Your four-legged sidekick may need just an occasional trim to keep the hair out of his eyes or may require monthly visits to the salon for a full hairdo to keep his coat in top form. Either way, the haircuts, or fur cuts, to choose from are plentiful.
Most long-hair dogs, such as retrievers, have fur that reaches a certain length and stops growing. As caretaker for such a pup, you can choose a partial cut that tames wild hairs, enhances features a bit or helps decrease drying time after a bath or rain shower. But some dogs, like the poodle or Shih Tzu, have locks that mimic your own hair growth, meaning they must have regular cuts to keep the length under control. Any haircut works best if your dog's coat is brushed thoroughly, and free of mats and tangles, before the clippers or scissors come out.
With a few exceptions, sticking with the American Kennel Club breed standards will keep your dog looking a lot like his ancestors and his shown kin. Golden retrievers, for instance, should have only a light trimming to neaten the appearance around the ears, tail and ruff. You can and should cut all that fur they tend to grow between their toes, but cutting off any more fur will eliminate a dog from the show ring. Adult poodles in regular classes are expected to arrive ringside with all the familiar puffballs of the English Saddle or Continental clip. Originally designed to protect vulnerable joints from the cold during hunting activities, these puffs are regulated by AKC rules that indicate exactly how long and where each of them should appear. Familiar to most professional groomers, breed-specific cuts require a variety of clippers, scissors, combs and brushes.
Puppy cuts keep mats and tangles under control during active months. The style and length of a puppy cut vary according to breed and individual dog. Poodles can expect one length on the body, and closely shaven hair on the face and throat and at the base of the tail. Your Cockapoo, if not too curly, may do best with a longer, softer-looking puppy cut that leaves the hair on his face and throat. The time you spend brushing, trimming and fluffing your long-haired puppy gives you an opportunity to bond, introduce obedience and keep an eye out for any strange lumps, bumps or lesions that may signal a trip to the vet.
Finding the Balance
Despite a general willingness to adapt to two-legged family life, your furry friend may not benefit from a new haircut every few weeks -- or any haircut at all. Some breeds, like the German shepherd, sport a double coat that protects their skin and should remain intact. Others, like the mighty Shih Tzu or beloved poodle, may enjoy changing hairstyles as frequently as you change yours. If you're not sure which category suits your best friend, your veterinarian or a reputable groomer can advise.
- An afraid poodle on dark background image by Will from Fotolia.com