February is Westminster dog show month! It is one of the few dog shows getting full national TV coverage at the Groups and Best In Show levels. I look forward to it. Every. Single. Year.
This year I’m even more excited. The 140th Westminster Dog Show is coming on the heels of a two-day advanced grooming session we just filmed for Learn2GroomDogs.com.
Master pet stylist, Irina “Pina” Pinkusevich, was our guest Training Partner. Guess what? Just three years ago she won the prestigious Groomer of the Year Award which was presented at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. She worked on six different dogs, all in show trims:
- Miniature Poodle in a Continental Trim
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- English Setter
- English Springer Spaniel
- American Cocker Spaniel
Pina is one of the most advanced educators in our field. Every time I see her work on a dog, I learn something. These lessons were no different. What I especially love about Pina is that she has the inside scoop. She knows the hot styling trends and/or the direction they are going from the conformation show ring.
If you are focused on expanding your career as a high quality pet stylist, it’s more than just washing and knocking the hair off pets. It’s about anatomy. It’s about geometry. It’s about balance. It’s about style. It’s about bringing out the best of a dog based on its written standard. It’s about creating artful illusions. The art of pet styling is sculpting fur.
With every L2GD film shoot, I take detailed notes. With Pina, I find it challenging to keep up. My fingers never stop on my keyboard as I watch her work. I always walk away with loads of notes from her lessons.
Here just three takeaways that I learned from Pina two weeks ago. As I watch this year’s dog show, I will be noticing how these particular trends apply to the dogs in the ring on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Takeaways From the Learn2GroomDogs.com Film Sessions with Irina “Pina” Pinkusevich
Number 1: The ⅔ to ⅓ Rule
I’d never heard this rule of balance, style, and proportions before. Pina said when a dog is in properly balanced, the ratio is ⅔ to ⅓. Two-thirds makes up the front section of the dog. One-third makes up the rear of the dog. When trimming, the tuck-up or front jacket will be placed at the dividing line between the ⅔ and ⅓ points to create proper balance on a dog.
To test the theory, we pulled a number of images of top winning show dogs.
There it was there over and over again. I also pulled images of the gorgeously groomed dogs Pina has done for Learn2GroomDogs.com.
Yep… the rule holds true on all of them, too.
This rule might be a new concept to many of us, but it’s been put into practice in the conformation ring for quite some time.
I will be watching to see how this rule plays out on the big screen at the dog show.
Number 2: The Lowest Point on the Throat is Level with the Topline or Loin
The throat is level with the topline? Seriously? This one caught me off guard. But then I started looking. Really looking. Sure enough. There is was over and over again. It especially held true on the Sporting dogs.
OK, I get it. Level with the back but what if you have a dog with a “sloping topline?” Now where do you take the point of reference from? The loin. It’s the point just in front of the hip bones on the top of the back. Draw an imaginary line from that point level and straight forward to the throat. That’s the lowest point on a clipped throat.
“Huh…,” I thought as I raised a questioning eyebrow. I will be on the lookout for this new grooming development. I saw how the rule held up in the Sporting dog images we pulled – but would it hold up to other breeds in different groups as well? I can’t wait to see how many Sporting Dogs utilize this “rule.” Trust me – I’ll be looking!
Number 3: Use the Front Pastern as a Guide When Setting the Undercarriage on Well Coated Dogs
There is a point of reference when setting this line? Who knew? Certainly not me! I would just eyeball it and pray. My guess is I’m not the only one out there who has used that technique.
This principle applies nicely to many of the Setters and some of the Spaniels in the Sporting Group – as long as they have long enough furnishings to pull it off.
I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled to see if this third rule applies to other breeds, as well.
We had many more aha! moments while we watched Pina work her magic on these six lovely dogs. We will be releasing Pina’s latest L2GD video lessons all through 2016.
The three points I chose to outline here are all points I’ll be looking for closely as I watch this years televised Group and Best in Show classes at the 140th annual Westminster Dog Show.
People say to me all the time, “But I only groom pets… I don’t need to know how to groom show dogs.” You know what? I only groomed pets, too. But that never stopped me from learning as much as I can about what different breeds SHOULD look like. If you don’t have any reference as to what a nice representation of a breed looks like, how are you going to know how to bring out the best of any purebred or mixed breed?
Watching a dog show of this caliber keeps me fresh and excited. Watching top stylists at work, like our Training Partners with Learn2GroomDogs.com does, too. I hope you will join me as I hunker down Monday and Tuesday night to watch the show. I know I’ll have a pencil and paper close by to take notes!
February 15 and 16, 2016 marks the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show. There are 199 breeds and varieties are eligible to compete. For 2016, there are nearly 3,000 dogs entered. For more information on the dog show, streaming or television schedules go to: http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/
Did these tricks surprise you? Go online and tell us what you think on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.