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Lisa Tuttle has graciously granted permission to reprint the following article.

How Do You Groom Your Cairn's Head For the Show Ring?

by Lisa Tuttle

Every artist has a different view and approach to their work and so do groomers. This is an article on how I would groom a Cairn, some may agree and some not, so take what you need. I learned to groom under Karen Smith’s instruction for 4 years and watching handlers and other breeders groom, the breeders who had very nicely groomed dogs in the ring. I personally still love to watch others groom their Cairns to see what techniques they use, I am always learning. My advice would be always watch , even if you don’t care for how some one grooms you can always pick up a tip or two.

You need:

  • Good lighting
  • Mirror - where you can see the entire dog while you are grooming.

There are many items out and different techniques to aid in pulling hair, but I use (for head furnishings):

  • A good grip: finger cots, plain old fingers dusted with harsh grooming powder. Scholl’s pumice stone for feet, with the handle (found in most drug stores).
  • Stripping knives, if you are more comfortable and confident in not breaking your coat when it is not needed or giving it a “ribbon curling” effect.
  • Dryer Sheet in case there is static cling. When you get static cling, rub the dryer sheet over the dog and over the comb or brush you are using.
  • Comb and brush.

0.jpg.766154a0f5b6dcbf4db1ee61796ef255.j

Front View

First thing to do is look through the coat on the head to make sure you have layers under all the long hair to work with. Look through a section hair on the sides and top of head if you need to. If you have layers it is very easy to see.

From the time puppies start growing their first adult coat, start rolling the coat. When the coat on the head is about an inch long from root to tip, start plucking out the longer hair every two to three weeks. You will have to use the very tip of your fingers or pumice stone because the difference in the layers of hair length is pretty minute at this age. I have to write it on a calendar with life being so busy because I know it is very easy to get behind. If you get too far behind, you will lose the entire process. You will find this will keep those layers going. Not only will your coat be ready for show at any time, but the shorter layers will support the hair standing up on the head. Same goes for the rest of the body, except the “standing up part”.

If you are dealing with a dog that has no layers and the hair is all one length this will not be his first adult coat, you will have to pull a little bit of coat every three weeks until the entire long coat is gone. This will start the layering effect when the hair grows back in.

 

Let’s get started

Put on your finger cots or dust your fingers with Harsh White Grooming Powder. Place grooming noose behind jaw bone and ears, up where you would keep the lead, pull all the coat forward that grows in front of the jaw in front of the noose and pull back any coat behind the grooming noose that belongs on the neck. This is very important. If you pull out neck hair because you have pulled it up with the head furnishings through the grooming noose you may pull a divot in the neck. If you don’t pull enough through the noose you will think you did a pretty good job, until you take the noose off and see a hairy unflattering ring around the dog's head.

Finding the Visual Circle

When I refer to a “visual circle” it is the shape you are trying to visualize around your dogs head. The center of your circle should be between the eyes.

1.jpg.840063887987a10ae0b85e656b0d9617.j  Fig.1 - x= center of the visual circle.

Face the dog on the table - with good light. Thoroughly brush out head furnishings. Look at the shape on the head. You want to visualize a round frame around the head, not a football shape or sideways oval. If this does not come easy don’t worry, many Cairn groomers have trouble with this until they learn to recognize the “line” of shorter hair beneath the long over grown hair. If you have trouble with this, you can use an Elizabethan surgical collar to see the shape. Only use the collar to get an idea of what needs to be pulled, and then take it off. It would not be easy to groom with that collar on.

2.jpg.d3c7663d2c5a55d06e6749a559057e37.j Fig. 2 - 1=Over grown coat, 2=Desired length, 3=Skin

3.jpg.f49c3a5240a83c2445c99560e5e8b625.j Fig. 3 - Football shaped head

Sides and Top of Head

Pull the long hairs on sides and top of head down till you see 1/3 of the ear. With a comb you comb hair straight out from the root. Hold the hair in place with one hand and let the skin go back into place then pull all the long hairs out to the length where it falls in line with in the circle you are looking for around head. Repeat pulling up hair with a comb and pulling out long hairs all around the head until you get a round shape.

4.jpg.a9c3ca9f068073d21f5a18b143720dfe.j Fig. 4

Muzzle hair should not be much longer than where the dogs lips meet from the front of mouth to the ends of the mouth, so hair will graduate from shorter hair in the front of muzzle to slightly longer hair towards the ends of mouth. Comb muzzle hair straight out to sides and up over the muzzle on one side like a fan, let skin relax back into place then pull long hairs out. The shape of the muzzle from the front is another circle within the circle that frames the head.

Pull hairs that stick out from top of muzzle obstructing view of eyes. Some hair left in this spot will leave a little more natural look.

Chin hair should be in line with your invisible circle around the Muzzle. If you see any hairs sticking out of your circle, pull it out.

Ears should be pulled down to the velvet on 1/3 of the tip. Here is where the Dr. Scholl’s pumice comes in handy or an appropriate stripping knife. Graduate hair on the sides ears down to match the hair on the sides of head. Pluck out all stray hair from the front of inside of the ear, from the tip to 1/3 of ears. All the hair in front of ears on head should be in line with your circle around the head.

5.jpg.29e6039614d6f61fa02c7f306fd4d707.j Fig. 5

Check your work in the mirror standing behind your dog that is facing the mirror. Make sure you are close enough to the mirror so you can see detail. The Mirror will show the opposite perspective of what you are looking at. Sometimes our eyes become so trained in what we are looking at that we don’t see the true perspective until you reverse the image. Another way to get a different perspective is to take a break and go back to it later, if you have the time or the dog needs a break.

Side View

6.jpg.40819c3313c40aae8680cb6042f6fd63.j Fig. 6 spacer-50.gif.6f60fc5ee07772cfcf463dd2d77.jpg.9bbfc335dd0f9195efa95a5e9fdea668.jFig. 7

Face the side view of the head, comb all the hair from between the ears and front of head up (like a Mohawk), let the skin relax back into place then pull any long hairs that do not align with the hair that had been pulled from the front view. From the tips of the ears, graduate the hair down into the neck. Make sure your dog’s eyebrows fall in line with the hair on the head, in your circle.

Comb the hair on the ear straight out behind the ear to get a good side view of what needs to get pulled. Pull any long hairs on the top 1/3 of back of ears to velvet and graduate the remaining ear hair to fall in line with the hair on the back of jaw bone line, where your lead sits at the occiput and down around jaw line. Again, try the Dr. Scholl’s pumice if you need it.

Side view of chin hair can be slightly longer in front, so pull long hairs out and make a small tuck up under jaw. Almost like a goatee only less severe, or a straight line from the bottom of chin hair to the neck. A slight tuck up at the under jaw will give the appearance of a longer neck.

The hair on the “fill” under the eyes should match up with muzzle hair.

Check your work

Put a little Cholesterol in the dogs head let it set a bit then brush it out. Remove the grooming noose and get your dog to shake out his coat.

Check the front view of your dogs head in the mirror. Face the dog towards the mirror and stand behind him, make sure you have hold of the dog’s rear so he won’t leap off of the table. Make adjustments that are needed. You should see a round head with no long chin, ear or muzzle hairs sticking out beyond your tidy circle.

Check the dog’s side view. Turn the table where you can see the side view of the dogs head. You should see a backwards ”C” from the eyebrows over the ears and down around the back of the head to the tip of chin. You should see tidy ears and muzzle and chin. Repeat on the opposite side to check the other side of his head.

8.jpg.57b1445e492e609a958a718b35533553.j

Good luck and good grooming to all.

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I'm so glad you posted this. She sent me a copy last night and I told her it was fabulous! Geez, i've got lots of work to do!

Jandy and my Cairns, Kirby & Phinney 
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Thank you nvery much for the perfect explanation. I think I allmost got it done with Paco. He looks so cute!

jetti

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  • 2 months later...

:confused: This grooming information is extremely helpful but I'm not sure that I would be able to do it without seeing it done several times by a professional. Although I get my dog professionally groomed every couple months and comb him every couple days, I doubt even the groomers do it as shown. Quite possibly he looks like this soon after grooming but ends up with a rather scruffy appearance especially with the eyebrows that look like CS Mott but nonetheless absolutely adorable. In fact, a good many people stop and ask how we get his face to look so cute but I'm not exactly sure if this is the "look" so to speak. Do you have any suggestions as to keeping his face looking similar to the ones shown?

Suzanne Kelley

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The way to keep a dog's hairdo looking good is to keep the hairs short by regularly pulling the longest hairs out, every two or three weeks for a pet dog. Weekly make sure there are no hairs in their eyes and pull any hairs that are out; that's a matter of good health though and not grooming per se.

I cheat with my dogs, I use a combination of a thinning scissor and a bit of pulling underneath the chin :thumbsup: , the rest I pull.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 2 months later...

Cairns are such wonderfully rugged looking little dogs...until they get their faces done. Then, in my humble opinion, they look like goofy little poofballs. Shortly after I got my first pup, I went to a local dog show and saw my first real live cairn in show coat. I was so horrified at the way it looked that I almost quit before I got started. However, since I'd really like a chance to show my pups in the ring, I guess I'll have to choke it up and learn to fix them "right".

Thanks so much for your terrific description of how it's done.

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  • 11 months later...

This is an extremely helpful article - thank you so much for your time in creating it!

NOTE: Not sure if this is a technical problem, but the images do not appear in the light box that opens.

Looks like it is trying to find the images, but the wheel just spins and spins.

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I love this look. Sigh. I'm just not having much success at all with stripping. I'm about to give in and start calling around for a professional groomer who knows how to do it.

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  • 5 months later...
  • Stripping knives, if you are more comfortable and confident in not breaking your coat when it is not needed or giving it a “ribbon curling” effect.

What is a "ribbon curling" effect? :confused1: I'm not familiar with this term and have never seen it used before. Ruffy's coat is somewhat wavy, which is the reason why I ask this question.

FEAR THE CAIRN!

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An imaginary term I possibly just made up? :)

Somebody once taught me to make curly ribbon bows by taking a length of flat ribbed ribbon and scraping the blade of a scissor along the length of it - by increasing the length of one side of the ribbon compared to the opposite side, it curls. The motion is usually a drawing motion but at least for me, my hand and wrist naturally rotate as my hand reaches the end of a stroke. That's what I mean by ribbon-curling.

When using a stripping knife if you curl (or "break") your wrist the hair is fed down into the sharpened grooves of the knife and will be cut. It may or may not curl the actual coat. I suspect some or most waviness is either genetic or possibly associated with weather, humidity, etc.

I have a very hard time consistently pulling straight-and-flat when using a knife. Some people seem to do it without trouble and for them the knife reduces effort - for me it increases effort because I have to work so hard to focus on doing it properly.

I've also been told that pulling the coat in a direction *other* than the way it naturally grows can lead to hair pointing off into odd directions. For me it happens on the shoulders - I've heard the effect called "angel wings" where instead of laying flat along the shoulders a few hairs curl up and away from the body. Drives me crazy and is seems hard to get rid of short of starting over. But I am a hack :P

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CAIRNTALK: Vote! |  Questions? Need help? → Support Forum Please do not use PMs for tech support
CRCTC: Columbia River Cairn Terrier Club 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Okay, I pulled up this post because I'm going to attack Kirby's head this afternoon. He is SO bad about getting his face groomed, but the challenge is on today! I don't have a grooming table, so I use the top of the hot tub or just do it out on our dock. Kirby's best trick is to climb up to my shoulder and kiss me in the face. Apparently he thinks I'll fall for that and give up. Okay, sometimes I do but today I've hardened myself and am determined to get rid of the yak in my house.

And if I have any energy left, I'm going to work on the tail, too! Do we have a post like this one, devoted to grooming tails? Look out, Kirby -- here I come!

Jandy and my Cairns, Kirby & Phinney 
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  • 5 weeks later...

I really hope you don't mind, but I have "borrowed" some of the content at the beginning of this thread and put it on the CTT forum for UK so I can communicate what it says, as it's just excellent at displaying how a Cairn's head should be. I have seen so many Cairn heads cut and trimmed like a Westie, Yorkie or Schnauzer - I'm sure a lot of groomers just haven't a clue how to groom a Cairn even if they have been grooming for years.

This "chrysanthemum" rounded head is shown really well here, and the excerpts from the book on how to do it are great. I have quoted Lisa, hope this is OK.

Edited by Stargemmer
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  • 1 year later...

The Cairn Terrier Club of Southern California has posted a video version of this article (a great idea). 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDePt0lG9LQ

Very helpful for heads, and also useful as it shows the general motions and technique for pulling coat, if you've never seen a terrier coat pulled.

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CAIRNTALK: Vote! |  Questions? Need help? → Support Forum Please do not use PMs for tech support
CRCTC: Columbia River Cairn Terrier Club 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

This is very helpful.  Tried to follow some of it today, and having some issues with not having the football look, but other than that, it seems to be going well.  I'm sure we'll get it at some point.

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  • 5 years later...

Thank you for posting this.  I have a 2 year old boy who had a softer coat so it has been very difficult to strip him but this explanation with help a ton!  and our new little girl who has what looks to be a great true Cairn coat will start out right off building the layers properly!  thank you again! this is fabulous

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you so much! This is fantastic.  I have a 2 year old that I’m trying to get a harsher coat on and a 5 month old that has a great coat.  Great ideas for both.  

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