“My dog is molting, I want you to clip Fido short to stop it. ”

Every groomer hears this (often daily) and most will say the following:

“A de-shedding groom would work far better for Fido, clipping won’t help with molting”

So, why do we say this? And what does it involve?

Step away from the clippers…

Clipping cuts dead hair (the stuff that falls out all over your house) shorter, that is all it does. It makes the hair that’s falling out shorter, harder to hoover up and more likely to get in your nose and eyes and irritate you. I know the latter from experience as when I’m clipping pooches I get itchy and have what feels like an allergic reaction ( I’m aware I seem like I’m in the wrong career if dog hair makes me look like I have the flu, haha)

Some breeds, when clipped, are liable to grow back twice as thick afterward; I have a number of older Spaniels who’ve always been clipped and they now resemble sheep if too long is left in between grooms!

Other breeds, double coated ones such as Collies, Retrievers, Pomeranians, Huskies etc, may not grow back at all. Google ‘post clipping alopecia’. Clipping these breeds compromises the coats natural ability to regulate their temperature as well it’s cycle of shedding and regrowth. They should not be clipped unless for medical reasons.

De-shedding treatments vary groomer to groomer, we all have a preferred way of doing things, however, the basics are the same. The aim is to remove as much dead undercoat as possible. This is the bit that falls out and gets all over your clothes but also the part that can become compacted and cause your pooch all sorts of issues from matting to overheating.

How it works

Please meet Archie, my glamorous assistant for this demo! He is a 9yr old Golden Retriever.

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So, if your pooch is leaving lots of hair all over the place and driving you crazy, call your local groomer and have a de-shed. You won’t regret it!

It’s amazing on short coats too…


Porky Pooches

Only two treats for me please, I’m watching my weight…

We’ve all been there, looking in the mirror and realised that actually, those jeans used to fit a little looser around the middle. Dogs can’t do that. No dog will go “No, I will not eat that treat, I’m having a fat day”, it’s our job to do this for them.

This chart shows the general ideal weight, some breeds may vary to a certain extent.











Does my bum look big in this?

We have become accustomed to seeing some breeds overweight as standard, this includes breeds such as Labradors, Spaniels and my beloved breed, the Pug. In reality, they should adhere to the rule above, you should feel the ribs without having to search or press too hard.
I was appalled when, at a Championship show, I saw a number of obese Pugs winning prizes in the ring; it is because of things like this that we, as owners, often don’t see the issues within out own pets.

In the salon I often see podgy pooches, all breeds and all ages. Sometimes the owner is aware and we discuss diet but more often than not, it isn’t something they have noticed. This does not make you a bad owner, it does not mean you don’t look after your beloved pooch, it just means you’ve loved him a little too much.



But does it matter, really?

On a health level, it matters hugely. Overweight animals suffer in much the same way as humans. From reduced life expectancy to wear and tear on joints, if your dog is overweight, they’ll be suffering in some way.

On a grooming level, it has a huge effect on the skin and the coat. Overweight dogs have more coat, not just because there is more body for it to cover but because the coat thickens. The level of shedding increases massively, this is obviously something house proud owners notice! Shedding those extra pounds will help Fido reduce the shedding of those pesky hairs.
The skin is less healthy, scurfy, dry, and as a result, the coat will also lack shine. My Periwinkle Pug’s coat is like a mirror when she’s at her prime weight.

From the groomers perspective, your pooch putting on the pounds puts pressure on our backs and joints too. It’s not just the logistical issues of getting them in the bath or onto the table (as a lone 4″11 groomer, I really struggle to lift overweight dogs and often have a bad back as a result) but just keeping Fido standing to be able to groom him is a nightmare when they’re waistline is expanding.

A fat dog cannot jump up, I groom many who struggle to even get their front paws off the floor. This means I then have to do all of the lifting. This is not only uncomfortable for the dog, but dangerous for me too.
A fat dog cannot stand for very long. The pressure on joints is exhausting and often painful therefore Fido will want to spend most of his time lying or sitting. When you are attempting to wash and style a dog that lying down it is back breaking. Not only do you need to keep asking the dog to stand up but just supporting their weight to make them more comfortable has left me with sore shoulders for weeks.

What can you do?

Sit down and have a think about hat you’re doing currently, walking routines, diet, treats, and see what needs to change.


ALL breeds need walks. It is commonly thought that small dogs need less exercise, this could not be less true! My Pug has been for 10mile training walks with me while my sister’s late Greyhound was happy with one good run a day. Terriers, Chihuahua’s, Pugs etc all need good walks. 

If you’re really keen you could also try doggy sports such as agility, me and Periwinkle took a course HERE last summer!


The majority of dry and wet dog food is relatively poor nutritionally. Bakers, in particular, is full of e-numbers and has been compared to feeding your pooch McDonald’s every day. If you feed Bakers, read THIS article and switch to something else. A raw diet is amazing and once you have the hang of it, your pooch will look and feel the best they ever have. If you’re interested in what it’s all about you can find out HERE. It’s where I buy my girls food and it is amazing!
If raw isn’t your thing (it isn’t for everyone) you can use THIS website to find the perfect food for your pooch.


My girls hardly get any treats, they just don’t need them. When they do it tends to be things such as dry sprats or other natural products. The same rules apply to treats as they do to food; the brighter the colours of the processed treats, the more artificial it is.
Raw carrot is one of the best things for podgy pups, it’s filling but doesn’t add bulk to their bellies.

If you’re still worried, have a chat with your vet (just remember the food they recommend will likely be a brand that sponsors them so it’s worth doing some research first) or a doggy nutritionist. 

Periwinkle and I doing Agility (it keeps owners trim too!)


Taming the Talons

One of the most common requests I have (& I’m sure most groomers will agree with me here) is for claw clipping. Whether it be a request to do them as part of the full groom (I include this as standard) or for a customer to come in specifically for it. So, how do you know if your pooches claws need clipping? Why hasn’t your groomer taken very much off? Why do they need doing in the first place? 


Imagine if you never cut your fingernails, ever. We’ve all seen the men and women aspiring to the world’s longest nails and how ridiculously long they become. They always say how painful they are when they catch them on stuff, now imagine walking on them. Owch, right?

The claw becomes painful for the dog to put pressure on, there is no other way of putting it. By leaving them too long, they will be in pain. As they press their foot to the floor, their claw pushes back against their toes. Try pushing down on the tip of your nails, onto something hard like a table. It hurts doesn’t it?!  Imagine how much more painful that will be when it’f your whole body weight pushing on it.

long clawsYou can see in the picture that the claws are curving, if left, they would eventually curve all the way around and begin to grow into the pad. This is not only excruciatingly painful but can cause serious issues for your four legged friend, infections which can cost hundreds to have fixed at the vet.

If your pooch has an ingrown claw, or if it has broken skin, groomers are obliged to send you to the vet, we cannot cut that claw for you.


The most common method is to clip the claws. Claws are clipped on an angle, not straightclaw clipping across. This is to miss the ‘quick’ or the vein in the claw.

The quick is often visible as a pink line within a white or pale claw, this makes clipping the casing without causing the dog pain or to bleed, pretty simple, as long as they sit still! With black claws it is better to be more cautious. It is usually easy to see where it ends when looking from underneath; the very thin, sharp, ends are unlikely to contain the quick, when the claw is fatter it is harder to tell.

Because of this a groomer will often take a smaller amount off your pooches claws. A small piece at a time, until a circle is visible in the exposed section of claw, is the safest way to proceed. This may mean the claws have not been taken as short as you may have hoped. When the claw is cut the quick recedes, this means that in a week or two it will be safe to take another piece off. This can be continued until they are the required length. Many groomers will offer claw clipping as part of a groom and will either provide an initial follow up trim for free or for a small fee.

If your pooch does bleed after a claw clip, don’t panic! These things happen and are easily fixed. Try and keep your pooch calm and as still as possible and on soft surface. Your groomer will have a blood clotter of some sort in the salon (quick stop or styptic pen usually) however, if the bleeding persists when home, cornflour is fantastic.

But does my pooch need it doing?

90% of dogs need their claws clipping. Some may not, they may walk on hard surfaces (road walking is fantastic for keeping the claws worn down) or chew them (my old girl dew clawsused to chew her dew claws). The general rule is that you should be able to easily slip an A4 piece of paper between the claw and the floor.

Dew claws (as seen in the picture) need to be kept an eye on as they don’t wear down naturally and are more commonly seen growing into pads where they have gone unnoticed. Some dogs have rear dewclaws on their hind legs too.
If in doubt, ask your groomer or your vet.
Cats, rabbits and guinea pigs often need them clipping too. This little fella for example had claws so long they were in spirals! He has had them taken as short as possible for now and they’ll be done again when the quick has had a chance to recede. piggie

How Much?!

I’m sure 99% of groomers have had the following conversation; 

Me: Hi, Mitcheldean Mutts, how can I help you?
Owner: Hi, how much for a Shih Tzu to be groomed?
Me: A full groom, which includes claw clipping, bath, blow dry, ears cleaned and styling would start at £30.
Owner: Why is it so expensive? She’s only small, it won’t take you long!

The breed is just an example but we’ve all been there. Here’s a brief list of why we charge what we do and why actually, you’re getting a pretty good deal…

So, you’re paying £30 (my average price) and your dog is gone for 2hrs (my average time). Sure, on the face of it I am getting £15ph, not too bad! But think…

I pay £50 to have my hair cut. I spend around 1.5hrs in the chair. 

  1. I do not bite the hairdresser
  2. I do not try to lie down, pull my head away or fidget (at least, I try not to…)
  3. I also tend to avoid having them trim anything other than the hair on my head and rarely ask them to clean my ears or my rear end. 
  4. The chances of me urinating or defecating during the haircut are also slim.
  5. I have yet to go to the hairdressers without washing or brushing my hair for 8 weeks.
  6. I have yet to request they do my nails for free at the same time

Of course, hairdressing is a skill in itself and something I would be useless at, I am simply pointing out that at least one of the above applies to every single pooch that walks through my doors. Usually, it’s just the fidgeting or rear end cleaning, only one so far has managed to do the dirty on my table and none have tasted my blood (although a few have tried!).

These points don’t include the cost of equipment maintenance, products used, overheads, electric, water, or any of the other bills associated with running a business. Those of us who are self-employed do not have sick pay or other benefits and have to factor those sorts of costs into our wages.

So next time you’re given a quote, please remember we will be washing your pooches bottom…


Don’t Judge a Dog by it’s Colour

This could be a blog about a few things, the first being that it was recently national black dog day! It’s a fact, proved time and time again by statistics, that black dogs (& cats) wait longer for forever homes in rescue centres. Sad, but true. That’s bonkers to me, my LBD (little black dog) is just as horrendous as my brown mutt. That is to say, I adore them both and wouldn’t swap them for the world. So please don’t overlook dark coloured pooches when looking to add to your family, they really are just as wonderful.

It isn’t anything to do with that though. What about pink pooches? Perhaps those who look like a tiger? Or maybe those who have a mowhawk? What do you think of those?

Here are the main types of creative grooming, though I’ve probably missed some!

+Salon creative, the basic stuff such as colouring a tail pink, is becoming more and more popular with groomers and clients alike. As attitudes change and people become more educated to the products and the process, there are more and more requests to add some flair to everyday grooms.

+Competiton creative is less common, and often the most controversial. This is where incredibly skilled groomers manage to turn poodles into bears and terriers into the terminator. The looks are dramatic and totally change the appearance of the pooch.

+Furjazzles. I kid thee not. This is often in the salon side of creative grooming and involves the application of small gems, feathers and sometimes trimming the fur into a pattern. Mostly used on short coated breeds or those who have dark fur that is trickier to colour.

+Asian Fusion. No colour or fuss, just creative styling!

But is it cruel?!

This is possibly the most annoying accusation creative groomers face.
To become a dog groomer, which is what creative groomers are first and foremost, you have to have a passion and adoration of dogs. The job is not easy, you won’t last long if you don’t want to dedicate your life to pooches. Suggesting a groomer is cruel to animals is a low blow, one which genuinely hurts and upsets. Please, don’t do it.

The dyes used are all 100% safe. Many are natural products and I’m pretty sure (but PLEASE don’t test it) you could feed a decent amount to a small child with no long lasting damage. I personally have incredibly delicate skin, eczema and am set off by just about any chemical; because of this, I patch test all products on myself first. Yep, I have coloured blobs on my arms regularly. A proper creative groomer doesn’t bleach the fur first (we know how badly it damages our own hair so why would we use it on dogs?!) and will never, ever, add creative onto a groom for a dog who isn’t happy with it happening.

A fabulous example is my old, cranky, Sophie Dog. She is 14 and is not keen on the grooming process. She tolerates brushing and bathing but is keen to avoid it if possible! In fact, the only time she isn’t trying to escape is when I’m doing something creative. I tend to colour her topknot and her tail which involves massaging the dye into her fur. She basically gets a lot of fuss and magically has pink fluff. She’s happy for me to do that. She wouldn’t be happy to stand for a furjazzle or a competition level of creative so I’ll never ask her to. She’s my baby and her happiness trumps everything else.
I’ve seen other groomers say similar to clients who have requested colour on their dog. So, if you ask me to draw a pumpkin on Fido and I say no, don’t be offended. If Fido is worried or uncomfortable with regular grooming I will not add 10 minutes on the table onto his usual routine. There’s no point.

A creatively groomed dog will never be matted or in poor condition. Creative works on well maintained, healthy coats. Someone who is taking the time to care what colour a dog’s tail is will likely be just as fussy about the rest of the dog’s care. They are often the best looked after dogs in the world.


But doesn’t the dog have to stand for hours and hours?

Noooo! As I said earlier, salon creative is a matter of minutes added to a groom. Often pooches will have a pamper, be let off the table for some chill time and then popped back on for a few minutes to add the funky stuff.

Even those amazing grooms you see at creative competitions don’t involve hour upon hour of the dog standing on the table. As a general rule the colouring is all, or mostly, done beforehand. Whether this is half an hour a day or in slightly longer sessions that don’t exceed normal groom time. Remember, most pooches take 1-2hrs for a full groom. They will be standing for 90% of that anyway. There isn’t a difference asking then to stand for an hour and a half to add colour.

The details and shaping are usually done in the competition. These classes last up to around 2hrs, again, the length of a normal groom. This all varies from competition to competition and depends greatly on the style produced but at all competitions, you are judged on your care of the dog. You are expected to take him or her out for loo breaks and water breaks when needed. If you don’t show due care and attention to the pooch you risk being eliminated.

Great! I’ll dye my dog at home tonight!

Please don’t! The horror stories relating to creative grooming are 99% of the time linked to people trying it at home. If it’s something you’re interested in, please chat to your groomer. They will be able to tell you if they think Fido is ready for it but also how to do it safely. The easiest and safest option is to ask your groomer to do it themselves.

You cannot use any old dye, (DO NOT USE HUMAN HAIR DYE ON YOUR DOG!) and need to make sure what you’re buying to top quality and pet safe. There are various brands on the market and like all things, some are better than others. Please leave this to the professionals and do your research first.

It’s not all about colour!

Perhaps one of my favourite creative styles doesn’t involve any dye at all, not a gemstone in sight! This is again gaining in popularity in the UK and is fabulous for almost all pooches. Asian Fusion!

This style is cute and full of character. Many styles are also practical and easy to maintain, perfect for pet owner and dog alike.

If you don’t want the traditional breed trim why not try something funky? There’s something for everyone.

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What Your Groomer Really Does

Think it’s all about making pooches pretty? Think again!
Full grooms include; a bath, blow dry, style, claw clip, ear clean/pluck and extras such as tear stain treatments, cologne, nose and paw balm and even breath spray!

But is that all we do?

Really? Ew.

During your pooches time at a grooming salon, your pooch pamperer will do the following…

  • On arrival, we will check Fido all over for lumps, bumps, sore bits, fleas, ticks etc. This is every inch of your dog, between toes, under the tail, in the ears, mouth, belly, you name it, we check it!
  • Some insurance companies don’t cover groomers for anal gland expression. Regardless, we can check to see if they need doing so we can refer you to a vet. We have all the glamorous jobs. 
  • We will flea shampoo your pooch to get rid of pesky visitors. This means we feel itchy for hours afterward. Please treat your dogs regularly as fleas in the salon cause extra expense for us as well as potentially having to cancel the rest of the dogs that day to prevent them spreading.
  • We are super tick removers. This is my pet hate. They make me squeamish. Ugh. My skin is crawling just thinking about them!
  • In fact, if you’re bringing Fido to us every 8-10 weeks, we will be seeing them more regularly than a vet does. Most of us only go to the vet when we need to, or for annual boosters. This means when we say something has changed and Fido needs to see a vet, please listen to us. However, we are not medically trained. We cannot diagnose or treat medical issues. If you’re worried about Fido, your vet should be your first port of call. Remember, we are NOT a vet!
  • We use muzzles. We get bitten. I’ve only been bitten properly once on the grooming table. Part of the reason we check your pooch all over on arrival is to check they’re happy with us touching them and to check for any sore areas. A bite can put us out of work for months. If your pooch is unhappy and uses his teeth to tell us this, we have to muzzle for everyone’s safety.


It’s not a glamorous job!


Out of the Salon

It doesn’t stop when we leave the groom room…

  • All our spare time and money is spent going to seminars and educational events. These days are crucial to developing skills and keeping on top of what’s going on in the industry. The top groomers from the UK run these events and although they can be pricey, they are worth the money. If your groomer doesn’t go, ask them why!
  • We spend our lives cleaning. Seriously, dog hair gets everywhere and seems to multiply without warning. 
  • It is rare, but when you’re dealing with sharp objects and animals that often do a Michael Flatley impression on the table, accidents happen. Your pet will be over it and happy within minutes usually, you may worry for a day or so, your groomer won’t sleep for a week. 
  • Oh and following on from that, I have cut and sliced myself open while grooming more times than I can count. With a plaster and a bit of waterproofing, we’re good to go again!
  • We don’t all hate each other. I often chat to or meet up with the groomers who own salons near me. It’s fabulous to chat and swap tips and tricks with each other. It also means if we’re full, we can recommend someone suitable who may be able to fit Fido in. Attempting to set us against each other in price wars etc won’t work. We’re probably due to go for a coffee with each other next week instead!
  • We worry. If a client has canceled due to a pooches illness (or their own illness) we will worry. We see them and you regularly, you’re almost extended family in some cases. I’ve lost sleep over clients illness!
  • When Fido crosses rainbow bridge, we are genuinely upset. We loved your pooch too. Those won’t be crocodile tears. I often send my clients a small gift when they lose a four-legged friend.
  • Our evenings are spent replacing, fixing and cleaning equipment. It takes time and money to make sure the equipment we’re using on your furbaby is safe and clean. 
  • We sacrifice our time off for you. The number of times I have said “That’s actually my day off” is crazy, the number of times I end up working it anyway is crazier. So, next time your groomer works extra hours, remember to thank them and be prompt picking up and dropping off. We do have lives outside the groom room (or we try to!)


From finding a dog to use, to free weekly prep sessions, to travel, accommodation, entry fees and equipment, competitions aren’t cheap! They’re one of the best ways of keeping on top of your game in the industry though!


But don’t be fooled

We wouldn’t do anything else. This is not a job to make you a millionaire, it isn’t an easy job, but it is our passion. We live and breathe pooches, so despite all of the above, we won’t be giving up anytime soon!  So next time you pick up your pooch, thank your groomer. You don’t have to tip or give a gift (of course, those are hugely appreciated, I’ve actually cried before when given a card and read the lovely things it said!) but a simple “Thank you, Fido looks beautiful” is more than enough to show your pet pamperer some love.


Don’t miss out!

Many  groomers, me included, try to encourage you to book at least one of your pooches next pampering appointments when you collect them…why?

No, it’s not to make sure you spend your hard earned cash at our salon again (although we are very happy and grateful you do) but it ensures you actually get the space you want.

We’ve all done it at the dentist or hairdressers. We book a dentist appointment 6 months in advance so why not book Fido in for his next pamper in 8 weeks time?

So how long should it be between grooms?

As a general rule, wool coats and wool coat crosses (Poodles, Bichons, Doodles etc) 4-6weeks and clipped Terries, Shih Tzu’s, Spaniels etc 6-8wks. I have a few clients who opt for longer between full grooms but have a maintenance bath and brush out in between. This means that they come every 4-5 weeks, alternating between a bath, dry and brush out and a full groom. This is ideal as it helps keep their dog’s coats in fabulous condition.

Remember. Most groomers are booked at least 2 weeks ahead, longer for weekend or evening slots. I’ve been known to be booked 2 months in advance for any appointments.

As soon as the weather warms up or it starts to get muddy underfoot, every dog owner suddenly decides they want their dog’s doing now. Be ahead of the game and pre book your dog’s grooms. If you don’t you may end up waiting a few weeks for your usual groomer or be forced to go elsewhere to someone your dog doesn’t know. Those extra weeks waiting for a space usually means that Fido becomes matted and uncomfortable as it is longer than either of you are used to going without a trim.

The moral of the story? Same day, next day and often same week appointments are not available! Save the panic of keeping your pooch happy and comfortable and rebook your grooms! If you don’t you may end up disappointed.

Oh, and those who only want once or twice a year appointments, it’s almost impossible for you to get an appointment in peak times. We all have lots of regular clients who need those spaces and will prioritise. I have had annual grooms book 12mths in advance to ensure a space with me, so please remember to give plenty of warning.

& remember! Brush your dog daily to avoid matting, regardless of how long you have between grooms!