The Future of the Pet Grooming Industry

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

I applied for a recently week at a kennel. The kennel owner was a dog trainer.  He had been trained by the police to train police dogs,and  developed his skills to train  bomb and drug sniffing dogs. That’s where he ‘came from.’  His kennel was phenomenal, and I would have loved to work for him, but he hired someone else.  I have a pretty good idea why he went with someone else and not with me.

I believe he could get the person he hired  more cheaply—at an hourly rate of pay, rather than  me, who expects commission.  He hired a guy, who can lift all the 8o pound dogs.  The biggest reason is that he doesn’t get clients who are really particular about the styling of their dogs, they just want the dogs clean and neat. They are pets.   Why hire me when you believe you can get  the same basic skills more cheaply?  If you  think you need me just in case someone with a Berger Picard or Welsh Terrier comes in, you see the value.  If you  believe the odds are that  it is not likely to happen, you go with cheaper.  I understand.

This kennel owner asked me  what I saw the future of pet grooming to be.  All I got out was, “Well, I think the designer dog craze will be over in about 10 years when people finally realize they are not getting genetically sound dogs. That  being of different breeds does NOT add hybrid vigor…” but he got busy.  Probably for the best.

The industry players are in huge denial.  It is more profitable to open a grooming school than it is to groom dogs.  When I learned to groom, 99% of the dogs we  groomed were poodles, with poodle feet and patterns. This is not longer the case. They are all getting shaved now.  If you can  shave a dog without injuring it, that is considered grooming.

We’ve come full circle.  When I started, over 40 years ago,  we’d sometimes  get a Schnauzer or  cocker spaniel to groom, but most of the owners of just about any o breed other than Poodles returned to the breeder to have the dog groomed.   They didn’t trust pet groomers.  Now, with  so many  retail chains and dog daycare businesses offering grooming, it is happening again.
A  friend took a Samoyed  she was showing to a pet groomer, and ask the groomer is she knew how to do a show grooming on a Sam.  The groomer assured my friend she knew. Maybe the dog needed some trimming around the feet and butt cheeks, but my friend got back a shaved dog—and she will never—ever trust a groomer who does not show dogs.  On Facebook feed, a groomer posted a photo of a Bedlington Terrier groomed like a Miniature Schnauzer at one of the pet shop chains.  Interesting, but I know that Bedlington’s owner will not  trust another pet groomer.

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu--- can you guess what they call it?

This is a mix of a Pit bull and a Shih Tzu— can you guess what they call it?

So, we have that issue, and the issue of the designer dogs having to mostly be  shaved, and  the most popular breeds being dogs that do not need grooming (Bostons, Frenchies, Labrador Retrievers, Bulldogs, Boxers, and of course, Pit Bulls), and what does that leave us.

While we have some of the shelters and rescues adopting out shaggier dogs,Ii know they aren’t asking the adoptors if they understand what grooming is likely to cost & how often it needs to be done.  How ethical is that?

Then we have the basic fact that most of us—and our clients—are the 99%.  I was working in an area where I knew some of my clients were the 1% and cost was no issue, but  for most of us, our clients spend more on the dog than they  do on retirement savings (and then those very same clients  whine about being on a fixed income and not being able to afford grooming).

My personal plan  has always been to cater to that 1%.  Why  pander to those that can’t afford to pay you? How much sense does that make?A lot of them  have sense now, and either don’t own a dog, or  are going for Pit rescues.  I do not blame them.  But there are not enough groomable dogs for all the  people who want to do this for a living.  For the novice groomers who want to believe that there are jobs against all the evidence that there are not,  ask your employer  what he pays himself.



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