Your Welsh & Your Groomer

by Sandra Ilmanen, Education Committee

I received a call the other day. . ."Remember Murphy? We were going to start showing him this summer -- Well, we took him to the groomer the other day (they've always done him up so nice before) and he came out shaved from head to tail--top to bottom. . .they had new help in the back and they said this was a typical pet springer trim."

This is the sort of stuff that gives breeders nightmares time after time. Even if the dog is only a loved pet -- we all want our dogs to look good. We want them to look like the beautiful dogs we fell in love with at the dog show or breeder's house where we first went to look at them.

The goal of this article is to give you some guidelines that you can copy and give to your groomer, or to help you in trimming your own dog.

Grooming the Welsh Springer


The well-groomed Welsh is one that appears as if very little trimming was done. To achieve this look you must minimize the use of the electric dog clipper, and practice to develop a good technique with scissors. Remember: the clipper is used only on the ears and the throat of the dog, NEVER on the head, body, feet, or tail. The area of the throat that is clipped is diamond-shaped. Starting at the chin, the hair is shaved along the inside of the lower jaw to the inside of the ear, then continuing along a fairly straight line down the side of the neck to a point approximately two inches above the breastbone. Repeat on the other side, then shave the inside of the diamond. Use the thinning shears to blend the shaved areas into the surrounding longer hair of the neck, shoulders, and muzzle by scissoring under the top layer of hair against (not across) the hair growth.

The inside one-third of the ear leather surrounding the ear canal is also shaved. With the ear hanging naturally, a fold is formed that lays against the neck -- this portion of the outer ear leather which touches the neck is shaved as well. By shaving here and on the neck under the ear, you allow more air to circulate around the ear canal opening.

Trimming the top outer side of the ear is done on the show dog -- the extent and shape of the shaving done varies from dog to dog and handler to handler. If there are any plans in the future to show the dog, consult with the person who will show the dog before shaving -- as a general rule DO NOT shave on the outside of the ear unless a specific clip is requested, or if it is obvious that previous clipping was done. Shaving is now completed. Remember, the shaver is NEVER used as extensively as is done with English Springers where fully one-third of the ear is shaved.

Now, use the thinning shears to remove hair from the sides of the head in order to define the top edge of the ears. Remove any short hairs on the upper ear that are out of place.

Since the Welsh Standard calls for a relatively small ear, the ear feathering is often shaped with thinning shears. Trim approximately one-half inch from the bottom front edge of the ear leather all the way around to the back inner edge of the ear. Leave the front edge of the ear alone. It is seldom shaped or shaved.

NOTE -- the head of the Welsh is NOT shaved as it is in Cockers and English Springers. The body coat is NEVER shaved. This breed does not grow excessive body coat and the deep red color that we love is only found in the top/outer layer. Shaving will result in an orange, fuzzy look that takes months, if not years, to regain its natural texture and color.

If a heavy undercoat has grown, it may be reduced by use of the stripping knife. Hold the skin at the start of your stroke with one hand, and use the knife like a comb in the direction of the coat. Adjust the angle of the blade until the undercoat (tan and fuzzy) is what is being removed. Don't press hard down on the dogs skin or the dog may be scratched. The stripping knife may be used on all of the back, sides, thighs, and short-coated areas of the leg as necessary to achieve a neat appearance. In the case of spayed females, sometimes there is a change in texture and color of the body coat. It may become tan and "fuzzy." If only a small area of the flanks and sides is affected, you can improve her appearance quite a bit by using the stripping knife. In areas where no red coat remains, use a comb and thinning shears to shape and shorten the coat.

Feet are trimmed with scissors -- not shaved. Pick up the foot and trim off all the hair on the bottom between and around the pads. Next, trim the hair on the sides of the foot to follow the line of the pad. Push and comb the hair up between the toes, and take your thinning shears and cut to the natural arch of the foot. This is a good time to clip the toenails.

Next, with the dog standing naturally, trim the long feathering on the pasterns and the back of the leg in a straight horizontal line one-half to one inch above the table.

The hocks are trimmed with scissors in a line paralleling the bone and leaving hair approximately one-half inch long.

The tail is not shaved as it is with English Springers. Trim and shape the bottom and end with scissors to follow the natural line leaving approximately one inch of hair. Leave the hair on the top and sides of the tail alone.

All the feathering on the front and rear legs, the belly, and the apron areas is brushed and left untrimmed.

The ears should be cleaned, and anal sacs emptied if necessary. A bath and brushout should follow. Shampoo with blueing will enhance the color of the dog.

Well folks, that should help -- bear in mind these points:

"It's easier to take more hair off later than it is to put hair back on!"

All materials are Copyrighted;
Some 1994-8 by
Gary Ilmanen
Saga Research
All Rights Reserved