Giving our Maremma, Neffie, A Hair Cut

Once a year I have to give our livestock guardian dog, Neffie, a haircut.  This is not a fun event for either of us.  Neffie, for her part, is not a “people dog”.  Maremmas and other LGD breeds have been bred for centuries to be independent.  They are often aloof, and bonded tightly to their charges.  People are not needed for them to do their job.

Neffie carries this to the max.  She does not like to be handled by humans.  In fact, I would say the only real reason she can probably think of to have a human around is to put food in her bowl every night.

Nonetheless, she will tolerate me (and only me!) catching her and handling her.  She really doesn’t want to be petted, so for the most part I let her keep her distance.

When I need to catch her though, sometimes that presents a problem. If she doesn’t want to be caught, it’s just about impossible to corner her.  Fortunately, once she figures out I really want to get hold of her, she usually just sits tight and lets me come on.

Catching Neffie, our Maremma.

Is this really, REALLY, necessary?
As you can see, she could have taken off in the 3-acre field behind her, and there is no way I could have kept up with her.

Once I get a leash on her, I tie the lead to something with a good sturdy knot so she can’t bolt.

Maremma Neffie says, "Is this really neccessary?"

I repeat, is this really necessary?
Of course, you can’t do anything without our nosy goat, Cinnamon, poking around to see what she can get into.

Cinnamon, the goat, being nosy as usual!

So what’s this stuff?
Neffie’s coat doesn’t shed out well, and the chore of cutting it got put off much later than usual, so it was a matted mess.

Starting on Neffie the Maremma's haircut.

For my part, all that squatting and clipping is a killer.
I tried using the clippers, but they wouldn’t cut through the tangle, and no way was I going to try the shearers on her!  As it was, what happened first thing?  I was trying to get a mat and pulled it up to slip the scissors under it, but her skin pulled up too, so I cut her.

Talk about feeling lower than the proverbial snake’s belly!

Here’s this dog that trusts only me, and what do I do when she lets me catch her?  Right off, I cut her.  Oh man…. and she never flinched, growled, or nipped at me.  The only reason I even knew it is because even the tiniest amount of blood shows up real quick against all that white.  You can bet after that I was VERY careful to be sure my fingers were between her and the scissors.  I’d rather cut me than her.

Fortunately, she didn’t seem to be upset, and we kept to the job at hand.  Not that she liked the procedure, mind you, as you can see from this picture.

Neffie, the Maremma's, haircut.

Sitting on a bucket helped me a little, but Neffie still wasn’t thrilled.
I’ll admit I’m not too fond of the procedure myself, as it involves a lot of squatting, kneeling, and bending over.

Bending over to give Maremma Neffie her haircut.

The Cave Geek (a.k.a. Youngest Son) was official photographer for the event.  Of course, rather to my dismay, he also has the unfortunate tendency to like videos.  I was hoping he wouldn’t figure out how to take them with my new camera, but no such luck.


I had trouble getting the mats under Neffie’s ears.  There wasn’t a lot of space between the mat and her skin, and her ear kept flopping down in the way.

Cutting a mat out from under Neffie's ear.

No Van Gogh effects please!
It took over an hour, but I finally got the mats and old coat trimmed off, then gave her a bath with flea and tick shampoo.  She has a flea collar on, but I figured the bath would help tease out any mats left over.

One dripping wet Maremma.

One really, really ragged looking dog.
She was quite happy when I was finally down clipping, shampooing and combing and let her go.

You can see by the aftermath we took a lot of hair off her.

Hair, hair, everywhere!

Hair here, hair there, hair everywhere!
My aftermath was being laid up for a couple of days.  Paybacks are. . . not fun.  But at least positively all the shearing and critter haircuts are done for the year!

. . . Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Neffie is short for “Queen Nephele”.  If you’re not up on your Greek mythology, she was shepherdess for the ram with the Golden Fleece.  It just seemed to fit.

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