Saturday, November 10, 2012

Before and After: Bichon and More

OK, here we go, another week's worth of before and after pictures. 

This first guy is an old Wheaten that I did yesterday. He was covered in warts, moles, and cysts, and had a hard time standing for too long, but otherwise he was very good to groom. Here's his before picture.

And here's his after picture. You can see one of the cysts on his back hip there. I went slightly shorter around the cysts than the rest of the body to try to keep that area clean and mat-free. The owner wanted a shorter cut in general for the same reason, but not too short since it's getting cold. I left 1/2" on the body and 1/4" around the cysts. She likes his ears shaved but no fall, so I did something resembling a teddy bear head. You also can't really see his tail in this picture. It's a natural-length tail, not docked, and the owner likes it short "because otherwise he looks like a fox." When I did the dog the last time, I left his tail just a hair longer than the body, but she wanted it even shorter this time, so I did it the same length as the body. 

Next, I have a cute 6-month-old Westie puppy. Luckily I thought to snap a picture before I even washed her, because she was filthy! She was also wiggly, so it was hard to get a good shot.

Here's a view of her face before the bath. Man was she dirty. As terriers should be, really...

Here's her face all done. I actually managed to get her attention long enough to get her picture!

Here's a side view of her all done. I had done her once before and put the pattern on her body with a snap-on comb that was 5/8". This time they wanted her halfway between that and a regular Westie cut - since she's still a puppy, they wanted her to retain some puppiness to her look. A regular Westie pattern leaves 1/4" on the back, so I went with my 3/8" comb. I think it turned out well - she still looks puppyish but is clearly a Westie, as well.

Next we have a Scottie with a Westie head. This lady also has a Westie, but her pictures didn't turn out very well. She's a little older and shaky, so the pics were blurry. Anyway, the owner likes the Westie head on both dogs. I think it looks strange, but I guess it doesn't look bad. Here's her before picture.

And here's her after picture. She is SO fat that trying to blend her skirt without dropping the line WAY too low is very difficult. I think she turned out pretty good, though. Naturally, she refused to look at the camera.

OK, now for the Grand Finale. I think most non-groomers (and maybe some groomers, too) will be really impressed with these before and afters. This dog was such a mess when she came in. She's one of my regulars, sort of, but they went somewhere else the last time she was groomed. I'm always flattered when people come back to me after they try somebody else. Here's the weird thing: the customer whipped out her phone to show me a picture of her dog right after I had last groomed it. She wanted her dog to look just like that again. I take really good notes, so that shouldn't be a problem. People bringing pictures of their dog (or other dogs they want theirs to look like) is not new, but somebody showing me how I groomed the dog before and that it was perfect (rather than: see this part? it was too long. or something like that) was a first for me.

Here's a side view of what a mess she was. Not matted (much), but extremely dirty and very curly. Also whoever groomed her before left her ears way too long.   

She HATES having her head blow dried. I was afraid some of these scratches would break the skin and I would wind up bleeding all over my clean white dog, but I got lucky and they were all superficial.

Here she is clean and dry. Do you see how the hair on her back leg looks strange and separated compared to the rest of her body? Those are pin mats, which I will need to brush out.

All brushed out and ready for the haircut.

After, side view. I leave 5/8" on her body and skim her legs with a 7/8" comb then scissor them. She doesn't have perfect column legs because I didn't have enough hair to work with - you can see that from her clean pictures. I think her body turned out pretty well, though, I'm pleased with it.

Hey, thanks for looking at the camera! Her head isn't quite perfect, but considering how few actual Bichon heads I have done (compared to plenty of smaller teddy bear heads), especially with the ears blended into the head like they are supposed to be instead of long like most people want, I'll take it. The ears aren't quite right, but this is still one of the best Bichon heads I've done. I hope they continue to bring her to me on a more regular basis so I can practice more. 

 That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed today's selection, and as always, comments are always welcome!


  1. Hey, I learned to do scottie heads basically the same way as Schnauzers. Is this the correct way to do it? Also, I really dig the short ears on the big puffy head on the bichon. I don't remember the standard, but it really makes the round of the head "pop". It's hard to convince anyone to get short ears on a fluffy dog though. Sometimes my clients don't trust us in the grooming industry to see what looks best on their pets!

    1. I just realized I posted my reply as a separate comment, so go check that out!

  2. Yes, Scottie heads are basically the same as Schnauzer heads except for the ears, which get "toofies" left at the base of them. Here's what I do: I shave around the base of the ear, pointing my blade toward the ear, but don't shave the whole ear! Shave the tip of the ear, and round the remaining fringe into the tipped part of the ear. I like to fold the ear in half like a taco on all the tipped-ear breeds when rounding the fringe into the shaved part. I hope that made sense. It should resemble Westie ears on a Schnauzer head. I don't know when I'll do a Scottie with a real head, because I don't do very many, but I will be sure to take a picture the next time I do.

    The standard for the Bichon is to round the ears into the head like that for exactly the reason you said, it makes the round head even more distinct. Show groomers do it better than I do, though. ;-)

    I don't even bother stressing about what the owners do or don't want on their dog. Westie head on a Scottie? Cool. Shaved ears on a teddy head on a Wheaten? Sure. Mohawk? Why not. I figure my job is to make the dog look how THE OWNER thinks looks best, even if it looks ridiculous to the rest of the world. Even when somebody says "I want a Westie cut," I go over all the details to make sure they know what that means and I know they know. For all I know, their idea of a Westie cut is a 7 a/o with a short Westie head.

    I believe once you (you as in anybody, not you in particular, lol) let go of your preconceived notions of how any dog "should" look, you can become a better groomer with more requests. You can do the most perfect show Bichon head in the world, but the owners won't be happy if they actually wanted a teddy bear head.

    OK, I'm tired and I'm rambling. One last thing, you should check out I continue to learn more and more about our craft from this page, and she did a post on scissoring that has helped me tremendously.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  3. You did a great job with all of them, I am jealoous on the way your legs turn out all the time.....I still can't get mine to look as round and puffy....maybe its may scissors?

    1. The best thing to do is to dry the dogs straight through; if they kennel dry at all, they'll be wavy or curly. If you can, have your boss buy the Isle of Dogs Stand (Up) shampoo and spray - those products REALLY help curly-coated dogs dry straight and fluffy.

      If you've tried all that, it could be your scissoring technique. This article helped me a lot:

      I hope that helps. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Also thank you for your compliment. :-)

  4. You clearly take pride in your work. I appreciate good grooming because I have 6 dogs myself (5 Maltese and 1 Westie). If you ever do a Maltese please post pics. I especially like the Teddy Bear cut.

    1. Thank you very much, Leigh! I have been terribly busy lately and haven't blogged for a while, but I'm planning on writing something in the next couple of days. I should have some Maltese pics I can throw in there for you. :-)