One of the things we hear the most often from new clients is;
"The last groomer shaved him down completely!! He looked like a rat and he was traumatized!! We're never going back there!"
We often wonder who was traumatized more... The dog, or the owner!
In the previous groomers defense, it likely was necessary, especially if their dog was matted. Sometimes there is no other option... But, with that being said, the groomer should have taken the time to explain to the client about matting... what it is, how to prevent it, and what to expect after a shave.
Please be assured that at Spaw, your dog will never be completely shaved without consent from you. When you come in for grooming we always give a brief consultation. If your dog needs to be shaved, chances are , you will know before you leave the building. If we think we may be able to get the matting out, we will let you leave to do our magic...but if we can't do it, we will always call you and let you know first before shaving or taking the coat shorter. We don't do surprises!
WHAT IS MATTING?
Matting starts at the skin and works its way toward the outer coat. The only way to prevent matting is to thoroughly COMB (not just brush) each section of the coat from the skin - out. Especially areas that have a lot of friction, such as the legs, under the arms, behind the ears… and the beard! This should be done on a regular basis.
"Regular basis" is different for every dog. You would think longer coats would require the most maintenance...but this isn't necessarily true. It mostly depends on the texture of the coat and the activity level of your pet. (such as swimming) So, this could mean brushing every day, or just a few times a week. Believe it or not, some people don't have to brush at all! (Lucky them!!)
To an inexperienced brusher, the top of the coat may appear to be healthy and fluffy, but the coat next to the skin may become matted. If you give your pup a bath with his coat in this condition...especially if he is not properly dried and brushed out, its just a disaster waiting to happen. The mats will "felt", and spread, and become impossible to comb through. And If we can't get a regular comb through his knots, we cant get a clipper comb to go through it.
Leaving mats unattended to for long periods of time may cause irritation to the skin, and in severe cases, can even cause medical problems. When matting gets this severe, the only humane way to deal with the problem is to clip under the mats, and if the matting is against the skin, it may require a complete shave down...Military Style!
Trust us when we say, "We don't WANT to shave your dog!" Shaving a matted dog can be a very unpleasant experience for both the dog (and the groomer!!) Especially if it's a puppy and it's his first time being groomed. It can be very time consuming, because we have to go extra slow with a really sharp blade to get underneath the mats. This process can also be dangerous if the matting is severe, especially if the dog does not sit still. If that's the case, he is at higher risk of getting cut, or clipper burned.
THINGS TO EXPECT AFTER A SHAVE DOWN:
Some dogs may act "weird" after being shaved. While mostly a rare occurrence, it is not unheard of for a dog to have behavioral changes. They may not eat, may lie around moping, or act depressed. They usually snap out of it by the next day.
While we have no idea what actually goes on in their head, we can speculate:
Imagine wearing a full body girdle for 3 months straight with no air circulation...and then being stripped naked. The skin can finally breathe, but there's no fur...so air touches places it hasn't in a while. If the tail is still long, it may tickle the back of the legs. This is a new sensation and likely feels strange.
Not to mention, it doesn't always look fabulous! Your dog may not know what they look like with their new style...But they will probably look totally different to you and your family ...and it can be shocking! Be sure to give the whole family a heads up what to expect before bringing your dog home.
Since dogs are so sensitive to our energy... *this is important*... Please make sure you are EXTRA POSITIVE when you see them!
Be sure to tell your pup how handsome or beautiful they look. If you laugh at them, act disgusted or tell them they look ugly, they will certainly feel it, and it can affect them negatively. Dogs have feelings too!
Please don't hesitate to ask us for tips and suggestions regarding products, tools, brushing methods, and grooming maintenance schedules for your pets specific coat. That's what we're here for!
These are examples of severe matting called "felting". De-matting at this point is NOT AN OPTION!!.
Here is a video clip of a severely matted golden doodle that needed to be shaved. You can see how difficult it is to get underneath the mats. Imagine having to do this on a maltese with paper thin skin!
"HUMANITY OVER VANITY"
Kudos to the person that coined this term, because we use it all the time.
We even wrote it on the wall at the shop!