Your Brittany may benefit from a little trimming of his feet, ears, neck, and other areas from time to time to remove straggly long hairs. Such trimming improve your dog’s appearance and can also help keep him healthier and cleaner. To learn the finer points of trimming a Brittany, contact your local breed club or kennel club to find out about grooming workshops or to find someone who can teach you.
In the meantime, you can get started here. Just remember, when trimming, take your time and be careful not to cut your dog’s skin – or your own!
How to Trim the Feet
Long hair growing from between your dog’s toes can be trimmed to keep it from collecting plant matter, stones, ice, and other debris and to keep it from making him slip on smooth surfaces. Besides, a neatly trimmed foot looks nicer. Here’s how to trim your dog’s feet:
- Using straight (not thinning) shears, trim the hair on the underside of the foot so that it is even with the pads.
- Using a slicker brush, brush the hair from between the toes and from the top of the foot against the growth so that it stands up; using thinning shears or straight shears, trim the hair to a consistent short length on top of the foot. Don’t trim between the toes—that will give your dog a splay-footed look.
- Trim any long hair around the dewclaw.
- Comb the hair on the back of the pastern (the area between the foot and the long bone of the leg) against the grain, then trim it to about 1/2 (1.5 cm) inch.
- According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, the feathers on your Brittany’s hind legs should reach “halfway to the hocks” (the joint above the long, vertical leg bone). If they are longer than that, or straggly, use thinning sheers to shorten and tidy them. Snip judiciously so that the feathers look natural rather than “bobbed.” You can also trim any long hairs on or above the hocks as well.
- The feathers on your dog’s front legs should be about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long. As with the rear feathers, you can tidy them with thinning shears. Trim the long hair but try not to get a straight, artificial edge. Toward the bottom of the leg, taper the feathers to about 1 inch (2.5 cm).
- The featherings along your Brittany’s underside should hang only 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) below the elbow and can be trimmed with thinning shears. Again, try not to create an artificially sharp, straight line; take tiny snips and then stand back and look until you get the appearance you want.
How to Trim the Tail
Your Brittany’s tail may take on an unkempt appearance without trimming, but it’s easy to keep that from happening. To tidy up the tail:
- Trim any straggly hairs from the tip, so that it looks neat and rounded.
- Comb or brush the hair on the underside of the tail against the growth, then trim so that the hair is even with the tail’s underside.
- Finish with thinning shears and a very light hand—tidy up any stray hairs, but don’t over trim the tail
- If your dog grows long hair below the base of his tail, you can use your scissors to trim the area, which will help keep it clean.
How to Trim the Neck
Some Brittanys grow a lot of hair on their necks, and if it’s curly or wavy, it can make their necks look thick. If you prefer a tidier look, you can trim the hair on the front and sides of your dog’s neck from the ears to just above the sternum, using scissors or clippers. Getting the neck to look good, though, can be tricky. The best way to learn is to have a knowledgeable Brittany breeder or owner, or groomer, show you how; if you plan to show your Brittany in conformation, this is essential.
The simplest trim for pets and hunting dogs consists of removing long hair from behind your dog’s ears and down the sides of the neck. You can use scissors, or clippers with a number 10 blade and, ideally, with a comb attachment to keep you from cutting the hair too short.
Clip in the direction of the hair’s growth, not against it. If your dog has not been clipped before, give him time to get used to the sound of the clippers before you try to use them. Take several sessions if necessary, and reward him with a good treat for tolerating the noise.
How to Trim the Ears
Your dog’s ears—actually, the ear leathers, or floppy part—may also get a little shaggy looking if you don’t tidy them up occasionally. Use your thinning shears to avoid sharp cut lines, and carefully trim along the outside edges of the ears. If your dog has a lot of long hair on the underside of the ear flap, you can trim that as well.