“I would like a puppy cut please,” says Bella’s mom the owner of an adorable Maltese. Quick – look at the cringe form along the groomers face as they are thinking, “What does that mean???” There is no ‘standard term’ in the grooming industry for a puppy cut. Each groomer interprets it differently and this is where the confusion lies. To Bella’s mom, it sounds simple enough but to the groomer, this can lead to a bad haircut, an unhappy client and a misunderstanding that can make the groomer look incompetent. So now the series of questions begin:
What length do you want?
Do you want the legs longer than the body?
Do you want the face and head round or square?
Do you like long ears or short ears?
Do you like the muzzle tight?
And 15 other questions generated from that simple statement… “I want a puppy cut.”
I sort of lied above. There is a Puppy Cut for Poodles. The definition of this clip is to shave the face clean, shave the feet (poodle feet), and create a tail band. A true puppy cut does not remove any length off the body. But based on the description above, I find it very unlikely that is what Bella’s mom wants.
Somewhere along the line, Bella’s mom heard the term and thought… “Gee, I want my pet to look like a puppy all the time!” That makes sense, and that look can still be achieved by a groomer, but many other questions need to be addressed to achieve the look she wants.
“But my past groomer used to say Puppy Cut. Why is it wrong then?”
Chances are, your groomer just goes along with what you say, instead of educating you, the pet owner. I know personally that I have addressed thousands of clients on the puppy cut debacle! Sometimes it’s laziness and sometimes, well, the groomer just doesn’t have the time to educate the owner. But my guess is they went through the series of questions to figure out exactly what you wanted.
How your groomer looks at your dog.
When a groomer is checking in your pet, they are breaking your pet’s body down into categories to determine the haircut you desire. Think of it like a big puzzle and we are slowly putting the pieces together to achieve the desired look. Here is how your groomer looks at your dog:
The body is defined as the trunk of your dog, excluding legs and feet. It is here that groomers want to know how much hair you want left on your pet. Break out those rulers because it’s time to learn what an inch is! A running joke in all salons is when a pet owner says, “I want about 2 inches left on the body” when their pet only has a quarter of an inch of hair! To avoid being the butt of groomers jokes, it is much better to use your fingers as an indicator of how much coat you want left on your pet. A groomer will then translate that into the proper blade to use.
There is no one standard length for puppies or puppy cut. Speaking with groomers all around the country, their definition of the length of a puppy cut varies from a quarter of an inch to 2 inches. That is a huge range. Stick with your fingers and show how much coat you went left on.
Legs and feet.
The next area of the body that a groomer examines is the legs and feet. Owners can make the decision to leave the legs a little longer than the trunk of the body. This creates a sort of ‘teddy bear look.’ Some owners just prefer to have the same length all over so please indicate which one you prefer during the consultation period. It is important to note that longer legs can mean a higher probability for matting.
Recognize your pet’s lifestyle and how often you brush in-between grooming appointments. If at-home maintenance is not an issue, then consider this adorable look. Same with feet. Some clients prefer round, thick feet while others do not want their pet tracking in mud. Let your groomer know your concerns and they will make it happen.
The tail and back side
Does your dog make messes on itself when using the bathroom? Do they drag their tail through all the leaves in your yard? These are concerns that need to be addressed with your groomer. We can create a tighter touche to keep your pet’s back-end neater. Or do you prefer the fluffier butt and long tail? Let your groomer know what look you like back here as well.
Excluding the ears, a groomer wants to know the overall shape you want to leave the head. How much hair do you prefer on top of the head? (Do you want enough hair to go into a bow?) What about the bangs (also know as visor)? Do you prefer the muzzle hair longer, shorter, rounder or more square? This is a good point in the conversation to indicate whether or not your pet’s facial hair gets matted and dirty while eating and drinking. If this is the case, like the back side, a groomer can go shorter in this area to keep it cleaner longer.
The ears and eyelashes
The final piece of the puzzle is your preference for the ears and eyelashes. Indicate if you would like short or long ears, rounded, bobbed, or shaved off entirely. Same with the eyelashes. If you do not want them cut off say so! A groomer will typically remove eyelashes unless told otherwise.
Similar to hairdressers, groomers need to identify many aspects to get the haircut right. While your hairdresser wants to know where you part your hair, how much length to take off and what to do for bangs and around the ears, a groomer has to determine what you want for an entire body of your baby. Like hairdressers, there are no Universal Names of Haircuts that explain exactly what you want.
Now you know
Understanding how your groomer is looking at your pet and interpreting what you want, is a great way to bridge the communication gap that happens so often when describing the haircut you want. If you could break down your beloved pooch into sections and relay what you want for each, you are well on your way to a successful haircut! And so when you’re groomer says, “Oh you want a puppy cut… “
You can laugh and say, “There is no such thing as a Puppy Cut!”