Enzo's first clipping


As a six-month old pup, my Enzo is a constant delight. He seems to know exactly what comes next as our days unfold, whether to romp in the yard after lunch, or work on obedience training in the late afternoon, or curl under my desk as I work. When I look into his eyes…yikes, what eyes? What had been a cute, shaggy face has suddenly turned into an impenetrable forest of red-apricot wool curls. Somewhere in there is the Labradoodle I love, and I am determined to find him again. In short, it is time to head to the groomer.

I admit I had my fears about bringing my wonderful pup to the groomer for the first time. People often complain about a bad hair day, but the number one irritation for Australian Labradoodle owners is a bad haircut—and the embarrassment lasts a lot longer than a day. One friend brought his beautiful 12-month-old black male to the groomer’s “for a trim,” and was shocked at the end of the day to find that his dog had been shaved to the skin. “This isn’t my dog,” he said in disbelief, but oh yes it was. Equally shocking was the bill: $212. Another took his beautiful six-month old chocolate girl to a poodle groomer, who proceeded to clip and primp the pup until she was fully decorated with pom-pom ears, a shaved muzzle, and what looked like a big cotton ball stuck on the end of her tail, as well as a bow on her head. (“I guess I’ll just keep her inside for a few months, until her hair grows back,” muttered the owner.)

As a new breed, it’s understandable that most groomers won’t have a clue with what to do with a well-bred Labradoodle. To help, we brought Enzo to hair stylist Ivy Bates in Long Island, New York. Ivy has an Australian Labradoodle of her own, named Rutlands Austin, and has made a specialty of trimming the dogs well. Take these photos to your groomer, or contact Ivy herself (516-546-7776), and you’ll guarantee a perfect haircut every time.




THE FACE: Using a wide-tooth steel comb, Ivy brushes out Enzo’s face, and makes the first crucial snips between the eyes and lower forehead (photo). This allows the Australian Labradoodle’s characteristic “veranda” over the eyes to fall slightly forward and begins to free the eyes of overgrowth. Be careful not to cut those gorgeous lashes! Then, angling in with scissors toward the inner corner of the eye, Ivy cuts on the diagonal to further clear the eye area and create the rounded shape of the face. She is careful not to clip the hair short under the eye, which would give the eye a hollowed-out appearance. Once the eyes are free of hair and the veranda preserved, she cuts evenly all around the head, face and beard, using curved scissors around the cheeks to give a more rounded look.


















THE EARS: Australian Labradoodles have a lot of hair on the underside of the ear. Like other breeds with ears that hang down close to the head, they hide dirt, and excess hair can plug up the outer ear canal. Dirt and trapped moisture can lead to smelly ears and yeast infections, which can be avoided with regular grooming. To start, Ivy puts a small amount of drying powder in the ear, and begins plucking out the excess hair with her fingers (photo). It’s not a particularly painful process, and Enzo barely whimpers. Use fingers only for this, rather than forceps or cotton swabs that can seriously damage the ear canal and ear drum. With the hair gone, Ivy squeezes a few drops of a vet-prescribed cleaner into the ear and massages the ear. (Enzo is in heaven.). She cleans the loosened dirt with cotton. The result is a fresh smelling, pink ear. Using a small electric shaver, Ivy also removes hair from the underside of the ear flap and the lower part of the ear, where growth, especially with wool coats, can become very thick. Removing this hair allows for better air circulation and keeps from trapping moisture.






































THE BODY: Using a steel comb, Ivy combs out Enzo’s body, including the tail, revealing a considerable amount of fuzzy ends. Ivy cuts about an inch from the coat, working to maintain an even length all around. Using curved scissors on the sides helps give Enzo a shaped, but not a stylized cut. His flanks and lets had a few mats, so Ivy worked those out with a steel Les Pooches brush,. Lifting a chunk of hair and brushing small amounts of hair downward from underneath. A common error is to brush the surface, which just puffs up the hair, giving it the illusion of grooming. The mats are below this fluff, closer to the skin. When it came to the legs, Ivy was careful not to follow too closely the counters of the lower leg, which would give an over shapely leg. Instead, she left the hair slightly longer to give a blockier look.




























THE BACKSIDE: Keeping the underside of the tail free of too much hair helps your dog stay clean and smell better. With small, blunt-tipped scissors, Ivy gives Enzo a delicate trim.









THE PAW: Grooming the underside of the foot is essential to keep the pads free of excess hair and dirt and to examine the foot for any cuts or injuries. Overgrowth traps dirt, and also causes the dog to slip as it walks on the floor. Using straight scissors and a small electric trimmer, Ivy removes excess hair and exposes the pads. The top of the foot is trimmed, using the same method as the body: comb or brush the hair, and trim to give a shorter, but still shaggy look.








RX: Ivy will follow-up with Enzo in 3 months. This will simplify the grooming considerably, because Enzo will maintain the shape of his cut and dense mats won’t accumulate. At home, ear cleanings and nail trimmings every two weeks will keep him in form.






Tools of the Trade:


Fine and wide toothed combs


Large curved and straight shears


Small round tipped curved scissors




·        Don’t wash your dog before grooming. Any knots and mats become rock hard when wet, almost like cement.

·        Acquaint your pup with the process of grooming by handling its feet and by simple weekly brushings. This will train the pup to be still and enjoy being groomed, rather than squirming against it (something Enzo hasn’t quite mastered).

·        Start grooming young, at 4 to 5 months, and get on a professional grooming maintenance schedule, ideally 4 to 6 times a year. This way, mats can be dealt with before they spread and a groomer won’t advocate a shave.

·        Check your dog’s toenails every 2 weeks. Clip off just the sharp edge, rather than trying to cut too much. Long nails cause the dog to shift back on its feet, and can interfere with its balance.

·        Don’t rely on frequent washing as a substitute for thorough grooming. Washing strips oils from the hair, and in fact, the coat attracts more dirt.

·        A walk in the rain, followed by a good towel drying, is a great cleansing shower. Afterwards, put the pup in a crate with a thick towel and dirt will drop off.