“Oh. Just a bath and dry for my Labrador please”

Groomers are often keen to encourage owners to book Fido in for a bath and blow dry between grooms. This isn’t a money making scheme, it’s to help keep Fido fresh and knot free between appointments. There are exceptions to the rule, however. 
Some breeds can’t “just” have a bath and blow dry, these breeds include, but aren’t limited to, Labradors, Huskys, Golden Retrievers etc. 

In order to get the coat clean and dry these breeds need brushing out, or “de-shedding” (the removal of loose, dead hair and undercoat). This is something which we have to do or Fido will go home damp and dirty. This is also classed as a full groom. 

A deshed on a large, double coated, breed such as a Newfoundland for example, will be back breaking for your groomer. Aching arms and often hours of work, not to mention the mammoth clean up afterwards, is not a simple bath and dry. 

Please don’t be mean to your groomer when they explain this to you. You may not realise the work and time that has to go into a professional groom for one of these breeds but remember, there’s a reason you’re asking us to do it instead of just popping them in the bath at home. 

In this industry we always come across people who say things such as “if I don’t have his claws done will it be cheaper?” And the answer is no. Claws are included free of charge in the groom price. Obviously this may vary groomer to groomer but when buying things at a supermarket you wouldn’t ask for discount if you offered to leave two out of  a box of half a dozen eggs behind, so please don’t do it to your groomer. 

We spend a great deal of time and money to make sure your pooch looks and feels the best they can, we’ve trained and studied to become professionals and we do know what we’re taking about. 

Deshedding Molly the Labrador.

Dictionary For Dog Groomers

  • “Holiday” : This is a mythical event in which you would not work for an extended period of time (usually 3-14days). Often it refers to going somewhere sunny with a beach and relaxing (see Relax).
  • “Relax” : When you are not stressed, worried or thinking about work. A calm state. Not proven to exist for the self-employed, potentially a myth.
  • “Time Off” : Similar to ‘Holiday’ except this is usually limited to a few hours or days. n.b. It is not ‘time off’ if ANY work is done during the time period.
  • “Lunch Break” : A legendary time where you may sit and eat a meal near the middle of the day. Thought to be an hour long in most cases, no work is done during this time. The meals traditionally don’t contain dog hair.
  • “Too Many Dogs”: Something that is said by people who feel over 3 dogs is unnecessary or a burden. These people are best avoided. Some people think more than one is “too many”. Definitely avoid them too.
  • “He went to the [insert place with water and or mud] today so may be knotty” : Used by owners who haven’t brushed their dog for 8 weeks. n.b. there have been cases where the above is not a cover story however it is best to be prepared.
  • “A bit jumpy for nails” : Roughly translates to “He/she transforms into a boneless creature made of nothing but fur and teeth” You will lose all your fingers.
  • “We don’t walk him much” : The dog will bounce off the walls and is likely to wee on you. Have fun.
  • “Opening Times” : Thought to mean that you are only available to be contacted for set hours of a day, often 9-5. Most likely a myth.
  • “Alcohol ” : Nectar of the Gods. What most groomers resort to on Friday evening. n.b. chocolate is a wonderful substitute.
  • “Coffee” : The only thing that keeps groomers on their feet all day. Allow approximately one per dog groomed. Tea is also a suitable replacement.
  • “He likes treats” : Rough translation: “He’s morbidly obese and will try and lie down at all times. Hope you have a good chiropractor” Call for back up.
  • “He likes to talk to you” : Your patience will be tested and Fido will whine, howl or bark constantly. Ear plugs recommended.
  • “I’ve started the groom off for you” : Usually means “I’ve given my dog a slap head.” It is advised to refrain from laughing.



Please feel free to add your own in the comments.


Too Little Too Late: The Curse of a Matted Clip-Off

Too Little Too Late: The Curse of a Matted Clip-Off

I’ve had a little rant  blog about matted dogs in the past (find it HERE) but this is a little different. This isn’t a BRUSH YOUR DOGS post (but please, do brush your dogs), this is an attempt to explain the circle of matted clip offs that many owners and dogs get stuck in.

[Week 1] So here’s the story so far. You’ve taken your dog to the groomer and Fido has had to be clipped off due to matting. How or why they’re matted isn’t important at this point.

Your groomer has explained why this needs doing and that you need to be on top of brushing and make regular appointments from now on to stop this happening again. You may even book Fido back in for 6-8wks time.

Fido goes home, you are upset with his new look and can’t wait for your fluffy dog to be back.

[Week 8] 6/8 weeks go by and it’s the time your groomer told you to come back. Fido is a nice length now. Maybe he’s the length that you like him. Because he’s been too short to get knotty you haven’t brushed him yet but he still looks lovely. You cancel your grooming appointment as your dog “isn’t long enough yet” and you’ll “call when he’s longer”.

[Week 12] A month or so goes by and Fido is looking like an extra Ewok from Starwars. You call your groomer who is booked up for another three weeks. You take that appointment. You haven’t brushed Fido as much as you could have and he’s starting to get knotty and he’s not happy being brushed because he remembers that it hurt last time when he was matted.

[Week 15] It’s appointment day! Fido is looking like a ball of fluff with legs and has resisted most brushing attempts. You’ve spent time chasing him around the house the night before the groom because you realised you’d forgotten to do it regularly; life was busy and you don’t want your groomer to tell you off. You turn up, your groomer can see you’ve tried brushing Fido but not often enough. He needs clipping off again.

And so it begins again.

If your dog is clipped off, please don’t avoid going back to the groomer until they’re a hairy bear again. After clipping off a dog, the next groom is essential to ensure they learn that grooming is a comfortable, happy, experience. It allows them to begin to associate it with fun rather than uncomfortable mat removal. It also allows the groomer to ensure the coat is growing back well, to tidy up any areas that may be growing back unevenly and to ensure they are maintaining a knot free coat. We may just bath, blow dry and tidy them up if needed.

Too often we don’t see dogs again until they are back in the same state and the circle begins again. This is unfair on the dogs, who spend their time uncomfortable due to matting. It is unfair on groomers who’s equipment takes a bashing from matted clip offs, eats into our time as they often take longer and we don’t enjoy having to shave your furry friends. Owners are also left disappointed and unhappy.

We understand life is busy and brushing may take a back seat but if that is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is kept comfortable with regular trips to the groomer. Depending on breed, this should be every 4-8wks.

& REMEMBER…. Your groomer will be happy to help you choose a style that’s practical for your lifestyle as well as show you how to maintain your pooch at home. 

At Little Black Dog Pet Salon, we even run courses for owners to learn how to keep their pooches lovely between professional grooms, contact us for more information





“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. Some are full of e-numbers and have been compared to feeding your pooch fast food every day. 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…