The jitteriness and self-doubt came back the day I went to drop Gwynn off for his epically long haircut.
“Maybe he’ll be fine with his hair just staying this long,” I suggested to my family. They just shook their heads in disgust and asked me what time I needed to drop him off at the groomers.
“Well, what if I did it myself instead?” I offered. They asked me what the address was to the groomers, they’d take him over there for me. They collected all the scissors in the house into a pile and guarded them like a hyena guarding a carcass.
It isn’t that I wasn’t happy with my final choice of groomer… it’s just the idea of Gwynn being cut down to an inch of hair that freaked me out a bit. That, and leaving him somewhere. I wasn’t blogging at the time that he got neutered, but this anxiety was almost as great as the anxiety leaving him at the vet’s office. And they kept him for two nights, one before the surgery and one after… and surgery has the possibility of ending in a very bad way. Whereas a bad haircut will just grow out. Or so I kept telling myself.
When we got there, I’d resigned myself to finding out that he was a particularly not-nice-looking scrawny dog under all that fur (I’d love him anyways, of course), or that it would turn out that the fur was hiding just how obese he had secretly become. But, having walked around for about 45 minutes in the sun, with the temperature reaching maybe even 20 degrees Celsius (that’s ‘almost too chilly for a t-shirt and jeans’ weather for those of you who can’t picture this temperature), Gwynn was seriously panting. We hadn’t even done any fetch or running around. He definitely needed a haircut.
When we got there, the first thing the groomer said was, “I wanted to check something…”
She reached over to Gwynn, and with both hands, she started pulling out his hair all down his back. And it came easily. I brush this dog alot. So this couldn’t possibly be a serious case of winter-coat coming out. It was her testing and proving that he did in fact have a wire coat. Underneath that wire coat was about 1 inch of silky fuzzy soft fur kind of like puppy fur.
A few examples of dogs with wire coats are Scottish terriers (ie scotty dogs), west highland terriers (ie westies), Brussels griffons, and border terriers. It isn’t a silky soft coat – the term wire coat is really a reasonable description of the coat. You’ll notice that nowhere in those examples can you find Poodle, or Australian Shepherd. That would be because Australian Shepherds have a fur coat that is medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat, and Poodles have a hair coat that is either curly or corded. How Gwynn ended up with a wire coat is beyond me.
We discussed it and decided to strip his coat instead of clipping it.
When you’ve got a wire coated dog, the following information should be considered when deciding whether to cut or strip his coat (I got some of this explained to me by the groomer, and some of it I found on the sites I list further down the page):
- The short coat underneath is more natural looking after stripping than a shave would produce
- Shaving softens the hair, which causes it to mat much more easily once the dog has been shaved once … Stripping doesn’t change the hair, because it just pulls the hair out, allowing new wire hairs to come in. Wire hairs are soft at the root and wiry at the end, but cutting them means that the soft part just keeps growing out.
- Stripping doesn’t hurt the dog, if done properly (neither does shaving, so I suppose this one is neither an argument for or against stripping)
- Plucking out the old hair stimulates the dogs’ skin and allows for new hairs to grow in. The wire coat will come back, which is especially advantageous for people who like the wire coat on their dogs.
- For dogs who have a particular breed look, stripping accomplishes that look easily and naturally, whereas shaving requires you to form that look.
- Stripping is a considerably more time-consuming method. If you’re doing it yourself, you can do it with your fingers or a stripping knife, and you don’t have to do it all at once (called rolling stripping), you can do it as hairs start to look scraggly.
- If you’re hiring a groomer to do the stripping, it costs a lot more… some sites said up to twice as much as a shave would cost. Gwynn’s shaving+bath+ear cleaning+nail clipping would have cost about $65 CAD… his stripping+everything else+ a bit of shaving in sensitive regions was $100.
Check out these sites for a bit more info about the process:
What did Gwynn get done? He got most of his body, most of his rear legs, his tail and his head stripped. She used the clippers on his stomach and on a large part of his legs because those areas are a lot more sensitive, and he wasn’t happy having his legs stripped. She shaved his armpits and around his private bits, and cut down the hair between his toes.
Oh wait… you want to see pictures? Well… ok. Cue Music!
Yup… I was being irrational and silly to think that he might actually not look cute anymore! It is like the groomer took 10 months off his life (which is alot for a 14 month old dog!)… he looks like he hasn’t grown out his puppy fur yet, and it feels like puppy fur.