Trimming the Papillon for Breed Competition

By Maxine J. Gurin

So, now you have your beautiful dog clean, dry and shining. Where do you go from here? The most important thing to remember is that “less is sometimes more”. This may not make much sense to you now but wait and see.

First, I always trim the face whiskers off. I know that many people think that this is terrible. They say that the whiskers are vibrissae and act as sensory organs without which a dog cannot function. My view is that there is an awful lot of very happy Poodles and they CANNOT enter the show ring with their vibrissae due to the mandated shaving of their muzzles, per AKC. Said poodles seem to me to be quite happy. They are certainly able to function both in and outside the show ring. They remain sane and normal. I see no reason to assume that our Paps, who certainly are at least as intelligent than these fake Frenchmen, will not react in the same manner.

Also, it is very important that you check the direction in which the whiskers are growing. I have seen some growing straight up towards the eye. Leaving these is just asking for eye ulcers and other visual irritations. If you see any growing in this direction please at least cut these.

The whiskers may be removed with a scissors with rounded tips or with a small electric clipper. Obviously this must be done the night before the show because whiskers grow back so quickly. If you opt for the clipper make sure that you are adept with it and that the noise won’t freak Fido out of his mind by testing it out well before the show.

Now, to the ears. Many, many people trim the ear to a rounder shape, especially if there are some hairs near the tip that make the ear look pointed. I do not. I, perhaps foolishly, live in hope that every one of those hairs will some day be fringe. I have found that if you back brush the whole ear to the very tip when drying you can maximize the round shape.

Now, to the other end. I always trim around the vent for neatness and in case of intestinal/bowel catastrophe. It does help if you unfortunately confronted with this problem. As with whisker trimming, this should be done rather close to show time.

About a week before the show check the tips of the tail. Tails are the spot of the dog where split ends are most likely to appear. Once you have them they will just get worse and worse as hair is like a skein of yarn. Once split it will just continue to unravel further and further up the hair shaft. The only way to stop further damage is to snip the problem in the bud, as it were. Take the tail; twirl the end around into a tight, little ball. You will now be able to see the split ends. Snip these off with a scissors leaving the good hair untouched.

Now to feet. Dogs basically have two types of feet. Cat feet, in which all the toes are of the same approximate length giving the foot a blunt, rounded appearance.

Then there are Pap feet. These differ a great deal from cat feet. Our Standard states that both front and rear feet should be “thin and elongated (hare-like)”. The feet look like this because the two middle toes should be longer than those on the side giving the foot a pointed appearance.

Our standard also says that the “hair on the feet is short, but fine tufts may appear over the toes and grow beyond them, forming a point”.

I do trim feet. I feel that I don’t want the foot to look shaggy. After all, these aren’t Pekes we’re dealing with. Also, I have seen cases where the hair, left to its’ own devices, will get so unkempt that the pointed appearance will disappear. I trim the feet to a point. This generally means snipping off a few stray hairs on the sides. I do not trim the top of the foot.

I also trim the hair between the pads with a small sharp scissors for two reasons. The first is to increase the animal’s traction. A dog whose pads are covered in hair may do very well in DISNEY ON ICE, but I can’t think of a single judge who has asked anyone to gait in a “Hamill Camel”. Paps aren’t stupid. They know when they literally, can’t get a grip. How can they be expected to put their “best feet forward” when they’re afraid of sliding across the ground? Second, I want the judge to be able to see those pads when I move my dogs. It helps to emphasize good movement when those black pads can all be seen moving away in the right direction.

Well, you’re now all done. C’EST fini!! You are ready to get up at 5AM on a weekend, run around like a maniac, get to the show and wait for an hour (at least) and then get your two minutes in the ring. But, if your dog looks and feels great it’s all worth it to us.

And you wonder why non-doggie types think we’re nuts?!?!

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