Help my little Skeletor!
June 10, 2007 7:53 AM   Subscribe

We had our beautiful Wheaten terrier shaved and now she looks like a ghost--any ideas to overcome this scary phase?

Our dog was hot and itchy and her hair was too long, so we took her to the groomer yesterday. It was the first time I've had a dog groomed, and I told them to shave her hair off so she wouldn't be hot during the summer. When I went to pick her up, I honestly did not recognize her. We had no idea that she was this skinny underneath her thick coat. She looks like a skeleton running around! They hand-cut (very poorly) the hair on her head, and now she only has one eyebrow left! Is there anything that will make her beautiful coat grow back faster? Recommendations for what to do next time (what to tell the next groomer for a summer cut)?

Also, we thought a nice grooming might improve her "licking her private parts" neuroris, but it has only made everything more accessible and now she is licking herself like crazy. I think the grooming actually far worsened the problem. Any advice on how to discourage/prevent this?
posted by ubu to Pets & Animals (23 answers total)
Have you seen the vet yet about the licking problem? Sometimes it is a neurosis, but it could also be caused by allergies. Or, a very common issue, it may have started as a chemical or allergic irritation which then led to licking; after the initial insult resolved, the licking replaced it as a cause of irritation, leading to more licking. It's a common vicious cycle. Your vet may suggest changing foods, or a medication for the anxiety or itching. Exercising and playing with your dog outside will also help a lot with decreasing her anxiety and is probably the best treatment out there.

None of my dogs have had coats like a Wheaten's, so we've never shaved them. But my understanding was that shaving is not a good idea because the hair helps protect the delicate skin from direct sun exposure. Having it clipped shorter might be fine, especially if she has matted hair, but shaving seems like a bad idea. I'd be really careful about the time your dog spends out in the sun without her natural coat, since it could lead to sunburn and heat exhaustion. It sounds like your groomer was inexperienced. I think next time it would be good to ask another dog owner with a well-groomed dog (especially one with a coat like your dog's) for a referral.
posted by tuff at 8:06 AM on June 10, 2007

For the licking, first you might want to figure out why the dog is licking first because it might be for more than just fun. I found out that my dog's licking problem is due to really horrible allergies so now I have to give her medication. I've gotten her to where if she starts to lick I just make a certain noise & she stops. Took a few weeks of consistent correction to train her, but she's a lot better about it. I also bathe her in a special shampoo to avoid hotspots and stuff.

As for the hair, as with all bad haircuts the only remedy is going to be time. Sorry about that. At least hair does grow so it won't be permanent.

BTW, this post is nothing without pictures
posted by miss lynnster at 8:08 AM on June 10, 2007

Oh, and tuff is right on about the sun exposure. Believe it or not, they can get sunburned. If you find that happening, you might need some of this.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:11 AM on June 10, 2007

I'm not sure what type of groomer you went to, but definitely try another one. Ask for recommendations from folks at the dog park, for example. I took my standard poodle to a groomer at a chain pet supply store when he was a puppy, but quit after he some unpleasantness with the ear-plucking procedure (after which he developed an ear infection). To be honest, though, if you told them to shave her it sounds like they followed your instructions (though the sloppy cutting on the head and mismatched eyebrows indicate you should probably try someone else). Next time, I'd try saying something like "a shorter summer cut" as you do above in your question.
posted by handful of rain at 8:29 AM on June 10, 2007

We had a Wheaten growing up and used to get him trimmed down for the summer. I think he actually preferred the shorter hair. Part of the problem is that you're not used to seeing the little guy look like this! It's always a bit jarring to see your familiar pet come out looking like a different animal. If the dog is an adult and this is his first grooming experience, he may have been quite difficult to groom. There are all sorts of buzzing things and weird people and etc to get used to. Also, like any other service, there are people who know what they're doing and people who don't. I agree with the posters above that you should ask other dog owners who they have had positive experiences with. I'm not sure you can make the hair grow back faster, but I think you'll start recognizing the little guy again within a month. I hope this doesn't shock you off all groomers, though. Even if you keep the hair long, he'd probably benefit from a good wash and a trim of certain areas that tend to get tangled and dirty on a regular basis. Good luck!
posted by theantikitty at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2007

Would a cut more similar to that for a Kerry Blue or a Wire Fox terrier be okay for summer? It's cropped closer to the torso, but leaves a little bit of poof at the legs, and leaves the beard.

One thing to note is that if your dog was at all matted, they may not have had much choice in how they cut her. I remember that whenever we were slacking on the daily brushings for my wire-coated fox terrier growing up, she would come back from the groomers shaved and scrawny looking.
posted by twoporedomain at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2007

Doggy sweater.
posted by The Deej at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys. At Miss Lynster's suggestion, here are some before and after shots. Unfortunately, we don't have any more recent "befores". These are from a couple months ago. Yesterday morning her hair was so long that you couldn't see her eyes.

Good idea on the Kerry Blue cut, twoporedomain--thanks.

Theantikitty, thanks for making me feel better! Your one-month timeframe has given me hope.

We took her to a popular groomer, not a pet store, and her previous owner said she had been groomed before. I don't blame the groomers for shaving her, that is what I told them to do, but I asked a TON of questions first and asked them for their opinions. I just would have thought they would have known and told me that it would be a drastic change. (Again, the pictures don't reflect the extent of the difference that well.) Also, I do blame them for her asymmetric head.
posted by ubu at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2007

Well, for one thing, your dog is not overweight. Good job. Seriously.
posted by frogan at 11:37 AM on June 10, 2007


oops sorry.... cute doggy, even bald!
posted by The Deej at 11:40 AM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Looks pretty normal for a shaved dog compared to the Westie terriers I had in childhood. Although it is a shock, and you do need to protect her skin from the sun, she will be fine and her hair will grow back.

Also shocking? Shaving your cat.
posted by jeanmari at 11:45 AM on June 10, 2007

I don't think the bald look is so bad. Put a bandana or cape on her, enjoy gazing into her eyes, be careful in the sun, and everything will be fine in no time.

Seconding the cute dog!
posted by bluenausea at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2007

There is a breed-specific clip for Wheatens, and most good groomers can do a shorter "pet" version of the correct clip, which will leave your dog looking like a Wheaten, but with shorter hair. Was your dog's coat matted? Usually the only time you need to shave a dog THAT short is if the dog's coat is matted, and Wheatens have very easily-matted hair as a general rule.

The licking may well be an allergy (as already mentioned), and clipping can sometimes make itchy skin even more itchy, as can incomplete rinsing after a bath. Nothing will make her hair grow faster - as long as she's on a good-quality diet (and you find the source of the itching, since bad skin can definitely affect the coat), it will only grow as quickly as it will grow, there are no shortcuts.

See your vet about the itching, and find a good groomer for her next haircut (if you have her professionally groomed regularly, like every 6-8 weeks, by a good groomer, you should find that her coat is manageable and comfortable for her - dogs need their coats in order to stay cool as well as warm, you don't need to shave her this short to help her stay cool).
posted by biscotti at 11:51 AM on June 10, 2007

Yeah, and think of how much fun you will have ridiculing her, and she won't even know!
posted by The Deej at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2007

That looks like the standard "OMG the dog is shaved" look several dogs I know have come back from the groomer with. Give it a few weeks and they'll look much, much more normal.
posted by MadamM at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2007

This is the pesky terminology difference between "shaved" and "clipped" in vivid technicolor. She really will fluff out in a few weeks, though, as others have said. And honestly it is cute, even if it isn't what you expected.

You can, btw, clip the dog at home with a pair of no. 19 clippers for very little initial investment and it's quite safe.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2007

I have a Wheaton (the Belle in my handle). I also live in Georgia which means from roughly April to November, Belle is broiling with her traditional Wheaton 'do. We usually get her clipped with a little bit of fringe on her sides and her legs stay pretty puffy. She also gets her ears and head trimmed, but she does not have a lot of growth on her head.
Yes, she's skinny under all that fur--but if you've ever gotten your dog wet, like when you give her a bath, you would have seen that. It just takes a few days to get used to.
I know Belle is more comfortable right now with her summer cut. And I think it's adorable!
By the way... a few Wheaton questions. Does she have a significant, funny looking underbite? Does she do laps when she runs? Does she "talk" a lot? Does she like to cuddle up? I am used to terriers being aloof and independent, and Belle is about the clingiest dog ever. She's a sharp contrast to our Westie Fergie.
posted by FergieBelle at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2007

I think she looks cute!

I know that it can be jarring to see what your pet actually looks like under all that hair. My parents have their Eskie shaved for the summer months, and he goes from this to this. After a couple of weeks he starts to "fluff out", as others are putting it. Your pooch might really enjoy the shorter cut! My parents' dog seems much happier when he's been shaved (who wouldn't, during a Florida summer?).

My parents' groomer also hand-cuts the hair on Vinnie's head, and it's kind of hit or miss around the ears as far as evenness is concerned.
posted by mewithoutyou at 6:04 PM on June 10, 2007

I see a transition like this every time we get our Angora goats shorn. It's fine. And in two weeks you'll need to consult your photos to find out which side of the head the tufty bit was on.
posted by flabdablet at 7:07 PM on June 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all! FergieBelle, she is even more clingy now than she was before she got all her hair shaved off! She is definitely independent, but you're right--she likes being around us much more than your typical terrier. And yes--she does have the underbite smile, and loves to run laps. She doesn't talk too much, though. The only time we hear her voice is when she barks at another dog, and it's always a surprise to us! She has a great bark, though. The best part of a Wheaten, in my opinion, is how happy they are all the time. Nothing gets her down!
posted by ubu at 6:16 AM on June 12, 2007

We have a Westie who got his summer cut a few days ago. This year's cut isn't quite as short as your Wheaton, but he has come back from the groomer that way in the past. I'll echo everyone else who said it'll look more "full" in just 2-3 weeks and in the mean time be careful about sunburn.

Still, cute dog, both before and after.
posted by scooby at 6:53 AM on June 12, 2007

Ubu, one more thing--it always seems to me like my Belle is a little more clingy after her grooms and I really think it's because she is unsure of how it looks. It's different and that is all she knows. Reassuring words ("What a pretty girl!" etc) can help her. Sounds silly, but I think it works. Fergie, our Westie, is the total opposite. He loves being groomed and holds his head so high afterwards. It's hilarious--he conducts himself like a dog in the ring going for best in show.
posted by FergieBelle at 4:42 AM on June 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, scooby and FergieBelle. It's so funny how your reaction to them affects their confidence, but it's really true. I am looking forward to getting a little fluff back in her, but we're slowly getting used to her new look. It was just a huge shock at first!
posted by ubu at 4:51 PM on June 14, 2007

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