Preparing for a Show: The Finishing Touches
Tips on Trimming Pads, Feet, and Coat

by Joyce Johanson

A well-prepared show dog is not only trained to perform well in the ring but also must be groomed and trimmed to look his best.

Trimming Hair Between Pads
Hair grows thick between a Lhasa Apso's pads. Whether your dog is a show dog or companion pet, the hair between the pads should be trimmed. To do the trimming, you can use a small scissors or an electric clipper, which cuts a little closer and trims a little neater than a scissors does. The clipper I use is comparable in size to a mustache trimmer. Often I will first use a scissors to shorten the hair so it is even with the pad, especially if I've been lax and allowed to let the hair grow a little longer during the months when we are not going to shows frequently. After scissoring, I will use the clipper to trim the hair between the pads. One thing you need to watch out for when using the clipper is razor burn. Keep some Gold Bond powder on hand to put on and between the pads, just in case. Trim the pads at least a week before the show. The week gives any razor burn time to heal before the dog goes in the ring and gives the dog a chance to get used to the feeling of walking w/o a cushion of hair between the pads.

Trimming Feet
Refer to the article Fancy Feet for instructions related to cutting the shaggy hair around the Lhasa's feet. Again, when you are getting ready for a show, do the feet cutting/trimming at least a week or so ahead of time. This gives the hair a chance to grow a little bit to lay right again, looking more natural and less "recently cut" when the dog goes in the ring. It also gives you time to clip out the stragglers (there usually are some) and snip at uneven areas you'll find the next time you groom or bathe.

I do not recommend trimming your dog's feet at shows. You are asking for an accident to happen. The grooming area environment at a dog show is filled with distractions. One fast move on the dog's part in response to a loud noise or a person walking past the grooming table when the scissors are cutting can create a catastrophe! I'd prefer any trimming disasters happen at home in advance so I have a chance to figure out how to fix them!

Trimming Coat
We all enjoy seeing a Lhasa with long flowing coat. It's a lovely sight! However, it is possible for the coat to get too long! When it does, it impedes the dog's movement. Show dogs should not be judged merely on their beauty and length of coat. Good structure is crucial. Good movement is crucial. If the coat is too long, the excessive length can throw off the dog's gait. He might step on his coat as he moves forward and stumble or attempt to compensate by throwing a foot to the side or doing something equally odd-looking! So, if you are fortunate to have a dog who grows a long thick coat, you'll probably end up trimming it.

Getting the coat trimmed evenly can be a challenge. You and your dog both need a lot of patience as proper trimming takes time and care. Trim the hair around the feet before you trim the side, rear, and front coat. If your dog's coat is not super long and flowing, you still may need to trim it to even it up. Often the dog looks better if you trim off wispy thin ends to make the coat all one length rather than trying to salvage the few longer hairs the dog has. As with your own hair, trimming broken or damaged ends promotes healthy hair growth.

One trick many people use to trim floor length or longer coat is to stand the dog along the very edge of the grooming table and use either the top or bottom edge as a cutting guide. Again, trim in layers if there is enough thickness of coat to do so. You do not want the top layer to be shorter than the layers under it.

Don't trim a dirty coat. Don't trim a wet coat. Don't trim a "just bathed and dried" coat; the hair shafts will be stretched a bit. Wait a day or so after the bath to do the trimming.

Don't do major trimming the day of the show. Think of what happens to your own recently-cut hair and how it often takes it a day or two to get used to being cut and to laying properly again. I will often do major trimming at least a couple of weeks before a show to give the coat a chance to regain a more natural look, as opposed to that I've-just-had-my-hair-cut look.

Other Finishing Touches with Scissors
Some people trim the area around the dog's anus and the belly hair around a male's penis. Again, if you do this, do it early enough before a show to allow the dog to get used to the feeling of having no hair there! I've seen people trimming a puppy's rear end at a show and when the puppy gets in the ring and suddenly feels a breeze on his butt, he scoots or sits down or keeps turning around trying to "get" at whatever is annoying him back there. Not a pretty sight when the judge is trying to see movement!

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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