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In Pursuit of Well-Groomed Feet - Tips?

1094 Views 22 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Megora
In my intro thread I shared that I rode horses for 40 years. One of the only ways I could piece that together was to do my own grooming (and also I loved that aspect of it). I actually worked for horse trainers and was paid to do this for many years, I was able to do it a pro level.

SO with my first dog Bitsy, I am starting from zero, and trying to learn the ropes of at least some grooming basics for Goldens. One of the things I have seen and can’t unsee is what a properly groomed Golden foot looks like. It just looks so nice when it’s done well. It’s my goal to get really good at it. Got a long way to go but I enjoy practicing and learning. I have been trying to get better and better each time I have the chance to trim up Bits.

Some tips I already have received are:
  • Get a grooming table. Lucky to have a friend who has a dog grooming business, she recommended a budget friendly one. It certainly does not have electronics or hydraulics so we also use leftover hamburger and my old mounting block from horses (i.e. steps) for Bits to hop on and off. She’s agreeable.
  • Have a variety of scissors, including the curved scissors. Got ‘em, they might need to be nicer, I cheaped out on Amazon for my first go-round.
  • Try to trim the foot like a cat’s paw (using the slicker brush against the hair) - so hard.
  • Effectively, groom considering each toe, vs. thinking of it as one foot. This was a tip from B’s breeder who is a great + professional groomer; it helped to think of it in this way.

My biggest challenge is taking too much out between the toes and making them look cloven. Working on that.

I hope I get great at this as I learn more and time goes on.
If anyone else is into grooming feet, feel free to share some other tips.

Pics of a recent attempt - it’s impossible to hurt my feelings about this, I know I’m just a beginner.

1. Bitsy on the table - this is just for up/down agreeability. She’s secured in the nooses when she is being groomed.

Dog Window Carnivore Working animal Flooring



2. Back feet, took out too much of the “in betweens” and made them too cloven.

Wood Comfort Flooring Floor Fawn


Front feet: dang, that cat-paw look is tough to ach


Comfort Wood Textile Mammal Dog breed
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· Kate
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I don’t, but I never let them get too “Grinchy.” I take a crack at it every 2 weeks.
The reason why I ask is that the more fur on your dog's feet - the easier it is to shape the paw. Then once you get it right, then you just maintain every 2 weeks. It is more difficult when the fur is relatively short on the feet to start with.

When I trim feet - I first focus on cleaning up under the feet, around the pads. This includes poking top fur down between toes and trimming any excess that comes out below. I use my cheap shears when doing this - my $9 6" conairs (which I think have actually gone up in price since I bought them 10-15 years ago LOL). I also close cut directly behind the big pad on each foot.

I also do a "notch" which is trimming very tight behind the back pad... difficult to describe....

Then I brush the feet upwards and use my curved shears (6" curved) to trim a "box" cut. <= I'm eating dinner right now (LOL) but if I have time/if I remember I will pop one of my dogs up on the table to demonstrate the angle of my shears when I'm doing this cut. My guys just got groomed (my every other Friday night thing) so there won't be any real show of how to, but you can see the angle of my shears at least. I do this while holding the foot.

Then I put the foot down and pick up the opposite front foot - which makes the dog keep his to-be-trimmed foot in place. Then I take my curved shears and trim right along the pads. This gives you the shape you want around the foot.

You can then backbrush and trim anything sticking way out - but feet should be fine at this point.

Rears are pretty much done the same way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Excellent tips, Megora, thank you! I also have been my Wahl clippers on the bottom of the feet and right behind the pads to be quick about it, because I want it to always be a positive experience for Bits and she tolerates it, but I wouldn’t say she zones out, takes a nap, or likes it. She allows it. So I try to be speedy and/or do it in phases over a day or two so I don’t burn out our happy-ish time up there. I see what you’re saying about less hair making the cat’s paw more difficult. I would say as a dog Bitsy is not terribly long-haired and has a shorter coat in general, at least at this age (9.5 mos). But also, I’m a noob, so I can’t blame the hair; we can safely blame the amateur wannabe groomer in this scenario, lol. I’m sure I need lost and lots more practice.

I still vacuum every day and twice a day on holidays, so if she has less hair from a length or volume standpoint, this does not translate to shedding any less!
 

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I actually don’t agree with focusing on each toe independently of the foot. You want the whole foot to look round and compact like a cat paw.

I do pretty much what Kate said, so good tips there!
 
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· the party's crashing us
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You've done a good job. This dog's coat is never going to give her dense fuzzy coat on her feet so there's not much "sculpting" to be done. She also has oval vs. round feet so...what you've done is about as good as it's going to get.
The better the dog's feet are, the easier it is to make them look good.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good Sunday morning (east coast time) and thanks for the feedback. I’ll keep practicing. It’s really fun for me to learn all about these types of things.

I will stop short of showing you guys what I did to the butt hairs/pantaloons last week, overzealous with the thinning shears. Let’s just say 1. Nothing will be getting stuck in there anytime soon and 2. I’m glad it’s just hair and it grows back! 😂
 

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Good Sunday morning (east coast time) and thanks for the feedback. I’ll keep practicing. It’s really fun for me to learn all about these types of things.

I will stop short of showing you guys what I did to the butt hairs/pantaloons last week, overzealous with the thinning shears. Let’s just say 1. Nothing will be getting stuck in there anytime soon and 2. I’m glad it’s just hair and it grows back! 😂
Lol, you can save yourself time and effort on that part because you probably don’t need to be trimming or thinning anything back there. Feet, ears, and tail are the main areas for trimming.
 

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Lol, you can save yourself time and effort on that part because you probably don’t need to be trimming or thinning anything back there. Feet, ears, and tail are the main areas for trimming.
Agree. I only clean up pants after a major coat blow to make them look full and not stringy. But I wouldn’t do anything to a pet’s pants unless the length was just excessive. Like dragging the ground excessive. 😅
 
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** spoiler alert, this is about the business end so stop reading if you are enjoying your morning coffee and not ready for that level of talk yet today**

We had an issue with a couple of poo balls getting stuck on them last week. And then she was terrified by that, and spinning around in a circle, and then her next instinct was to SIT on the entangled poo ball. So I took some corrective action to, let’s say, make some room. It wasn’t for aesthetics, and good to know that is not needed in general! This was a special circumstance.
 

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In my intro thread I shared that I rode horses for 40 years. One of the only ways I could piece that together was to do my own grooming (and also I loved that aspect of it). I actually worked for horse trainers and was paid to do this for many years, I was able to do it a pro level.

SO with my first dog Bitsy, I am starting from zero, and trying to learn the ropes of at least some grooming basics for Goldens. One of the things I have seen and can’t unsee is what a properly groomed Golden foot looks like. It just looks so nice when it’s done well. It’s my goal to get really good at it. Got a long way to go but I enjoy practicing and learning. I have been trying to get better and better each time I have the chance to trim up Bits.

Some tips I already have received are:
  • Get a grooming table. Lucky to have a friend who has a dog grooming business, she recommended a budget friendly one. It certainly does not have electronics or hydraulics so we also use leftover hamburger and my old mounting block from horses (i.e. steps) for Bits to hop on and off. She’s agreeable.
  • Have a variety of scissors, including the curved scissors. Got ‘em, they might need to be nicer, I cheaped out on Amazon for my first go-round.
  • Try to trim the foot like a cat’s paw (using the slicker brush against the hair) - so hard.
  • Effectively, groom considering each toe, vs. thinking of it as one foot. This was a tip from B’s breeder who is a great + professional groomer; it helped to think of it in this way.

My biggest challenge is taking too much out between the toes and making them look cloven. Working on that.

I hope I get great at this as I learn more and time goes on.
If anyone else is into grooming feet, feel free to share some other tips.

Pics of a recent attempt - it’s impossible to hurt my feelings about this, I know I’m just a beginner.

1. Bitsy on the table - this is just for up/down agreeability. She’s secured in the nooses when she is being groomed.

View attachment 899245


2. Back feet, took out too much of the “in betweens” and made them too cloven.

View attachment 899243

Front feet: dang, that cat-paw look is tough to ach


View attachment 899244
I think you did a great job! I, myself am a horse person and trainer/ groomer for 25 years. Not as long as you. But, I too do my own golden’s grooming. Those paws look really great to me!!!! I do an awful job at my boy’s paws. I do what you do. Shave in between his pads. Brush back with a slicker. Never comes out right.
 

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Hey! Fellow horse owner (though I am not a horse groomer or show person-I trail ride and camp all over the country when I can!) and professional dog groomer here popping in to say hi! You did great on those feet! I agree with everyone else-her feet are too oval to get that cat like look and her coat isn’t as dense as some dogs so she doesn’t give you much to work with. My first golden was like that too. Plus, we got her when I was like 12 and I hacked away based on photos in books before I became a groomer. So she was my learning curb dog, lol! I couldn’t figure out why I could never get her feet to look like a show dog until I got a bit more into learning the breed standard and figured out her feet were not round. Your story about the pants and the poop had me laughing! 🤣. I had a similar instance with my April girl! She didn’t sit in it though! I think she must’ve gotten one of my waist length hairs in her food bowl or something and it was stuck in the poop and her rear and wouldn’t fall out.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
👋 to fellow horse people, @Bradenton&ME and @Goldens&Friesians! And thank you for the kind words. This is a challenge to learn the ropes but overall still easier than my 16.2 horse who loved mud and was adept at encrusting his whole body like The Swamp Thing! There were days that I approached him in the paddock, assessed the situation, and just turned around and let him stay that way, lol.

The oval foot shape that a few folks have mentioned is interesting and makes sense. I’ll have to read about that some more. I do think I need better - or at least sharper - round scissors so I may look into that also!

And now for a gratuitous Bitsy pic from the park. We are counting the days until pitchers and catchers report. Go, Phillies!

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· Kate
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^^^ I'm not sure if this helps, because to me I don't know of very many golden retrievers who have feet that look exactly like a Doberman pincher's foot (foot in the picture example of a cat foot). I also raised an eyebrow at the description of these feet as being "small" since lot of us with breeds like newfs or even goldens would not describe our dogs' feet as small. And then the golden breed standard never uses the term "cat feet" to describe the shape. They are described as medium sized, round, compact, and well knuckled. Mainly preference is to avoid flat feet or the appearance of flat feet (which I think incorrect grooming of the feet can do). So I puzzled a little over that.... But I found the information behind why X shape is for X purpose etc to be rather interesting.

In our breed, having hare feet is very UGH. We do not want to see long ugly feet like that.... :) But the purpose for having long toes - for speed and rapid change of direction, etc.... does tell you why certain breeds would be allowed or preferred to have hare feet. Then when you read the explanation for oval shaped feet, it does color in why many herding breeds would have that shape and likewise why these dogs may excel in sports like agility.

Anyway.

I had my youngest up on the grooming table to brush burrs out of his feathers and snapped a couple pics of his front feet.... I want to get one of those cell phone holders that hang around your neck or something so I could do a video or picture showing the cutting angles as I described previously. >.< Unfortunately do not have a second pair of hands this evening to help me with that. Maybe tomorrow when this same dog gets another bath (yes, second week in a row) and the person who normally would help me is around. :)

The pics show my Gleezie's feet.... just front feet. The top pic shows him slouching back on the table which affects the appearance of the paws. Second pic I have him up over himself more + I used some of the goop I'd use on his feet if showing. Not a lot, etc.... just showing I hope that if you are comparing a trim you do at home with what you see in the show ring or whatnot.... remember that more is done besides just trimming the feet with a lot of these dogs to get "that look".

I honestly don't know if your dog has oval feet or round feet just based on the pictures or more oval or less round than many dogs out there. I do agree that she doesn't have a lot of fur on the feet and then how you trim will affect how the foot looks. Like.... Do not shave between the toes! o_O! And I don't think you need to use clippers on the bottoms of the feet.

Dog Dog breed Carnivore Fawn Wood


Dog breed Felidae Carnivore Wood Companion dog
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Kate, thank you so much for that article (and that site seems like a good resource). Your dog’s feet look awesome! I don’t think I will ever get that poof due to her reduced level of hair. But I will definitely keep those feet tidy and stop making them look like cloven hooves which has been my biggest mistake to date, near as I can tell 😳. That’s been happening when I push the hair up through the toes and then trim it (with scissors, probably dulling scissors). As suggested, there simply just isn’t that much hair and I think I should slow my roll on that. I’ll continue to snap some better pics as well as I attempt to improve, and get better angles.

As I have left horses after 40 years and just have my toe in the water in the world of dogs, it’s really interesting to me how many parallels there are, importance of foot structure and associated care being a big one. I have always been fussy about my service providers - has to be a fit, same philosophy, mutual appreciation for a good partnership. My farrier when I had horses almost became a civil engineer when he was younger - that’s how scientific and specific the work needed to be for each horse. I always found the science so interesting and this curiosity translates into what I am starting to learn here about dogs. Meaning, I think there’s hope for me, lol.

Separately: I have noticed here and there a few people referencing horses. I did a search of the forums and haven’t found a recent thread on it. Maybe I’ll cast a net on the Other Pets board to collect the current group, if anyone’s interested.

Sarah (and Bitsy)
 

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The best tip I ever received was to not cheap out on shears and for the feet find a small pair that come to a point. That's hard to find especially left handed. The reason to have pointed shears is so that you can easily get under the fur and go up and over the claws/nail to get a nice line. I finally found a company that would sell the scissors with a custom ground point.

The first, second, and last image below show my scissors that I primarily use on the feet. They come to a point.
These images are different stages of being done.

Cat Gesture Wood Carnivore Fawn

Carnivore Dog breed Felidae Flooring Fawn

Wood Carnivore Fawn Felidae Flooring

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· Kate
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Combined cost of my shears which I used on my dogs feet was about 45 bucks. The teeny tiny shears that I love for feet which have extra pointy tips are about 35 bucks. My garbage scissors which I use to trim the stuff under the feet were nine dollars when purchased. I have more expensive shears including my thinning shears, but my opinion is that how you trim the feet makes a big huge difference in the final product. My thinning shears cost about $200.
 
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