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…’Til You See The Whites Of Their Eyes

An Argument For A Change In Dog Grooming

Hello, my name is David Morrissey, and I am a new recruit here at Alpha Paws. Some of you may already have met me while I was sitting in on an Evaluation or Lesson that Peter was conducting.

I am also responsible for the majority of the let-outs during the day. It is during this time that all the dogs are let out to socialize in size- or temperament-appropriate groups, during which time they get exercise and socialization by playing with each other and they take care of their bathroom needs.

It is also the time for me to give them a quick once-over to check for anything that should be brought to Peter’s attention with respect to their health and welfare – nicks and scratches, ears or eyes that need cleaning, etc. The most common thing that I see during these inspections is found mostly in the breeds whose coats have to be cut, though there are the odd long-haired dogs that suffer in this area as well. That area is the eyes.

Common Symptoms Around The Eyes

The most common symptom is the streak of encrusted eye-goo that extends from their tear ducts, sometimes almost to their snouts. From discussing this matter with Peter, as well as from some of my own research, the most frequent cause is the trim of the dog’s whiskers and eyebrows. Many cut styles call for longer hair around the snout, including big mustaches, eyebrows or bangs, and the problem with this is the dog’s own hair irritates, and can sometimes even infect, the eye.

While this should be concern enough to reexamine how the hair near a dog’s eyes should be cut, there are other points to consider as well: Dogs often use long haircuts like teenagers do: to hide their rebellious eyes from view; emboldening them for more disobedience.

Further, even in my short experience, I have seen dogs that were nervous and even aggressive as a result of their vision being impaired by how they were trimmed around the eyes. While this is not to say that the aggression was a direct result of the cut, it certainly has great potential as a contributing factor… Wouldn’t you be a bit more concerned about your surroundings if all you could see was a slice around the edges, or maybe just a little waving sliver of light between their bangs? And let’s take it a bit further… in the more feral world of dogs, wouldn’t such a handicap encourage one to adopt a shoot-now-ask-later approach to the world? I certainly think so. What do you think?

Finally, wasn’t it those limpid pools of cuteness that won your heart in the first place? Bring them out of hiding and rekindle a level of connection – and communication – that you didn’t even know you had lost: don’t stop trimming ‘til you see the whites of their eyes!

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