Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trimming Sheltie Leg Feathers and Hocks

As requested, here is a step-by-step guide to how I trim my Shelties' front leg feathers and hocks. The technique for the front legs was taught to me by Romeo's breeder (Thanks Brenda!). The technique for the hocks, I figured out on my own and am happy with the results. (Please excuse the messy feet. "Foot Trimming Day" is on Thursday.)

Again, following my normal pattern, I prefer to keep these things cheap and easy, no fancy equipment if I can avoid it. For the whole process, you will need:

- a small slicker brush
- a fine toothed metal comb
- a small pair of blunt nosed scissors
- a small battery operated razor with adjustable guide (I prefer to use a woman's personal hygiene razor that you can get at any drug store for around $20).

Front Leg Feathers

Step 1
- With the fine toothed comb, comb through the hair on the back of the front leg, from "elbow" to "wrist", gathering it flat along the leg. Hold it in place with your thumb located just above the dog's "thumb pad" located on the back of their wrist.

Step 2
- With the blunt nosed scissors, cut the hair that is hanging below the dog's "thumb pad" straight across.

Step 3
- With the scissors or the razor (whichever you are more comfortable with) cut the hair between the dog's "thumb pad" and the large paw pad so that it is as short as the hair on the front of the leg.

All done! By gathering the hair from the elbow down to the wrist and then cutting it all straight across, you will wind up with a really nice taper from top to bottom. And by using the thumb pad as a guide on both legs, it ensures that you will wind up with an even job on both sides.

Hocks (Back Legs)

Step 1
- With the slicker brush, brush the hair on the back of the hocks UP from the paw to the point of the hock so that all the hair is standing up and away from the leg.

Step 2
- Set the battery operated razor to the longest setting, approximately 0.5" (just over 1 cm). Moving from paw to the point of the hock, run the razor up the back of the dog's leg using the back of the leg as a guide.

I find that the leg hair (front and back) doesn't grow as quickly as paw hair. So while I trim paw hair once a week, I only do the leg hair every 2 months, or when it starts to look scruffy.

Other entries that I have written on how I groom my Shelties:
Grooming those Sheltie feet
Trimming Sheltie leg feathers and hocks
Trimming Sheltie ears
Homemade snood to prevent messy, broken hair

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