Definition of a cowlick:
cow.lick [kou-lik] noun
a tuft of hair that grows in a direction different from that of the hair.
That is the definition that the dictionary gives.
This is the groomers definition:
Cow.lick [ca-lick] noun
multiple tufts of hair that are hidden in other hair so that you clip it before you
know that it is there, and make a bald spot.
one tuft of hair that grows in so many different directions, that even though
you know it is there, and try to clip with the growth of the hair, you still make a
a skinned looking spot on a dog that the owner calls about wanting to know why
you skinned or cut their dog.
Some dogs have mild cowlicks all over their body that don't become bare when you clip the coat.
They are irritating in another way.
This Cocker has small and large mild cowlicks all over her body.
She looks nice in the longer cut, but if clipped with a #3F or #4 blade it would most likely look choppy.
Unless you are leaving the coat a couple of inches long, or taking them very short, the cowlicks make the finish cut on the coat look choppy.
Almost every dog has cowlicks somewhere on their body.
You will find them on the neck and under the ears.
The chest is another area to find cowlicks.
Because this coat is wavy and a little curly, the cowlick does not show as much.
Cowlicks show up much more on straight hair breeds.
The shorter you take the coat, the more they show.
Sometimes I will just scissor the chest and avoid using the clipper all together.
Just to avoid baring the cowlick.
Even when you carefully clip the hair in all of the right directions, you still can come up with bare spots.
Especially that one little round spot right smack dab in the middle of the chest.
Another spot is the back of the leg.
Clipping in the direction that the cowlick was growing worked great on this leg.
No bare spot.
But the other leg, on the same dog....
Even though I clipped this cowlick with the direction of the hair growth, (I swear I did) it still looks bared.
This Cocker gets clipped with a #7F all over.
He has mild cowlicks all over him.
He has heavier cowlicks on the legs.
I follow the growth of the hair.
Going in several different directions.
I am constantly clipping a little, then lifting the clipper to see if the direction of the hair growth has changed.
Why take the time to do this?
Especially when the dog is getting a very short clip anyway?
Because owners DO notice.
Because they will call thinking that you hacked a hole in their dogs hair.
Because even when you try not to bare it, it still looks like you did.
Imagine what this cowlick would look like if I had just clipped straight now the leg.
Kind of like this little guy.
I had no choice but to bare these cowlicks because of severe matting.
I can see how an owner would think that you skinned or even cut their dog.
It's funny, this was another thing that was never talked about in Grooming School.
90% of the clips coming out of that school were #7 and #10 clip downs.
I can't even imagine how many cowlicks I bared without thinking anything of it.
Of course, until the day that a customer called complaining that their dog had been cut.
When they brought the dog in, it turned out to be a bared cowlick on the chest.
Unfortunately, the owner did not want to believe that a cowlick and the hair growing in a different direction had caused the bald spot on her dog.
Ever since then, I have painstaking taken the time to try not to bare a cowlick.
Of course sometimes I fail.
I forget to watch for it.
Sometimes I look for it, and there is none....until I clip....then there it is.....laughing at me.
Then, I have to explain to the owner why there is a bare spot on the chest, or under the ear, or the back of the leg........
Oh, and for good measure, lets not forget about those little spinning cowlicks right above the elbow or hip, right where you are trying to blend the skirt on a Cocker or a Scottie, or some similar breed.
Then you have what appears to be a round pin hole in the dog and a hole in the skirt.
Explain that one to the owner.
Happy Grooming, MFF