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Advice from Professional Groomers (and one non professional)

From Trish:

 Cost is usually the main reason I have found that owners do not get coated dogs groomed regularly.

 Our prices on miniature poodles start at 25 dollars, which includes bath, brush, clip, and nails. Most of the smaller breeds start at $25.

 New owners need to be aware that grooming should be an enjoyable part of the dog's life. Starting them as young as possible is best. I tell new owners to bring their pups in as soon as they get them, so the process of grooming can be fun. We will take a pup in, brush, do nail and ears, for about $5, just so they can begin to learn to stand on a table and not be frightened.

 Depending on the length of coat is a huge factor in how often the dog would need groomed. Poodles in kennel cuts, could go 6 weeks. Full coats or long cuts should be done every 4 weeks.

 Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos should also be every 6 weeks, if owner keeps up with the brushing needed. Some of these breeds are done in a Panda cut, which requires less maintenance.

 Most breeds that are in full coat, such as Bearded Collies, Sheepdogs, Bouviers, ect., are given a full groom every 8 weeks, with a spruce up visit around 4 weeks.

 New owners need to realize also that if they acquire a dog that should be groomed every six weeks, it should be done. Way too many owners let the dog go up to six months, then wonder why the dog has to be shaved down, and the cost is so high.

 Owners should ask their groomers to show them how to properly care for the dogs coat. Most will help with this.

 One very important rule... If your dog is matted, do not bath it, this only makes the matts tighter

New owners should not attempt to cut matts out of their dogs either, I have seen some very nasty cuts and sliced ears due to owner trying to get the matts out, before they go to the groomer.

We do a full groom, including bath, ears, nails, brush, and finish. Some groomers call a full groom a bath. Make sure you know what the price includes... and never accept getting your dog back from the groomer with matts, or wet..

There are some groomers who will brush out the dogs top coat, and leave solid matts underneath.

From Jill:

 Hi, I have been grooming for over 28+ years. And I see all types. Sometimes they just don't know, and a lot is financial. Most groomers charge by the shape the dog is in, say matted etc.

Dogs should be groomed every 6 to 8 weeks. The type of dog is lhasas, poodles, shih tzu, cockers, yorkies, bichon frise. this is just a small list. Basically any dog that has a very long coat and the owner wants to keep the dog looking good and smell free can get it groomed this depends on the owner and what they want. Prices in my area (southwest lower Michigan) run form 20.00 to 28.00 for a trim on a dog 10 lb and under. Included in this is a bath, ears cleaned, anal glands expressed, nails trimmed, and the [hair] trim.

 A lot of people should look into what breed they want and the coat of the dog before getting it. And the expense it will cost. I feel that every long coat breed should come with a label saying "I need to be groomed all my life".

I find education of my customers is very helpful. I show them how to brush them and even give them a brush. Some people do not have the money but try to do the grooming at home. If it gets real bad they bring them in to a professional. I have seen dogs come in with there fur matted right to the skin and the customer says they brush the dog and all they are doing is going over the top of the coat and not all the way to the skin. I know this because I give them a brush right there and ask them to show me how they brush there dog. Then it is apparent they are brushing the dog wrong.

From Leilah's Mom

After swearing I'd never get a coated dog, in February 1999, I aquired an 8 year old Australian shepherd with a huge show coat. The problem here wasn't cost, it was that Copper had so much mental baggage, I didn't dare leave him with a groomer. Someone could get hurt, so I had to do it myself. 

I finally found a groomer who'd teach me how to groom him, how to use the tools, etc. I learned about thinning and stripping, clipping and brushing, even nails. Best $25 I ever spent! Copper  was a choppy mess after all the experimenting, but in one lesson, I got enough basic info to last a lifetime and it grew back fast enough!  I'm now confident I can keep most any dog who'll let me at least comfortable and healthy, if not always pretty. I don't know how common it is to find a groomer who'll do this, I sure hope there's more out there. In this case, he was thrilled to not be exposed to the possibility of a bite, and was quite happy that I was going to take on maintaining this dog's coat myself at all - he'd seen too many owners who won't care for coats themselves when necessary and don't send them to a groomer until it's real bad. (One person brought in an aussie while I was there, with half the coat as mine, but HUGE matts, just unreal!). He was willing to show me things that are not usual for the breed, but were things I wanted to try anyway such as cutting and thinning some areas, stripping out the worst of the undercoat terrier style, etc. (I did have one groomer refuse to help me  with "those are just not DONE on aussies!". Well, it's done on mine!). 

I did have to invest in some tools, but some, like the rake, were quite cheap, some, like the clippers, weren't. I bought them as I needed them, not all at once. I use a rubbermaid type storage bin to keep tools in and it doubles as a grooming box. He stands on it while I sit in a patio chair and work on him. 

I don't care about "proper Aussie looks", I just wanted both of us to be comfortable. One of my ways to do this was cut off or thin whatever he didn't really need. If it's not there I don't need to care for it. Off went his beautiful leg feathers, and a large amount of chest feathering too. All they did is collect dirt and foxtails anyway, he didn't mind. In warm weather I clip his belly down. I rake him year round, until I can run a comb through down to the skin and I have to pay special attention to catch teeny matts between his hind legs and in the arm pits (snip!).  Since the sun is so strong here, his body coat is uncut except for around his bottom line (along his belly and legs) and  his haunches are kept thinned. He also needs a "sanitary clip" every couple of weeks and nails done too. While many breeds would need grooming more often, many daily, I can keep my heavily coated aussie healthy, and debris and tangle-free, with about 45 mins work every 2 weeks. Every so often  I spend about an hour and a half on him and do the serious clipping - feathers, etc. Fortunately, his behavior is real good about being groomed, and he looks quite acceptable if not perfect. His comfort and health is more way important than how any chop job looks anyway. 

You really can do it well yourself on many dogs. Just remember, it does grow back!!

Editor's note - prices may vary in your area, prices are circa 1998 - 1999.
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The border graphic and background are from the painting "Copper", and is copyrightę2005 by Joan Berry. Used with permission.

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