About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grooming a Wire hair Jack Russel

Today I had a new customer come in with a Wire Haired Jack Russel.

She was pretty shaggy, and had not been groomed in awhile.

The Dad dropped him off.

When asked what he wanted done to the dog, I got the usual 'take her short.'

 I noticed that most of the top of her head was already very short, except for the wiry hairs sticking out, so I asked him if he wanted her as short as the top of her head.

"Yes, that's fine," he said.

My first thought was to use a #5F blade.

  As I was bathing her, I noticed that her hair was past ready to be hand stripped.

I do not offer Hand Stripping for 3 reasons.
One, it is way too time consuming.
Two, the owners do not want to pay the high price of this service.
And three, my wrists can no longer handle hand stripping.

Although, I did do a little hand stripping on this dog anyway.

When grooming a lot of  wire haired Terrier's, you will notice that most of them have a thick, plushy coat next to the skin, with a ton of long wiry hairs sticking out of that plushy coat.

The outer coat dries very quickly, but the plushy undercoat takes longer to dry.
It is very important to get the entire coat completely dry to get a nice smooth cut on this type of coat, no matter how short of a blade you are using.

If you leave the coat damp or even a little tacky, the cut will look choppy.

The more that I worked with the coat, the more I thought that the #5F was too short to use on this dog.

I really wanted to hand strip this dog.
I had a little Terrier for almost 20 years that I used to hand strip.

I love the way the coat looks after it has been hand stripped.

 So I hand stripped a small part of the dogs back to see what the natural length would be if she was hand stripped all over.

It is hard to see in the picture, but I decided to use a 12mm clip comb to match the length that was left after stripping.

The clip comb left just the right length.

It cut off the wiry hair, but did not chop into the plushy coat underneath.

The hair on the dogs side ran right through the comb without being cut, so I skimmed the sides against the grain to match the rest of the cut.

I did not use full pressure, just enough to remove the length of hair I wanted.

The hair on the legs just laughed at the clip comb also, so I clipped the legs against the grain also.

The clip comb left a very nice plushy, velvety finish.

It left the hair looking short, like the owner wanted, but it also left the hair looking natural, not shaved.

Now for that head.

I decided to hand strip the head and ears.

It looked like someone had shaved this dogs head against the grain before, and all of the hair was not growing back right.

You could still see some of the old blade marks in the thinned out areas of the top of the head.

See those wispy, wiry hairs?

I plucked all of them off of the head, up to the eyebrows, to make the top of the head nice and smooth.

The hair was so ready to be plucked.

I plucked the top of the head from the back of the eyebrows to the back of the head, blending into the neck.


I forgot.

I have a little tip for you when plucking, or hand stripping the hair.

You can wear Latex gloves to help grab hold of the hair.
Or, if you don't have any, like me, you can use ear powder.

Just pour a little out on a piece of paper or paper towel.

 Dip the fingers you are going to use in the powder.

The powder will help you to grab and hold on to the hair you are plucking.

Don't worry, the powder will be on the hair you are plucking off, and not your clean dog.

On to the ears.

Terrier ears look so nice when they are plucked.

If I used a blade to clip this hair off, it would still leave part of the ear looking gray from the shaved gray hair.

But, if you hand strip them...

 Pluck a little hair at a time.

The same way you pluck the inside of the ears.

The dog does not mind the plucking when you pluck small sections at a time.

Also if the hair does not pluck easily, the hair may not be ready or able to be plucked.

Look how nice that ear is.  :)

I also plucked her cheeks.

Now for around the eyes.

Yes, I am going to pluck the corner of the eyes too.

I plucked the corners and between the eyes a little.

I did not have to pluck a lot to open up the eyes.

I also did not pluck all of the hair between the eyes.

I did not want Schnauzer eyebrows.

I only used the scissors for a few things on her head.

I shaped up the eyebrows, soft and round, and shortened the beard and rounded off the mustache.

I am be no means an expert on grooming Terriers.
So, for any Terriers Breeders or Groomers, don't yell at me for clipping the dog.

Remember...Pet grooming.
The groom that I did on the dog above is a 'Pet Groom'.

The most important thing is whether or not the owner liked it.

The Dad picked her up.
He said, "she looks nice," and left.

Okay... how many times has that happened?
You work hard to make a dog look as nice as you can, and hardly get any reaction from the owner.
Then you give a Beagle a bath, and those owners praise you up and down.
It almost never fails.
You feel so deflated after the owner leaves, and you are just not sure whether they liked it or not.

Well, today ended on a good note.
The wife called about an hour after the dog went home.
She wanted to make another appointment.
"That is the best grooming she has ever had," the wife said.

:)  :)   :)   :)

A win, win day.
The dog was super sweet, and the owner liked the groom!!

Hope you have a win, win day...everyday!


Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Lovely!! I have a few wire-haired JRTs that come in and I do a #1 (wahl SS) comb in reverse and owners just love it! I will have to try the plucking around the head next time one comes in!

  2. She looked beautiful, I wish I lived close by so you could groom my little mixed JRT man!!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your work. Loved the pics too. I own a Cavachon (King Charles Cav X Bichon) and started learning dog grooming to be able to look after her properly. Love picking up tips and tricks along the way, as family have an assortment of dogs including terriers, spaniels and collies and now ask me for help!

  4. We adopted a jack russell from a friend of my daughters, now that summer is here I need to try to get the little guy groomed. He hates people (a whole nother story). So my husband and I have to try to do it ourselves thank you so very much will try this tonight!

  5. Have to laugh. Hubbie took 2 JRT to groomer....one smooth coat, athletic looking, loves meat and cheese, veggies not so much unless coated in a sauce. Pratically doesn't need grooming, just a bath and he looks regal. Our other little guy is more barrel chested and stocky and is a rough coat. I have hand stripped him in the past, a little every day when he is in my lap....otherwise since they are both wound a quarter turn too tight, have to be slightly sedated (to go to the vet too.) or they whine like little babies, especially if you get near their toenails. One used to groom his own toenails, but he is older and lazier now. I have tried a clipper on the fuzzy guy and broke one and not much luck with the other. After reading your info decided it would be easier to hand strip him a little every day.....he is good about me trimming his face with sissors....

    The reason I laughed is that when hubby took him to groomer, she said "do you want him short" and my husband said he said "oh no, he is a rough coat." and he came back looking just like he went in, except he had a bath.

  6. I wish I had known about this before we got our terrier mix groomed. The groomer shaved her beard and eyebrows completely off :(. She looks more like her doxie half now, but we miss her sweet terrier face fur.

  7. Compelling, interesting, informative and helpful! Just love this blog.

  8. I'm learning about handstripping my new jrt puppy- thank you for sharing your experience! The pictures were really helpful & the tone of your writing is very natural. Personable informative & enjoyable to read thank you! Keep doin what you do.

  9. I know exactly what you mean... you never really know until they suddenly call to say how happy they are or join your facebook site or blog.. that's when I know.. although majority do say! it's the ones that take ages - you almost want them to stay to see what you do! I think they think it's easy! oh well the joys eh! but loved your video/write up it was really helpful! x

  10. Hi, i would like to ask. Do you use a blaster when you dried him? I read somewhere it is no good for jack russel coat. Now im confused