When most people
hear the word "grooming", they think of taking their dog to the
grooming shop for a bath and haircut. While these two things
are the most noticeable part of a "grooming", there are actually a
number of other services that groomers usually perform while a dog
is in their shop. These other services can include trimming
the toenails, brushing the coat, expressing the anal glands,
cleaning the ears and brushing the dog's teeth.
Treatments for dry/irritated skin, external parasites and special
"beauty" treatments (such as a hot oil coat conditioning) may also
be done. For the most pampered of pooches, there are also
doggy day spas, camps and other specialty service providers that
offer aromatherapy, massage and "social" events for dogs!
(Click on this link to check the
for more info!)
A large percentage
of Cocker owners take their pets to a grooming shop or vet clinic
for grooming services, but some owners do their pet's
bathing, brushing, clipping and other procedures at home.
This can save owners, especially multiple pet owners, a lot of money
over the life of their pet/pets. Of course, owners who
want to save money and groom their dogs at home, must learn to
do ALL of the necessary procedures. Owners wanting
to groom at home will also have to invest in a certain amount of
grooming equipment and supplies - toenail clippers, electric/battery
operated hair clippers, clipper blades, grooming shears, shampoo,
conditioner, parasite treatment, etc., etc.
Whether you will be caring for your pet at home or using a
profession groomer or veterinarian to help you care for your pet, this page
may help clarify some of the choices you have when grooming your
Cocker. Hopefully this information will
help you do it yourself or allow you to tell the groomer exactly
what you want done. You may or may not need all
of this information, so pick and choose what works for you and your
trim for your Cocker Spaniel is a matter of personal preference and
convenience. There are limitless options for how your
dog can be trimmed and what activities you choose to do with your
dog (and where you choose do to them!) will impact what cut works
best for your dog. However, you must realize that
whether your dog is a show dog or a family pet, she WILL require
long, silky hair that, if left long, must be brushed regularly.
The average Cocker also needs to be bathed about once a week and to
have its ears cleaned regularly. Cocker Spaniels are average
shedders, but due to the length of their coat, they can leave a lot
of hair around the house if they are not properly cared for.
A weekly bath and brush, no matter the coat length, will keep
shedding to a minimum.
Show Cockers are, of course, kept in full coat with long leg and
side-coat feathering and they do not get their backs shaved like
pet Cockers usually do. The back coat of a show dog is
thinned with thinning shears and /or hand stripped with a
stripping knife to produce a smooth, hard back coat (hopefully!).
In most cases, a show dog's coat is considered more valuable than
gold and every precaution is taken to minimize breakage, staining
and tangles. Show Cockers are many times kept in wire
floored pens to protect their coats and/or are not allowed to run
the backyard or any other area where they might get yard trash
(leaves, twigs, grass) caught in their coat.
show Cockers are house dogs and do get yard time, but these are a
minority. Some show enthusiasts compromise and have
special indoor and/or outdoor exercise runs built for their show
dogs. These runs may consist of a raised wood or wire
floor, a playground gravel bed or a rubber or matted surface (dri-dek
tiles). Outdoor runs are generally covered or enclosed
as sun-bleaching of the hair can be an issue with blacks and
browns (even in partis).
Show dogs that are "in" coat are
usually brushed daily and get bathed and trimmed weekly.
These dogs' coats are religiously cared for and preserved while
the dog is being shown, but most people trim the dogs down at some
point after they are "retired" from the show ring. At
that point , the dog is usually trimmed in more of a pet cut or
the dog may still have its back coat stripped and the leg and side
coat feathering is hand-scissored to a shorter, more manageable
length (generally about 2-4 inches of coat). For information
on dog shows and caring for show dogs, check out my page.
The perfect clip for your dog will depend on a number of factors.
These factors will include the amount of coat your dog has, the
time he spends outside, the weather in your area, the amount of
time you have to do coat upkeep in-between full groomings, the
health of your pet's skin and coat, the presence of external
parasites and the activities you participate in with your dog.
(Just to name a few!) Of course, the one important factor I
didn't mention above is how YOU like for your dog to look!
- Regular Cocker Cut / Full-Coated Pet Clip
- Many pet owners like the look of a Cocker in full coat and are
more than willing to spend the time and money (mostly time) it
takes to maintain this look. However, this clip may
not be practical for some pets. With this clip, the
face, the top 1/3rd of the ears and the back are shaved. The
ear feathering, legs and side-coat are left long and full.
The feet are trimmed close and feathers are tapered up slightly
off of the ground. This type of clip will require that
the dog receive a thorough brushing every 2 to 3 days (if not
daily) and bathing about once a week. Keep in mind that
bathing and drying a full coated dog is a time-consuming chore and
can take several hours.
If your dog has a moderate amount
of coat, is moderately active, spends most of his time indoors, is
only out on a manicured lawn, does not have fleas or skin problems
and you are able to brush and bathe him (or have him brushed and
bathed) weekly, then keeping your dog in full coat is definitely
an option. If, on the other hand, your dog has excessive coat,
lives in a humid, wet location, has a skin sensitivity/allergy
issue and you never touch the dog's coat with a brush or comb,
then full coat is not the right choice for your dog.
- Modified Pet Clip / Puppy Cut
- For those of you that like the coated look, but don't have the
time to take care of a fully-coated dog; or for those with a dog
that they take out on walks in the woods; or for dogs that spend
more than the minimum amount of time outdoors, a modified pet clip
may be the best choice when choosing a clip. This clip is
similar to the one described above except that the leg and side
coat are hand scissored shorter. The feathers
are usually trimmed until there is only 2-4 inches of hair left on
the legs, sides and belly. For you do-it-at-home
groomers, the easiest way to get the leg and side coat shorter is
to use a blade guard to get the bulk of the hair off.
After removing the bulk of the feathering, what's left can be
hand-scissored to a smooth, even finish. The ear feathering
can be trimmed or left long depending on owner preference.
Many people refer to this as a puppy cut.
Summer Cut / Field Clip / Strip
- If your dog is extremely active, spends a lot of time
in the yard, has skin or parasite issues or if you don't
have time for a lot of coat brushing, you might consider
keeping your dog in a field clip. This clip is
also similar to a regular Cocker cut, but the legs and
sides are trimmed to 1/2 inch or less with a clipper
blade (usually a #7F, #5F or #4F). Many Cocker
owners have their dogs clipped this way during hot
weather. It's also common for groomers
to clip a matted dog this way so that they don't have to
hurt the dog by trying to brush out mats.
This type of clip is a good choice if you take your dog camping or
swimming a lot or if he is active in other outdoor activities.
There are several modifications that can be made to the above
clips which may be helpful in addressing specific grooming issues
with your pet. Additionally, if your pet has a
problem in a specific area, don't be afraid to experiment with
grooming techniques until you find a solution to the problem.
Remember, if you try something and decided you don't like
the end result, the hair will grow back!! If your dog
is taken to a professional groomer, be sure and talk to the
groomer about any issues or concerns you have regarding your dog's
- This is one of my favorite tricks and will save you a tremendous
amount of time if you like to keep your Cocker in a regular Cocker
cut or a modified pet clip. This modification is used
to remove hair in areas that are prone to mats and tangles.
this modification, you (or your groomer) will begin by picking up
each front leg and shaving from the elbow down into and through
the "armpits" with a #10 blade. Be sure not use
a skip toothed blade or even a #7 or other finish blade as you
might catch the skin. While a cut from the clippers is
not likely to be more than the skin surface, even a small strip of
skin removed in this area may require stitches as the wound will
tend to "spread open" due to the elasticity of the skin in this
area. The same is true when clipping the flap of skin just
in front of the rear leg at the belly. However, don't be
scared by this warning and abandon your decision to try this
modification. A little care and attention is all that is
required to avoid a problem.
Next, if you
haven't done so already, pick-up each rear leg and clip the inside
of the upper thigh, the belly and the genital area. Once you
have removed the hair under each leg, pick the dog up by the front
legs and shave from the chest down through the rest of the hair on
the belly. On each side, shave in a straight line from the
armpit down to where the rear leg is attached and everything
in-between. This should leave about a 2 inch wide skirt of
feathering on the dog's chest and down the dog's sides.
When standing, the skirt should still look full (or of the same
scissored length as the legs) and the shaved belly should not be
Care must be
taken not to remove too much chest or side-coat hair.
The point is to remove the areas that tend to tangle and are hard
to brush out, while leaving the front chest hair, legs and
side-coat in a "false" skirt. If you take out too much or
shave in the wrong place, the modification will result in holes in
the skirt, so take your time and check your pattern often the
first time you attempt this. Once you have the
pattern set, it will be easier the next time as you just have to
trim the hair that is already shortened.
This modification can help you cut grooming time (less
brushing, shorter drying time) and can also help you
spot fleas and ticks. It may help keep the dog
cleaner too as the chest and belly hair is usually the
first to get dirty and pick up yard debris.
This clip modification can be very beneficial for dogs
that work in the field or spend a considerable amount of
time outdoors. If your dog has coat that
tends to tangle, he'll really appreciate you keeping
this hair clipped instead of trying to brush the tangles
out all of the time.
chest and belly hair short will also make your pet happy as he
will be able to belly down on cool surfaces during warm weather.
When he starts to get warm, you'll find Fido belly down on the AC
vents or the tile/linoleum floor! I see a big difference in
panting and activity levels in my dogs if I keep their belly
stripped out. It also makes tummy rubs more enjoyable!
most owners are aware, Cockers can be prone to ear infections and
other more serious ear issues. To help minimize or
eliminate the risk of ear problems, Cockers must have their ears
cleaned regularly. Some of the following grooming
procedures may also help prevent or reduce the seriousness of ear
issues. At least some of the following steps should be included
every time your dog is groomed. Unfortunately, many groomers
don't do this on their own and, if you have someone else groom
your dog, you may have to ask that they do so.
behind the following grooming steps is to lighten the ear leather
and to remove all
hair from around the ear opening so that there will be maximum air
flow in and around the ear canal. This will help keep
moisture and debris from being trapped in the ear and will help
prevent bacterial and fungal growth within the ear.
step in grooming to prevent ear problems is to clip all hair as
short as possible around the ear canal and to keep it this way by
grooming the dog every 4-6 weeks. For maximum
effectiveness, the top 1/3 on the outside of the ear, the top 1/3
of the underside of the ear,
behind the ear and the side of the face need to be clipped short.
A regular "Cocker" pattern on the face and head will clip the
necessary hair. This is generally done with a #10 blade, but
a #15 or #30 blade may be used around the ear canal opening if
your dog does not have sensitive skin and does not have existing
ear infections and/or ear issues that make it likely he would
traumatize the ear by scratching after the grooming.
If your dog
has existing ear problems and/or has sensitive skin and is likely
to scratch at the ears after grooming, you can try a #8 1/2 blade
or a #7F blade to trim the face and ears. It's important to
use a cool blade when clipping this area as any irritation
(clipper burn) could cause the dog to scratch and traumatize the
ear. If this should happen, the dog is like to end up with
an ear infection. (The very thing you were trying to
prevent!) If you should see any irritation (hot spots) on the ears
or face after
grooming, you can use Neosporin to soothe the irritation and
prevent infection and you can use a hydrocortisone spray or cream
to soothe the itch.
grooming procedure that may help prevent ear infections or help to
control existing ear issues, is to remove the feathering on the
lower half of the ear leather on the inside of the ear.
This will remove some of the weight holding the ear down and can
help increase the amount of air flow into the ear canal. If
you are careful to shave only the hair on the underside of the ear
leather, this will leave a full feathering of hair on the outside
of the ear and will preserve the characteristic, long-eared Cocker
To further reduce the weight on the ears, you
can also trim or shave the feathering on the outside of the ears.
Many owners that trim their dogs leg and side-coat feathering will
also trim the length of the ear hair to give the dog a balanced
look. If you prefer not to shave the entire ear and would
like to leave some ear hair so that the dog still has a Cocker
look, try scissoring some of the length off of the bottom of the
ear. I don't usually do this straight across the
bottom of the ear, but will slightly curve the trimming in an
effort to match the general shape of the ear. Be sure
to comb the ears before doing this and then clip, comb, clip, comb
until you get the desired shape and length. (One word
of advice here is to start by leaving the hair a little longer
than you may think you really want. Hopefully, that
way you won't clip, comb, clip, comb only to find there's nothing
- Traditional Cocker clips generally leave the dog's feet full and
fluffy. If the dog's leg coat is scissored or trimmed
shorter, some owners will trim the feet moderately short to match
the leg trim, but most Cocker owners never consider trimming the
feet really short. This is, however, an option that some
owners might consider incorporating into their dog's grooming
instances, it might be beneficial to the dog to trim or shave the
feet short. Clipping the feet short can help
prevent/control fungus infections and other skin disorders of the
feet that can cause the dog to constantly chew or lick his toes.
Additionally, owners who have never thought about trimming their
Cocker's feet short might consider that eliminating excess hair on
the feet can help keep the dog clean and can prevent the dog from
tracking so much dirt and yard debris into the house, especially
during wet weather. In snowy areas, short hair on the feet
can also help keep the dog from getting ice or snowballs in
between the pads or caught up in the hair between the toes.
During warm weather, short hair on the feet can help keep your dog
from getting grass seeds, stick tights or cockle burrs in its
- If you think
your dog might benefit from having his feet trimmed short, but you would
like to maintain the
traditional Cocker look, you can scissor the foot hair very short
around the pads, toenails, between the toes and slightly up the
sides of the feet. You will also trim the feathers a
little shorter than normal so that they taper up and away from
the foot and the ground a little more. You will be able to
see the tightly groomed foot (which should appear closely
trimmed but not shaved) but the feathers will still be full and
the dog will, for the most part, still appear to be in a normal
- If you think your dog might need to have his feet clipped
shorter than described above, but you would still like him to
look like he has his full coat, you can shave the feet short to the first joint
(ankle), while leaving the long leg feathering to hang down and cover the feet. The
bare feet will show some when he moves, but the leg hair will hide
the feet most of the time. For this modification, you should
trim the leg feathering just to the point that it doesn't drag
- If you
decide to shave the dog's feet and don't mind
that the bare feet can be seen, you can trim the leg feathering
even with the line where you quit shaving the foot. Taper
the leg featherings up from the shaved area all the way around
the leg. You can also trim the side and chest coat if
necessary so that all of the coat is the same length. This
modification will make keeping the dog's feet and legs clean and dry much easier.
(The dog won't leave huge muddy footprints everywhere every time he
goes out in the dew, rain or snow!) For people whose dogs
have access to a doggy door, this can be a lifesaver on the carpet
To shave the feet short, I suggest using
a #10 blade against the grain of the hair growth
(from the nails up the foot, between the toes, to
the first joint (where there's a slight bony
protrusion on each side of the leg bone).
Be sure to shave between the pads on the bottom of
the foot as well.
bonus of shaving or trimming the feet short is that trimming the
nails is much easier without all that hair in the way!
For those REALLY
pampered pets out there, instead of going to Rover's regular groomer
the next time he needs a haircut or bath, maybe your dog would like
to try one of a rapidly growing selection of doggy day camps
or doggy spas/resorts! These specialty centers are
geared towards offering your pet the ultimate in care, grooming,
relaxation and fun. At most of these facilities, your dog can
get any of the normal "grooming shop" services, but (depending on
how deep your pockets happen to be!) you can also choose from a
number of "extra" or special services. How about
limousine pick-up and delivery service, agility romps,
hydrotherapy (swimming) for exercise/conditioning, aromatherapy or a
massage? And if your dog needs a place to stay while
your away from home, why not try a doggy spa/resort with special
windowed suites, a real bed, his own tv (taped animal programs for
the discriminating viewer!), individual cuddle and quiet time,
supervised multi-dog playtimes and, before going home, a wonderful
new "do" in the specialty grooming salon!
You may think I'm
joking, but there really are doggy spas and resorts. Some of
these are NOT grooming shops and only offer doggy day care or spa
treatments. However, many offer a full range of grooming
services as well as individual playtime, supervised multi-dog playtime,
individual training time for obedience and/or agility and
a plethora of "treatments" designed to help your dog feel like a
million bucks. Believe it or not, doggy day care can cost as
much or more than day care for a human child and spa treatments can
cost an owner as much as they would spend for some of their own
Below is a quote for "services" from
Dog Day Cafe in Tennessee. As you can see, your dog
can be pampered like never before!! (and this doesn't include
a bath or haircut!!)
- $50.00 -
Aromatherapy Ear Cleaning & Ear Massage
Aromatherapy Relaxation Pawdicure
Aromatherapy Joint Rub Essential Oil Treatment
Canine Calm Down Aromatherapy Treatment
Canine Fear/Anxiety Aromatherapy Treatment
Leave in Aromatherapy Fur Conditioning
Gourmet Treat of the Day
15 minutes of Agility Exercise or Clicker Training
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questions or would like more information about
our Cocker Spaniels,
Sandcastle Kennels 2004
January 01, 2006