Dog Grooming

The Groomer's Choice Guide to Dog Grooming

Dog grooming – an art and necessity. 

Whether you’re a seasoned groomer or just getting started, you know doing grooming is not only an art but also a necessity. After all, grooming is essential to a dog’s wellbeing and health. But how do you educate the importance of dog grooming to your clients? This comprehensive guide to grooming helps break down the details.

What is dog grooming?

In summary, dog grooming is the process in which a dog is cleaned, both hygienically and in appearance. Grooming is essential to a dog’s wellbeing and health.

The grooming process generally includes all or a variation of the following: 

• Bathing the dog’s coat with shampoo and conditioner 
• Drying and brushing the dog’s coat 
• Removing dead undercoat in double-coated dogs 
• Cleaning any debris from the ears 
• Plucking ear hair with dogs who have continuously growing hair  
• Clipping nails 
• Trimming the coat’s furnishings, paw pads and sanitary area 
• Brushing teeth 
• Expressing anal glands 

A dog’s grooming needs vary based on breed, age, health issues and owner preferences. 

The importance of dog grooming

Dogs are groomed to help maintain coat and skin health. But there are many other benefits to dog grooming. 

Routinely brushing a dog’s coat with an undercoat rake or slicker brush can help reduce the amount of shedding and limit the opportunity for matting to occur. Additional brushing during the shedding seasons is necessary to help remove dead undercoat in double-coated dogs (such as Huskies or Golden Retrievers). Double-coated dogs shed their seasonal coats every year around April and September. Grooming helps to remove a large amount of the dead undercoat, lessening the shedding at home. 

If dogs have skin allergies or irritations, it is important to bathe them regularly with specially-formulated, gentle or medicated shampoo. Doing this helps temporarily relieve skin conditions. For example, if a short-haired dog has dry skin that becomes itchy, it may be necessary to bathe them in an oatmeal shampoo every two weeks to ease the irritation. If not treated, excess licking, biting or scratching of the area could lead to hot spots and more discomfort. 

Another reason dogs are groomed is allergies. Both dogs’ and humans’ allergies may be the root of a dog’s grooming routine. If a pet parent has severe allergies, their dog may need to be bathed weekly or bi-weekly to remove dander and other allergens or the pet’s coat may have to be kept short. 

Serious health issues can arise if dogs are not regularly groomed. Potential health setbacks and injuries include matting, splayed foot, ear infections, vulnerability to parasites (such as fleas and ticks) and other irreversible problems. 

Scheduling consistent grooming appointments with the same groomer is recommended. Working with a single groomer eases stress and builds a bond between the dog and groomer. Plus, your groomer will be able to notice any abnormalities, such as a lump or spot, with your pet and be able to point you to a veterinarian, when needed. 


Types of dog grooming

Although grooming is primarily done to maintain the health of a pet’s coat and skin, dog grooming is also done for show competitions, veterinarian reasons and as a creative outlet. 

Various breeds are competitively groomed, with some of the most commonly groomed breeds being Poodles and Bedlington Terriers. Groomers from all over the world compete at events hosted by the American Kennel Club, Barkleigh and other organizations.

At times, grooming may need to be done by a veterinarian groomer. If dogs are extremely aggressive or matted, it may be better for them to be sedated during their groom. Though this is a last resort choice, sedated grooms can remove the stress and fear of the grooming process and keep both the groomer and pet safe. 

A creative outlet in the grooming community is creative grooming. As with anything creative, creative grooming doesn’t have any set limits. Ranging from completely coloring and shaping the coat to adding small bows after a groom, creative grooming is quite literally in the hands of the groomer. Creative groomers use pet-safe hair dye and accessories to create their desired, fashionable grooming look. Examples include dying and trimming a dog’s coat to reflect a zebra and painting a dog’s nails. Creative grooming takes place at grooming competitions and in routine pet grooming, if requested. 


"Forty-six percent of dog groomers are in the 20-30 year old age bracket with the average age of a grooming professional overall at 32 years old."

Who are dog groomers?

Dog groomers come from all walks of life, but most professional dog groomers are female. That’s right – according to, 84% of groomers are female. Forty-six percent of dog groomers are in the 20-30 year old age bracket with the average age of a grooming professional overall at 32 years old. 

Above all else, groomers must have compassion and love for animals and a passion for assisting them. Dog grooming is not easy. It is labor intensive, hard on one’s body and involves some not so pretty tasks, such as expressing anal glands, removing fleas and ticks and ridding the coat of dirt, urine and feces. 

Additional challenges of dog grooming include unpredictable dog behavior, using sharp shears and the possibility of breathing in dander, debris and dog hair. 


Animal training through establishments like Animal Behavior College is just one of the avenues for dog groomer training.

Does grooming have to be done by a professional dog groomer?

Depending on a pet’s breed and health, sometimes grooming visits are less frequent or intensive, allowing pet parents to complete bathing, ear cleaning, nail trimming and minor trim maintenance at home or at a self-serve pet wash. Self-pet washes allow pet owners to bathe their pet with professional grade equipment, such as the BatherBox Bathing System, and products for a small fee. Self-pet washes can be found in small, local businesses or in chain franchises across the country, such as in Tractor Supply Company

Other factors to be considered when determining if grooming should be completed by a professional groomer include the dog’s temperament, medical needs, age and tolerance level. 

How to become a dog groomer

Dog groomers gain education through varies avenues before becoming a professional. 

Grooming schools, such as Paragon Pet School and Animal Behavior College, allow those pursuing a career as a dog groomer to gain education through various methods. Online, short-term, year-long and other program options are available through different institutions. 

Another way to gain grooming knowledge is by completing an apprenticeship. During this time, a student works under a groomer to learn grooming techniques, terminology and much more. These hours are often completed with a master or highly-educated groomer.  

Educational opportunities are abundant and allow both new and experienced groomers to continue to learn insights, tips and tricks from the grooming industry’s elite or veteran groomers. These opportunities can be hosted in person or online, and attendees can often earn a certificate for completing courses.  

In its commitment to delivering grooming industry education, Groomer’s Choice hosts Super Styling Sessions webinars with celebrity groomers Jay Scruggs and Sue Zecco. 


"Above all else, groomers must have compassion and love for animals and a passion for assisting them."

Where are dogs groomed?

The traditional dog grooming location is a brick and mortar grooming salon. In recent years, mobile grooming and house-call grooming have gained popularity, as both types of services provide a one-on-one grooming experience, reduce stress in dogs and provide convenience.

No matter the location of the salon, a groomer will need their grooming supplies, including some form of a grooming table, tub, dryer, tools, coat care products and other supplies are needed. 

Do groomers only groom dogs?

Furry creatures of all shapes and sizes visit the groomer on a regular basis. In fact, feline grooming is extremely common. Cats are often groomed to remove matting, degrease their coats or assist with undercoat hair removal. Because cats groom themselves, not removing dead undercoat can lead to excessive consumption of fur and lead to an increase in hairballs.

Other animals that receive grooming services include, but are not limited to, ferrets, guinea pigs and rabbits.

Want to level up your skills in pet grooming? Register for our upcoming training webinars.