Training & Conditioning

129|Patriotic Puppies|AKC Mark Dunn|Bomb Detection Dog Breeders|Pure Dog Talk

Patriotic Puppies

Patriotic Puppies for a Safer Nation

Mark Dunn - AKC  Senior Vice President - Registration & Customer Development

Wallace is that one dude who can’t ever chill out. Wallace is *always* working. He just can’t turn it off.

As it turns out, that’s a good thing. Wallace is a purebred black Labrador Retriever trained and handled by K2 Solutions to detect explosive materials. He gave a great demo of his skill at the National Animal Interest Alliance conference in Washington, DC, along with his handler Neil Copeland.

Copeland, K2 Canine Director Stacey West and Mark Dunn, AKC Senior VP, Registration & Customer Development shared a pretty impactful story. In fact, I’ve had a hard time forgetting about it.

Lack of Trained Bomb Detection Dogs

Basically, we are running low on trained bomb detection dogs in this country. The government is currently buying 80 percent of these mission-critical dogs from Eastern Europe at a significant investment. And not getting the “pick of the litter,” either.

Detection Dog at AirportDetection Dog at Airport

Detection Dog at Airport

AKC Supports Patriotic Puppies

So Carmen Battaglia, Mark Dunn, Sheila Goffe and a bunch of folks at AKC are teaming up to try and change that. They are developing a new “patriotic puppy program” whereby breeders of high drive, high stamina hunting dogs can help create a network of domestic breeding programs to supply explosive detection dogs (EDD).

Floppy Eared Dogs

While many EDD previously have been German Shepherds, Malinois and the like who also serve double duty as patrol dogs, today’s world requires what the military lingo refers to as “floppy eared” dogs… Labs, German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, Vizlas… Dogs that don’t look scary as they work a crowd at Disneyland or the airport or a concert venue.

These dogs have to work hard all day, be socialized to crowds and have the drive to do the work,” Dunn said. He added that dogs, and particularly purebred dogs with predictable size, temperaments and instincts, are the hands down best way to detect explosive materials.

Canine Working Abilities

K2’s West noted that his team, upon acquiring intel of new explosive materials, can take a trained dog out of the field, imprint an additional scent and have it back in service within 24 hours. No machine to date has that capability.

The AKC is working through legislation and government relations to change the way the government buys and pays for dogs for this important work. Most recently language introduced by Goffe and her team was included in the House defense authorization language. While it was not finalized in the Senate version, Goffe was literally testifying on Capitol Hill at the time of the NAIA conference in early October.

They also are networking with existing breeding and training programs including those at Auburn and Penn State, establishing criteria for how these dogs should be raised. Because the EDD isn’t bought as a puppy. It is raised, generally by a breeder, in much the same way the Guide Dog for the Blind puppies are — with specific socializing, training and imprinting done from birth to about 10 months.

Breeders from the United States

AKC’s goal is for hobby breeders in the U.S. to work directly with government contractors to provide EDD that have been properly bred, raised and socialized so we aren’t outsourcing our safety to other countries.

When the American public sees purpose bred dogs doing real work that matters to people’s lives,” Dunn said, “That is the best way to counter anti breeder sentiment… breeders then are heroes, not evil doers.

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117 – Desi Murphy: AKC Judge, Breeder Showcase and Grooming Tip of the Week with Allison Foley

Desi Murphy

AKC Judge Desi Murphy - 3rd Generation in Dogs

Desi Murphy was born into the sport of dogs.  His grandfather managed kennels in Scotland, his father managed a whippet and greyhound kennel in the U.S.

While surrounded in his youth with 125 sighthounds, Desi's found a love of terriers, bully breeds and Chows.

Bullies are different...

Desi, now a legend in the sport, is licensed to judge the sporting, terrier, and toy groups.

Santa Barbara Breeder Showcase

Desi Murphy  is co-chair for Breeder Showcase at Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and event in it's ninth year.

Now an in-demand event, the Breeder Showcase is extremely competitive.  Dogs are often brought out of retirement for the competition or young dogs held out just for their debut.


A perk for the exhibitors is dinner and wine at the event.

Desmond Murphy - The AKC Judge

Laura Reeves asks Desi what he first looks for in the breed ring.

Evaluate breeding stock...What was the dog bred to do?

For example, the three setters work in different terrains, so their structure must meet their function.  In bicycles, you have a mountain bike, road bike and beach cruiser - each are built to work in different terrains.

Some breeds are getting carried away, and showiest is not always the best.  Basset Hounds in Mexico, for example, are getting too big.  Remember, if a Basset Hound meets a fence on the trail, the hunter has to pick him up and place him on the other side of the fence.  You can't lift an 80 lb basset.

Condition is second...

Dogs need to be fit and in good health and condition.

Movement is a test of structure

The structure standing should be seen and confirmed in a dog moving.

Advice to Exhibitors

Have the best dog.  Often exhibitors ask what they can do to win with a dog... have the best dog.  Ask other breeders and professionals to evaluate your dog against the breed standard.  Know your standard.

Future of the Dog Sport?

As an international judge, Desi see younger exhibitors, and younger breeders in other countries than the U.S.

Russia is strong in most breeds, and Korea and China are close behind

Some handlers started showing at eight years of age, and have bred multiple litters by the time they are 21.  We need youth willing to be breeders.

Desi Murphy

Desi Murphy

AKC Biography of Desmond Murphy

Desmond Murphy, of Monroe, New York, is a third-generation dog man¿his grandfather, father, and two uncles all having been handlers. Born in Scotland, he was reared among Greyhounds, Whippets, and terriers at his family's Mardormere Kennels in upstate New York.

He began handling in 1958, working under his uncle John Murphy, a distinguished handler and judge. Mr. Murphy, known as Desi, points to his handling of seven different Best in Show Chow Chows as his proudest achievement.

Mr. Murphy has been an AKC judge since 1976 and is approved to judge 93 breeds. He last judged at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in 2003.

Mr. Murphy is a member of the Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and the Saw Mill River Kennel Club, and is treasurer of the Non-Sporting Group Club of the Garden State. He considers "learning the value of preserving breed type" to be the most valuable lesson he has learned in dogs.


Allison Foley's Tip of the Week:

How to Use Bath Products Properly

Shampoos and Conditioners need to be used properly to achieve results.  The best scissors, training and handling can't compensate for poor cleanliness or coat condition.

Listen to Episode # 107 How To Properly Bathe Your Dog for more on how to bathe properly.

  1. Use your shampoo according to directions. It's formulated for a reason so measure it out!
  2. Leave product on the dog long enough to work. 5 minutes for shampoo and 7-10 minutes for color or deep conditioner.

Allison's Conditioner Trick

Conditioners don't mix well with water.  Use a cheap immersion blender to mix thoroughly and smooth out all the globs.

Learn more at Leading Edge Academy!

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107 – How To Properly Bathe and Dry Your Dog with Laura Reeves

bathe dry dog

Proper Bathing and Drying of Dogs with Laura Reeves

Our bathing dogs topic today is a thank you for Facebook Fan #2000 Joann Frisch! Joann says she owns a grooming salon, so she’s always up for grooming topics.

We covered pretty basic steps in Episode 73 and working with wire coats in Episode 88.

Importance of Bathing and Drying

But I worked pet grooming for a number of years and the one thing it teaches you is how VERY important bathing and drying are to the success of grooming any dog. Everybody starts out as a bather in pet grooming or as a professional handler’s assistant. And there is a reason for that.

A half clean, half dry dog is going to get sent back to the tub. Every time. The reasons would seem sort of self explanatory but considering the number of them I have sent back over the years and the number of client dogs who arrive clearly suffering the effects of the same malady, I’m going to hedge my bets on this.

There is no place for half way clean and dry, even for a pet dog, never mind a show dog. While your Italian Greyhound isn’t going to take as long as your Newfoundland, they all need the same level of care.

So let’s start at the top.

Nail Trim

Do it first. Get it out of the way before you have to trim feet around too long toenails. We’ve discussed nails before and I’ll just say it again briefly. Dogs feed off YOUR nerves. If you’re scared you’ll make the dog bleed, he’s going to figure there is a reason to be scared and panic and make the entire process a nightmare. Patience fearless leader, patience. Firm, fair and consistent. And always win the battle of wills. Just because your dog doesn’t *want* his toenails trimmed is NO reason not to do it.

Anal Glands

ONLY if needed. And if you don’t know how, learn the proper method! We’ve included a video link on the website to a veterinarian demonstrating the proper procedure. Most large breed active dogs will not need this procedure. Smaller breeds and less active animals or those that are overweight can experience more difficulty. For obvious reasons, do this *before* the bath!


Clean, pluck if needed. If you need to pull hair from the ear canal, be sure to clean it thoroughly afterward to prevent bacterial or fungal infection. Chlorhexadine ear cleaner is absolutely fabulous for preventing and clearing up ear problems.


Do they need scaling?? Now is a good time to do it. Don’t have a tooth scaler? I was taught years ago how to use the thin edge of dime to achieve the same goal in a safe manner for dogs and humans. Use your tool to *gently* get to the gum line and pull down (or up) and away from the gums. I generally focus on the canines and any nasty buildup on the molars. Chlorhex makes a *fabulous* pre-soaked gauze pad for more regular cleaning of teeth.


As noted in previous shows, don’t wash a matted dog. Get the dog fully brushed to the skin, all over his body. Testicle mats, toe mats, belly mats, armpit mats…. Get them out BEFORE you bathe. Use a comb, use brushing spray, use Cowboy Magic, use a mat splitter if you have to, but make sure every part of the dog’s body is thoroughly brushed *to the skin*! You should be able to pull the dog’s hair back and see skin, not clumpy hair, on even the most densely coated dogs.

After nails, ears, anal glands, teeth and brushout, THEN you can get the bath started.


Alrighty, on to the actual bathing part. Make sure ALL of the dog is wet (assuming you’re doing a full bath). And wet to the skin. For some coat types, this takes some effort, using a good spray attachment on the hose and really working the water in the coat. Use lukewarm water as a general rule. If you want to hold coat use cold water, if you want to accelerate the process of a dog that’s dumping coat, use warmer water. Apply your shampoo in a dilution according to the directions or guidance from a mentor. Dumping a big blob of shampoo on top of Fluffy’s back is not going to be the best use of your products or your time. Use your hands or one of those rubber squeegee brushes to distribute your product over the dog’s entire body and down to the skin. You want to be sure that ALL of the hair is getting washed, not just the top part.

Shampoos and Products

We could spend the bulk of an entire show just on the topic of different products. Every single person has their own favorite brands, combinations, rituals and magic potions. I have different products and preferred brands for different coat types, colors, condition … like that. In general, I love the PurePaws products and #1 All systems. But I use specific products from nearly every brand line for something.

Stain Removal

Stain removal is *always* a hot topic. For beards and feet I’ve found a mixture of 50/50 water and 6% hydrogen peroxide (some vendors carry it at the show or you can find at a Sally’s Beauty Supply type store) in a solid container spray bottle (it breaks down in light) to be most effective and not expensive. It’s critically important to remember that if you strip the coat with something like peroxide (#1 all systems whitening gel is also very good for the task) that you have to condition it heavily. You’ve opened up the hair shaft and the first bit of spit, urine, red clay, whatever your staining issue will just suck right in and you’ll be worse off than when you started. Since you’ll need to use heat from a hot dryer to achieve best results from any of the “whitening” type products, it just exacerbates the crunchy, stripped, dull coat problem. Conditioner is your friend!

Keep Problem Areas Clean for Prevention

In fact, most of the “hair” masters will tell you to keep the problem areas clean and conditioned on a daily basis. Keep the dog on a quality food. Keep him clean and dry (yep, it’s a lot of work in the winter if you have, say, a Clumber Spaniel dripping in coat….) Even just a quick foot and belly bath with wash tubs will work wonders. In other words, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! For more words of wisdom from the true artists, visit the link in the show notes to an interview with top drop coat specialists.

Table Baths

On the topic of table baths. This is sort of a dying art that more folks would do well to perfect. At the show, at home, wherever. Get two dish pan sized tubs. Fill both half full of tepid water. Add a teaspoon of your favorite shampoo to one and conditioner to the other. Using big sponges (one for each tub) you squeeze water through the beard, legs, belly, pants — whatever hair needs to be gently and quickly cleaned. I have a ritual that I can blow through in half an hour if I have to at the show. Wash tub goes in front of the dog. Sponge water into the beard and the front legs, holding them over the tub so as to not make such a mess. Tub moves under the dog’s body, I do the same for the belly coat. Tub moves to the back of the dog and I do both back legs, pants if needed, etc. Swap wash tub for rinse tub (containing diluted conditioner) and repeat the process in the same order. At the show this gives the dog a fresh appearance without having go through an entire bath. At home, it helps prevent staining that’s a common result of food, saliva, urine and so on in the coat.

No Hotel Baths

For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT wash your dogs in the hotel bathtub! Do we have any question why there are fewer and fewer hotels that allow dogs?! Come on people. And yes, I am talking to YOU! Don’t do it!

Sun Bleach

Another issue we run in to is sun bleach on black or liver colored dogs. That rust/orange/yellow tint isn’t pretty! Wash the dog with your regular shampoo, rewash with a lightly diluted “black” shampoo like Chris Christensen’s black on black, (More information on this particular product is linked on the website.) follow the directions for letting the product sit in the coat and then rinse and condition with a product that suits the dog’s coat type. In other words, the conditioner I use on the Tibetan Terrier’s coat is going to be far to “heavy” for the Newfoundland, weighing the coat down instead of allowing it to stand off the body.


A bit more on conditioner… USE it! 😉 Even wire coated breeds need it at least in the furnishings so they don’t break off. The proper light weight conditioner even for a double coated breed will add shine. The extra polish that top dogs exhibit is in large part due to daily maintenance and the proper use of conditioners to keep the hair coat in its best condition. If in doubt as to the correct product for your breed, ask questions! Ask your breeder, your mentor, a successful professional in the breed. Use the world wide web, in all its glory, for good, and make contact with the people who have knowledge.  And here’s another important point. Randomly throwing out a question to one of the proliferation of online forums will bring you a wide variety of information. Some of it might be useful, the rest may well be from keyboard warriors. Learn to value the knowledge that comes from successful experience.


OK, so we’ve sudsed, rinsed, conditioned and now it’s time to rinse again. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my assistants. Rinse. Then rinse again. Then rinse again. THEN feel through the *entire* coat to make sure you don’t encounter residue or stickiness that indicates remaining product in the coat. Then rinse one more time for good measure. I’m *two weeks* in to fighting a nasty hotspot on a pug dog who wasn’t sufficiently rinsed. Finally, use your hands like a squeegee to pull off the bulk of the water. I train my dogs to shake on command (yes, it really does work) so that a) I don’t get drenched while bathing and b) they can do part of my work for me.

If you’re using a leave in conditioner product of some kind, I prefer to get the dog out of the tub and on the table, use a towel to squeeze the hair (not scrub it around), then apply the leave in product to damp hair instead of dripping wet hair.

Drying the Dog

Now we get to the drying part. In pet grooming, time is money, so everything gets dried with a force dryer on high speed. If you are VERY good, you can do this without tangling long coat in hopeless knots. If you aren’t, please, do not try this at home! lol Force dryers work best for blasting water out of heavy double coats.

I like to refer to force dryer work as having an end result that is either “flat” or “fluffy”… Wire coats, or anything that you want a flat lying jacket (setters, spaniels, some retrievers, etc) you can use the force dryer nozzle resting just slightly off the parallel plane of the body and blow the hair WITH the grain. Move the dryer in long sweeping motions along the dog’s body— maintain the same position and avoid swirling it around. That just makes the hair stand up crazy and doesn’t reduce your drying time. Go slowly, work thoroughly and the coat will lay down beautifully when you’re done. Once the back coat is dry, pin a dry towel or over it while you do the furnishings with a hot dryer.

Drying Double Coats

For double coated breeds, anything you want volume (akita, shiba, siberian, malamute, newfoundland, Turvuren etc) you can use the force dryer aimed straight in to the body. Not so much blowing the coat against the grain as aiming the force dryer perpendicular to the dog’s body and moving again in sweeping motion down the length of the body. Know your breed, know what the final picture should be. If the topline needs to lie flat, use the “flat” technique there and “fluffy” for sides, ruff, pants etc…. All of this involves using a brush in one hand and the dryer in the other. Particularly if you are trying to strip undercoat out or to add additional volume. The brush/dry routine will also cut down some of your drying time.

Hot Dryers or Stand Dryers

Hot dryers and or stand dryers for furnishings, drop coats, cockers, poodles, etc assures the polished presentation you’re aiming for. Again, brush while drying to make sure the coat dries straight and lies properly. In many cases, you can make everyone’s life easier and teach the dog to lie down on the grooming table for brushing and drying. Completely dry one area before moving to the next so that the dog’s coat, particularly on poodles, bichons, water dogs, etc, doesn’t partially dry curled when your goal is to blow it straight. As was pounded into my head some years ago, good scissor or clipper work cannot be done on a badly dried dog.

Everything to the Skin

Brush to the skin, wash to the skin, dry to the skin. Done. Kiss your dog on the nose and give him a cookie. If you have trimming to do, give your pal a break before you start the next project. Let him pee and stretch his legs and play with him some. Then you can move on to phase two. We’ll talk about the various trimming skills you might need in a future show.

We gave you lots of great links and more information on the website, so check it out.

Meanwhile, this has been YOUR *listener supported* Pure Dog Talk!

Laura Reeves

Laura Reeves

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102 – Dog Obedience with a What? Obedience and Agility with a Non-Traditional Dog: Gail Budde

dog obedience

Dog Obedience with a What?  Obedience and Agility with a Non-Traditional Dog: Gail Budde

Dog Obedience and Agility rings are filled with Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Corgis, Parson Russell Terriers, Labs and Golden Retrievers.  But what about Clumber Spaniels, Pugs, Bulldogs, Norwegian Elkhounds and Great Danes?

Dog Obedience with a Non-Traditional Dog - Gail Budde

Gail Budde trained the first Clumber Spaniel to get a Utility Dog leg, "Breaker".  Breakaway N or M, CDX, RE, MJP, MXP, TDI, CGCA, TT, NFP continued to compete in agility until the age of 10, and obedience until 11 years.

dog obedience


Body Structures and Abilities

Clumber Spaniels are long and low, heavy-bodied, intelligent hunting dogs.  Great Danes and giant breeds don't turn on a dime.  Pugs and Bulldogs are not know for nimble leaps in the air.

Just because a breed has a different body structure doesn't mean that they can't succeed in obedience or agility.  They may not prance at your side with head cranked up or dance through the weave poles, but each breed can do the job with their own style.

Consider Structure, Don't Compare

First, don't compare and try to do what other breeds do.  Your dog is unique in it's structure.

Long and Low

Long and low breeds have straight sit challenges.  Consider the geometry involved.

Fast is Relative

Clumber Spaniels are not fast out of the gate, and teaching a fast recall can be a challenge.  Think change of speed vs greyhound speed and reward quick or energetic starts.

Rewards in Dog Obedience

Not every dog will chase a ball for hours or drill repetitive exercises.

Consider what makes your dog happy:

  • Chase a ball 2 times?
  • Tug?
  • Hide and Seek?
  • Food?
  • Squeakers?
  • Chasing you?

Be creative and be ready to constantly vary the rewards.

Training the Non-Traditional Temperament

Have confidence in yourself and your dog.  Be prepared for the two of you, as a team, to create your own unique obedience

Remember...linebackers, gymnasts and sprinters do not move the same.  They condition and perfect the body structure given to them.

Breeds have temperament traits as well.  Golden Retrievers are "want-to-do" dogs, and Clumber Spaniels are intelligent thinkers that require a meaningful reward for them.

Tailor your training to your breed, your dog.  Again, don't compare.

Are short, single exercise sessions best?  One, done then fun?  Or a series of 5 different exercises in a row?

About Gail Budde

Gail Budde trains Clumber Spaniels and Golden Retrievers.  All of her Clumber Spaniels are Therapy Dogs or in the process of becoming one.  Gail competes and enjoys most dog venues, including barn hunt.

"Breaker" - Breakaway N or M, CDX, RE, MJP,MXP, TDI, CGCA, TT, NFP

"Gin" - Kel Pye's Half Pint of Gin, UD, CGC

"Woody" - Cross Creek's Mr. Chips v Klpy CDX, NJP, TDI, CGC

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91 – Dog Show Grooming, Poodle University, Online Handling and Allison Foley

Leading Edge Allison Foley


USE PURE DOG TALK 15 for a 15% discount on courses!

Dog Show Grooming, Poodle University and Handling All Online with Allison Foley

Allison Foley has started Leading Edge Dog Show Academy to mentor exhibitors online for dog show grooming, junior handling, and handling for adults.

A top Canadian handler known for her Best in Show Poodles, Allison has teamed up with her film student son to create a professional quality video series "on-demand".

Poodle University

Poodle University is the first dog show grooming series with 8 courses:

  • Knot Your Average Top Knot
  • All Sprayed Up
  • Ultimate Guide to Poodle Top Knots
  • Poodle Puppy Trim
  • Continental Trim
  • English Saddle Trim
  • Poodle Prep
  • Poodle Handling

Junior Handling

A Junior Handler herself, Allison holds a near and dear place for training juniors, so she created Junior Handling 101.

Dog Show Handling for Adults

The beginner handling course is now live, with more to come.

Just Started, Much More Dog Show Grooming to Come...

But What About ... (insert breed)???

YES!  Cocker Spaniel Grooming and Kerry Blue Terrier and much more breed specific dog show grooming is on it's way.

Pure Dog Talk will announce new releases before they are live and give you first access.

Leading Edge Dog Show Academy

Pure Dog Talk listeners receive a 15% discount at checkout for a limited time.


Dog Show Grooming Allison Foley

Am:Can Ch. Dawin Stellar Performance

Allison Foley showed her first Poodle in Junior handling when she was 7 years old. Fast forward from there to her winning of more than 550 All-breed "Best in Shows" on various breeds, but Poodles are her passion!

Having been a professional dog handler since 1987, Allison not only brings a wealth of knowledge to her lessons but also her whimsical view on life.

Allison is the President of the Canadian Professional Dog Handlers Association (CPHA), the Vice President of the Canadian Kennel Club Foundation, the Junior Handling Representative for the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in Nova Scotia. She also writes for several dog magazines, worldwide.


USE PURE DOG TALK 15 for a 15% discount on courses!

Dog Show Grooming Poodle University

88 – Wire Coated Breeds and How to Work With Them

Laura Reeves

Working with Wire Coated Breeds

Let's Talk Stripping!

Hand stripping that is! But before we tackle wire coated breeds, start out by revisiting episode 73, back to basics grooming.  This will give you a good foundation to move forward with working on your wire coated breed.

All coat types need specific grooming in order to keep the dog in top condition. Show dog or couch dog, they all need to be clean, brushed and maintained so they stay happy and healthy.

Show dogs with wire coats are hand stripped (either with bare fingers or using a stripping knife) in order to remove dead coat, create a shape and tidiness to the dog’s outline and maintain the proper coat texture for each breed.

Breed Specific Considerations

With few exceptions, the terrier breeds and their owners and handlers are the stars of the strippers. Each breed has a very specific pattern to be applied to the dog and within each breed there are *superstars* who have elevated the trim to a work of art. Names like Gabriel Rangel, Maripi Wooldridge, Bill McFadden, Tracey Szaras, Leonardo Garcini and more in terms of the current handlers, in addition to legends like George Ward, Ric Chashoudian, Clay Coady, Birgette Coady and so many more first rate dog people spring to mind when we think of the great terrier people and their stunning charges.

Toy dogs including the Brussels Griffon and Affenpinscher, as well as standard and giant schnauzers in the working group, are also very specifically patterned and detailed.

In the Sporting group wire coated breeds including GWP, WPG, Spinone and WireVizsla require maintenance with a more natural finished look than is required for the terrier breeds.

Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, PBGV, and Wire coated Ibizan hounds call for minimal grooming, while Wire Dachshunds are a bit more stylized.

The new Herding breed, the Berger Picard is also a very low maintenance wire coat, but does need hand stripping of ear fringe and raking of the body coat.

Hand stripping basics apply to all of these breeds, but knowing your specific breed’s requirements, norms, shape, standard and coat type is essential to turning out a beautiful finished product. For example, a Spinone trimmed like a giant schnauzer is going to be seriously faulted for applying a “pattern” to the dog…

Hand Stripping

Pulling a dog’s hair, always in the direction it grows. Wire coated dogs have what’s called a “releasing hair follicle.” In nature, the dog’s work would cause it to catch the coat in weeds and sticks, and the hair would simply pull out relatively painlessly rather than get tangled as a longer, silkier hair type would.

Proper technique for hand stripping is to be sure each hair is firmly grasped either between thumb and the side of the forefinger or thumb and blade and pulled *straight* back in the direction of the growth. This can get tricky around the bum and at the sides of the neck where the hair grows in different directions. Do NOT pull *up,* away from the dog or against the grain of the hair. Your hand should follow the line of the dog’s body, with your wrist kept straight in order to avoid breaking the coat. If using a stripping knife, be sure the blade is used only for a better grip. If you cut or break the coat, you’ve accomplished the same thing as shaving the dog.

Be sure, as you are pulling coat, to hold the skin in front of where you are pulling to keep it taut and minimize any discomfort for the dog.

Well, then what is Raking?

In certain instances, you may want to rake out undercoat to help create the desired shape (remove bulk at the shoulders, over the loin or the base of the tail for example). In this instance, you can use a *dull* stripping knife laid essentially flat against the dog and simply “rake” or comb along the coat in the direction the hair grows. Done properly you will see only the soft, fluffy undercoat show up in the “teeth” of the knife. If you see hard coat in the knife or if no under coat is removed, your technique needs some work.

You can also use the Mars Coat King in various tooth widths for this task, although the caveat of keeping your wrist absolutely still so as to not break coat is even more imperative. The coat king is an amazing tool for breezing through a dog with heavy undercoat, but beware of damaging the top coat.

Strippers Tools of the Trade

Most professionals won’t use a new stripping knife and trust only tools they’ve had for years. Stripping blades, when first acquired, can be dulled by rubbing on a hard surface. A good tip for newer groomers is to use a Dr. Scholls (or similar) callous remover (kind of like a smooth pumice stone) to learn how to pull hair without bending your wrist or breaking coat. The stripping stones made by Chris Christensen and others offer the same advantage.

Another trick is to use the rubber “finger tips” sometimes used in offices for flipping through paper and/or harsh coat grooming chalk which gives a better grip to the hair. If a dog has particularly sensitive skin I’ve used the R7 ear powder which contains a bit of a numbing agent.

Finding the perfect stripping knife for your own hand, type of work and consistency of use is very personal. I use a 20 year old Pearson fine for flatwork and a standard run of the mill cheapo coarse blade for work on body coats. If I’m working on a dog with softer coat that I’m worried about breaking, I’ll even turn the knife over and use the flat edge. Some folks I know wrap the teeth in athletic tape. I only use my fingers when working on furnishings as the hair is so easy to break.


After pulling coat on a dog, remember those hair follicles are open and susceptible to infection if not properly maintained. I dampen the dog all over with a lightly diluted (10:1) mixture of Listerine and water. This serves as a disinfectant without softening the coat. Then rub the coat firmly, in the direction it lies, with a rolled towel. Blot or squeeze dry the furnishings, don’t scrub.

Routine for Wire Coated Breeds

The frequency with which you need to work a dog’s coat depends on that original assessment you made of the dog’s coat and what you see as the dog grows coat between grooming sessions. A rule of thumb is a jacket needs to be “topped,” in other words the long hairs pulled to maintain shape, weekly. Flatwork, depending on the breed and how precise the work needs to be, might need to be touched up every couple days. Generally furnishings are pulled every couple weeks. Keep in mind that even individuals within a breed will differ. One German Wirehaired Pointer pulled down tight to start new coat growth might look good in a couple weeks. Another it might be a couple months. Learn your individual dog before you “pull it to the skin” a couple weeks before the show!

Rolling the Coat

This is common practice with terriers and any other of the more stylized breeds. This means that on a regular basis, generally once a week, you comb up the coat on the jacket and pull just the longest hairs. This will keep the coat in good bloom — in other words looking shiny and healthy — as well as maintaining the proper shape for the show ring.

Flat Work

This is the terrier terminology for all of the coat on the head, ears and throat. Breed specific diagrams and instruction will tell you how “tight” the flatwork should be. Again, what is required for an Airedale would be a disaster on a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Know what your breed standard says about grooming and talk to the master breeders and handlers to gain an understanding of the final picture you want to create and how to do it.


This includes legs, beard and underline. To keep the coat in top condition, this hair needs to be pulled regularly also. Remember, the more you pull, the more and better coat will grow back. In many cases, the furnishings on many breeds are softer coat and require special care not to break the hair. Generally furnishings are pulled or “topped” at a less frequent interval than is needed for flat work and jackets, but that is a rule of thumb, not written in stone. Again, seek the advice of a talented mentor in your chosen breed.

A special note on beards. All bearded dogs have hair that grows along the lower jaw in the fold of the lip. This is like a drainage area for saliva. It is often stained and can encourage yeast and or bacteria growth. This hair should be pulled (beware, this is one area that is not at all comfortable for the dog) or thinning sheared away, depending on the requirements of your breed. Keeping this cleaned up will make for a much better looking — and smelling! — beard.


The jacket or body coat of wire coated breeds is bathed rarely. In many cases only once or twice a month. The furnishings are bathed and conditioned routinely in order to promote growth and minimize breakage. For full baths, everyone has a favorite product, mine is #1 all systems crisp coat shampoo. Check with your breeder or mentor about theirs.

Last words on Wire Coated Breeds from Laura

Learning to handstrip a coat well and properly takes lots of practice and years to refine skills. My best recommendation for success is to find a GWP breeder or handler of wire coated dogs who is willing to give you hands on supervision and direction.

Good luck and good wins!

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45 – Canine Conditioning: 8 Simple Exercises from Dixie Rae Sick

Dixie Rae Sick on Canine Conditioning

Canine Conditioning is fitness for all our canine competitors and athletes.  Whether your dog is a show dog, an agility dog or a frisbee dog, a herding, hunting, working or field dog, or just your best backpacking companion; fitness prevents injury and encourages a healthier, happier experience.


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35 – Dogs to the Rescue: Firefighters, First Responders and Pluis Davern

Listen as Pluis Davern brings her devotion and wonderful spirit to Pure Dog Talk #35.  Part Two of Sussex Spaniels, Spaniel Hunt Tests, and the formation of the Search and Rescue Canine program.

Pluis Davern

  • 2011 AKC Breeder of the Year - Sundowner Sussex Spaniel
  • First Sussex Spaniel, Vicar of Lexxfield CD was first Sussex Spaniel to win Best in Show in the U.S. and place in the group at Wesminster.
  • Helped create Spaniel Hunt Test
  • One of two women who formed the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Trains teams for FEMA.
  • AKC Licensed Judge

34 – Sussex Spaniels, Hunt Tests, Search and Rescue: Pluis Davern Tells All

A Two Part Episode on PureDogTalk

Sussex Spaniel fan or not, the accomplishments of Pluis Davern is a must-listen to.  Many of us would like to see our dogs instincts at work - in the field, on the hunt, herding, or retrieving on land or water.  Pluis Davern has excelled, not only in spearheading the creation of spaniel hunt tests, but in focusing her field and obedience experience to direct Search and Rescue training and service.

Pluis Davern

  • 2011 AKC Breeder of the Year - Sundowner Sussex Spaniel
  • First Sussex Spaniel, Vicar of Lexxfield CD was first Sussex Spaniel to win Best in Show in the U.S. and place in the group at Wesminster.
  • Helped create Spaniel Hunt Test
  • One of two women who formed the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Trains teams for FEMA.
  • AKC Licensed Judge
Courtesy of Pluis Davern
Courtesy of Pluis Davern

Photos Courtesy of Search Dog Foundation

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