Grooming Terminology

posted: 05/15/12
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Scissoring is the technique groomers use to put the final touches on the coat after clipping and shaving. Think you have what it takes to be a groomer?  Take our quiz to find out!
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Plucking, Mucking, Stacking and Carding ... just what does it all mean? Judge Joey Villani breaks it down for you.


Carding is a natural technique to remove the loose coat from many coat types and is one of the most popular techniques used in the salon today. The carding technique helps to maintain a healthy coat by removing the undercoat and helps to prevent shedding and makes the topcoat lay flatter, giving a smoother appearance, especially on the jacket area on the breeds such as the setters and spaniels with the sporting coat types.  For many coat types, carding can actually enhance the coat color, especially on coats that have been clippered instead of handstripped. The carding technique is used before and after the clippering procedure to remove the undercoat that the clippering did not remove, creating a more vibrant top coat.


Chalking the coat on man's best friend is a procedure used before handstripping to allow for a better grip on the hair.  The same concept is applied when pulling the hair from the ear canal. The ear powder absorbs the oil and moisture and helps you to better grasp the coat.  Chalking is also used in the conformation ring to enhance the coat color and to give the coat more texture and volume.  Chalking is also used to whiten the coat on areas that are stained such as around the eyes, feet and hock area.


Clippering is a technical skill that is implemented every day, on almost every dog, in a typical grooming and styling salon.  More than just simple shaving, the function of the clipper is to enhance the finished appearance of the dog through a series of artistically applied clippering techniques. From taking excessive coat off during the prepping phase, to placing the rear angulation on a Kerry Blue Terrier in the finishing phase, when skillfully executed, clippering is an art and must be practiced in order to master this technique so that you can create the ultimate  clippering finish.

Dry Bathing

Dry bathing is a process that is used to clean the coat without placing the dog in the tub.  A special product that is designed specificaly for this purpose is applied to the coat.  The coat is then thoroughly brushed to remove the oil and dirt.

Hand Plucking

There are a lot of different opinions about the proper way to handstrip a coat.  Do you handstrip using the thumb and index finger, a technique commonly referred to as "plucking," or do you use a stripping knife? The "old timers" say the only way to handstrip a coat properly is by plucking. If a stripping knife is used, they believe it will damage the coat by cutting or breaking the hair to a point that is irreversible. This is not true. There is no difference between stripping by hand or using a stripping knife as long as the professional uses the proper stripping technique with the proper stripping knife.


A coat type that should be handstripped is different than coat types that do not require this technique.  In breeds with these coat types, the topcoat does not shed naturally, so the old and dead topcoat, frequently referred to as guard hairs, stays in the follicle and the new guard hairs do not have space to grow.  This situation will cause itching, scratching and rubbing up against furniture, or rolling on the carpet or ground, in an attempt by the dog to naturally remove this dead coat.  Handstripping is a very natural method of removing this type of coat and it creates much healthier skin and helps retain the proper coat texture and color required for the breed.  The alternative to handstripping is removing the coat in an unnatural method by cutting the length of coat by clippering, scissoring or thinning, rather than pulling the dead hair from the hair follicle.

High Velocity Drying

The rapid airflow of the high velocity dryer qualifies it as the most efficient drying tool in a typcial salon. The dryer is adaptable to a variety of coat types and has numerous uses, including deshedding and loosening matted coats. To use this dryer responsibly, the professional must understand the impact of the air flow and take precautions to ensure the safety and well being of the pet. The rapid airflow must be handled cautiously and is potentially objectionable for small, weak or senior dogs. Emphasizing safety first, this procedure explores the various applications and techniques for responsible use of the high velocity dryer.

High velocity drying is a technique that can be used as the second step to remove excessive moisture from the coat after the first step of towel drying. After using this technique to remove excessive water, the professional may move on to another type of drying, however, this technique can also be used to finish dry the coat.

Kennel Drying (Listed as Cage Drying)

Kennel or cage drying is a unique method of drying the dog's coat while the pet is in a kennel. The bather places the dog in a thermostatically controlled kennel equipped with vents and blowers, or places a drying unit/dryer hose on the kennel door to dry the dog.  The air circulates in all directions in a kennel dryer eliminating any control of drying the coat with or against the lay of coat. Kennel drying is typically used on short, smooth, medium smooth, and Nordic coat types.


A matt is a mixture of topcoat, undercoat, dirt, and moisture along with other surprising things, and comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes. The matted coat can become so compressed it can look and feel like a wet rug or appear as long loose tangles.The size of the matting is coat type related, with the general rule of thumb that coat types that are considered to have undetermined hair growth have bigger, more solid masses and they matt in a fashion that is very difficult to brush out, whereas breeds with coat types that have determined hair growth can be brushed out.   Matts can also look like "sunburned hair"  or can have the appearance of a cotton ball.

Shedding Patterns

Block Shedding

Block shedding is a type of shedding that occurs only on the undercoat on coat types that have determined hair growth.  The effect we perceive in block shedding is large portions of the undercoat shedding at one time.

Band Shedding

Band shedding refers to the hair shedding on smaller portions of the body, therefore causing the entire shedding process to take longer than in block shedding.  As well, it is different from block shedding because band shedding usually refers to the shedding of the topcoat on coat types that have determined hair growth.

Mosaic Shedding

Mosaic shedding is a type of shedding that happens randomly and therefore continuously. Mosaic shedding occurs only for certain types of hair, and certain coat types with undetermined hair growth. Humans shed their hair in the mosaic shedding pattern.

Slicker Brush

The slicker type brush is an all purpose tool and has been in the tool box of most professionals for many years. The slicker brush is an excellent tool for pet families who must brush their dog's coat between groomings to maintain the coat properly.  Dogs with sensitive skin and a fine coat benefit from the soft, forgiving teeth of this type brush.  This brush is used to remove the undercoat and to brush out the tangles. The slicker brush has always been and still is the best tool to prepare a coat  for a finish, especially when scissoring, by creating a smooth straight coat that no other brush can achieve.

Snap On Combs

Blade attachments, often times referred to as "snap on combs," are plastic combs that snap on a close cutting clipper blade, such as a #30, #40 or #50,  increasing the range of lengths for styling the coat with clippers. They are frequently used to skim off excess coat before scissoring finishing or they can be used to set the entire profile, improve grooming and styling efficiency and productivity.  There is a use for snap on combs in pre-grooming if the coat is in excellent condition, but they are most effective when the coat is clean and brushed out, and are not recommended for matt removal; in fact, it is almost impossible to use them to remove matted coat.


Stacking is a term used in the conformation world referring to the proper position in which a dog should stand to show off all its attributes. It is a classic stance allowing judges to see how correct the dog's overall structure is, and how the dog fulfills the breed standards.  The properly stacked dog appears like a statue, and should be the epitome of canine perfection.  The stack is a pose used to show the dog at its best advantage, and to make clear that the dog is conformationally flawless.

In order for the professional to properly prepare a dog during the grooming process for the conformation ring, a grooming competition or in a salon setting,  the professional must also stack the dog in order to create the ultimate profile, especially if the dog has coat that must be shaped. Dogs that are shown in the conformation ring are trained how to stack in order to show off these attributes at a very early age making this task very easy for professional handlers.  For the average pet groomer this task is not always possible often times due to the conformation of the dog but most ofthe time due to lack of training.

Styptic Powder

A coagulant that is available in a powder or liquid form used to stop nails from bleeding if they are cut too short (into the quick).

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