Dog Grooming

10 Questions to Ask Your Dog Groomer

Grooming your dog is an important part of keeping them healthy, and it's a great opportunity for the groomer to notice any changes that the owner may not notice seeing the dog every day. Start looking for a groomer when your dog is still a puppy to make sure you choose the right one and make sure you ask these questions on your quest to find the perfect match!

1) How old should your puppy be to start grooming?

Usually, we recommend starting a grooming schedule as early as possible. A puppy that has finished their vaccination schedule is ideal so they are safe around any dogs they encounter. The earlier we start grooming, the better and easier it will be for the puppy in future. Grooming should be a part of their life and regularly scheduled routine. The first few appointments are usually an introduction to the process, including a bath, blow-dry, brush-out, followed by a light trim around the eyes, face, sanitary area, as well as nail trimming and ear cleaning.

2) How often should my dog be groomed?

It all depends on the breed, type of hair, and haircut style. Usually, appointments are scheduled anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks apart. Dogs that require haircuts (such as Yorkies, Shih Tzu's, Doodles, etc.) should be groomed every 4-6 weeks if their haircut is kept shorter, or every 2-4 weeks for longer haircut styles. Double-coated dogs (such as shepherds, labs, and all short-haired breeds where no haircut is necessary) should be groomed every 4-8 weeks.

3) What should dog owners be doing at home between grooming appointments?

Brushing is definitely the most important thing to do. Every dog owner should own a brush for their dog. For long-haired dogs (those who require a haircut and long-haired shepherds, golden retrievers, etc.) brushing and combing is a must! You should ask your groomer to help you pick the best brush for your dog. Please do not try to give your dog haircut or any type of trim between appointments as it can potentially cause injuries.

4) How should owners prepare their puppy for grooming?

From the first day that you have your puppy, start playing with their feet and toes every day. Touch their face around their eyes and ears. Brush your dog every day. Lots of dogs do not like their feet and faces touched. Having contact with those areas early on is the best way to counter that, because the dogs become accustomed to the touching and it will become easier for the groomer to complete the process. If your dog does not like you touching those areas, try distracting the dog with a Kong toy with peanut butter inside or some other treat that will keep the dog busy. The more consistently you touch those areas and brush the dog, the more accustomed the dog will become, and they will eventually be comfortable with you touching their paws and face.

5) What is the difference between a brick-and-mortar grooming salon and a mobile salon?

Non-mobile grooming salons usually keep a dog for 2-4 hours for the process. In most cases, the dog goes into a crate before and after grooming, and you would receive a phone call when your dog is ready to be picked up. These salons are typically less expensive, but they can be more stressful for elderly or anxious dogs. On the other hand, mobile grooming salons come to you. The groomer arrives with a fully equipped salon on wheels, usually in a van or a trailer. The appointment is a one-on-one experience between the dog and the groomer: the dog gets the groomer’s full attention the entire time, there are no cages involved, and as soon as the process is complete the dog goes home. Mobile salons are the best solution for people with small kids or working from home, as well as for elderly and anxious dogs.

6) Do you spend time with the dog so that it gets comfortable around you before you begin the grooming process?

Every groomer should take time to get to know the dog and the owner on the first visit. An initial visit should be around 5-10 minutes, so the groomer is able to feel the dog, point out any lumps, knots, etc. Both the dog and the owner should feel comfortable with the groomer, and the groomer should treat each appointment as a unique experience, rather than a “cookie-cutter” haircut. Communication is key. It is important for groomers to know if the dog has any health or behavioral issues, what type of haircut the owner would like to get, and any special considerations.

7) How long does it take to groom a dog?

Usually, grooming will take anywhere between 1-6 hours depending on the dog and the haircut. A one-hour session is mostly for small breeds and those who do not require a haircut, while larger breeds and dogs with lots of hair will take longer to groom. Also, if your dog is matted and requires shaving or extra brushing it will take more time. Each dog is different. If one Yorkie takes one hour to groom, it does not mean that all Yorkies take one hour to groom. It typically takes a groomer one or two appointments to be able to tell an owner how long their dog’s appointment will be.

8) What is a hypoallergenic dog?

The are no hypoallergenic dogs, however dogs with non-shedding coats are producing less allergy-inducing dander. Some examples of those breeds would be a poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Affenpinscher, Afghan Hound, Maltese, Wheaton Terrier, etc.

Check out these AKC resources on this topic here and here.

9) What is the grooming process?

The grooming process always starts with a high-quality bath, followed by blow-dry and brush-out. The next step is a haircut if your dog requires it. Lastly, nail trimming or grinding and ear cleaning to finish the process. Some groomers also offer teeth brushing as part of the process. The grooming process not only cleanses and beautifies the dog but is also an opportunity for the groomer to notice any changes that the owner may not notice seeing the dog every day. These changes can be new lumps, skin conditions, dental issues, or hot spots and allergic reactions. In my personal career, I have found many cancerous changes on dogs and it was always noticed early enough for treatment.

10) Does every dog need haircut?

Not every breed requires a haircut. All dogs that have long hair will require haircut or trimming. And every dog will benefit from good bath, blow-dry, brush-out, and nail trim. Double-coated dogs should definitely be groomed in spring and fall time, as it is important to groom them regularly to avoid heavy shedding.