Can My Dog Look Like a Show Dog?

by Guzal Arslanova

It is so mesmerizing to watch show dogs graciously running on the ring, showing off their flawless perfectly styled look.  They are all so gorgeous, so impeccable and polished to perfection. Some dogs don’t even look real.  Surely, the thought of having their pets looking just like show dogs has crossed many people’s  mind. What does it take to keep the dogs looking so spotless?

Whether it is a companion or show dog, they have to be groomed regularly to keep their coat and skin healthy and flawless.  In fact, it does not take long if the dogs are groomed on a daily basis. A few minutes of brushing a day will keep those mats away, and even the companion dogs outside the ring can look as close to the show dogs as possible. However, to accomplish this the dog’s coat has to be maintained on a regular basis, both at home and professionally. All dogs have to see their groomer at least every week for proper brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning as well as monthly coat trimming.  

That is all that it takes. However, as busy as people are, it can be difficult to dedicate even a few minutes or commit to a weekly professional grooming. Thus, many pets are being kept in a shorter haircuts. The shih tzu, lhasa, Yorkshire terrier, for instance, appear in shows sporting their natural long coat. However, their at home companion counterparts  are being clipped to a short haircut. The impeccable sculptured Bichon Frise or Poodle are scissor cut to perfection. In order to be able to give these breeds the haircuts the show ring requires, the coat has to be brushed out and combed out every single day to prevent matting. Longer coat has to be wrapped to avoid breaking.

Dematting will ruin the coat and it will not be suitable for the desired style. Even the dogs that are not in a show trim have to see their groomer at least on a monthly basis with regular maintenance at home to keep the pets healthy and happy. Less regular grooming will most likely result in matting and possible skin conditions. In fact bringing the pets to the professionals on a regular basis, even if it is just a brush out session, will not only help to keep the pets coat tangles free and healthy but it will save money, as there will not be additional dematting fees that are normally charged as it requires  extra work and time.

The wire-haired breeds like the Airedale terrier, West Highland terrier , Welsh terrier and many others are handstripped for the show. The handstripping might sound harsh, however, if it is done properly and regularly, it does not hurt the dogs. It is simply plucking the dead hairs that completed their life cycle but are still attached to the follicles.  Handstripping prevents from  having clogged folicles and promotes healthy hair growth. Show dogs get handstripped  weekly, puling just a small amount of hair in different places to create proper layers.  Most pet wire haired dogs are clipped. Clipping will eventually change the coat texture, which will make it unsuitable for handstripping. The coat will appear soft and silky. Pet owner can choose whether to get their dog handstripped or clipped. The clipped coat will not look like the coat on the show dog. However, it is possible to create similar patterns by clipping.

Puli “Ch Banhegyi Ancsa with Mornebrake” (Ancsa) owned by Mr and Mrs Fulton, at the City of Birmingham Championship Dog Show, 30th August 2003

Some herding dogs like the  Komondor or Puli are corded for the show. Proper techniques and grooming skills are necessary to maintain such a coat. Pets  normally get a haircut and look nothing like show dogs.  

It is possible to create the show look for a companion dog.  Whether you decide to go with a more functional than stylish look or the look of a show winner,  dogs must to be groomed and maintained regularly. It does take plenty of dedication. However, if this is done properly and promptly  it only takes a few minutes, and the pet’s style can be as flawless as the style of the dogs in the “show ring”.

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