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Meet Tilly, she is a 5 year old neutered bitch, her coat is typical of one that has been neglected ,it lacks shine , is fluffy and difficult to keep knot free. Her ears are fluffy , restricting air flow and encouraging excess wax and her feet look like carpet slippers!

Let's get to work!

A really good brush through all of the coat is a good beginning, most people find it easier to control a dog for grooming on a table, make sure the surface is non slip and the table sturdy enough to take the weight.

I like to start with the feet but really you can begin where ever the dog is happiest, quite often dogs don't like their feet being touched so patience and persistence is necessary

Run your finger up between the toes so the hair stands clear of the foot, with a sharp pair of scissors lay the blade along the foot (as above) and clip close to the toe. It takes a bit of practice but by clearing the hair between the toes your dog will have less chance of uncomfortable knots or allowing grass awns to lodge out of view and causing a problem.


Trim around the nails with either the sharp blades or a decent pair of thinning scissors for a neater appearance.










Brush through all of the body hair and feathering to the back of the legs.

Just a word on bathing your dog....

When an Irish Setter has been neutered quite often the hair growth becomes fluffy and lacks oil and condition. It's important to use a shampoo that is made for dogs and not your own! The reason is the PH level is different for humans and dogs, a human shampoo will often result in flaking skin when used on dogs.

Choose a good conditioner too, again one made for dogs.

Back to the body coat now, there are a couple of ways of dealing with the fluffy coat . You can use a handstripping technique, you will need a block of chalk and patience for this one! Coat a small area in chalk, the chalk helps to get a firm grip on the hair. Of the hair that stands out as fluffy, grasp a FEW hairs between finger and thumb. With a sharp movement in the same direction as the hair is growing, pull the few hairs out. Repeat and repeat, if you are stripping the hair quickly the dog should not feel discomfort. The second way is to use a stripping knife, this is a blade with a serrated edge that you drag through the coat.

Adding chalk helps with the grip and you can hold a few hairs across the blade with your thumb and pull down in the direction of the hair growth in a sharp movement .

Other tools are available such as the Furminator , working on the same principle as the above but you simply comb through the coat and the undercoat is stripped out.


The reason for trimming the hair growth around the ears is to give better airflow to the ear canal , good ventilation will mean less chance of wax build up and yeast infections in the ear. It also means less knots!

Thinning scissors are needed for the ears, the idea is to take all the heaviness away and leave a good covering on the ear, bt one which is smooth . Fashion dictates how much hair is left as feathering , I like to see a gentle feathering of hair on the front edge of the ear and a tidy line around the rest of the ear. Behind the ear the hair is short and with thinning scissors blend into the neck hair.

The Neck

Using thinning scissors, take the hair from the throat all the way down to just above the breast bone.

The Tail

Hold the tail out and trim with sharp scissors in a gentle scimitar

Left to right: Before and After


I like to use a Mink Oil spray to finish, it adds much needed oil to a neutered dog's coat .

Geraldine Cove-Print (Copyright)

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