Grooming the American Cocker for Show
Before diving right in to groom your American Cocker in a show trim, it's good idea to watch and learn from an experienced groomer or exhibitor, who would probably be more than willing to share his or her expertise with you. Closely examine pictures of show winners so that you can visualise the finished outline you hope to achieve. Know the standard and understand the extent of grooming and trimming that is allowed in the ring.

Tools of the trade

You will need (illustrated clockwise):
~ a clipper with # 10 blade
~ a Mars stripping tool
~ a selection of pin brushes
~ a slicker brush
~ a fine and wide-toothed comb
~ nail clippers
~ a pair of curved scissors
~ a pair of thinning scissors



Start the clipping on the upper third of the ear, working against the lie of the hair. At the back edge of the ear, the area to be clipped is slightly less than one third so that it conforms to the shape of the ear. As you move the clippers upwards, roll the clipper up and away to avoid sharp lines.

Holding the ear forward and out of the way, clean the back and sides of the neck.

Hold your dog's chin up and find a position just above the breastbone, where you will begin the upward strokes to clean the dog's neck and lower jaw.

Working against the lie of the hair, clean the muzzle and lips. Tip: If your dog is lacking fullness in the lip, you can leave a little more hair on to give the appearance of fullness.

The cheeks are clipped against the lie of the hair, taking care not to clip beyond the corner of the eye. This enhances the cheek chiselling.

Clean out the stop with a reverse v-shaped action. Tip: If your dog is lacking a well-defined stop, you can enhance it by leaving tiny tufts of hair on each side of the v-shape, close to the eye.

Trim an area just behind the skull between the ears to enhance the crest in your dog's neck. Be careful not to start too far back and take care to blend the strokes so that they don't leave marks.

Using thinning scissors with the lie of the hair - never against it - trim the neck so that the short hair blends smoothly with the longer hair. Carefully monitor how much you are taking off - err on the side of too little, rather than too much.

Trim the tail to give it a neat, rounded appearance.

Longish hairs can be blended with the shorter coat with the careful use of thinning scissors.

You may wish to use a Mars stripper to remove stray hairs or undercoat along the topline to obtain a smooth finish. Drag the tool gently over the dogs back, taking care not to scratch or nip the skin.

The dead hair is easily caught up in the stripping comb.

The feet are trimmed with a pair of sharp shears - curved or straight.

Once you have finished trimming and brushing the coat, you can wrap the ears in cling-wrap bandage to protect them.

Models for this demonstration: Calvin and Caroline