Morningsage Goldens Grooming   
Tutorial #1 of 4
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This grooming tutorial will give you the basics to groom your own dog like a Champion, whether you are a budding conformation competitor, or you compete in performance venues, or a pet owner that just wants your dog to look like a Champion without having to pay a professional groomer!  

 I believe in presenting a Golden that looks great, without looking trimmed or "sculpted".  You may encounter owners or  professional handlers that "do more" than I, but the Golden is to look neat and natural, not like a cookie cutter, and judges  in the U.S.A. will fault your dog for over zealous grooming!      

 So, lets start with the right tools:    
medium/fine tooth steel comb     

a slicker brush (wire pins)   
good quality straight scissors  (7 1/2" size is good)     

blunt nosed small scissors (for whiskers if you wish to trim)   

Quality Thinning Shears 46-tooth/serrated on one blade only (I would recommend Millers Forge - Gold 7 1/2" as above for around sixty+  dollars as an inexpensive shear that will suffice for years of pet grooming). If you will be grooming many dogs for show and can afford High Quality shears, make the investment now, you will appreciate the ease of use & their holding their edge without constant sharpening. Expect to pay $155 plus for excellent thinners like Geib Buttercuts.  

  Toenail clippers, and  or a Dremel tool for grinding nails or Oster Nail Grinder   

A grooming table, makes the job much easier, but some rubberized matting  would work on an old table.    
A cool drying blow dryer would be an excellent investment & not that expensive if you figure what you are spending at the groomers annually!

Optional tools:   Pin Brush, dental cleaning tools,
     hand stripping tool or Mars Coat King and Furminator is helpful too.

Start with a clean and dry dog, if not already bathed, thoroughly brushed.  Actually for show grooming, I prefer trimming the dog before bathing, then doing any touch-up work after the bath and blow drying.  If you wonder how those show dogs get those nice straight is from the blow drying.  If you cannot afford a blow dryer, it is considerably more difficult to straighten a wavy coat, but it can be done by pinning towels snugly around the dog while they are still dampish.  The blow dryer also comes in really handy during wet weather, after trips to the beach and yes, even "blowing" away all of that coat when the dog is shedding!    

First we will start with EARS:    (Read all before starting)   

This is a relatively ungroomed 
ear.  See the fine fuzzy stuff on the top (or base of the ear), as well as the long straggly fluff behind the ear. 
  Start with the fuzzies behind the ear.  
Hold your thinning shears vertically as shown, and get the blades under the fuzzy stuff fairly close to the skin.  
Make about 3 cuts with the blades, then stop, brush out and look.  You will probably need to repeat this several times, but note, we don't want to totally remove the hair, we just want to thin it,  & trim the straggly stuff so it will lay down nicely on the neck.  
Normally, I would be holding the dogs ear forward & out of the way while doing this.
Trim with thinning shears from the starting point shown, toward the face.  On most dogs, not much is needed here.  You do not want to trim the inside of the ear flap totally smooth and short or you will create a very "hard look" for your dog.  The exception would be on a dog with extremely heavily coated ears (inside & out), which usually means heavier or thicker ear leather as well.  In that case you may wish to thin quite well on the inside of the ear flap.
Next trim the hair in front of the base of the ear using the same method with the thinning shears; thin, brush, look, repeat.  The hair immediately around the ear opening should be trimmed close, or plucked with forceps, taking care not to have bits of hair fall inside the ear canal.  The hair under the fulcrum of the scissors in this picture, actually on the dogs neck, should also be thinned in this way from about 2" below the ear, up to the base of the ear.
Unless you have a dog with very heavily coated ears inside, you will only need to make one "light" stroke with the thinning shears here, at most one stroke this direction, and one stroke close to the skin under the coat going the opposite direction (towards the dogs nose).
Notice, by looking at your dogs ear, that the hair naturally grows longer at the top, and shorter towards the tip.    
When trimming the hair, we want to neaten and shorten, but in essence keep the "natural effect".  Take too much off, and again you will change the "soft" facial expression of your Golden, to a very unbecoming "hard" look.     
So with that in mind, as a beginner, do this trimming in small increments over a period of several days, in which time you have the opportunity to look at your progress, without having "butchered" the dog.    
In this photo, notice the angle that the thinning shears are being held in relation to the long hair on top of the ear held between my fingers.  The thinning shears are held so the cut will be shorter at the tip of the ear (lower hand), and longer at the top of ear ( the actual base of ear).    

First use the thinning shears underneath the longer hair on the top 3rd of the ear, close to the skin, and make a couple of strokes with the thinning shears vertically across the width of the ear, and comb.     

Secondly: trim the length of the hair on the ear with the thinning shears as in the picture above, but do so only about 1/4" (or less) at a time; comb out, look and then do a little more.  This is the most critical part of grooming the ear, so work slowly, stop and look at it for a day, then do a little more if necessary.    

Note:  The few Long curls that run the length of the front rim of  the ear, take very little  thinning and trimming.  If you cut this short, again you will spoil the soft expression of your dogs face.    
This  specific problem is not shown in picture form:  I use the thinning shears close to the skin, going vertically up under these hairs, and trim ONE stroke or thinning cut only.  Comb or brush it out, and don't be surprised that you didn't take much out...that is what we want!  Then brush or comb these "decorative face framing hairs" straight out from the ear, and angle your thinning shears so you trim closer (shorter) at the tip of the ear and yet leave these hairs longer at the top or base of the ear by the eye, just as it grows naturally.  Truly, I do very little here, for the reason I've said, and these decorative hairs will lay down and look neat with very little trouble.     

See the white, blue and orange markers, directing the approximate lengths that the hair on the front of the ear is trimmed.
Trim the outside edge of the ear with quick repetitive cuts with the thinning shears, all around the ear, from the position shown, around the tip and up to about my thumb on top hand in photo, and don't go any farther up the inside front of the ear.  Holding the ear out and away from dogs head do the same with the hair from the fulcrum of the shears (left in this photo) and just above the thumb of hand holding shears.  Walla, you have successfully neatened the shape of the ear.
Here we have a good example of a "neatened", natural looking ear.
Goldens may be shown "with" whiskers, and of course their whiskers are of great importance in hunting and other performance activities, so it is entirely up to you whether you wish to trim them, or leave them on.  Or, you may do a combination of trimming only the crooked or heavy whiskers, and leaving the finer ones. If I were not showing the dog, I definitely would not trim them.    
If you choose to trim whiskers, I prefer to do so with a small blunt nosed scissors.   Facing the dog, holding the muzzle with one hand, and using one finger to pull the flews slightly towards you will make the whiskers stand straight out.  The dog cannot "hide them" with this method!  Then you use your blunt nosed scissors, very close to the skin and being very careful to go under the short hair of the face, trim the whiskers from the back toward the front, each individually.  Really good lighting, or daylight is needed to see what you are doing.    
The very fine whiskers around the nose,  and under the chin are also trimmed, but these may be trimmed carefully with your regular straight shears if your dog is steady, otherwise continue to use your blunt end scissors.  These whiskers can be trimmed straight across and even with the coat (without doing individually). Trim the  whiskers along the lip line as well as by the throat, eyebrows, and on the cheek near the ear.
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