Grooming 102 A Great Groom Is….

By Carolyn Contois –

Grooming 102: A great groom is… Last week, I said that International Groomers Association was an organization that certifies groomers. I retract my first entry. The organization is International Pet Groomers,, sorry for the mistake. I will always correct myself or update my reviews, according to the latest research. Let’s talk about the definition of “a great groom”. If you’re not in a confirmation dog show ring, then your dog does not have to reflect the breed standard. For example, if you watch a dog show on TV you will see a poodle groomed in a Town & Country or a Continental cut.

This is not pet grooming. A good groom is a style that you are comfortable with and works for you. There are different coat types. Some dogs like Poodles, Bichons, Maltese and those designer, mixed breeds, do not shed. These coats need a considerable amount of grooming. I have noticed, however, that the client cannot always explain what they want. Many times they will bring me a picture of what they would like the dog to look like and it is a picture of the dog’s head. This tells you what the client sees&. they see the part that looks back at them. They do not have a concept of what the rest of the dog should look like. This gives me the opportunity to ask about the length of the hair, tail and ears. I need to see the condition of the coat and skin. Is the hair too matted to comb? Sometimes you need to get the hair off and start again. If you looked at the damaged hair under a microscope, you would see that the end looks like a corkscrew.

These little corkscrews will matt up very quickly and you are back where you started. The process of dematting can also be too traumatic for your dog. It can be painful and irritating to go through the process. I let the client know that, although I want to please them, I won’t torture their dog to do it. They will often agree. Breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers have hair that grows to a certain length, then falls out& ergo, shedding. These breeds need a lot of brushing to keep them from shedding all over the house. Many of you use the new Furminator combs on the market. They work great, but are a little pricey. Furminator did not invent the comb; they have been around as shedding blades for years. Try a company called Laube. They have great combs for half the cost of Furminator. I do suggest you use these tools outside and make it fun. It can be a great bonding time for the two of you. Many clients will have these breeds shaved to reduce the hair. It is an option; however, I try to keep the dog in a balanced state.

Their hair insulates them against the cold as well as the heat. Before dogs slept in your living room, they dug dens and the shed acted as insulation. Shaving can expose the skin and change the coat in a variety of ways depending on the breed and the individual dog’s health and age. The dog will still shed, but the pieces will be shorter. Some clients say that it makes living with the dog bearable. In that case, I’d rather the dog loose his hair than his home. Next week… nature vs. nurture on some common grooming practices. As always e-mail me with questions or comments at