What a week!
It is only March 19 and I have seen enough overgrown, matted dogs to last me the year.
It still amazes me that so many dog owners still believe that letting their dogs grow out for the winter to get all matted and filthy is the right thing to do.
Groomed once a year...and matted.
Did you ever have one of those days when you looked up at the clock sure that it will say that it is close to 4:00pm, only to see the hands on the clock saying 11:45am.
You look closer to see if the seconds hand is still moving, because you are sure that the clock must have stopped.
I felt like that today... (actually yesterday, I keep trying to get this post published, but I keep getting pulled away :)
The Self-Serve was non-stop.
There were walk-ins for nails.
Walk-ins for eye trims.
All before noon.
It was a week of big jobs and getting home late.
This guy always feels like I will never finish. He is by far the largest dog that I groom, and the most work.
I would honestly rather groom a Newfie.
This guys hair shows every scissor mark.
You feel like you are never finished.
I have to make myself stop grooming him, there is always some piece of hair that seems to be sticking out!
It is a good thing that he is such a sweet dog.
Non-stop large, old, overgrown, matted dogs.
The last time this St Poo was groomed was back in October.
When the owner came in, she informed me that they had bathed him twice without brushing him.
She told me he was mostly matted on his hips.
Needless to say he was matted all over.
His owner didn't want him too short.
(Then bring him in more often...Grrrr)
Because this dog took longer to dry then I thought he would...a lot longer,I should have wet shaved him.
Live and learn. :-/
Talking about matting...this brings me to what I am writing this blog entry about.
Earlier this week I was reading one of the grooming forms.
Someone posted a question about clipping a matted dog with a # 9 blade.
Personally, I don't like or use this blade.
I feel it nicks the skin way too easily to be safe.
That is just my opinion.
I used it a lot for about one year, but experienced it getting caught on the skin a couple of times, on dogs that it should not have.
That was a couple of times too many for me, so I stopped using the blade.
Since then I have also read about a few other groomers experiencing the same trouble, so I know it was not just me.
Anyway, back to the matting.
After reading the replies to this groomers questions, I was a little irritated.
In all of the replies, only one groomer mentioned bathing the dog first and HVing the mats away from the skin to get a longer blade through the matting safely.
Most of the replies told the groomer to take a #7 or #10 blade to the dog.
A couple mentioned wet shaving.
The groomer with the question stated that the dog had loose mats that where not tight to the skin.
Why would someone recommend shaving this dog with a #7 or #10 blade?
Even clipping it before the bath with a #4 or #5 could be possible if the mats are not tight.
Clipping it after the bath and a HV dry could get an even longer blade through easily.
For years I have told owners to never bathe their dog when it was matted.
I still tell them that today, and believe it wholeheartedly.
If the pet owner bathes their dog without brushing out the mats first, and letting the pet air-dry, the mats will tighten, and become harder to remove or even clip off.
The same does not apply for me or other professional groomers.
Every matted dog that I groom goes straight into the tub.
Of course it was not always this way.
For many years I would not dare to put a matted dog in the tub without shaving it first.
For many years, I spent a lot of time, and dulled a lot of blades fighting to clip through a matted, dirty coat.
How many times did I come close to nicking a dog because the matted hair was so tight to the skin?
Those days are gone, and I will never go back.
Bathing a matted dog before the clip is the only safe and sensible thing to do.
Why safe and sensible?
1 ~ If bathed with the proper dematting shampoo and creme rinse, the matted coat can be HVed away from the skin.
2 ~ Once the mat is blown away form the skin, even if only a little, you have a safe airspace between the skin and coat.
3 ~ No dulling blades clipping a dirty coat.
4 ~ The blades do not overheat as quickly.
5 ~ There is very rarely any fighting the blade through the coat, because it is clean and fluffy.
6 ~ Clipping a matted coat after the bath and HV dry allows you to get a longer blade through the coat.
**Note: A matted coat must be HV dried straight from the bath in order to loosen the mats as much as possible.
I rarely ever have to clip a matted coat shorter then a #5F blade.
I would have had to use a #7 or #10 on this dirty, matted, tiny Shih-Tzu before the bath.
By bathing her first, I was able to easily and safely get a #5F through her coat.
I have heard some skeptical groomers ask about the time it takes to dry a matted dog.
You would be surprised how often most mats blow right out of the coat if the proper shampoo and creme rinse where used.
If the dog has very thick mats, it is not necessary to get the mats themselves all of the way dry.
It is only important to get the hair between the skin and mat dry.
This is easier then it sounds.
Take the extra pointy piece of the hose off, (sorry can't remember the name of it right now) and use the wider mouth of the hose.
Put the mouth of the hose right up against the skin and into the mat.
While drying, move the mouth of the hose back and forth in small strokes, working the mats away from the skin as much as you can.
Don't worry about getting the entire mat dry, you will be cutting it off.
The only part that needs to be good and dry is the hair between the skin and the mat.
For those who say that all of that HV drying is a waste of time..it takes no longer then the time it would have taken you to fight a blade through a dirty coat.
By the time you finish drying the dog, you probably would have just been putting the dog in the tub if you had clipped it first.
There is also a major difference in the finish look of a dog that is clipped before the bath and a dog that is clipped after.
I also realize that a lot of groomers feel that an owner that allows their dog to become matted does not deserve to have a longer clip on their dog.
Believe me I understand that thinking.
I just think a little differently.
Everything that I do I do for the dog not the owner.
If I know that I don't have to shave the dog with a #7 or #10 blade, because bathing them before the clipping will allow me to get a #4F or #5F through the coat, I will do it for the dog.
There is a lot less of a chance that the dog clipped after the bath will go home and scratch himself raw like the dog that was shaved with the #7 or #10 blade.
If you are a groomer that is still skeptical about bathing before the clipping, just give it a try.
It won't mean that you have to stick with it.
Just give it a try for a week.
If you don't notice a difference in the finished work, and still like the old way of grooming, then at least you tried something new.
Oh, what about those once a year thick, overgrown, matted coats that you know would take forever to dry, but would be impossible to get a blade through the dirty coat?
All I can say is...wet shaving.
I wrote a post about this a while ago.
I don't wet shave very often, but it has really come in handy sometimes.
Check out the link above to read about wet shaving.
It is what I should have done with the White Standard pictured at the beginning of this post.
I know that a lot of groomers are set in their ways.
I was one of them for a long time.
I truly believe that clipping before the bath has many more pros then cons.
I love trying new tools and new grooming techniques, anything that would help me groom safely.
Some people will also think that I am crazy because I like grooming matted dogs.
I like the challenge of making them look as nice as possible.
I like the challenge of saving the face, ears, or tails, and leaving the dog with a little personality instead of skinning it like a rat.
Happy Grooming, MFF