President of the Detroit Cocker
President of the Ann Arbor
Life Member of the Ann Arbor Dog
the Cocker Spaniel [American]
The American Cocker Spaniel Club Of
Victoria-Australia-presents grooming instructions
There is nothing
more beautiful than a well groomed American Cocker spaniel!I
just LOVE this breed and yet it seems it is the hardest breed in the world
for people to groom RIGHT. There is a world of
difference between the groom we do for show & the every day environment,
but some things are done the same way REGARDLESS of the rest of the
trim.The ears and head can be made to look "correct" to
breed profile even if the rest of the dogs is shaved close.
The directions on the next pages will help you place your lines
and get the profile correct.Cocker Spaniels do not have to have
a coat all the way to the floor.Let's face it, a lot of people
prefer shorter looks and a lot of peoplejust cannot take care
of the coat if it is left long. There are SEVERAL
options for the owner to consider.
Suburban trims with legs trimmed shorter.
Sporting clips with legs scissored or clippered and the "skirt"
removed.Even a total shave are all available to the owner.
On the next pages you can explore the options.There are
pictures and explanations galore!To Debi at "A Cut Above Pet
Salon" thanks for the great pictures.Also for her easy to
follow step by step instruction guide.
Above pictures, 2 types of trims, Sporting Clip & Total Shave Down.
By keeping your pet in either of these types of trims, with regular
bathingmonthly use of "Advantage or Frontline for flees, weekly
cleaning of ears.
The "Blue Ear Treatment" is Excellent for cleaning the ears.
the receipe for the "blue ear" is listed under the "Health Issues".
Don't forget to trim the toenails, your pet will be easy to maintain.
Please remember this has been set up as a guideline for the novice, and
perhaps someone thinking of keeping an "American" in coat.
It will help the newbies & some members with the basic guidelines for
preparing for a "Show Trim"
There will be some members who have strong views on how to strip out a back
many still prefer to "Hand Pluck" some will have strong views on various
Clipping for Show-Basic Trim
Stripping Cocker Backs
Ideally a cockers back coat is hard and flat.
It will generally speaking create a natural line where the coat will
fall naturally towards the ground and there is only a little bit of
blending to be doneMost of the time this blending and sculpting
is done with thinning shearsfrom underneath the coat so as to
not leave short hair or holes visible.Special attention should
be given to the shoulder and hip area to make sure that they are neat & tight,
blended well into the legs. If the dog has a low tailset then you want
to leave "fill" coat in front of the tail to minimize the
appearance of this fault.Also, a nice tight "butt" is essential
in keeping the profile trueand is best achieved by thinning
from underneath. If the coat is softer and wants
to flip backwards or curl it can be harderto get the look you want and
will require much more work on your partto maintain that show
look. It is necessary to work the back of a softer coated dog at least
weekly to keep the length at the desired point and to keep it laying
down instead of standing or flipping.
Doublewide fine tooth Mars
Coat King. Great on both hard natural looking backs like the tricolor above &
the softer coats like the black and white on the bottom, this tool will save you
MANY hours of work. It pulls some coat and cuts some so care must be used to go
with the natural lay of the coat to avoid damage.Using the double wide fine
tooth Coat king and a 20 count Coat King on all cockers to bulk out the most
hair as fast as possible. Followed up with a stripping knife.
The classic brand works really well on cocker coats with less damage than some
knives. To prevent damage it is advised that the knife be
seasonedby placing it in a bag with quik-stop to help dull the
blade to prevent itfrom cutting or breaking hair and actually
allowing it to pull out the hair as desired.Stripping cocker
backs is not as hard as stripping terrier backs and in fact can be described as
carding. The softer coats require more actual stripping to help improve texture
because carding can break the softer hair. To do so, keep your wrist straight,
grasp hair firmly between the knife and the thumb and pull out the dead hair.
To card the coat you use a raking motion while firmly stretching the
skin and using care not to irritate the skin as you remove
excess coat by using a Coat kingfirst you can greatly reduce
the time it takes to card out a coat and that will make it easier for both you
and your pet.For pet cockers, the same rules above apply EXCEPT
usually the backs are clipperedfollowing the same lines as for
show being careful not to leave a distinct clipper line (hula skirt).
Using a No 7 skip tooth on harder coats,following up
with carding to remove lines, and a NO 9 or No 10 on softer coats.
When you get to the place where the furnishings begin float you
clipper off to minimize the lines and ease blending.
the v shape at the end of the clipper line. This dog is easier to see because of
the color. Cocker ears are actually very easy to do. You clipper the top third
of the overall length. NOT the leather, the overall length. Proper ear set
should be at the eye or slightly below the level of the eye when the ears are
laid down. If the dog has high ears you may clipper lower, lower ears you
clipper a bit higher. The shape of the ear is actually a "V" shape, not a
straight line and it is done with a ten backwards on the OUTSIDE of the ear, and
using a 30 blade go with the grain on the inside of the ear following the same
line as the outside and trim the edges with shears to give it a tidy appearance.
By holding the ear FLAT in your hand as you clipper you are able to get a good
line every time. It is important to note that clipper lines should extend
slightly up onto the crown of the head as you approach the top of the ear. Ends
of the ears should be rounded slightly after the groom is completed to give them
a more finished look.
Clippering Cocker Heads
Note the area is cleaned out neatly in an inverted "v" shape to give
Depth to the stop.The arrows show the direction the clippering
goes in and the line where the clipperingstopped on the cheeks.
It used to be common practice to clipper the top of the head as well as the
muzzle and cheeks of a cocker spaniel for show with a ten blade
against the grain (forced) butit is now much more common to use
thinning shears on the topskullas well as the muzzle, only
clippering the cheeks and the top of the muzzle.
A cocker head should be well rounded (domed) and in
balance with itself.Ideally it is SQUARE. The length of muzzle
is the same as the width,the skull to muzzle is the same, the
length of head is the same as the height.If you are short
anywhere or lacking in fullness it must be "hidden"by grooming
the faults out. You can give the appearance of more topskull by leaving the hair
longer.A fuller muzzle by doing the same and taking the cheeks
For a well shaped head, start with the stop and clean out a
reverse "v" (see picture one)using size 10 blade or a size 30
if the dog is lacking adequate depth.Then from the ear to the
lip line in a line even with the eyeclippering against the
grain with a ten blade.
On the TOP of the muzzle use a ten going
towards the nose and the underjaw is done from the jaw line
FORWARD towards the mouth,making sure you get all the hair from
the flews along the mouth.If the dog has a lot of jowl you may
use a 30 on this line to minimize the look.
The top of the head is shaped in a line from the ears to the occiput.
If the dog is lacking skull, leave more hair. If the dog has a nice
topskull,then show it off by clipping the lines tight.
Most Cockers you can use the size 10 blade, to shape the skull really
nicely,thinners are becoming VERY popular for the topskull if
the dog is lacking in thatarea or has a poor earset.
Crowns should be natural looking and if allowed to grow too long can be
difficult to get to lay right.Using a pair of blending thinners
coming in from behind and a coat king (number 12)to get the
hair to lay backwards and smooth.The idea is to get a smooth,
rounded finish that looks natural and blends into the topskull.
If you leave too much it will look "Puffy" and if you take off too much
it will look flat.
This part of the head is the hardest to do and takes practice.
It can make or break the dog however so it is CRITICAL that is be done
You do not want the hair to fall forward over the eyes, but you want
enough length tolay down and back towards the middle of the
Neck and Shoulder Lines
The neck is clippered in reverse from breastboneto lip
using a ten blade making sure you remove allthe hair from the
creases and the flews along the lips.There is a "v" shape again
over each shoulder and a "v" in the front of the neck at the
Cockers should appear to have long necks & if they are lacking length it
can be groomed into them.Using a 10 blade from
breastbone to lip and by stretching the lips you are ableSet a
line going into the shoulder from the neck, blending well with thinners to avoid
leavinga line where you want the back to blend into the
shoulder.You want to SEE shoulder and it is easier to
accentuate this area if againyou use a "V" shape to show where
the angle is on the dog.If the dog has good bone structure you
can set the lines based on the dogs body. If the angulation is
not correct the lines should be placed to give the illusionof
the correct line.
Bevels or Bell Shape are what gives cockers that wonderful soft
look and are VERY hard to get right.Every dog has a different
shape foot and type coat and as a result doing bevelscan be
harder than anything else on the dog. Also it is critical when showing that the
bevelsbe done correctly as they are what shows movement.
The front feet and back feet are done quite differently.
To show this better there is a picture gallery to help you with the
feet.There are TWO galleries, one for front feet and one for
back feetbecause it is a different bevel on each foot.
NEVER expose nails on an American cocker.BUT
make sure the nails are as short as you can get them so as to not interfere with
the lay of the hair.
There are two schools of thinking as far as trimming pads go.
SOME people shave them out, SOME people scissor them flush.
Either way is correct but if the dog's foot is smaller I would leave the hair
and scissor it.The hair in the pads tend to help PUSH the foot
out making it appear larger than it really is.