How to Groom English Springer Spaniels for Conformation

It takes a lot of work to make the English springer spaniels' coat appear natural for the show ring.
George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you show your English springer spaniel, you must adhere to a very strict grooming standard. While you can perform the basic grooming, it might be worth having a professional groom your dog prior to competition. If you have the time and patience, you can develop the expertise to groom your dog for the show ring. Have a professional evaluate your efforts before bringing your home-groomed canine into the show ring for the first time.

Breed Coat Standard

The American Kennel Club standard for the double-coated English springer spaniel states that the outer coat must be medium length and either wavy or flat. The undercoat, meanwhile, is short, thick and soft. The ideal combination of coats makes the hunting dog waterproof and protects him from briars and thorns. The English springer spaniel's legs, chest, ears and abdomen feature moderate feathering. His head, front legs, and rear legs below the hocks sport short, fine hair. His coat appears clean and healthy.

Regular Grooming

Your English springer spaniel requires a good grooming several times a week to prevent his double coat from matting. You'll need two pairs of scissors -- thinning and straight-edged. You'll also need a hard and soft bristle brushes, a standard steel comb and a close-toothed comb, slicker brushes, rubber gloves and a sturdy trimming table. Comb out your dog's ears, followed by using the slicker brush. Use the hard brush to remove dirt on his body, gently using your finger to undo any knots. Follow with the soft brush. Use the standard comb on his chest feathering.

Trimming the English Springer Spaniel

Carefully trim around your show dog's ears, neck, head and feet for a neat appearance, and trim away any dead undercoat. The AKC standard allows shortening and thinning any excess feathering. It also allows trimming of the tail, but it can remain "well fringed with wavy feathering." Don't overdo the trimming, as judges penalize poor, choppy trimming in conformation classes. A judge considers coat condition more important than the amount of coat. Strive for a clean, natural appearance.

Clipping Your Dog

Practice makes perfect with clipping, so mastered the skill before attempting to clip your dog for showing. You'll need the right blades for various body parts. For your dog's body, use a number 7 blade, and use a number 15 for clipping his feet. You can use a number 10 blade for his stomach. Thoroughly brush your dog prior to clipping and give him a bath. Clip him when he's dry. Always clip in the direction of the hair growth, not against it.