By Brittney Valle
The Modified Continental (MC) trim seemed to come out of the woodwork the last couple of years, yet it has been around for a very long time. The MC has also been known as a Historically Correct Continental (HCC). But why are we seeing it in the conformation show ring and grooming competitions more and more frequently?
The versatility of this trim allows dogs to be shown in conformation or used for grooming competitions without having the maintenance and upkeep of its more dramatic cousin, the Continental trim. This trim allows you to show off the dog’s assets and still allows them to participate in performance events such as hunting, dock diving, etc. With the growing popularity of the trim and the viral nature of social media, it’s not long before our clients bring in a picture and start asking for their poodles to look like a poodle. But maybe this is wishful thinking!
This pictorial will follow Teddy the pet poodle’s journey from a German trim to his new style in an MC with step by step instructions, as well as recommendations for where more hair can be grown to alter the total outline of the trim.
Fig 1) This shows Teddy after his bath, blow dry and fluff dry. His feet, face and sanitary have been shaved and his nails have been ground. Teddy has been in a shaved face and feet for quite some time so his skin is comfortable with a shorter blade (a #30 was used). It’s always best to start with a longer blade and gradually work to a shorter blade. Teddy also has a fabulous goatee that his owner requested be left—it’s his signature pizazz.
Fig 2) We will begin this trim by shaving the pattern in. We discussed the blade length for the face and feet, but since Teddy has been in scissored legs for a while, I opted to shave his legs in a #10 blade. Once he has been in this trim for a while and his skin holds up, we will drop it down to a #30 or #40 blade. Start shaving in an upward motion from about one finger above the hocks.
Fig 3) Shave the top of the leg in the direction from rump to front, making sure to stay well below where our rosette will need to be started.
Fig 4) Set the tail band with the tail up. You will also determine the rear placement of the rosettes with the tail up as well. The rosettes should be out of the path of the tail plume. Keep in mind, since Teddy is transitioning from a German trim to this Mod Con, his tail will need to grow a considerable amount of hair still.
Fig 5) Start shaving the pattern on the front legs with the same blade you used on the rear leg. Measure the height of the bracelet on the back leg to help you set the height of the bracelet on the front leg.
Fig 6) Since Teddy is overall longer than he is tall, I shaved his entire elbow and a little above it to help give him the appearance of more leg. On a well–balanced dog, you could just shave to the elbow.
Fig 7) Continue shaving the pattern on the side by finding the back of your jacket. I like to start about a finger or two behind the last rib so that I can work my way to the proper jacket placement. On a balanced dog, typically this will be the last rib.
Fig 8) Make a band from one side of the dog to the other to help set the jacket line all the way around.
Fig 9) This is what the dog looks like after the pattern has been shaved in and before we scissor the excess coat off.
Fig 10) Begin by beveling the back of the jacket all the way around the dog. Comb all of the hair down and scissor it off at the shave line at the elbow. This helps bevel your jacket up as well.
Fig 11) Finish off the jacket by scissoring the underline from the back of the jacket to the elbow, and round it up and in.
Fig 12) Begin scissoring the rosettes by first combing all of the hair back and scissoring it off, next combing the hair forward and scissoring it, and then combing the hair down and scissoring it off. This helps get the excess coat off as well as helps you inch your way to the perfect size and shape rosette. I find it easiest to scissor a “rounded” box on the rosettes and then gently round the corners off. This way you get balanced rosettes that aren’t too small. Remember, it’s best to leave more hair and be able to tweak it as you step away from the dog to examine than if you accidentally take too much off!
Fig 13) Finished rosettes are balanced, rounded and beveled from shorter on the bottom and fuller on top. This is a detail that commonly gets left out!
Fun fact: Rosettes are optional on the Modified Continental! But before you go shaving off your contest dog’s rosettes, make sure the dog has a great topline and tail set to pull it off “naked”!
Fig 14) Begin the bracelets by combing the hair down and scissor around the foot to trim the excess hair off. Once this is completed, comb the hair up and scissor around the leg in the same fashion. Remember, rear bracelets should be higher in the back and angle down toward the front. The front bracelets should be the same height all the way around.
Fig 15) This shows a finished front bracelet beside an unfinished one.
Fig 16) Scissor the sides of the neck tight. This helps to show off the length of neck the dog has. Leaving extra hair here will shorten the appearance of the dog’s neck.
Fig 17) Begin scissoring the top knot by trimming over the eyes.
Fig 18) Scissor the sides of the top knot in. This is one of the major differences between a Mod Con and a regular scissored top knot, and unfortunately Teddy doesn’t have enough hair to demonstrate the proper top knot. It is imperative that the ears blend in with the top knot on a Mod Con. There should be no break above the ears as is common on a regular scissored topknot. That would be an incorrect interpretation of this trim. As Teddy’s ears continue growing in from his German trim, they will get blended into the topknot and form an unbroken line from the top of his topknot to the bottom of the ear.
Another Mod Con fun fact: You can scissor the top knot like normal, or band it with a bubble as you would the Continental trim—whichever gives your dog the desired expression!
Fig 19) Scissor in the neck of the dog. In order to get a nice transition and not pinch the neck or leave too much hair to create a “hump”, make sure the dog’s head is up and in the correct position when scissoring this part. Blend the neck in with the topline over the shoulder blades, again, being aware that the dog’s head and neck are in the proper stacked position while trimming. If they aren’t, the neck will not have a proper shape.
Again, this is a trim that will need to grow some hair and tweak on the shape of the jacket, tail and top knot areas, but learning where to set the lines and the ins and outs of the trim will really be a great foundation that you can build upon and tweak as the dog comes back into your shop.
A great resource for this trim is the Facebook group, Poodles in Modified Continental. There is a wealth of knowledge and information, as well as experts available to critique.
I hope all of you have clients bringing their dogs in asking for them to be “poodled” and that you rise to the challenge! ✂️