How to Pick a Groomer
Selecting a groomer for your beloved pet can be an overwhelming task. What should you look for? How much should it cost? This post will provide some helpful hints to find the right groomer for you.
1. How long have they been grooming?
There are many talented groomers that have been working for less than two years so don’t let a shorter grooming career discourage you. Personally, I’ve worked with groomers that have more than a decade of experience and were just awful. Beware of someone that provides a vague answer like “I’ve been grooming my own and my friend’s dogs for years!” The grooming industry is not regulated yet and unfortunately it’s easy for anyone to start a grooming venture with no experience or qualifications. Don’t be afraid to ask for a portfolio for samples of their work!
2. Do they have experience with your pet’s breed?
There are over 200 breeds recognized by the AKC, a majority of which the average groomer may not see in their shop. And before you ask, no, Doodles are not a breed. And yes, they are likely overly familiar with them. And no, they do not have a breed standard. Not all groomers see Poodles in Continental clips or Soft Coated Wheaton Terriers with a fall. Don’t be afraid to request a groomer that is familiar with your breed and their particular breed standard haircut. Groomers are generally well-rounded artists that can style a variety of breeds but they can have specialties. For example, a hand stripped terrier receives an entirely different haircut than a Bichon Frise and the groomer you have scheduled with may specialize in hand stripping while another may specialize in hand scissoring. Think of it this way, some human hairstylists specialize in blondes while others may have taken extra classes to learn more about brunette styles.
3. Does their salon use heated kennel dryers?
There are two types of kennel dryers: recirculated air and heated. Dryers that recirculate room temperature air use a gentle breeze to dry your pet and are very helpful for your groomer; especially for pets that don’t like the loud sounds of high velocity hand dryers. Use of heated kennel dryers should be a red flag because they are outdated and unsafe. Heated dryers can cause heatstroke and respiratory distress resulting in death.
4. How long will your pet be at the salon?
It’s not unusual for grooming to take a few hours or even several if you are bringing more than one pet. Some salons have designated drop-off and pick-up times for all clients. Mobile groomers work on one client at a time and are generally finished in a shorter time frame. Remember that every salon works differently and be sure to ask questions to find the one that suits you and your furry friend best. Avoid booking an appointment and canceling at drop off because of the time estimate – be sure to ask before you schedule. This is very frustrating for stylists and leaves them with an empty appointment slot for the day. For more information on salon types, be sure to check out this post.
5. What is included in the grooming package?
An average salon includes a nail trim, ear cleaning, bath, and brush out with or without a haircut in most basic packages. You may have to request services like anal gland expression, nail filing, and teeth brushing. Be sure to inquire about different add-on services like de-shedding, flea removal, and de-skunking. Groomers will often make recommendations during the check-in process with your pet. If your Siberian Husky is dropping fur all over the home a basic service may not be adequate and a de-shedding service may be required. Some salons may not offer the option of adding services – if they decide that your pet requires a de-shed in order to be groomed correctly it may be added to your service regardless of whether you request it or not.
6. How much does it cost?
Grooming prices vary based on the breed of dog/cat and several other important factors. When were they last groomed? Do they have impacted coat? Do they bite if you look at them the wrong way? Don’t be surprised if you’re given a quote instead of an exact price. In the Durham, North Carolina area the average cost of dog grooming ranges from $60-$80 in a traditional salon setting. Remember, we never know what to expect until a dog or cat enters our salon and we are able to visually and physically inspect them. Please don’t be that person that negotiates pricing or says other places are less expensive. Your potential groomer’s eyes will roll so far back in their head they may pop. Each business is different and grooming prices will vary due to skill level, overhead costs, and other factors.
Groomers use varying techniques, products, and have vastly differing philosophies. Although we love all animals we may be better accustomed to working with particular temperaments, breeds, and hairstyles. Don't be too upset if the first haircut isn't perfect, hair will always grow back and groomers are open to constructive criticism. It's your pet and your money after all. Most importantly be sure that your furry family member is safe and happy during their spa day. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions!