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, April 30, 2012

Scissoring a Shih-Tzu Head

This post is in answer to a comment that Jessica left me last week.

I have dug up a number of Shih-tzu's that I have groomed and photographed over the last 4 or 5 years.

Jessica's question was basically asking if I cut into the sides of a Shih-tzu's face, or leave the sides long to make a round face.

I hope that I understood the question right. :)

It's funny, I groom tons of Shih-tzu's, but I had to actually stop and think about this question a minute.

I even went back and looked at a lot of my pictures.

Grooming comes so second nature now, that when someone asks me how I do something, I have to stop and think about. :/

The answer is yes....I clip the sides of the faces on every Shih-tzu that I groom.

The only thing is, I don't clip it or scissor it the same way on every Shih-tzu.

I believe, in pet grooming, that there is no set way or length to scissor or clip every Shih-tzu's head, or any other breed for that matter.

The dogs that pet groomers see everyday are so different.

Even dogs that are the same breed, are different.

Head shapes are different.

Snout lengths are different.

Hair types are different.

Hair thickness is different.

I clip and skim out hair in front of the ear canal on every  dog that I groom.

How much hair that I take off the sides of the head, under the ears, all depends on the that particular dog and the thickness of the hair.

Some owners like Shih-tzu faces very short and tight.

I feel that the way you scissor the beard and mustache determine how round the face will look.

Some owners want a long, full bread that is a little harder to make look round.

On this dog I still skimmed down the sides of the head and blended into his beard.

Even though this Shih-tzu's owner wanted the whole face and head to be very short, he naturally has a round head.

Taking the mustache short and leaving the cheeks just slightly longer helped keep the round look.

Most Shih-tzu ears hide the sides of the the head and the cheeks.

On this little guy the owner likes the face on the fuller side, but not too long.

So I shape the mustache round, just taking off the sharp edges, without taking too much off of the mustache.

This little guy is the same dog in the photo above with the long ears.

Even though the ears have been clipped very short, the face still looks round.

The top of the head and sides were clipped with a #4F blade.

The muzzle was scissored round to match the sides of the face.

This little guys hair is much thicker than the Shih-tzu above.

A #4F blade was also used on the top of this dogs head and the side of his face, but with less pressure.

The muzzle was scissored a little fuller  than the Shih-tzu above to match the length the #4F blade left on this thick hair.

The ears help make the face look round also.

This guys Mom likes his face very full.

The top of the head was skimmed with a #3F blade, clipping in the direction of the hair growth, skimming off of the top of the ears.

Because this dogs hair is on the thinner side and very straight, I only lightly skim down the sides and then shape up with scissors.

It really would not matter how much I took off of the sides of this dogs head because the long ears would cover it.

You can very easily shave mats out of the sides of a Shih-tzu's face and still scissor the beard and mustache round, letting the ears cover the shaved area.

Since this Shih-tzu gets the hair pulled up on top of the head and the beard left long, I chose to keep the sides of the head long too.

If you were able to lift this dogs ear up, you would see that I did clip out and skim to blend the hair from right in front of the ears down into the neck.

This little guy was very matted.

Both sides of his head and cheeks had to be shaved short to get remove the mats.

His ears hide the shaved areas.

His muzzle was scissored short and round.

This ones hair is very thin on the top and sides of the head, and her mustache, but her beard is very thick.

 Most of the time I determine how I am going to scissor the head and face by the length that I do on the body.

As long as the owner does not ask for the face to be left long, I will scissor the head and face in proportion with the rest of the body.

I hate a big head left on a body that has been clipped short.

I always imagine the dog tipping over face first from all of the hair left on their head.

This is the only picture that I could find of a Shih-tzu were I had the ear pulled back to show what I did to the side of the face.

This guys head was very thick, and his Mom liked his beard left on the longer side.

So I would skim a #4F blade down the sides lightly, and then scissor to blend the sides into the beard.

A front view of this same dog is the 6th picture from the top.

This is another Shih-tzu that has very thin, straight hair.

Again I used a #4F blade to clip the top of the head and skim down the sides.

Then I round off the Beard, leaving the mustache long and straight.

This puppies hair is still growing out.

I have clipped the hair under the ears but left the sides on the shaggy side.

Mom is not quite ready for a full cut just yet.

This is the same, long legged, Shih-tzu 6 months later after Mom got tired of all of the hair.

Now the face has been scissored up short and round, but Mom still wants the top of the head pulled up.

Because this owner wants the mustache and beard on the shorter side, I did skim down the sides of the face after putting up the top of the head.

This cute guy has a very round head naturally.

I think that even if I shaved his entire head with a #10 blade it would still look round. :)

So, as I said at the start of this post, I don't think that there is any one way to scissor and clip a Shih-tzu's head and face.

It all depends on what the owner wants, the shape of the dogs head and face, and the type of coat that the dog has.

In the pet world pure breeds can come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the breeding.

That is one of the reasons that I love pet grooming so much.
There really are no rules.
At least not like in grooming competitions, where all of the lines and angles need to be the same.

As pet groomers we have to work with what is in front of us, no matter what type of hair the dogs have, or what type of body shape.
Our goal as pet groomers is to make the dogs feel good  and look cute for their owners.

Sometimes I think that some groomers stress too much on getting a breed to look like the breed books, or breeds that they have seen win grooming competitions.
The dogs in those pictures have great hair.
Those dogs are shown and competed with for their great body structure and great hair.

I once talked to Sally Liddick about competing at Hershey.
She basically told me straight out that if I wasn't competing with a show Poodle I would probably be wasting my money entering the competition.
I told her that she should set up a competition where groomers can groom rescue dogs so that you could really see how good a groomer is at grooming.
Give them a dog where they don't know what to expect and make it into a masterpiece.
I once worked with a groomer, for a very short time, that was a sought after Poodle groomer.
People came from all over and followed him all over to groom their Poodles.
He did do a great job on Poodles, but any other breed he touched looked like crap.
I think that the problem with him was that he was a snob about Poodles, and didn't care one whit about other breeds, especially muts.
Muts weren't worth his time.
In my eyes that made him a very sorry groomer.

Most pet breeds can't compare to the dogs being shown and competed with.
They are pets.
The funny thing is, every time I get a dog in with a coat and body structure you could compete with, the owner wants them shaved. :(
They are ones that I would love to scissor and scissor and scissor.

As far as I am concerned, as long as you are a gentle groomer who cleans the dog really good and clips and scissors the dog safely, you are a good groomer.
You cannot always get the face perfectly round.
Sometimes you have to accept close enough to round.

Pet grooming is stressful enough without groomers stressing over why the dog that they are grooming doesn't look just like that dog in the book...... or on the dog bone box.

I hope that this helped Jessica. :)
Tell me if I missed what you were asking.

 Oh, and don't look too closely at some of those faces.
I swear a couple of them looked crooked to me.
I wanted to pull out my scissors and fix a couple of them.

I know...I am a nut.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Out Of Sorts All Week :(

Okay...feeling much, much better, but I have seemed to be out of sorts all week.
Boy, has it been a looooong week.
How can a four day week be long?

I think it started as soon as I put my key in the lock Wednesday morning.
The phone was ringing as soon as I opened the door.
The first call of the week was from a long time regular customer who wanted to move her already scheduled appointment.
Her appointment was for this coming Tuesday.
She wanted to move the appointment back to this past week.

I had to ask her if I could call her back in about 10 minutes because I hadn't even had time to turn on my computer yet.
The next words out of her mouth, she was telling me that she called so early because I was so hard to get a hold of.


We are usually open Tues-Saturday, 8am to 4, 4:30, or later.
That's not available enough??

Oh that's right...in this day and age I am supposed to be available 24/7. :/

"It's hard to get a hold of you when your closed for 5 days."

Five days!!!

I was closed for my regular weekend..Sunday and Monday, and took one extra day off!
You want me to do you a favor and your giving me a hard time at the same time????

This was just the beginning of the week.
It was like this all week long.
It is only the end of April and the phone has been ring off the hook.
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about being busy.
My complaint is about how upset people are getting because they can't get an appointment yesterday.
My complaint is because an owner can't understand why I can't just fit in their big, hairy Golden the same day.
"He only needs a bath, you can do that really quick."
My complaint is with the three customers who came in this week insisting that they MUST have their dogs back by a certain time, causing us to have to shift dogs around to accommodate them, and then not showing up to pick the dogs up at the time that they HAD to have them.
One didn't pick up until an hour and half after he said that he had to have the dog.

Knit picky...all week...stupid knit picky things!

Okay, calm down Lisa.

It's over.
This week has ended.

Anyway, this week prompted me to post on my other blog for pet owners.
I wrote it last night.
I was even out of sorts doing that.
I got frustrated with it.
I felt like I was rambling.
I felt like I was not getting my point across at all.
I didn't post it last night, I was so frustrated with it.
I came home and worked on it tonight.
I not sure that it is any better than last night.

OMG I am rambling here too!

Please read it for me, and if you noticed something that, you as a groomer, think I should have said, or should have said differently, please comment and tell me and I'll do some editing.

There is the link.
Warning, it is long.
I rambled, and rambled, and rambled.....oops, sorry.

I am going to watch some meaningless TV and hold my dogs now.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So sorry that I will not have any pictures from Intergroom.
I never made it there this past weekend.

I woke up at 5am Sunday morning ready to drive to New Jersey for Intergroom.
At 5:10am I couldn't stand up straight.

Kidney Stones.

What else is there to say.

By 10:30am I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital.
I had stayed home too long hoping that it would pass on its own.
That is how much I hate taking drugs.

I have spent the last three days trying to get those same dreaded drugs out of my system.
They don't like me as much as I don't like them.

Thank goodness I already had a three day weekend scheduled because of Intergroom.
Dragged my bu** into work today.
Felt better as the day went on.
Feeling much better now.

So sorry not to be able to get pictures.
I was really looking forward to the Creative Cat Grooming.
I mean, Creative Dog grooming is hard enough....but cats!

I love cats.
I have owned them all my life, but I will leave Creative Cat grooming to braver groomers. :)

I also looked forward to getting pictures of the Creative Dog grooming.
Oh well...thankfully it hit me before I left for Intergroom.

I don't wish Kidney Stones on anyone.
I would rather have my three babies again.
This is the second time, and they have hit me fast and furious, without any warning.

I will be back to blogging tomorrow or the next day.

Once again, I am sorry if some of you were looking forward to those pictures.
I'll have to wait for Hershey.  :)

Still feel a little like something the cat dragged in....dead on my feet.
I think it would be a good idea to hit the sack early tonight.
We have a ton of dogs booked tomorrow.

That's what you get for taking an extra day off. :/

Happy Grooming, MFF

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grooms That Scare Me

It's not the difficult dogs.
It's not the biters.
It's not the elderly dogs.

It is the drastic grooms.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about the grooms where an owner brings in a dog and wants to drastically change the way that you have been grooming the dog.
They want to change it to something that you know would look awful, or that they would not like it.

Or, a groom like I had today.

 Today was the second time grooming this dog.

The first groom was a heavy outline trim.

The owner did not want much hair taken off.

She was adamant about not cutting the dog too short the first time I groomed him.

So, imagine my surprise when my husband brought the dog into the grooming room today telling me that the owner wanted me to clip the dog and only leave 3/4 of an inch on the dog so that it would not look shaved.


She was so concerned about me taking too much off of the dog the last time.

 This dog did not have a single mat in his coat.

I must have asked my husband half a dozen times if he heard the owner right.
I asked my husband if he made sure that the owner realized exactly how much hair she was asking me to cut off.
He said yes.
I asked him if he made sure that the owners 3/4 of an inch was the same as a real 3/4 of an inch.
He said that he thought so.

Now I was making him second guess himself.

I just wanted to make sure that this owner really wanted that much hair off of her dog.
That her idea of 3/4 of an inch wasn't really 2 or 3 inches.

I worried the whole time that I was working on the dog.

  I still hesitated before I finally started clipping.

I started with a very long clip comb.

The green Stainless Steel comb from Wahl.

It kills me to see all of that long hair fall to the table.

I can't put it back on...that is the scary part.

 The green comb left more than an inch, so I moved on to the next comb.

 The Purple comb took a little more off.

It was closer to 3/4 of an inch.

I wasn't going to go any shorter than that.

I figured that if the owner wanted more off, that was no problem.

I could always take more off...I couldn't put it back on if she thought that I took her dog too short.

The whole time that I was scissoring the dog, I was hoping that I had done the right thing.

I did not want to end the week with a crying hysterical owner in my lobby.

I am ashamed to admit that I let my husband take the dog up to the owner.

After all, he was the one who talked to her about the cut in the first place, right?

I know, it was a chicken sh*t moment.

I was holding my breath and listening to see if I heard raised voices in the lobby.

I am not a total chicken sh*t, because I would have been the one to go up and smooth things over if the owner hated the cut.

I am always the peace maker. :/

Well, it turned out that I didn't need to make peace.
The owner really liked the length.
It was exactly what she wanted.
I am glad that I didn't take it  any shorter.

The week ended on a  good note. :)

Leaving for Intergroom tomorrow morning.
Hopefully I will have some nice pictures to post when I get back Monday.
I'll have pictures of Creative Grooming, and Creative Grooming on cats too!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Groomers Simple Pleasure

When a loud dog, that has been barking nonstop since he came into the shop, goes home a couple of hours earlier than expected.
 Wonderful peace and quite once again settles over the grooming room. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Will You Fix My Dog?

That is the question that a caller asked my husband the other day.

This owner called and said that she had a just acquired a dog, and that she had been told that I had groomed him once before.
She told my husband that she lives half an hour from our shop so she had taken the dog to another shop close to her.
She was now calling us because the grooming was so bad, and they had not even touched her dogs head.
My husband told her to bring the dog in and we would trim up the face for her.

I have had these kind of calls before.
Most of the time it is just a minor fix, and the owner over exaggerates about the bad grooming.

This woman was not over exaggerating in the least.

This is her dog.

She said that he was groomed 3 weeks ago.

She also said that there was even more hair left on the dog, but her daughter had cut some of it off.

This is one of the back legs.

He still had tight mats on his feet and between his toes.

The front feet also had tight mats all around the toes.

The face had not only been left but also had mats all around the mouth.

The groomer must have tried to groom the head, because the top of the head had several big hunks of hair missing.

I couldn't just trim this dogs head.
I had to get the mats off of the feet and neaten him up as best that I could.
There is no way that I could let that dog walk out of my shop with those mats still on him.

We were too busy to take him in for a full grooming.

I was baffled as to why this dog had not been completely groomed.

Yes, he was a nervous dog.
Yes, he was a little leg and foot shy, but nothing that bad.
 A little soft talking and petting calmed him down enough to clip off the mats.

It didn't look great, but at least the mats were off.

I also clipped his nails.
They were very long.

I could not blend all of the holes in the top of his head without taking it very short.

I wanted to give him a bath so badly.

  I couldn't help it, I had to ask her where she got the dog groomed.

It was at one of the big box stores.
There are two big box store where she lives.
I also live near this owner so I know the two stores.

The one store has some pretty good groomers.
I have watched them groom when I go there to buy my dog food.
So, I don't think that it was that store.

The other store I am not sure about.
The few times that I have been there, the groomers are all standing around watching another groomer groom.
I have always wondered if this was a teaching store, but I really don't know how they train their groomers.
I would think that if a student groomer couldn't finish the dog, a grooming teacher would.

The owner said that they didn't charge her for the groom, but they also didn't explain to her why they didn't finish the dog.
My guess would be that the groomer wasn't experienced enough to work on a very skiddish, nervous, and matted dog.

The owner made an appointment with us for 8 weeks. 

I can't wait to do a nice groom on him. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF