Stripping the Wirehaired Dachshund
First published in Dog World
SUE JOHNSON, treasurer of the Wirehaired Dachshund Club writes that she read with interest the Grooming Box on hand stripping of the terrier breeds. “But you seem to have forgotten the hounds that need this type of hand stripping,” Sue says. “I have been doing this for the last 45 years for Wirehaired Dachshunds, as I have had this breed since 1968. When new owners come to pick up their puppy, complete notes of how to hand strip are included in their puppy packs along with everything else. Often owners come back when the coat is blown and I show them how to hand strip.”
I asked Sue if along with her committee she would agree for her lovely breed to be featured, because, of course, this is an important breed we see in the grooming salon. I am much indebted to the WHD Club for the following:
“Your dog will not be ready to step into the ring because the coat must grow through before he is at his best. Guessing the time is one of the imponderables of showing. I find that no dogs grow any coat when you strip them out at the beginning of winter until just after Crufts. The ideal is to take notes – by the time he is in veteran you may have it taped! Just after the strip is a good time to bath your dog – not too near a show or it will seem soft and silky on the day. If, when all this is finished there appears to be a little fine wool showing on the body, more common on reds, go over him gently with a sheet of coarse sandpaper which will leave him shiny again. As regards implements for this operation; the scissors mentioned and a comb. (It is a good idea to keep combing the dog as you work to see the way the coat is lying.) A fine metal comb can be useful to rake out dead hair. A pair of nail clippers will complete the equipment. I have not yet mentioned the various sorts of stripping knives because I personally think that they are a poor substitute for finger and thumb. If the coat is hard to pull then perhaps it is not ready to come out, or you are pulling too many hairs at a time. The serrated edge stripping knife will get a good grip on the hair, and you may well prefer it. There are several knives with blades inside protective combs. Neither of these is ‘instant strip’ and a coat thus prepared has been virtually cut making it grow in softer and paler in colour. Probably the best use is to tidy some odd area ie loose hair on the tail or to give a trim before stripping him out completely after the next show.
“The last point I wish to make is where this glamourisation takes place. Initial work started anywhere but the final trimming should take place on a table or broad shelf, preferably in the garage. Some have hooks on the wall and fasten him by his leather collar so he cannot move far. Then start work, making sure that your opinion prevails. Never lose your temper, use your voice all the time, just stay in control. Keep standing the dog up and looking at him until you are satisfied with his appearance. Later, when he is running around you probably see various tufts of hair – keep trimming until you are satisfied with the job. When you have done the job, it will not seem so difficult and soon you will be proficient. Remember our dogs are easy – he could have been an Airedale Terrier!” (Val Beynon Sept 16, 1977)
A beginner’s guide
The term trimming embraces a wide variety of methods and processes, so much depends on the type of coat present. To take to extremes, some dogs have a naturally tidy coat that virtually requires nothing – and others have three inches of dense wool and hair all over the body. If you have one of the former, all that will be needed, even for a show, will be to pull out any untidy hairs from the side of the neck and on the skull, and to carefully trim round the feet with a pair of blunt-ended hairdressing scissors to produce a round and tidy appearance.
Before dealing with the average coat I will briefly cover the ‘shaggy darlings’. If you have one of the ‘three inches of wool type’, the chances are that it was sold to you as a pet only – it is not the correct coat, and to prepare it for show is a long and arduous business, and frankly it will not look marvellous whatever you do. However, left alone, there will soon be matted hair around the legs, burrs and bits of stick will be caught in the coat and any parasites will find perfect dream homes – all leading to an uncomfortable, scratching dog. I find the best thing to do in this case is to use a pair of electric dog clippers – emphasising to the owners that it is not for show – merely to keep the dog tidy and to give the correct outline.
The other coat type that is almost impossible to trim for show is what I call the ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ coat – long, fine, silky hair, all undercoat and no hard hair at all. I had one once, and full of enthusiasm, hand plucked it bare all over, hoping to see harder hair grow in. When it grew it was just as it was before, so it was clippers from then on. As most pet owners will not have the equipment to clip their dogs, it will be a case of visiting a ‘canine beautician’ armed with a good photograph of a properly presented Wire Dachshund.
Now let us suppose you are the proud owner of a correctly coated animal – his body is covered with a growth of hard, wiry hair, perhaps about an inch long, and when you lift it, below can be seen another, denser layer of undercoat. He has thick trousers, beard and eyebrows, and possibly quite a lot of long wispy hair on his head, ears and neck. He may be on the woolly side or he may be harder coated than average; no two are really alike. I shall now describe the ‘treatment’ for the average dog and leave our intelligent readership to adapt the instructions to each case.
Personally, I like to start on the body of the dog first, and do the various extremities as finishing touches. The main part of the coat is dependent on the state of growth – when it is only half grown it will not come out easily. It is therefore better to wait until the coat is ‘blowing’ ie long, straggly, beginning to curl, before pulling it out. It should come out easily without distressing the dog at all. Don’t pull too much at a time; pull with the finger and thumb in the direction that the coat lies – starting at the front. If you are getting finger-ache, stop and do some more later. Both your dog and you are new to it, so don’t hurry. Try to get it done over about a week; if you do the front half and do the back a month later it will grow again in two different lengths. The areas that must be pulled in this way are the whole of the body, the neck, paying particular attention to get the neck tidy, the legs down as far as you can, this will depend on the texture of the coat, and the skull.
The head is going to make a great deal of difference to the eventual effect, so particular care must now be taken. Imagine to start with, a line drawn from the outside corner of each the eye to the corner of the mouth on the same side, and under the chin at the same point; removing all the long hair behind this line. You may find that some of the hair on the top of the skull is rather woolly, and when you pull it out there is a bald patch! There is no way around this, just do the trimming in time for it to grow before the next show. The ears are included in this area, some grow very little hair on the ears, some quite a fringe, and they should also be trimmed. Do it gently as a lot of dogs are sensitive in this area.
Now you are left with the foreface, the next thing to do is to look at a photograph of a Wire Champion Dachshund in all his glory. Tidy the beard and moustache to a nice shape, not sticking out sideways and not too big, with the hair lying flat. Now get out your round pointed hairdressing scissors and just even off any long hairs so that the line of the beard seen from the side is straight. Make sure both sides are the same! To finish off the head, we still have the area of the eyebrows – many pet owners so adore the appealing look of enormous eyebrows that they leave them too big. Correctly, they should only be growing on a narrow strip of skin above the eye. They should not project sideways beyond the skull, hang down over the eyes or meet in the middle. Clean out all the hair growing between the eyes and down the nose, blending it into the beard. This part of the job makes so much difference to the expression of your dog that it is well worth getting it right. If all else fails take him to a show and compare him with others and modify your work accordingly.
We still have the legs and tail to finish. The latter is done as the rest of the body, remove any long straggly hairs. There is often a patch a little way down the tail – tidy it to produce a neat effect (take care– your dog may be sensitive here).
Now we are left with the legs – a point where strong men have been known to give up. The harder coats can be plucked almost down to the feet and then tidied round the toes with scissors. Many seem to have finer hair which will not pull out. To avoid a Sealyham appearance – what is to be done? I find the best implement to use is a pair of thinning scissors, used sparingly. Thin the leg hair a little and then go back to pulling to produce a neat, well covered limb with tidy round paws, positively no tufts sticking out on the elbows and no long hair on the back of the hind limbs behind the hock, as this can make movement look odd.
When you have done this, pick up the plain scissors and clip off any long hairs from under the armpit (where it gets matted), the hind legs, the anus and in a male from around the sheath (for hygienic reasons). Trim any last remaining hairs from the underline to give a good outline.