Priming a Rescue Dog for Grooming

An adopted Dandie Dinmont Terrier can benefit from at-home sessions before a trip to the groomer.

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Q. We rescued an older, abandoned dog who looks very much like a Dandie Dinmont Terrier. I'll be taking him to our dog groomer as soon as we have cleared up his insidious ear infection. Meanwhile, I'd like to get him looking more like a Dandie and with a shorter coat (the weed seeds that abound here and get caught in the longer hair on his chest, belly and legs). I have a set of clippers, and his back and sides were trimmed short when we got him, but his "furnishings,"ears, and feet need to be trimmed. I'm sure our groomer will know how to set him up right once he's healthy and able to withstand a professional grooming session. The poor little guy has been through so many bad experiences, I don't want to add any more too soon. He does stand nicely and quietly to be brushed, but until I can take him to the groomer, have you any advice for me?

A. The short-legged low-riding Dandie Dinmont Terrier from the borderlands between England and Scotland got its name from Sir Walter Scott when he immortalized it in his 1814 novel “Guy Mannerling” in which a farmer by that name kept a pack of these adorable and tough little characters. In the salon, we either hand-strip the topcoat on the back to preserve its course texture, or clipper it shorter than the legs and furnishings, which are trimmed to follow the curvy shape of the body. The large head features silkier fur and is trimmed full and round on top with full whiskers. The ears are tasseled, shaved clean except for a diamond-shaped tuft at the bottom. The tail should resemble a curved saber. Whether clipped or hand-stripped, the pattern should feature a clean tight rump and well-muscled thighs and shoulders.

At home, keep brushing him regularly, a wonderful way to prevent his silky feathering from matting, and strengthen your bond. Once he is well-brushed, you can groom his body with a #7f blade and his legs with a #2 or #1/12 guard comb blade attachment, working with a downward motion in the direction the hair grows. We use a #10 blade – very carefully – to clean out footpads and attend to sanitary areas. You will need a good pair of grooming shears to shape his head and trim any straggles, as well as his face and tail. I also recommend thinning shears to clean out eye corners and curved-blade scissors to round off his sturdy little feet.

It sounds like you are off to an awesome start with your lucky little adoptee. Good luck finding a groomer once you decide he’s ready for his first “big boy” haircut.


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