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Show Grooming


Greg P
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Here's what the breed standard says:

Condition: Dogs should be shown in good hard flesh, well muscled and neither too fat or thin. Should be in full good coat with plenty of head furnishings, be clean, combed, brushed and tidied up on the ears, tail, feet and general outline. Should move freely and easily on a loose lead, should not cringe on being handled, should stand up on their toes and show with marked terrier characteristics.

Many describe the ideal show cairn as "tidy yet scruffy". We're seeing skirts and "westie" stylized heads on some and some with coats so tight, they look more like fox terriers.

Any thoughts on where this is all leading to? Are we seeing a move toward "stylizing" our breed?

Greg and Val Perry

Home of Kula RN CGC, Am. Can. Int'l. CH Cairngorm Coffee Tea or Me RA ME EE2/Can. SE NAJ NAS CGC (Kona), CH Clanmarr's Steele Princess (Hattie) and CH Scotchbroom Thistle The Patriot SE (Sully) Visit: CroftersDream.com

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I dont think the variations have gone as extreme as suggested. Hopefully we never see the westie head grooming! ...although some groomers have been known to do this! The 'skirts' are typically more tapered to show the line of the body swooping at the belly - a more natural line than say the westie... I've heard of some variation between countries, i.e. in canada the hair is typically more short, and expressive of the muscle than in the US but the overal look is very similar and looking at the historical photos hasnt changed too significantly... maturity of the grooming shows in the classes, puppies vs. adult dogs... I'm certainly no expert on the shifts of judging over the decades, these are just my observations from pics that i've seen and some discussion with breeders. Our breeder was beginning to groom their canadian ch dog a bit longer to enter shows south of the border, there are some subtle nuances depending on the judging...

a

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I noticed differences when I watched the video of the Cairn judging from the Westminster show. Although I'm no groomer or have any knowledge about judging and showing, it did seem that some of them have Westie-type heads -- kind of round and big. I like the scruffier look myself, obvious when you look at Packy most of the time!

Jandy and my Cairns, Kirby & Phinney 
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I have noticed a little more "sculpting" going on with the Cairns over last few years, but I have noticed it on almost all the breeds I handle. There is way too much scissoring and trimming going on in breeds that are to be shown in "a natural state" and with the Cairns I see some that are WAY over the top and others that look really nice. I want to learn more about grooming for the show ring as it scares me currently and have talked to some handlers about what they do to prepare for the ring, some do awholeheckofalot!!! Others want them as natural as they can be and still be tidy.

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Having just spent the weekend at Santa Clara....it was interesting to see the variety in how the dog were groomed. I did not see any skirts or britches (i.e. Scottie or Westie style). But many dogs did have proficient furnishings on their legs...and others not so much. One person told me that they prefered the less furnished leg, as they were avid earthdoggers and found it easier to keep their dogs clear of burrs in the field.

What I did notice was the large pouffy Westie style head on some dogs. Maybe not as extreme as the Westie...and it was obvious that the dogs styled like this had a thick proficient coat so perhaps it appeared extreme because of the amount of coat the dog had. Others however, looked less spherical and more like the majority of the photo's we see in folks avitars on this site.

I think the one thing we have to keep in mind watching dogs in the confirmation ring is that these dogs have just spent the whole morning being coiffed and styled. And most likely they do not look like this on most days. I know that I look different when I go to an EVENT than I do when hanging out in yoga pants at home ;)

Raise your expectations for what your Cairn can do....and try very hard to meet your Cairn's expectations of you.
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It was reported to me that at the Roving National Specialty Banquet in Santa Clara, judge Chris Carter told the attendees that the cairn terrier should be shown in a natural state. She admonished a few exhibitors for chalking their dogs, a couple to the point of color change and served noticed that if she sees it in the future, will excuse the dog.

Greg and Val Perry

Home of Kula RN CGC, Am. Can. Int'l. CH Cairngorm Coffee Tea or Me RA ME EE2/Can. SE NAJ NAS CGC (Kona), CH Clanmarr's Steele Princess (Hattie) and CH Scotchbroom Thistle The Patriot SE (Sully) Visit: CroftersDream.com

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Three cheers, frankly. This a subject that cracks me up. The topic of chalk and substances and whatnot reminds me of the classic joke about other drivers on the road:

  • Anyone who is driving slower than me is an incompetent geezer who should be off the road!
  • Anyone who is driving faster than me is an insane maniac who should be off the road!

Grooming corollary:

  • Anyone who doesn't take advantage of my grooming procedure is an amateur hack.
  • Anyone who uses grooming practices I've ruled out is a bloody cheat!

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Explain to me why anyone would use chalk to groom a Cairn for the show ring? I've known some that have a bit of hair gel applied in various places - but chalk, what's the purpose?

I do think Cairn grooming is a long way off from the scruffy look. If you look at the photos in Cairn books that were taken twenty or thirty years ago there is a big difference. When I was showing in the U.S. the older breeders tended to show their Cairns with a more natural coat. Here in the UK I notice the same thing, only one or two breeders of a "certain age" go for the scruffier coat.

The reality is in the past couple of decades Cairns have not been shown in their "natural state". A natural state is a coat that is one length and somewhere between just coming out and totally blown, ears left alone, hair on the head and tail left alone ... So who's kidding who? Grooming for show is a lot of work - and there's not much that's natural about it.

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It's usually interesting to see the grooming differences between the Wesminster show and the Crufts show. The dogs and handlers both seem more natural at Crufts---I like it!

George

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Explain to me why anyone would use chalk to groom a Cairn for the show ring? I've known some that have a bit of hair gel applied in various places - but chalk, what's the purpose?

Many breeds chalk their dogs to alter color, or coat texure. Some exhibitors use a spray to enhance color. Chalking is used a lot to enhance whites. Bearded collies get covered with it before showing. I do believe chalking and spraying along with all foreign substances on a coat is against the AKC judging standard for all breeds. Can anyone verify this?

If it is against the rules, then the judges and AKC reps turn a blind eye. If the AKC wanted to eliminate the practice, they'd get tough on judges and reps would watch for this in grooming areas.

You are right about gels. They get moussed and some hair spray on the head furnishings.

Your question, why would anyone chalk a cairn for the show ring? Great question. I don't know the answer.....Anyone?

Greg and Val Perry

Home of Kula RN CGC, Am. Can. Int'l. CH Cairngorm Coffee Tea or Me RA ME EE2/Can. SE NAJ NAS CGC (Kona), CH Clanmarr's Steele Princess (Hattie) and CH Scotchbroom Thistle The Patriot SE (Sully) Visit: CroftersDream.com

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I don't have a problem of adapting the grooming SLIGHTLY for the individual dog. Some coats just look better at a certain length. I do find the "pompom" heads very objectionable, as I do the long skirts. A friend that was showing a bitch that was a bit narrow in the rear was told by a judge, that if she groomed differently the bitch would have a better chance of winning. The bitch already had several points including one major in spite of the grooming! A fault is either there or it's not, so where should we draw the line between making a nice appearance and altering the look by cosmetics ? TheWolf

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I like the scruffy look too but I also like a nice tidyness about it which is called for. The less sculpting the better IMO especially for us not so gifted groomers........ :w00t:

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Many breeds chalk their dogs to alter color, or coat texure. Some exhibitors use a spray to enhance color. Chalking is used a lot to enhance whites. Bearded collies get covered with it before showing. I do believe chalking and spraying along with all foreign substances on a coat is against the AKC judging standard for all breeds. Can anyone verify this?

Brad, it is against the rules to alter a dogs appearance by cosmetic (or surgical) means - I am 110% sure. Some judges definitely do turn a blind eye, I suspect more so in some breeds than others. Years ago there was a beautifuly German Shepherd (Mystique) bitch, she won her breed and nearly the trophy at Westminster when she was nine years old. That's old for a GSD in the show ring. I remember my mouth hanging open as I watched her handler in the grooming tent using black mascara to touch up the white old-age hairs around her mouth. I suppose that's not so bad and no judge who knows GSDs would truly believe that a nine year old would be without some white hairs.

Only once at a show do I recall a judge deliberately patting a dogs side so everyone at ringside could see the chalk coming off - she then looked at her hand to make the point sink in hard. Never mind chalked, I know many Westies also get bleached to get that "whiter than white" look.

Grooming so a fault is less noticeable is a different thing entirely. In a coated breed leaving a bit more coat along the center of the back if the topline is not level or the like is not the same as cosmetic enhancements. I believe even in Chris Carter's book, The Cairn Terrier, she talks about grooming to cover faults. When the judge goes over the dog they should be able to find any structural faults.

Stacey

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Another interesting point is the fact that a Cairn "should be shown on a loose lead". Now and then we see it, but too often we see even the professional handlers showing on a very tight lead. I have been able to do the loose lead when showing indoors and realize that it is much more difficult with all the scents that the grass holds outdoors, but shouldn't a dog that is held too tight be considered to be not showing correctly ? I remember watching the late Barbara Johnson showing against some top professional handlers. The bitch she was showing did everything correctly on a long loose lead and Mrs. Johnson appeared to be not working hard at all. It was such a pleasure to watch such a lovely Cairn and such a talented handler.

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The judge at the Canadian specialty in BC last fall was shrieking "loose lead" at the handlers. At one time she panned the bystanders wondering why the handlers couldn't hear.

I think one of the art forms in show grooming is minor fault grooming. Every dog has a fault. It's ok to present the dog to thier very best.

MHO, the judges should encourage grooming to the "essence" of the breed ideal and penalize the goofy, stylized stuff in thier picks, especially in the big shows (specialties).

Greg and Val Perry

Home of Kula RN CGC, Am. Can. Int'l. CH Cairngorm Coffee Tea or Me RA ME EE2/Can. SE NAJ NAS CGC (Kona), CH Clanmarr's Steele Princess (Hattie) and CH Scotchbroom Thistle The Patriot SE (Sully) Visit: CroftersDream.com

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I think one of the art forms in show grooming is minor fault grooming. Every dog has a fault. It's ok to present the dog to thier very best.

My Grooming teacher is a breeder/handler with a Grooming business that caters to show or pet. She has a solution for each fault that Mett & Bratt have when she grooms them. Even though they are pets, she says that the want's them to look their best because at some point someone will ask who my groomer is. I have been astounded that she has a fix for almost everything, like making Mett appear not so wide/heavy boned (she is so good that people are amazed how much he weights when you pick him up) Or taking care of 'short in the tail/big ears'.

I can only imagine some of the creativity that goes on before the show ring...

Edited by Mysticsol8
Tracy, Brattwrust & Mettwurst a.k.a The Gremlins
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It's got to be tough for a judge, depending I guess on the quality of what's in the ring. If there isn't a lot of depth of quality, they may be faced with the choice of putting up a dog with an unfixable fault vs an otherwise sound dog with extreme grooming, being shown strung up on a tight lead. It seems a really good dog could easily establish a 'grooming trend' by winning a lot *despite* extreme grooming. Folks look at what's winning, groom to look like that, never mind the fact the dog that is winning is simply beautifully put together.

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Brad,

I agree that a judge may be in a tough spot faced with the choice of great dog with extreme grooming vs. a faulty dog in a small show. However, in the big specialities and large entry shows, they won't have a problem putting a great dog with correct grooming.

I do agree that folks do look at what's winning and groom to it. That is why specialty judges must be even pickier in picking a correct package. Dogs who continually do well in the specialties are the influencers of the breed. If a nice dog with extreme grooming falls out of BB OS and AOM's, so be it! Owner handlers will soon realize that judges in the big venues won't put up with it and their grooming will come back around to the standard.

Greg and Val Perry

Home of Kula RN CGC, Am. Can. Int'l. CH Cairngorm Coffee Tea or Me RA ME EE2/Can. SE NAJ NAS CGC (Kona), CH Clanmarr's Steele Princess (Hattie) and CH Scotchbroom Thistle The Patriot SE (Sully) Visit: CroftersDream.com

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  • 2 years later...

Hi all, I am back..

Ok thought id bring this topic back as we just had the Vic Specialty under a UK judge...very interesting...all the dogs that went up were heavily groomed, dyed and shaped and all the bitches that went up were more naturel...mmm??

I think alot of judges here tend to put up what they can 'see' ie heavily outlined dogs and alot of them tend to go rather quicky to an almost black colour from Puppy/Junior Red or light brindle...A very interesting topic .

>http://www.freewebs.com/aimforcairns/
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For the last two weekends we have been out showing and just a few Cairns entered. On the first day in AL the judge said that Duncan looked like an old timey Cairn with that "Scruffy Natural look" and thanked me. He beat his sire that day. My mentors both taught me natural. A couple of weeks before we were at a large show and the Cairns were overgroomed and looked like Westies and some with coats as short as Border Terriers and then there is me with my scruffy--you get what you see Cairns. :thumbsup: I don't always think it is the grooming that wins it just what we see, some times it is the dog under that grooming, sometimes it is the person on the end of the lead, some times it is just that look or spark in the eye of the dog that the judge likes.

I got a beautiful Redletter Poster for my birthday recently and I love it because it show the Cairns in a natural coat but tidy. I really love that look!

My grooming needs alot of work and each of my Cairns are groomed a bit differently becasue of coat texture and color. I started with a red coat and I love grooming them now but Duncans wheaten coat is difficult for me. I wonder if coat color makes a diference in texture? In any case I will stay with the natural grooming because that is what I like and what the Standard says.

Great Topic!

Liz

Rebel, Hammurabi, Sugar, Dirty Harry, Paint, Duncan and Saffron

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Hmmm. The cold truth is no Cairn is shown in its "natural" coat. So while some may be a little less coifed than others - they are all extensively groomed. They are as "natural" as they can be with someone working on them several hours a week when they are being shown!

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Grooming seems to be a touchy subject in basically every breed. I realize a lot of people do not use product on Cairns and I completely respect that.

I typically will use product (mousse, hairspray, etc) in my dogs but not to try to give them a stylized look. If it makes sense, I use product, but make it look natural. When I was showing in Junior Showmanship, people couldn't believe I did anything more than run a brush through my dog and that's what I was going for.

The only time I've ever used chalk to is cover a grooming mistake I made (ie, pulling a hole in the dark outer coat to reveal the light undercoat). I was not trying to alter the dog's coloring at all, I was simply enhancing what was there.

Kintra Cairns

Home of Multi-Group Winning Ch. Paragon's Stately Affair CD RN CGC "Zach"

And ZaZa, the Min Pin

Canine Chronicle article - "Through the Storm" about my first journey to Westminster


/>http://www.onlinedigitalpubs.com/publication/?i=31613&p=205

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