How to Choose the Right Dog Groomer

Our two dogs have short coats, so we bathe them at home in a walk-in shower. While that saves lifting them into a bathtub, we still have to deal with cleaning up the mess afterward. Many people choose to save their backs and the clean-up by taking their dogs to a professional.

Summer is one of the busiest seasons for grooming salons. Dog groomers aren’t regulated or licensed by a government agency, so it’s up to pet owners to make sure they are choosing the right professional for their dogs.

What to Consider when Choosing a Dog Groomer

Get a Recommendation from a Trusted Contact

Experts at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommend getting referrals from a friend, veterinarian, boarding kennel, dog trainer, pet supply store or animal shelter.

You can also look for a local groomer through the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA). The NDGAA is a recognized leader in the grooming industry and has been certifying groomers and offering continuing education for more than 45 years.

As you narrow down your list, a call to the Better Business Bureau can help establish if any of the groomers you’re considering have had any complaints lodged against them.

Ask Lots of Questions

Experts at the Animal Behavior College, an animal career training school, advises asking groomers about their experience and training. While groomers aren’t licensed by most states, they should be certified by a dog grooming school. Good questions to ask before hiring a groomer include:

  • How long have you been grooming?
  • Do you have experience working with my breed?
  • Where did you get your grooming certification?
  • Do you attend continuing education seminars?
  • Do you carry liability insurance?
  • Do you adjust your grooming techniques to accommodate specific health or temperament needs? According to an article in Animal Wellness Magazine, common health issues that could affect how your dog is groomed include hip dysplasia, disc disease and seizures, as well as skin problems, allergies and asthma.
  • Do you require that pets are current on vaccinations?
  • What type of products do you use? (You want a salon that uses natural shampoos and conditioners over chemical-laden products.)
  • Where do you keep dogs before and after grooming?
  • How are the clippers, scissors and blades cleaned between uses?
  • If you own one of the brachycephalic breeds—dogs with short noses and flat faces like bulldogs, pugs, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas—you need to ask the groomer how he or she will dry your pet? These breeds should never be left with a hot dryer blowing on the kennel, according to Animal Behavior College experts. The same is true for elderly pets and those with special health concerns.
  • Can you provide me with a list of current clients? (Be sure to follow up with references to ask about their experiences with the groomer and salon.)

How to Choose the Right Dog Groomer

Visit the Grooming Salon Before Making an Appointment

Always visit the grooming salon before making an appointment for your dog. During your visit the HSUS recommends paying attention to the following:

  • Is the facility well-lit?
  • Does it look and smell clean?
  • Are the staff caring and do they handle pets gently?
  • Do the animals have enough room to stand and turn around comfortably in their crates?
  • Are dogs and cats crated in separate areas?
  • Are pets monitored regularly to prevent overheating during blow-drying?
  • Does the groomer keep complete pet records (including grooming, medical, vaccination and emergency contact information)?

Understand the Cost of Your Dog’s Grooming Session

Grooming costs will vary depending on where you live and the size/breed of your dog.

Some dogs will take longer to groom than others. It will cost more to groom dogs with longer coats or with coats that are severely matted. When clipping is required, the cost will vary depending on the difficulty of the cut.

You may also have to pay more for extras such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, teeth brushing or anal gland expression. Make sure you specify exactly what services you are looking for.  Mobile groomers are generally more expensive as you are paying for the convenience of having the groomer come to your home.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

37 comments

Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Janis K
Janis K3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O4 months ago

I wreck my back and do the clean up, but at least I know they are treated well and clean. I have two Afghan hounds so it is several hours work, so fees would be far out of our price range anyway, I'd guess.

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Chad A
Chad Anderson4 months ago

Thank you.

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Winnie A
Winn A4 months ago

Ask your vet for a recommendation

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Winnie A
Winn A4 months ago

Noted

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Michele B
Michele B4 months ago

the right groomer makes all the difference in the world...to your dog as well as the outcome

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Harriet B
Harriet B4 months ago

Don't forget cats.

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