Dear AKC: We just had our 11-month-old English Springer Spaniel trimmed. My husband and I are of a different opinion because our girl actively walks two miles a day in a reserve, walking into mud puddles and the river bed, but usually comes home clean (thanks to the Orvis ‘sling’ in our Explorer) and her own need to be clean. I loved her feathering as she grew older and established a thick winter coat, but with this last trim, it only exists on her legs. If, and when, will her feathering return, and how long before a full growth? — Light as a Feather Dear Light: Puppies have different coat textures than adults and it appears like your dog may be experiencing a shed from one coat to another. In my breed, the Norwegian Elkhound, the puppy coat is dense, fluffy and voluminous. When my last bitch shed her puppy coat just after a year old, she grew in a shorter, harsher, flat-lying coat. It was a totally different, yet correct, adult coat. Similarly, “Springers” are a double coated breed, with an outer coat of medium length, lying flat or wavy. The undercoat is softer and shorter than the outer coat. You may see a difference in the density of the coat during shedding, warmer seasons, or possible heavy handed trimming by the groomer.
As for the “furnishings” or feathering you are talking about it may have been that the groomer wasn’t as close to styling her into a “show trim” which emphasizes moderate length feathering on the ears, chest, legs and belly with shorter hair on the head, front of the forelegs and below the hock joints on the front of the hind legs. Also, when hair is trimmed or cut with a clipper, it tends change the way the hair grows in or lies on the coat. Next time you visit the groomer, let her know what length you would like to see on your dog and explain to her that the extra furnishings help to keep free of scratches and cuts when she romps in the reserve and splashes in the river. Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.