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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cowlicks...what a pain in the .......

Definition of a cowlick:

 cow.lick  [kou-lik]  noun 
a tuft of hair that grows in a direction different from that of the hair.

 That is the definition that the dictionary gives.

This is the groomers definition:

Cow.lick  [ca-lick]  noun
multiple tufts of hair that are hidden in other hair so that you clip it before you 
know that it is there, and make a bald spot.

one tuft of hair that grows in so many different directions, that even though
you know it is there, and try to clip with the growth of the hair, you still make a
bald spot.

a skinned looking spot on a dog that the owner calls about wanting to know why
you skinned or cut their dog.

Some dogs have mild cowlicks all over their body that don't become bare when you clip the coat.

They are irritating in another way.

This Cocker has small and large mild cowlicks all over her body.

 She looks nice in the longer cut, but if clipped with a #3F or #4 blade it would most likely look choppy.

 Unless you are leaving the coat a couple of inches long, or taking them very short,  the cowlicks make the finish cut on the coat look choppy.

Almost every dog has cowlicks somewhere on their body.

You will find them on the neck and under the ears.

The chest is another area to find cowlicks.

Because this coat is wavy and a little curly, the cowlick does not show as much.


Cowlicks show up much more on straight hair breeds.

 The shorter you take the coat, the more they show.



Sometimes I will just scissor the chest and avoid using the clipper all together.

Just to avoid baring the cowlick.

Even when you carefully clip the hair in all of the right directions, you still can come up with bare spots.

Especially that one little round spot right smack dab in the middle of the chest.

Another spot is the back of the leg.

Clipping in the direction that the cowlick was growing worked great on this leg.

No bare spot.

But the other leg, on the same dog....

Even though I clipped this cowlick with the direction of the hair growth, (I swear I did) it still looks bared.


This Cocker gets clipped with a #7F all over.

He has mild cowlicks all over him.

He has heavier cowlicks on the legs.

I follow the growth of the hair.

Going in several different directions.

I am constantly clipping a little, then lifting the clipper to see if the direction of the hair growth has changed.

Why take the time to do this?

Especially when the dog is getting a very short clip anyway?

Because owners DO notice.

Because they will call thinking that you hacked  a hole in their dogs hair.

Because even when you try not to bare it, it still looks like you did.

Imagine what this cowlick would look like if I had just clipped straight now the leg.

Kind of like this little guy.

I had no choice but to bare these cowlicks because of severe matting.

I can see how an owner would think that you skinned or even cut their dog.

It's funny, this was another thing that was never talked about in Grooming School.
90% of the clips coming out of that school were #7 and #10 clip downs.
I can't even imagine how many cowlicks I bared without thinking anything of it.

Of course, until the day that a customer called complaining that their dog had been cut.
When they brought the dog in, it turned out to be a bared cowlick on the chest.
Unfortunately, the owner did not want to believe that a cowlick and the hair growing in a different direction had caused the bald spot on her dog.

Ever since then, I have painstaking taken the time to try not to bare a cowlick.

Of course sometimes I fail.
I forget to watch for it.
Sometimes I look for it, and there is none....until I clip....then there it is.....laughing at me.
Then, I have to explain to the owner why there is a bare spot on the chest, or under the ear, or the back of the leg........

Oh, and for good measure, lets not forget about those little spinning cowlicks right above the elbow or hip, right where you are trying to blend the skirt on a Cocker or a Scottie, or some similar breed.
Then you have what appears to be a round pin hole in the dog and a hole in the skirt.

Explain that one to the owner.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Yeap that is a pain in the... You forgot to add to the "try to not bare the cowlick while holding a dog that just does not know or does not like to be still" :/

  2. Thanks Jessica,
    Your right, I missed that one! lol
    Lisa, MFF

  3. OMG You don't know how pleased I am reading your comments!!! I have just completed an online dog grooming course to advanced level which was very intense but very educational and I now feel as though I know the dog's body inside and out!!!! However, as with any online course, no practical sessions are available so I've had to rely on my own two dogs (a cavie and a shih tsu). I've also watched numerous DVDs on how to clip and scissor different breeds so I felt quite confident when I prepared my shih tsu for his grooming session. Everything was going fine until I started clipping, only to realise I'd forgotton to change the #10 blade to a #5F!!!! Thank God it was my dog and not a client's!! Also, nobody mentioned that these dogs on the DVDs are absolute model dogs, cos I was totally shocked when my dog began snapping at me when I went near him with the clippers and began dancing around the table to get away from me!!!! This wasn't how it was portrayed on the DVD!!! lol

    After a few days, I managed to sum up my confidence again and just put it down to experience and so when my brother asked me to clip his precious shih tsu, I felt quite confident again. Again, everything was going fine, he was a well behaved dog and quite accepting of everything I was doing, I couldn't believe my luck. Until, that is, I began clipping his chest!!! OMG I couldn't believe the holes that appeared in his coat, appearing shaved down to the skin in some areas!! I couldn't understand what I had done and spent quite literally an hour trying to hide them but all to no avail. I could have cried. When my brother came to collect him I tried to explain that "the holes just appeared" and although he said it was fine, I was totally gutted!! Until I found your website and I now know that it wasn't my bad grooming, it is just a fact of life. Thank you sooooo much for this website, you have probably saved my future grooming career!!! lol

  4. Hi Sue,
    Congratulations on becoming a groomer. You have only begone to start learning. After 28 years of grooming, I still look for new things to learn about grooming.
    That is the problem with those DVDs. They only work on really well behaved dogs. They make it look so easy. Unfortunately, that is not real life pet grooming. The more hands-on experience you get, the more confident you'll get.
    I am glad that this post helped you. Those cowlicks can be a pain. :)
    Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you can find more posts on here to help you.
    Lisa, MFF

  5. It is possible to groom a dog to perfection. I do it every day, you just gotta know how

  6. OK Groomers!!! I need some advice. I have a cavilier and her fur stands straight out all over, like she has y a spiked hair cut. When I take her to the groomer, she comes out looking like a fluff ball with 4 tiny legs..... Is there something I can use to tame her fur??? Do I leave her hair long?? cut it short? PLEASE Help... she is sooo cute and lovey, but she looks like a "hot mess"