across the bottom.

Fig 20) Cut the sides of the cheek at a 45 degree angle from the length of the bottom of the chin. I like to think of this head as a hexagon at first and then remove the corners. Your top and your chin will be straight, parallel lines and your cheeks will be comprised of two angled cuts.

Fig 21) Now comes the tricky part! Comb everything from the bottom right side of the dog’s head up and across to the left side of the top of the head. You will then take your thinning shears and cut off any extra coat in front of the right ear. Be sure to cut in front of the ear and not accidentally grab the ear itself. This step allows you to set the length for the top of your rounded head shape. Repeat on the other side, combing the opposite way.

Fig 22) Blend your two cheek cuts with the plume of the ears that you scissored in Figure 15.

Fig 23) With your thinning shears, round out the sides of your cheek where the two cuts meet.

Fig 24) Repeat these steps on the other cheek. 

It’s also important to note that I cleaned up the whiskers and random stray hairs on Chloe’s face to help achieve a polished look.

Once the groom is complete, hopefully the dog will look a little more like its breed. While Chloe can never have the stacked, adorable pet yorkie head most clients prefer, these techniques allow her to have a much more polished trim than when she arrived! ✂️