The hair of your average short haired breed, such as a rottweiler or bulldog, doesn’t require much thought beyond combing. But breeds with long, curly or particularly thick hair can sport a variety of unusual and eye-catching hairstyles. Most dog hairstyles have a practical purpose. The poodle’s distinctive “pom pom,” for example, were created to make it easier for the dog to swim while keeping the vital organs warm.
English saddle is one of two American Kennel Club approved adult styles for poodles that can also be worn by poodle mixes and breeds with thick curly hair such as the Irish water spaniel. The face, neck and feet are clipped very short. The rest of the coat is left long, but portions of the tail, front legs, hind legs and back are clipped short to create distinctly separate areas of fur called pom poms.
This hairstyle is very similar to the English saddle style, but the hind legs are clipped very short, save for a portion above the paw. This creates a distinctive “front heavy” effect. This is a slightly easier hairstyle to create because there are less areas of intricate shaving.
The face, neck, feet and base of the tail are clipped very short. The rest of the fur is left long and dense, but shaped with scissors to complement the form of the dog. This hairstyle is only permissible in American Kennel Club approved dog shows up to the age of 12 months, at which stage the dog must sport either an English saddle or continental style.
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A rare collection of dog breeds, notably the komondor and komondork or puli and pulik, depending on your preference for anglicized names or native names, have distinctive thick, corded coats. This happens when the hair twines and twists to create an effect similar to dreadlocks. The thick cords of hair protect these herding dogs from the harsh elements of their native Hungary.
This style is typically associated with the shih tzu but can be given to any dog with sufficiently long hair, such as the Yorkshire terrier. It requires no clipping, just bunching and tying so the hair that normally falls down the side of the face is kept neat and tidy on top of the head.
The lion cut is so called because it emulates the appearance of a mane. The body is clipped short while the fur around the head and neck is left long and dense. The original purpose of this hairstyle was to enable dogs to work in shallow water without getting weighed down by a sodden coat. Leaving the fur around the head and neck, which would be above the water level, provided some warmth. Pomeranians, chow chows and any dog with dense, tightly curled fur can have this cut.
- Slate: Why Are Poodle Haircuts So Weird?
- Standard Poodles USA: Standard Poodles; Clip Styles
- LA Times: Westminster Dog Show 2011; The Hair Makes the Dog
- American Shih Tzu Club: Show Shih Tzu Top Knots
- The Komondor Club of Great Britain: The Breed's History
- Irish Water Spaniel Club of America: Grooming Your Irish Water Spaniel
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.