The Greater London Old English Sheepdog Club

Show Grooming

Taking note of the earlier general comments, lay the dog down.  The tools for grooming and maintaining a "show" coat are somewhat different.  I personally find that a "Mason & Pearson" type of bristle and nylon brush is the main item, supplemented with combs of fine, medium and coarse teeth and additionally, a good pair of scissors.  Some people may prefer to use a pin brush and where this is the case, it should be made up of long fine pins reasonably spaced and on no account should the pins have "heads".

For the purpose of grooming a dog to be presented in the show ring, I personally believe they should be totally free of knots.  To achieve this depth of grooming without excessive and unacceptable loss of either undercoat or length of top coat, considerable care and time must be taken.

Referring to the "Show Grooming" diagram above, starting from a point just above the anus, begin to separate the coat into small sections, brushing carefully from the roots away from the dog.  This method allows each section to be brushed over previously brushed coat, thereby ensuring that all knots are found and brushed during the grooming session.  From this starting point, work gradually around the rear quarter and down the outside edge of the rear leg, and repeating for the inside edge of the other rear leg, although at the top, you will not be able to brush the coat "away", therefore you should take extra care to ensure that all the coat in this area has been brushed.  Then work in sections along the side of the body, starting at the top of the back and working down to the underside.  This should be repeated until the neck, shoulders and chest have been included.  The front legs should then be groomed, starting from the top outside edge and working downwards to the bottom, then repeating for the inner edge of the other front leg.  The same difficulty will be found between the front legs as the back, in as much as, the coat cannot be brushed "away" and should be carefully brushed in this potentially knotty area.

Now the side of the head can be groomed, starting from the top point just above the neck and working down and around the ear flap to include the nose and lower jaw.  Finally the ear flap can be dealt with by continuing the process of brushing "away", starting at the top of the ear flap and working down to the tip and then turning over to brush around the inner edges.  At this point the ear should be checked for cleanlines and any soft brown hairs plucked out.

The dog should now be turned over and the whole process repeated for the other side.

Once the main grooming has been completed, as with "pet dogs", the hair between the pads should be attended to, the claws checked and the hair trimmed around the genital and anal areas.

After the main grooming has been carried out, a certain amount of preparation can be carried out that will enhance the presentation in the ring.  Many people will debate the use of scissors or whether the ends of the coat should be "trimmed" by breaking the coat between thumbs and forefingers.  However, I personally find scissors helpful and acceptable, but do not like to see a "scissored" finish to a presented dog.  Bearing in mind the desired "shape" that is dealt with in the Ring Presentation section, it is often helpful to lightly trim and shape the ears and head as well as around the back and feet.  This should not be excessive or appear scissored and will take years of practice to achieve, but often the breeder or fellow exhibitors will help you if you ask.

Apart from shaping/trimming, the shoulders and neck should be stripped out by using a coarse toothed comb to ease out some of the undercoat, leaving the shoulders slim rather than thick with dense coat.  The fine-toothed comb should be used very carefully so as not to break the coat or remove too much undercoat, working around the mouth and chin, around the edge of the ears and around the feet.  Finally, using either the medium or coarse toothed comb, the undercoat should be eased by carefully combing below the anus to the top of the rear legs to enable the coat in this area to lay a little flatter to the body.