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Westminster 101: Guide for Student Dog Groomers

What is Westminster?

The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs.  Established in 1877, Westminster’s influence has been felt for more than a century through its famous all-breed, benched dog show held every year at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Today, America’s dog show has expanded into Westminster Week which includes the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster and the Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster. More than 3,000 dogs entered from around the world make Westminster Week like no other. As Master Groomer and our founder, Melissa Verplank pointed out in her videolog this week, watching Westminster is a great way for new groomers to improve their pet trims! We’ve highlighted information to help you tune in.

Learn more @ Westminster

How a Dog Show Works

Each dog at a dog show is presented to a judge by either its owner, breeder, or a hired professional. This person is known as the exhibitor or the handler of the dog.

The purpose of conformation shows (also known as dog shows) is to evaluate breeding stock. Judges select winners based on their ability to contribute and improve the next generation of dogs. Dogs start out in the classes competing for points toward their AKC championship title. Dogs win points based on the number of dogs defeated. The more dogs entered, the more points per win. It takes fifteen points, including two majors (wins of three, four or five points), awarded by at least three different judges, to become an American Kennel Club champion.

Breed Groups judged to the AKC Breed Standard include the Working, Herding, Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding.

Learn more, including judging criteria, a glossary and terminology, at Westminster Dog Shows 101 

This Video By Purina Pro Plan Describes the Show Mechanics:

Additional Shows During Westminster Week:

For information on the Masters Agility Championship Sat. Feb. 9, follow this link.

For information on the Masters Obedience Championship, Feb. 11, follow this link:

The Schedule – 143rd WKC Dog Show

Monday, February 11, 2019

  • Daytime Session (8 am – 4:30 pm)
    • Breed Judging across Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups
    • Junior Showmanship preliminaries
      For more information about Junior Showmanship, click here. 
  • Dog Show 101 (12pm- 1pm)
    • Pier 94, Ring 10
      For more information about Dog Shows, click here. 
  • Evening Session (7:30 pm – 11:30 pm) Doors open at 6 pm for Best of Breed benching area
    • Group Judging across Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups (begins at 7:30 pm)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

  • Daytime Session (8 am – 4:30 pm)
    • Breed Judging across Sporting, Working and Terrier groups
    • Junior Showmanship preliminaries
  • Dog Show 101 Presentation (12pm- 1pm)
    • Pier 94, Ring 10
      For more information about Dog Shows, click here. 
  • Evening Session (7 pm – 11:30 pm) Doors open at 6 pm for Best of Breed benching area
    • Junior Showmanship Finals (begins at 7:00 pm)
    • Group Judging across Sporting, Working and Terrier groups (begins at 7:30 pm)
    • BEST IN SHOW!

Links for Viewing:

Weekend Television/Streaming Schedule

Monday Television/Streaming Schedule

Tuesday Television/Streaming Schedule


How to Use Anatomy to Groom the English Setter

Quote In A CircleExcellent grooming starts always starts with a firm understating of canine anatomy. It is the FOUNDATION of all grooming.

Basic pattern lines are set based on the muscle and bone structure. Depending on how physically active a dog is, the muscle structure may be very prominent. It could be lurking under a layer of fat. It may also be poorly developed due to age or lack of physical activity. Nonetheless, those muscles are there. They will help you set symmetrical and correct pattern lines.

The bones are there, too. Whether the dog is anatomically correct when compared to the breed standard is something else altogether. Understanding what a physically sound dog is will help you immensely. When you know the difference between good and bad structure, you’ll be able to hide many faults.

When we combine all the layers of the dog – the bones, muscles, the skin, and the fur – we will be able to mold and shape the coat to highlight the dog’s best features and downplay the others. If the bone structure is a little less than perfect, you can use the hair to camouflage those defects.

Before you begin grooming any dog, get your hands on them! Close your eyes. Feel the structure under the coat. Sink your fingers deep in the fur. Pay close attention to the muscle groups highlighted in color in these diagrams.

The Essence of the Breed

Before you start grooming any dog, you need to familiarize yourself with the breed and understand its essence.

The English Setter is a Sporting dog of great style. It should be physically fit and structurally sound to work long hours flushing game in the field. The general outline of the English Setter will be rectangular. The shoulder lay back and the angles of both the front and rear assemblies should allow for adequate reach and drive.

The coat is silky, flat, and should lay close to the body. English Setters have longer feathering on the ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs, and on the tail. The longer coat should not be so long as to hide the true lines of the dogs, movement, or the function of field hunting.

1Landmarks for Grooming & Styling

When it comes to grooming, let’s work around the dog using its anatomy as a reference.

When done “correctly,” Setters are hand stripped for a very natural look. However, in pet grooming circles, it is common to see the pattern clipper-cut or styled using a combination of clipping and stripping to save time. Regardless of the method you chose, the anatomy reference points – or landmarks – will remain the same.

Setting the Throat

Feel for the muscles at the sides of the neck to set the throat pattern line. A visual clue to this area is at the “frill” or cowlick line running down the sides of the neck. The throat area is directly below the jaw, inside the muscles running down the outside of the neck. The shape is generally a soft “U” shape. The lowest part of the “U” stops a few fingers above the prosternum bone.

Body

The jacket coat on the bulk of the body is shorter and lays flat on dog. Follow the natural lay of the coat when working this area. 

Shoulder

Use the turn of the muscle at the shoulder to set the jacket pattern on the body.

Elbow

The turn of the shoulder will also tell you the location of the elbow. This is the general location of where to start the pattern on the body, sweeping back and upwards towards the flank of the dog.

2Spring of Rib

The turn of the ribs will help set the pattern line separating the dog’s body jacket which consists of much shorter coat, blending invisibly into the longer feathering found on the lower portion of the dog’s body.

Undercarriage

The undercarriage line creates a focal point for balance of the overall dog. The highest point of the graceful sweep will be directly under the last few ribs.

Flank

Moving into the flank area, the thigh muscle should be exposed to help accentuate a physically fit and muscular dog.

Tail

For balance, the tail should reach to the hock and be a triangular flag. There is a slight gap of fur on the underside of the tail at the base. This slight space separates the longer rear furnishings with the feathering on the tail.

Topline

The top line maybe level or slightly sloping from the withers to the tail.

Neck

The long graceful neck is well muscled and slightly arched.

3Head

The lines of the skull are parallel with a well definite stop.

Ears

Set well back and low, even with or below the level of the eye. All these areas are natural landmarks used as reference points on any breed. When you combine anatomy with the official breed standard for any purebred dog, you have knowledge. You can use this understanding to accentuate the proper structure of the English Setter.

Always remember, all transition lines should be invisible. Ideally, the English Setter should look totally natural when finished – as if the coat simply grew that way.

Combining the use of these anatomical landmarks and skillful technical skills, a talented pet stylist can easily create a symmetrical, stylish, and well-balanced trim on any dog – purebred or mixed breed.

Happy trimming!

Melissa

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What breeds are a struggle for you? Let’s talk about it on our Facebook page with your Melissa Verplank family.


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