Saturday, August 9, 2014

How to Groom a Cocker Spaniel at Home

Cocker Spaniels are fun to groom. The American Cocker Spaniel clip involves many tools and will challenge even some pros. There is a lot of hair, and Cocker Spaniels do shed a lot, but if you keep up on daily brushing it's a relatively quick process.

 Grooming Tools:

Slicker brush, pin brush, shedding comb, large steel comb, mat rake or breaker, dog shampoo, dog conditioner, tear stain remover, ear cleaner, ear powder, cotton balls, toenail clippers, styptic powder, grooming scissors, thinning shears, grooming clippers, #10 clipper blade, other clipper blade sizes as desired, dog toothpaste, dog toothbrush, towels, blow dryer.

Daily Grooming for a Cocker Spaniel

1. Comb through all of the long hair on the Cocker Spaniel with the steel comb. Use the shedding comb in short upward motions to remove loose hair on the back hips and sides (skirt) of the dog. Use the shedding comb on the front, ears and chest to remove loose hair. Remember to flip each ear over and comb out from the inside as well.

2. Trim away any stray hairs from the legs and sides of the dog as needed using the grooming scissors and thinning shears. Check for mats under the legs and remove immediately with the mat breaker or rake.

3. Place a small amount of tear stain remover on a cotton swab and gently wipe away any stains under the dog's eyes. Use care not to get tear stain remover in the dog's eyes. Report excessive staining or tearing to your veterinarian.

4. Flip over each ear and inspect for dirt and parasites. Also check for a foul odor, which could be a sign of a yeast infection. Place a small amount of ear cleaner on a cotton ball and remove any dirt from the ear canal. Put a small amount of ear drying powder in each ear after cleaning. Do not use forceps or any other instrument in the ear canal unless you are a professional. Report any pain, parasites or excessive dirt or smells to your veterinarian.

5. Use a veterinarian approved dog toothpaste and toothbrush to brush the dog's teeth. You can also use a finger brush for daily quick cleaning. No toothpaste is needed for a finger brush. Lift the lips of the Cocker Spaniel to get to the far back teeth. Report any damaged teeth or gums, or any bad odors to your veterinarian.

6. Check the dog's feet for staining and injuries. Use the steal comb and mat breaker to remove any burs or mats. Turn each foot over and inspect the pads for injuries or cracking. Clip the toenails short as needed. Report any injuries or excessive dryness of the pads to your veterinarian.

Full Grooming for a Cocker Spaniel

1. Complete steps one through six above. Make sure to remove all mats before getting the dog wet.

2. Use a quality high protein shampoo and conditioner, and dilute them according to the brand recommendations. Grab the towels, ear cleaner, cotton balls, tear stain remover and head to the bathing area.

3. Clean the ears (step four above) then place a dry cotton ball in each of the Cocker Spaniel's ears to help keep water out of the ear canal during the bath. Apply the diluted shampoo and work into the dog's coat until a thick lather forms. Rinse completely until the water runs clear. Use the diluted conditioner and work into the coat completely. Rinse the conditioner out completely. Brush the dog's teeth while in the tub. Remove the cotton balls from the dog's ears immediately after the bath.

4. Towel dry the dog as much as possible before leaving the tub. Finish drying the Cocker Spaniel while brushing through the long coat to remove any tangles. Use the shedding comb to remove all the loose hair before clipping.

5. Attach a #10 blade to grooming clippers and begin with the head and face of the Cocker Spaniel. Carefully run the clippers from the corner of the dog's eyes down the nose, cheeks and jaws in the opposite direction of hair growth. Use your free hand to pull the skin taut by the back corners of the mouth and under the jaw and neck. Follow the red pattern in photo number one.

6. Use the #10 blade above the eyebrows and over the top of the head. Remove all of the hair on the neck, around under the ears, to form a wide "U" at the breastbone. Note: Some Cocker Spaniel owners prefer a crown of hair left on top and scissor to the desired length.

7. Using the #10 blade, remove the hair at the top of the ears to about two inches down the ears going against the direction of hair growth. Flip the ears over and remove all the hair near the ear canal. You can thin the ears by completely shaving the underside if grooming is a problem for the dog. Use care with the clippers on the sensitive underside of the dog's ears and watch for flaps of skin that may get caught in the clippers. Change clipper blades often to keep them from getting hot.

8. Starting from the area you stopped at the back of the neck, use the #7F clipper blade to remove a strip of hair straight down the back of the Cocker Spaniel to the tail. This will be your guide for the center of the dog's back so make it as straight as possible. Follow the blue pattern in photo number one.

9. Remove all the hair from the dog's tail with the #7F blade. Use the clippers to remove any hair near the anus, careful not to let the blade come in contact with the anus. Shave strip away under the tail and slightly to the left and right evenly. Use thinning shears to blend the fur into the feathers on the back legs.

10. Using a #7F blade and a light touch with the clippers, start at the strip you shaved down the back of the dog and begin to blend in the strip to the sides and skirt area. Use the clippers down the sides of the dog, lifting as you blend into the longer hair. Avoid the temptation to shave a strip from front to back, this will cause a hula skirt look and is nearly impossible to blend. Follow the blue pattern in photo number one.

11. Comb through the ears of the dog and trim any stray hairs so they lay naturally. Trim the bottom of each ear to the desired length. Alert your veterinarian or the pet owner to any pain responses from the Cocker Spaniel during the ear cleaning process.

12. Comb down the sides of the dog's body with the shedding comb or steel comb to remove any loose hair. Comb the hair up and away from the body on the sides and use the thinning shears to blend in the skirt area to the area shaved from the back of the Cocker Spaniel. Do this all the way around the dog until the coat is fully blended on the sides, upper legs and chest.

13. Using a #9 or #10 blade on the clippers, shave a strip from the mid abdomen to the groin. Remove as much hair as possible, or to the pet owner's request, from the area. Remember to change grooming blades often to avoid touching the dog's skin with a hot blade.

14. Comb the hair on the front legs forward, then trim away any stray hairs. Then comb the hair backward, toward the tail, and again remove any stray hairs with the thinning shears. The front legs should appear full and slightly rounded at the back. Use the #10 blade on the clippers to remove the fur in the front 'armpits' of the dog if matting is an issue.

15. Comb through the rear legs of the Cocker Spaniel and trim away any stray hairs. Comb or brush the fur forward toward the front legs and trim to a slightly rounded form. Comb or brush the fur in the direction of the tail and trim away any stray hairs. Use the thinning shears to blend any fur in with the rest of the fur on the back legs.

16. Brush through the fur on the chest of the Cocker Spaniel and trim away any stray hairs. Use the thinning shears to blend in the fur to the shave line at the front. Use the thinning shears to blend the hair on the chest into the front legs.

17. Use the clippers or blunt end scissors to remove the fur between the pads. Comb the fur on top of each foot and trim to floor length using the toenails as a guide. The finished foot should appear rounded and blend into the dog's legs.

It may look like a lot of work to groom a Cocker Spaniel, but if you comb through the hair daily a full groom does not take that long. Some Cocker Spaniel owners prefer a shorter style clip, and this breed looks great in both a teddy bear clip or a field clip.

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