To Clip or not to Clip ...

Sunny clipped
Clipped dog
Sunny HS
HS dog

Would you believe that the two pictures above are of the same dog? Yep, they are both of my first dog, Sunny, a wire fox terrier. Now you are thinking, no way that could be the same dog, but it is, by the magic of clipping. The reason I used Sunny's pictures was that you can see the dramatic change in a fox terrier's coat while it is can be more subtle in a airedale or Welsh terrier's. The lighter the undercoat, the bigger the difference between the two grooming methods. Fox terriers tend to have a white undercoat and airedales and Welshes usually have a lighter tan and grey undercoat. Here is the difference between what Welshes look like, Hattie on the left is clipped, and Hoover on the right is hand-stripped (HS).
Hattie and Hoover
Clipped and HS Welsh terriers
There are three ways to groom a wire (or broken) haired terrier. You must either clip, HS, or a combination of the two. Some people say that terriers don't shed. Well... that is basicly true, the wire coat sheds, but more like a person does. The terrier has two types of hair in their coat, the soft dense insultating undercoat, and the harsh protective outer coat. The most desired coat looks and feels like fine wire it is hard and stiff. It does not feel soft, silky or fuzzy. The hair only grows to a couple inches and then it dies. The dead hair does not fall out like most dogs but must either be clipped or can be easily pulled out.

If you don't clip or HS you will get a dog that looks like a fuzzy toy. Some people like the wooly teddy bear look. It is really cute. The fuzzy look is called 'being in the rough'. Here is a picture of Sunny 'in the rough'. This is usally means 'Grooming Time!'
Sunny in
	the rough
Sunny clipped very badly
Sunny with a poof face.
Now, I'll tell you straight out that I prefer HS, and so this page is biased a bit. as if you hadn't noticed. Most terriers in the U.S. which are not being shown are clipped. The biggest reason is that it is the easiest thing to do. Let's face it HS is HaRD work, and time consuming. Clipping you can do yourself or easily find someone to do it for you. although getting someone knowledgable to clip your dog right is another story. a terrier should not have cowboy chaps, a skirt, or a poof face. I suggest if you are clipping yourself or taking your dog to a groomer print out this clipping chart from Cymro Kennels . It takes some practice to get it right, but don't give up. You will eventually get it right. Even poor Sunny had to put up with bad hair days because of me. Sunny clipped better
Sunny looking a lot better
Another way of grooming your terrier is a combination of HS and clipping. Since HS is a lot of work, some people only HS part of the coat. This is what I do. I HS all of Hoover and clip his belly and butt, the tender spots. Usually people either HS the saddle on a airedale or Welsh, or the spots on the fox terrier. that way they will keep their color. When you clip your terrier their color doesn't start to fade right away. Each time you clip they fade a little more. If your terrier has a darker undercoat you may not see any fading at all. Here is a picture of Evelyn Fearnside's Thornbush and John Melair's Charlie, who has a web page. Both these dogs are clipped.
Thorny and Charlie
Thorny and Charlie
In my experience, clipping softens, lightens and thins the coat. The reason that the coat softens and lightens is because the outercoat and undercoat are cut the same length. This reveals the soft lighter colored undercoat. Not only that, but the closer to the outercoat's root the more the hair loses it's color and becomes softer and thiner, so we also cut the harder more colorful part of outercoat off. Now I'm not sure why the coat gets thiner, but when you HS the coat becomes more profuse. If you look at the Cairn terrier page, they do an excelent job of explaining what HS does for the health of the coat. and I highly recommend looking at it.

I clipped and HS Sunny off and on over the years. Sunny didn't have a good coat, it was pretty soft even when I was HS her. When your dog does have a good coat it can resist the changes clipping brings.(example of this is Thorny) When Sunny was clipped her colors faded and the coat softened, so I'd have a white dog with light gray and light blond spots with a silky coat that was thin and collected dirt like crazy. as Sunny, got older I started HS her. It took her about a year to recover from clipping and have a nice wire coat and color. I had several reasons for HS her. One, she looked a thousand times better with color. Two, her coat didn't tangle and tend to mat. Three, she didn't bring as much dirt in the house because the dirt would slide off of the wire hair. Therefore, she didn't get baths all the time. although my biggest reason was to keep her warm durring the winter. When I was clipping her she had to wear a sweater. Her coat was so thin you could easily see her skin thought the hair. For some reason when you clip the coat doesn't tend to renew itself unless the hair is pulled out.

These are some of my thoughts on grooming the terrier. If you are looking to have a sharp looking dog with good textured coat, HS is the way to go. But HS is not for some people. You can have a very handsome dog with a lot less hassle by clipping. Clipping is very easy to do and only takes some pratice to learn. Sometimes you can find someone who will HS your dog for you. This is usually expensive, but if you live in the Denver area, I can give you a name of a groomer who will HS your dog for a reasonable price. I do this with Hoover when I'm feeling lazy. Good luck with grooming your dog! Drop me a line if you see anything I left out or would like see. Thanks!
Grooming the Broken Haired Terrier
A wonderful booklet of a series of articles about HS your terrier by a wire fox terrier handler - great diagrams. Sold by the airedale club of America. I highly recommend it!
Cairn Terrier grooming page
GREAT! explaintion of grooming and some good diagrams.
Cymro Kennels Welsh Terrier Clipping Chart
A wonderful page describing how to clip a welsh terrier correctly with diagrams and which blades to use. Great to print out and give to your groomer so your Welsh comes out looking like a Welsh.

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Copyright © 1999-2002 Anne Macmillan All Rights Reserved
last updated 01/26/02
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