"Grooming Your Golden"
by Morningsage Goldens - Photos and Text - Joanne Lastoka Jan. 18, 2001
PVGRC extends thanks to Joanne Lastoka for her permission to
post these pages on Golden Retriever grooming on the club's web site.
Link to Joanne's web site is
The tutorial for grooming the tail and shoulders is on this page. There are
links which will take you to two additional pages, one for grooming
ears and one for grooming
GROOMING TUTORIAL - TAIL/SHOULDER
Brush the tail thoroughly, making sure all traces of tangles or matts are
Don't let this task daunt you, it isn't that hard, just do a little at a
time, over a period of several days, until you have the effect you desire. The
Breed Standard reads that the tail should just reach the dogs hocks, and though
some dogs will have a slightly longer tail, your goal is to trim the tail to
that length as closely as possible, and still not have the tail look noticeably
sculptured. The Goldens' tail has a rounder, fuller look when groomed, and the
triangular wedge seen on an Irish Setter with a "break" at the base of the tail,
is NOT the look desired. The area at the base of the tail is customarily not
groomed to separate the tail from the feathering on the butt, as is done with
the Setters in particular for the show ring, although on a heavily feathered
dog, some shortening of the length can be done to keep the dog cleaner.
Hold the tail down to the
hock and place your thumb at the point where the end of the tail
meets the hock to mark the length you will trim the tail to match.
Note: in the photo, an imaginary line drawn from my thumb will just
meet the top of the dogs hock. This will be the final length of the
Using the thinning
shears, start trimming just past
that point, giving yourself some leeway,
especially if you are a beginner.
On the majority of dogs,
especially if having never had their tails trimmed before, you will
have quite a ragged edge of sometimes quite lengthy feathering,
often much longer at the tip, and also very long at the point in
this photo that my thinning shear is just beginning to come to. I
make the initial cut of length this way, then come back, moving side
to side across the tail breadth, making light and fleeting cuts to
blend up the sides of the tail, so blunt cuts are not glaring at
you. More extreme length of the feathering at the tails' base,
should be trimmed a little also, this particular dog does not have
an abundance of tail feathering or coat at this time.
Lift the tail and begin
thinning, rounding the length of the tail feathering slightly as you go
toward the base. The dog in the illustration had his tail trimmed not
that many weeks prior to the photo, so you need to look closely to see
that I am trimming about 1" of feathering off.
The final photo, shows
the finished tail. I also do some rounding and blending very carefully
at the very tip of the tail, so that when the tail is hanging naturally
down, it doesn't look like someone cut it straight off with a blunt
The thinning shears are
also used, inserting the blade underneath the coat and "into" or
"with" the direction of coat growth as in the red lines shown on the
photo. A small amount of trimming is done under the ear on the neck
area and under the dogs chin where the two red lines are above.
Following the line of the shoulder, if a heavy "shelf" exists as shown
above, careful thinning of undercoat in the direction shown by the arrows, and
combing out, will blend the coat in and reduce the heavy or "over-loaded" look
to shoulders and neck. Groom over a period of several days and "Stop, look,
assess" as we did when doing the ears.
On some dogs, similar thinning at the base of neck at the withers is also
necessary. Note: topcoat is NOT removed in any of these area's, we are just
thinning undercoat to remove some bulk. Over zealous grooming in these areas,
whether done with thinning shears, or a stripping knife will not preserve the
natural look of the dog, nor will it enhance the dog or cover up lesser
qualities. The dog should not have an "hourglass" look when looking straight at
the front when done grooming.