I have been grooming this little guy since he was 6 weeks old.
He is about 8 years old now.
He once had a beautiful coat, and was kept in a Lamb clip with very full legs.
About 3 years ago he was hit with a skin condition that seems to effect a lot of Shih-Tzus.
At one point his skin problem was so bad, just brushing him would cause the skin to bleed.
The Vet had tried everything to help the dog, and finally gave up and recommended a Canine Dermatologist.
Unfortunately, our local Canine Dermatologist costs close to $400 just to walk in the door for a consultation, without any tests.
His owner had been recently laid off and could not afford this doctor.
Recently his skin has been getting better.
The skin no longer bleeds and scabs up, but is still a little gooey and smelly.
Because the skin is always moist, the hair tends to appear greasy and clumpy close to the skin.
It is very hard to get the hair completely fluffed up.
His owner has me clip him short now, so that she can keep an eye on his skin.
I have been clipping him with a #4F blade, but I am always frustrated with how choppy the coat looks after I clip it.
The blade would hit clumpy, moist areas and leave big chop marks in the hair that are almost impossible to even out with scissors.
I had thought about talking to the owner about taking him shorter in hope of making the cut smoother, but his hair was already so thin in some areas I really didn't want to take him shorter.
He had already lost so much of his beautiful coat.
I don't know why I suddenly thought of it one day, or why I didn't think of it sooner.
What the heck am I talking about?
Scissoring the coat instead of clipping it.
Maybe I didn't think of it because, I was clipping the dog with a #4F blade, and scissoring a dogs coat to a #4 length seems counter productive when you can achieve that length with a blade.
Did that made any sense? lol
So one day, after I had clipped one side of the body, and spent 10 minutes trying to even the coat out without much success, the light bulb finally went off.
I wondered how he would look if I just scissored the other side to the #4 length.
It looked so much better!
So, I scissor him all over now, to a #4F length.
His coat is still thin and sparse in places, so the coat still tends to look a little choppy.
But, it is so much better looking than what the blade was doing.
It may not be exactly a #4 length, but I think I get it pretty close.
Here is one side of him finished.
Here is the other side.
As I said before, this is the best his coat has looked in a long time.
Unfortunately, his skin could get worse again.
As groomers we must always be on the look out for alternative ways of grooming to make the dogs comfortable and the cuts look the best we can.
You don't always have to go by the book.
We must sometimes think out of the box.
Sometimes we just need to think! :)
I guess that I didn't think of scissoring before, because of the length I was doing.
I don't know why.. I have several other dogs that can't stand to have clippers taken down their legs, and I scissor their legs.
One to a #5 blade length and another to a #7 blade length.
It is so much easier than fighting to clip the legs with the clipper.
So, what would you do?
Would you have thought of scissors sooner than I did? :/
Happy Grooming, MFF