Trimming the Show Mini

Author's note: These grooming pages were written in 2000, and since then a few things have changed, primarily in my choice of stripping knives. I will endeavor to update these pages soon (and fix the typos!), but in the meantime they should still serve most beginners well as a guide to basic show grooming.

The Tools
(left to right, top to bottom)
Tweezers - to remove ear canal hair
Flea comb - for raking undercoat in longer jackets
Metal comb - 1" teeth
Scissors - buy good quality dog shears - 8"
Slicker - high quality ones have lots of soft pins
Stripping knives - (Pearson) extra fine, fine, med.
(buy for right/lefthanded!)
Dr.Scholls foot file - excellent for rough stripping
Lava rock - for removing fuzz from short or poor quality wire coats.

The first step: Stripping

The following diagrams are based on a Miniature Schnauzer of correct conformation and type. The stripping pattern and trim shown should be adjusted for each individual dog as required.

stripping pattern

The sectioned jacket is the easier of the two methods that may be used (especially for novices) when stripping a Mini Schnauzer. In this method, it is best to begin with an untrimmed puppy or adult in blown coat. The process is simple - you simply remove all the hair in the section indicated, following the pattern by stripping the subsequent sections in 7 day intervals. Thus, stripping should be complete in about 4 weeks.

stripping     raking

Stripping w/knife                 Raking undercoat

The hair is removed by plucking with forefinger and thumb, or stripping knife and thumb, a few at a time, until the area worked on is completely bare. The hair must be pulled from the roots - not cut. Don't remove too many at a time - this is painful for the dog and for your hands. Always pull in the direction the hair grows.

Avoid the use of lotions, etc. on the bare skin. However, do watch that itchy spots or abrasions that may have accidently occurred don't become a problem. These can be treated with a soothing antibiotic rub or powder if need be. Bare skin will sunburn! Ensure that the dog is protected with shade or a light jacket when outside. The same holds true for severe winter weather - a stripped dog is without a coat and will chill sooner. Put a sweater on or keep his trips outside brief if the weather is wet or cold.

In a few weeks time, soft, fuzzy undercoat will begin to reappear, just ahead of the new wire. There may also be some scraggly leftovers, hairs that were cut instead of plucked. Remove this "junk" before the new coat is more than 1/4" in length.

As the coat begins to take shape, raking with an extra fine stripping knife will keep excess undercoat at bay. When removing undercoat, keep a close eye on your mirror. It's important to leave some undercoat to create smooth lines, enhance the arch of neck, fill low spots, etc.

Scissoring and clipperwork

side view diagram     front,back view

Diagrams of the basic trim lines that should be followed in shaping the legs, underline and head.

Prior to any trimming taking place, the furnishings and beard should be bathed and blown dry, using the slicker brush to seperate and fluff the hair. A bit of sculpting mousse will help hold the hair and reduce static. You can also use a little chalk to provide control while scissoring. (Yes, your scissors will become dull more quickly by trimming chalked furnishings, but the purpose of trimming is to trim legs, not keep scissors sharp.)

Begin by clippering the cheeks, ears, butterfly under the tail and tummy to a spot no further forward than the navel. Trim excessive hair from between the foot pads as well. I use #30 blade for these areas. Also clipper the white portions of the chest, but do not dive too deeply between the front legs. This area should be blended into the fore leg hair with scissors.

Scissoring should be done with straight scissors, using angled cuts, tips pointing to the ground. Move around the dog as you trim and check the results in the mirror often. Keep the edge, not the flat, of the blades in alignment with your line of sight. Otherwise, you have no idea what you are trimming. Concentrate on making smooth, sharp lines.

head front     head side

A pic of the finished job

Practice makes perfect. Study the trims of other exhibitors who's grooming you admire and then ask for advice when they have a free moment! The worst that can happen is that they will say "No"!

Rolling the jacket
On the day of the show

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