The instructions that follow are for Wheatens that will NOT be entering the show ring. With the exception of the modified show trim, these approaches require the use of electric clippers for speed and ease. The resulting trim, while neat, tidy and Wheaten-like, will not allow for a flowing coat.
Important: If you are using clippers for the first time, get some basic pointers first. If used improperly, you can nip or burn your dog. Other things to remember:
- Use sharp blades and maintain them well.
- When using the clippers with the clip-on combs, running the clippers through the same area repeatedly will remove more coat for a number of passes.
- Always hold the clippers so the blade is parallel to the skin.
- Always use clippers with the lie of the coat. Going against the grain will remove much more coat and with the clip-on combs produces an uneven effect.
Slicker brush, comb, grooming scissors, thinning shears and clippers with various blades that attach. The blades needed are a #15, a #10, and a #7. Because of the soft texture of the Wheaten coat, clipper blades and shears must be sharp to cut it. A dull blade just will not do the work. The Right Tools for the Job
- Getting Started
Your Wheaten should be mat-free. If not, you or your groomer will not be able to leave much coat on your dog. So first, make sure your dog has been thoroughly brushed and combed. This clippering technique works better on a dog after he has been bathed. Remember that the longer the strokes you use when clipping, the smoother the final look will be.
- Using the Scissors
To maintain the “Wheaten look”, hand scissor the head, tail and legs. You can find instructions in the Wheaten grooming chart.
- Bottoms Up
Begin by using a #15 blade to clean out the coat from between the pads of the feet, always clipping from the center of the pads outward to avoid nipping the webbing between the toes. Trim the nails next so you don’t forget them, and so that you can trim close around the foot when you do that later.
- All ears
Clean off the ears using a #10 blade on the inside and a #7 blade on the outside-BUT only clipping the bottom 2/3 of the outside ear with the #7 blade. Clip from the center of the ear towards the outside edge, to avoid nipping the folds on the inside edge of the ear. Scissor off the fringe of coat around the leather of the ear.
- Heads Next
Scissor the hair on the top of the head rather short between the ears, blending the coat on the top 1/3 of the ears into the head coat. Scissor the coat on the forehead by starting shorter at the top (blending into the short coat between the ears) and leaving it longer as it goes down to a fall over the eyes. Clip the coat short on the sides of the face between the ears and the eyes. Use thinning shears to blend the fall and head coat into the short cheeks. Remember to never go from a short coat to a longer coat abruptly, but rather blend from one area to the other. Using the thinning shears is a good way to do that. You can also check out Trimming the Fall for more instructions on trimming a head.
- Onto the Neck
Lift up the dog’s head and pull the beard forward. Either scissor very short or clip behind the beard and the throat area. Then clip down over the chest to the top of the legs. On the back of the neck, begin clipping behind the ears. Blend the coat on the top of the head into the clippered neck coat with scissors. Also blend the scissored face coat into the clippered neck coat with scissors or thinning shears.
Clip the neck and body coming down to the tops of the legs to front and coming down over the rear legs to a point maintaining a straight line across the body from the tops of the front legs. Scissor the tail, cleaning off nearly all the coat on the underside and around the anus. The front and sides of the tail are scissored in the shape of an upside-down ice cream cone.
- And Underneath
The tuck-up area (between the dogs’ back legs) is cleaned off with a # 20 blade being very cautious around the genitals. On males, a narrow path can be clipped for 4 or 5 inches in front of the penis to keep them from urinating on themselves as much. A short skirt can be scissored on the brisket or the body can be clipped underneath with the same blade used on the rest of the body.
The legs are scissored rather short making cylinders of the front legs and following the contours of the rear legs. To get an even look on the legs, fluff the coat up and out often with the slicker and scissor the tips of the coat off evenly. (One breeder’s tip: comb and brush more than you scissor! Comb or brush, scissor a little bit, comb some more, scissor a bit more-always watching what is happening to the coat as you go.) Feet are trimmed closely around the outside of the pads using your curved shear. Put the inside curved edge towards the foot, and lay the bottom blade on the table, trimming the coat shorter on the under side of the food as you trim around it.
- Last touches
The beard usually requires only tidying with scissors, but in the case of an extremely thick coat, may need thinning also. Bathe, then fluff and blow dry. After drying, you do touchup work with both scissors and clippers.
Slicker brush, comb, grooming scissors, thinning shears and clippers with various blades that attach. The blades needed are a #4 and 10 and 1/2, 3/8, and 5/8 clip-on combs. Read more on The Right Tools for the Job.
In the summer, use clippers with a #10 blade on the lower belly. This relatively bare area leaves a cooling window in an area shaded by the body and often exposed to cool surfaces when your Wheaten frogs out. This hair is light and wispy and requires care to avoid pulling so don’t press the clippers hard against the skin. In the winter, you can let this area grow longer, although it is always thin. Use shears to trim the hair on the sheath of the penis to the desired length.
- Under the Chest
Comb the chest hair backward, and use clippers with a 1/2 or 3/8-inch clip-on comb in a motion with the lay of the coat, i.e., front-to-back. Don’t go too far to the side or you will interfere with the line of the tuck-up. You can also reach under and do this area with shears with the dog standing.
- Head and front of chest
Use clippers with a #10 blade on the flat parts of the ears going from top to bottom with the lie of the hair. Use shears for the edges of the ears and scissors underneath and in front of the ear canal. Use clippers with a #4 blade or a 3/8-inch clip-on comb for the cheeks and chest. The motion here is with the lie of the coat, i.e., from top to bottom. Use shears on the top of the head, fall and beard. Read mpre on Trimming the Fall.
- Top-line (down the back)
Use thinning shears all over the body to thin as necessary as you do each section. Use clippers with a 5/8-inch clip-on comb to set the top-line along the back – front to back with the lay of the coat. This actually leaves a coat length of an inch or more. This clippered area should be about 4 inches wide. Don’t extend it too far to the side. You will come back and blend this area later.
- Rump, tail, and legs
You can use both shears and clippers with a #4 blade or a 3/8 clip-on comb for the rump and back of the legs down to the hocks. The shears do a better job on the thinner coat in this area, but the clippers are faster. Use shears to trim the tail. Fluff comb and use shears to thin and tip the furnishings on the legs. You can also use the clippers to tip the furnishings if they stand out well. Use straight scissors to clean up the around the feet.
- Neck, sides, etc
Use clippers with a 1/2 in clip-on comb to do the neck. Set the tuck-up line from the chest to the hind legs with shears and use shears to thin and tip the sides (brisket) to blend. Use clippers with a 5/8 in clip-on comb in a blending motion to blend the back into the rump, sides, and neck. This motion starts at the edge of the clipped area on the back and moves outward and down the sides with a lightening touch so the hair is left progressively longer.
- Finishing touches
Use the shears to blend any rough edges at the borders between clippered and sheared areas. You can also use the clippers with a clip-on comb to do some of this. At another time do the hair between the pads with a small pair of straight scissors.
— Thanks to Richard Marsh for his contribution of the Buddy Clip.
If you would like your Wheaten to look more like a show dog, take a look at our guide.