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Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel
Author: Chris Chamberlin
A cocker spaniel that is left to grow long and shaggy becomes difficult to determine if it is indeed a cocker spaniel at all. They will take on the appearance of several varieties of crossbred dogs. A properly groomed cocker spaniel is a work of art and truly a beautiful canine to see.
Things you will require- Shampoo and conditioner or crème rinse
Clippers #10, #7F, and #30 blades Slicker brush Comb Thinning scissors Curved 7" scissors Nail clippers
It is always best to begin with a clean and mat free dog. Be sure to use a good crème rinse or conditioner so help remove any tangles. If you have trained you cocker well, you will find it easiest to have him lay on his side so you can blow dry his coat one layer at a time. If you hit tangles, use a slicker brush to work from the ends of the hair to roots (somewhat like taking out back combing). Brush dry each layer of the dog's coat starting at the top of his side and working down to the end of his toes.
Ready to begin Clipping?
Once he is completely dry and tangle free you are ready to begin your clip. Using a # 10 blade on your clipper, trim the top half of his ears inside and out, towards the top of his head. Using the same blade, clip from under his ear along his cheek and face. Switch to the #30 blade and clean out between is eyes and along the top of his muzzle to his nose. I like to clean up across the front of his lips as well with this blade. Taking the thinning scissors and resting them on long the top of his head round off the top knot to give the dog a soft domed effect on top of his head.
How and Where to start Grooming
The #10 blade placed just above his breast bone and ran up to his chin will give him a smooth line to blend in the neck with the thinning scissors. I will sometimes use the #7F blade to blend the front of the dog's neck to the sides and even as far as the back of the neck to the top of the shoulders. It is common in a pet clip to use the #7F blade down the cocker spaniel's back blending in the sides to the top of the rib and cleaning up the tail.
However for a much more natural look and for a show dog, the art of thinning the hair to blend from the top of the neck, down the back, blending over the ribs and croup to the tail, is a must. Don't be too hard on yourself as you learn to handle the tinning scissoring. Practice makes perfect and before long you will learn just how much hair to thin out is right for the look you want to achieve. With creative thinning you can sculpt an imperfect dog into a champion in no time.
Grooming the paws
The feet should have the hair between the pads trimmed before shaping each foot into a bell shape. This can be done by holding the dogs foot and trimming off all the hair flush with the bottom of the foot. Then while he stands still, trim the excess hair so the closest to the toes is the shortest, becoming gradually longer as you go up the leg creating a bell look.
The finishing touches may include a tidy up of the belly coat if long enough to meet the bell feet. You could also trim any excess hair on the ends of the ears to shape them.
I think you will agree that a groomed cocker spaniel is splendid picture to behold and truly a challenge to create for any aspiring groomer.
Please don't hesitate to write with your questions or comments.