This post is in answer to a comment that Jessica left me last week.
I have dug up a number of Shih-tzu's that I have groomed and photographed over the last 4 or 5 years.
Jessica's question was basically asking if I cut into the sides of a Shih-tzu's face, or leave the sides long to make a round face.
I hope that I understood the question right. :)
It's funny, I groom tons of Shih-tzu's, but I had to actually stop and think about this question a minute.
I even went back and looked at a lot of my pictures.
Grooming comes so second nature now, that when someone asks me how I do something, I have to stop and think about. :/
The answer is yes....I clip the sides of the faces on every Shih-tzu that I groom.
The only thing is, I don't clip it or scissor it the same way on every Shih-tzu.
I believe, in pet grooming, that there is no set way or length to scissor or clip every Shih-tzu's head, or any other breed for that matter.
The dogs that pet groomers see everyday are so different.
Even dogs that are the same breed, are different.
Head shapes are different.
Snout lengths are different.
Hair types are different.
Hair thickness is different.
I clip and skim out hair in front of the ear canal on every dog that I groom.
How much hair that I take off the sides of the head, under the ears, all depends on the that particular dog and the thickness of the hair.
Some owners like Shih-tzu faces very short and tight.
I feel that the way you scissor the beard and mustache determine how round the face will look.
Some owners want a long, full bread that is a little harder to make look round.
On this dog I still skimmed down the sides of the head and blended into his beard.
Even though this Shih-tzu's owner wanted the whole face and head to be very short, he naturally has a round head.
Taking the mustache short and leaving the cheeks just slightly longer helped keep the round look.
Most Shih-tzu ears hide the sides of the the head and the cheeks.
On this little guy the owner likes the face on the fuller side, but not too long.
So I shape the mustache round, just taking off the sharp edges, without taking too much off of the mustache.
This little guy is the same dog in the photo above with the long ears.
Even though the ears have been clipped very short, the face still looks round.
The top of the head and sides were clipped with a #4F blade.
The muzzle was scissored round to match the sides of the face.
This little guys hair is much thicker than the Shih-tzu above.
A #4F blade was also used on the top of this dogs head and the side of his face, but with less pressure.
The muzzle was scissored a little fuller than the Shih-tzu above to match the length the #4F blade left on this thick hair.
The ears help make the face look round also.
This guys Mom likes his face very full.
The top of the head was skimmed with a #3F blade, clipping in the direction of the hair growth, skimming off of the top of the ears.
Because this dogs hair is on the thinner side and very straight, I only lightly skim down the sides and then shape up with scissors.
It really would not matter how much I took off of the sides of this dogs head because the long ears would cover it.
You can very easily shave mats out of the sides of a Shih-tzu's face and still scissor the beard and mustache round, letting the ears cover the shaved area.
Since this Shih-tzu gets the hair pulled up on top of the head and the beard left long, I chose to keep the sides of the head long too.
If you were able to lift this dogs ear up, you would see that I did clip out and skim to blend the hair from right in front of the ears down into the neck.
This little guy was very matted.
Both sides of his head and cheeks had to be shaved short to get remove the mats.
His ears hide the shaved areas.
His muzzle was scissored short and round.
This ones hair is very thin on the top and sides of the head, and her mustache, but her beard is very thick.
Most of the time I determine how I am going to scissor the head and face by the length that I do on the body.
As long as the owner does not ask for the face to be left long, I will scissor the head and face in proportion with the rest of the body.
I hate a big head left on a body that has been clipped short.
I always imagine the dog tipping over face first from all of the hair left on their head.
This is the only picture that I could find of a Shih-tzu were I had the ear pulled back to show what I did to the side of the face.
This guys head was very thick, and his Mom liked his beard left on the longer side.
So I would skim a #4F blade down the sides lightly, and then scissor to blend the sides into the beard.
A front view of this same dog is the 6th picture from the top.
This is another Shih-tzu that has very thin, straight hair.
Again I used a #4F blade to clip the top of the head and skim down the sides.
Then I round off the Beard, leaving the mustache long and straight.
This puppies hair is still growing out.
I have clipped the hair under the ears but left the sides on the shaggy side.
Mom is not quite ready for a full cut just yet.
This is the same, long legged, Shih-tzu 6 months later after Mom got tired of all of the hair.
Now the face has been scissored up short and round, but Mom still wants the top of the head pulled up.
Because this owner wants the mustache and beard on the shorter side, I did skim down the sides of the face after putting up the top of the head.
This cute guy has a very round head naturally.
I think that even if I shaved his entire head with a #10 blade it would still look round. :)
So, as I said at the start of this post, I don't think that there is any one way to scissor and clip a Shih-tzu's head and face.
It all depends on what the owner wants, the shape of the dogs head and face, and the type of coat that the dog has.
In the pet world pure breeds can come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the breeding.
That is one of the reasons that I love pet grooming so much.
There really are no rules.
At least not like in grooming competitions, where all of the lines and angles need to be the same.
As pet groomers we have to work with what is in front of us, no matter what type of hair the dogs have, or what type of body shape.
Our goal as pet groomers is to make the dogs feel good and look cute for their owners.
Sometimes I think that some groomers stress too much on getting a breed to look like the breed books, or breeds that they have seen win grooming competitions.
The dogs in those pictures have great hair.
Those dogs are shown and competed with for their great body structure and great hair.
I once talked to Sally Liddick about competing at Hershey.
She basically told me straight out that if I wasn't competing with a show Poodle I would probably be wasting my money entering the competition.
I told her that she should set up a competition where groomers can groom rescue dogs so that you could really see how good a groomer is at grooming.
Give them a dog where they don't know what to expect and make it into a masterpiece.
I once worked with a groomer, for a very short time, that was a sought after Poodle groomer.
People came from all over and followed him all over to groom their Poodles.
He did do a great job on Poodles, but any other breed he touched looked like crap.
I think that the problem with him was that he was a snob about Poodles, and didn't care one whit about other breeds, especially muts.
Muts weren't worth his time.
In my eyes that made him a very sorry groomer.
Most pet breeds can't compare to the dogs being shown and competed with.
They are pets.
The funny thing is, every time I get a dog in with a coat and body structure you could compete with, the owner wants them shaved. :(
They are ones that I would love to scissor and scissor and scissor.
As far as I am concerned, as long as you are a gentle groomer who cleans the dog really good and clips and scissors the dog safely, you are a good groomer.
You cannot always get the face perfectly round.
Sometimes you have to accept close enough to round.
Pet grooming is stressful enough without groomers stressing over why the dog that they are grooming doesn't look just like that dog in the book...... or on the dog bone box.
I hope that this helped Jessica. :)
Tell me if I missed what you were asking.
Oh, and don't look too closely at some of those faces.
I swear a couple of them looked crooked to me.
I wanted to pull out my scissors and fix a couple of them.
I know...I am a nut.
Happy Grooming, MFF