In some breeds, hours and hours of work are involved in preparing dogs for their brief ring appearances. Trimming, shaping and sculpting using various products and tools are the norm for breeds such as the Poodle and Bichon Frisé. Others, such as the Pekingese and Shih Tzu, need extensive brushing and coat care. Many Terrier breeds require constant coat care, much of it done by hand, to maintain the desirable correct, harsh coat and distinctive shape of the breed.
However, what of the many breeds whose standards require that they be shown in a natural state? There are many more than you think, as you will find when you start reading different standards. In reality, grooming a breed whose standard calls for a natural coat is often more difficult to accomplish than grooming a highly trimmed breed. It certainly requires different skills.
There are a number of breed standards that specifically fault trimming and stylizing dogs of that breed. Some have very strong statements regarding trimming, even to the extent of stating that dogs that are trimmed should be penalized to the point that they are “effectively eliminated from competition.” It is a very strong statement indeed.
In reality, even breeds that are supposed to be shown naturally need grooming and, sometimes, judicious trimming. They just shouldn’t look like it was done. There are two things to keep in mind with any show dog. First, no dog should be shown dirty or smelly, so a bath before the show is in order nearly all the time. The timing of the bath might be an issue for hard-coated breeds because the bath will soften the coat, but it still needs to be done. Second, no dog should be shown with mats or tangles in its coat (except for corded breeds), so some brushing and detangling are almost always necessary.
In some breeds that are not supposed to be trimmed, a dog might grow excessive coat that hides the natural outline of the dog. In this case, it may be necessary to remove some of the excess coat. However, and this is important, there should be no sign of your work when completed – no telltale straight lines or marks in the coat showing where scissors or other tools were used. Obvious signs defeat the purpose.
Dealing with ambiguity
Judging breeds that have this kind of strong statement can create some questions for judge and exhibitor alike. Each judge must decide for himself just how
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