What are dog grooming competitions all about? Do you want in on the fun?

a pet groomer stands behind her award-winning dog. The dog is beautifully groomed and is white with gray and black spots on top and a fluffy white tail. There is a trophy standing in front of the dog. In the back is a banner that says "IJA", the name of the grooming competition.

There’s a whole world of people competing to be the best groomers they can be. Interested? Read on…

Nowadays, it seems there’s a competition for everything, doesn’t it? Did you know that dog grooming competitions are a thing, too? Yep. You might think that dog grooming is just an in-and-out thing, but it turns out, there’s an art to it. Some take it to the extreme with colors and designs and shapes galore (check out some wild photos here), but that isn’t necessary. Some competitions are judged on pure skill. 

 What is a grooming competition?

 It’s where groomers can go to show off their skills and techniques. Groomers come from all over and show what they can do. Since it’s about the groomer and not the dogs, there’s no trotting around parading your purebred, here, like in a dog show. If you end up going to a groomer who competes, lucky you! It’s a great way to expand skills and learn new techniques. And that is probably one bada$$ groomer you have! 

Grooming competition vs dog show

Many people are familiar with dog shows. As mentioned above, a grooming competition is all about what the dog groomer can do. A dog show is all about how the dog breed adheres to breed standards and doesn’t have to do so much with their humans. 

How do you compete in a dog grooming competition? 

You’ll want to find a breed you’re comfortable grooming and make sure the dog is well behaved. You also want a dog with a healthy coat and at least 6 weeks of growth. If you get so lucky as to meet said dog, take advantage! If it’s a client’s dog, you can offer free baths or free grooming as a thank you. Make sure to get to know the breed and what to expect as well as what styles look best on the breed you choose. Take some classes to prepare you for competition with previous winners or judges so you get an idea of what you’ll be judged on and how to have the best chance of winning. You can compete in the entry-level class without any prior competition experience against others who haven’t had much competition experience. And if in doubt, just do it! It’ll be a great learning experience

Where do groomers get dogs for the competition? 

Not all groomers have their own dogs, and not all dogs are well suited for a dog grooming competition. Many groomers borrow dogs from clients or breeders. The dog needs to have the right disposition, travel well, be able to stand for long periods, be comfortable around strangers, and more (that’s a lot to ask of anyone!). 

How are groomers judged? 

“Balance, symmetry, uniformity, and style of trim,” according to the World Pet Association (WPA) contest rules. There is so much that goes into dog grooming, though. The texture of the fur is looked at.  Are there any scissor marks? Is a pattern being followed? Are the edges of the feet tidy? This is all after weeks of preparing the dogs to be groomed. If you’re a pet groomer interested in competing in such a show, remember that there is an entry-level category where you are competing against other new or newer pet groomers, so don’t be intimidated. 

How groomers can prepare for dog grooming competitions.

Of course, dog groomers prepare for competitions by practicing the particular cut and style they’ll be showing off, but it’s more than that. They also need to take the dog and its fur into consideration. As mentioned previously, you’ll need a well-behaved dog that can stand for long periods. You need to wash and condition the fur about once a week for months in advance. You need to make sure the coat is in tip-top shape, and want to clean all areas like ears and pads a few days before the competition. There’s a lot of prep work, this is serious (but fun) stuff! 

How does this translate to the customer? 

If you are a dog groomer, you may be wondering if this has some added value to your customers. If you are a pet owner and not about to compete, you may be more interested in how this benefits you. The answer is the same. A dog groomer who is invested in learning new skills and techniques shows some serious commitment. And if you do find a groomer who does this, you know you found a groomer who loves what he or she does.

Where do I find a competitive groomer to groom my dog? 

At Grooming Girls, our owner and CEO, Jennifer Thomson,  not only has certification as a pet stylist, but years (and years!) of experience in addition to having recently won not one (1st place live dog), not two (1st place freestyle groom), but three (Best in Show, baby!) awards at this year’s IJA Pet Expo, in Columbus Ohio! Interested in seeing what skills she has that landed her in such an envious position? Call for an appointment today and see what she and her well-trained experts can do for you! 

1 thought on “<strong>What are dog grooming competitions all about? Do you want in on the fun?</strong>”

  1. Thank you for suggesting to find a breed of dog you’re comfortable with so you can compete in a dog show. I want to get my first dog this month and keep it groomed well. I will find a great full-service pet grooming service nearby.

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