by Christina Pawlosky CMG, National Training Manager of Oster® Professional Products
Over the years some of my biggest wins were showing and grooming Poodles. Even now I love grooming Poodles. But I hate de-matting or grooming unkempt dogs just like the rest of the grooming world.
The German Trim is one of my favorite low maintenance styles because it really helps my clients to manage their grooming demands. Most of them love the German Trim too. It is stylish and yet requires less maintenance between grooming appointments. I especially love it on male Poodles because it is very clean and handsome.
The German Trim is outlined with universal combs and blades. I like that because it helps my work to be more consistent and it saves time. I can easily tweak coat lengths by simply selecting shorter or longer cutting blades or comb attachments. In this way I can also attend to structural faults best left hidden.
I used a #3 blade on the body of the dog pictured here using the new Oster® A6™ clipper. I blended off the shoulders and hips into the legs to show muscle and angulation. I left coat on the neck from the top knot, and then blended just behind the withers. From profile remaining neck hair was in line with the coat left on back of front leg. The remaining neck coat was trimmed to the width of the dog’s body. Careful! Try not to pinch the neck or shoulders. For the neck I clipped from just behind the bottom of the ear canal towards the elbow. I clipped and blended the remaining hair in with a #3 blade for a more natural look.
The legs were done with a one-inch comb attachment over a #30 blade. I pressed hard on the inside, outside and front of the front legs. Then I skimmed the back of front legs making sure I had enough coat to align the remaining neck coat and the coat over elbows.
The breed standard calls for the highest point of withers to be equal to elbow. I try extra hard to reflect that standard using the coat length when the anatomy is not correct. In this groom I wanted a good amount of “daylight” between those nice straight legs in order to show a proper well sprung rib.
The rear legs were similarly groomed with a one-inch comb attachment over a #30 blade. I pressed hard on the inside and outside of leg and skimmed over the front of the back legs leaving the hock to scissor. I took the #3 blade down from the pin bone and blended at the bend in the rear legs creating additional angulation.
When looking at a dog’s profile draw an imaginary line from pin bone to floor. It should land in front of the toes with the hock set straight. If the hock is straight and the imaginary line lands on the toes the dog is lacking “angulation.” This measure lets you know how much hock hair is needed to correct the outline when lacking correct angulation.
How about another trick? Make sure front and back legs are the same size and at the same time complement the dog’s structure. Both legs should be straight and parallel to one another when viewed from the front or rear according to the standard. The better the dog the less coat hair you need to style in order to make the dog appear more correct and beautiful.
Next, I used my new Oster® Juice™ adjustable blade clipper. Face lines start from a point somewhere between the Adam’s Apple and the place where the neck dips back into the dog. Ideally you go as low as you can downward but stay above where the neck dips in hiding a U-neck.
Expose as much length as possible by clipping up to the bottom outside edge of ear canal but remember not too wide as to make the Poodle look thick-necked. Then go from the top inside of ear clean to outside corner of the eye making sure your lines are above the cheek bone and even on both sides.
Clip in a slight inverted “V” between eyes to accentuate the Poodle expression, and then clip the remaining hair from the muzzle.
There are other things to consider when clipping faces. Compare your Poodle to the breed standard and whenever possible hide faults, such as the lack of a chin or a dish face.
Sanitary work should be clean, and not be visible from the rear. Poodles should have a muscular loin and tight clean tuck up provided the they have correct body types.
Clipping feet is dependent upon the dog having nicely arched toes or flat feet. Normally, I clip to the wrist all the way around. If a dog has flat feet I set the clipper line and bevel down lower to about the second digit and allow coat to lay neatly over the feet to hide them. In the groom pictured here I tightly beveled over Beemer’s feet because he has nice feet and the right amount of leg to carry it.
For the top knot comb the coat to one side and use scissors. I started at the clipper work at the back bottom side of the first ear and scissoring over the ear. I used the clipper line reference again to form the front of the ear to the outside corner of the eye.
Remember to keep the blade of your shears angled outward to prevent a Mohawk look.
Keep combing to the scissor line and remove any hair hanging over the line you created at the beginning. Repeat for other side.
Now comb all the coat forward. Pull hair with fingers from over the eyes and scissor tight. Then angle shears outward and join the two sides of the head creating a rounded edge with a nice outward angle (slightly more than the sides of the head).
To finish tweak the small amount of coat left over the skull and blending into the neck coat.
The German Trim can be done with full or clean feet, and with or without some form of mustache. I personally prefer clean face and feet. If I were to do a mustache I would consider full feet to match.
I prefer ears and tail to match. My norm is to use a #4F, or even a #3F, on the top sides of both tail and ears. I also use a #10 on the inside of each ear and clean up the back of the tail with a #7F or blending shears. Some groomers do the ears and tail with a #10 or #7F blade. It’s up to you!
Enjoy those wonderful Poodle grooms!