Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ask Billy: How do I make a better top knot (pony tail)?

Helen writes: "Hi Billy.  I have a grooming question if you don't mind.  My Shih Tzu Raja wears his hair up in a sort of topsy tail.  What do you recommend I do about those pesky hairs that come out of the tail and fall over his eyes?  I'm not big on sprays.  Any ideas for me?"

Helen, thanks for your question, it's a good one because many people don't want to use products to keep hairs inside the pony tail, which is technically called a top knot.  

When you see a show dog with a perfect top knot, you can bet that that dog spends all of his off time with his hair wrapped in plastic.  The plastic protects the hair and prevents breakage.  Believe it or not, the oil from human hands breaks down the hair and causes it to break off, not to mention brushing and playing.

The shorter hairs you're seeing around Raja's top knot are caused by everyday wear and tear.  For instance, every time he smiles, yawns and bats his eyes at you, those hairs fall out of the top knot!  Unfortunately, there's nothing to prevent that except to wrap up his hair in plastic like a show dog.  However, you don't want to kiss Raja through a wad of Saran wrap.  Leave the Saran in the kitchen and do what I do for my clients.  

I make 2 pony tails, one in front of the other.  Start in the front right above Raja's eyes.  This first top knot will hold all the shorter hair and should be less full than the second one.  Be sure not to pull too tight or Raja will loook like he's had a run in with a bottle of Botox.  For the second top knot, gather the longer hair right behind the first one.  After you've made both top knots, rubber band them together, again being careful not to make it too tight. If Raja looks like Priscilla Presley on Dancing With Stars or Florence Henderson, you'll know that the knot is too tight.  For any short hairs that still fall out, you can cut them short or be patient and let them grow out.  I recommend the second choice.


  1. Billy that's brilliant. I'll try that and send in another photo. Raja is a gorgeous dog who lives a real life- playing, cuddling, traveling and participating in life fully. No plastic for us! Can't wait to try that- you explain it so well! Thank you so much!

  2. Helen -- we can't wait to see the results! Good luck, and let us know if you have any other questions.

  3. Billy, you're hilarious! This one & your post from yesterday about shampooing the dogs had me in stitches!! This is the Billy we all know & love. I love your amusing insights. Please keep writing like this!!!!