Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trimming a Lhasa's Feet

On my to-do list for this evening is "Trim Mira/Breaker/Belle's feet for show next weekend."

I have to admit that one grooming job I hate is trimming the show dogs' feet! It has to be done, but I put it off all the time and then, of course, the task only becomes more difficult.

Why do we trim the hair on the show dogs' feet?

Shaggy feet make even the most neatly groomed Lhasa look "unfinished." The unkempt appearance of those feet can be improved by trimming and rounding the coat around the feet. It makes a prettier picture in the show ring.

Here's what you can do to trim feet:

Stack your Lhasa on a grooming table and keep him still(this is the hard part!). If you are lucky enough to have a willing spouse or friend handy, he/she can hold the dog steady (you need to keep the dog from leaning or you'll trim shorter than you should). You can also use a grooming noose. (I've had limited success with that because the dog can still manage to lean.)

If your dog has heavy furnishings on his legs and feet, push the hair up and away from the foot itself and hold it there. Brush or comb a layer of hair over the foot and trim it all the way around fairly close to the foot. Then brush a second layer over the foot, this time trimming it so it's slightly longer than the first layer. Depending on how heavily coated your dog's foot is, repeat this until the foot has a neat, rounded appearance. Do all four feet in the same way.

If your Lhasa doesn't have heavily-coated feet, you may be able to get by with just combing all the hair over the foot and cutting it. I've seen a lot of Lhasas' feet look chopped up when their owners or groomers do this though. I prefer the layering strategy, but do whatever works best for you.

One thing that has helped me tremendously when it comes time to trim feet is raising the height of my grooming table so I do not have to "walk" around the grooming table on my knees to see what I am doing. If you are interested in reading how you can increase the height of your grooming table, read my grooming table transformation article. The article contains a picture of the table so you can see what it looks like when it is "transformed!"

I think the main reason I dislike trimming my show dogs' feet is that it is so easy to make a mistake and cut too much off or cut crookedly or take a chunk out when the dog decides to move unexpectedly.

To make matters worse, Mira is black, which makes trimming difficult. My husband helped by rigging up one of his shop lights so I can see what and where I am cutting when I trim her! Mira's coat is long and gorgeous. No way do I want to mess that up!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you!


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