How to find a great groomer

AA Grooming Show 081117 - Petsmart winner Kara Gossage
Kara Gossage and Coby of the PetSmart Groom Team at the All-American Grooming Show 2017 Wire Coated Breeds Competition. 

By Betsy Lane, MA

Help! Your dog needs to be groomed, but you don’t know where to turn. How do you find a great salon—and avoid the not-so-great ones? If the thought of handing over your dog to a virtual stranger and coming back a few hours later makes you break out in a cold sweat, read on. Renee Fuentes, PetSmart Salon Leader, is here to share some expert advice for pet parents who haven’t yet found a groomer who makes them and their pets happy.

As it turns out, finding a groomer isn’t all that different from finding a human hair stylist. Many people start looking for a groomer at dog-friendly areas or events—or even while on walks. Watch for dogs that have a look you like, and ask their owners where they take their dog for grooming. Pay particular attention to the dog’s head, especially on dogs that look like yours. “The details will set a cut apart,” Renee says, “especially the shape of the head, ears, and face. Ask for a referral if you like what you see on another dog, especially of your dog’s breed.”

The next step is to visit the salon in person. Renee suggests looking for someplace clean, bright, friendly, and professional. It should smell nice, there shouldn’t be clumps of old hair lurking in the corners, and the animals should not look too stressed. Ask which of the groomers at the shop most like to groom your type of dog; groomers should be versatile, but often have a favorite type of dog (Yorkie, Newfie, shy, puppy, senior, etc.). Renee also suggests casually asking who sharpens the shop’s blades—since these should be sharpened about once a month (for efficiency and safety), any reputable salon will be able to tell you who their sharpener is. And when it comes time for your first appointment, you can bring photos of styles you like, just like you might with your own hairstylist.

What about a small, private shop versus a larger salon? Renee says there are pluses and minuses to either choice. “Private shops can be calmer and slower-paced, which can be good for scared, anxious, or older dogs,” she says, “but larger salons often have better systems in place for air filtration and so on—like PetSmart’s UV lights in their ventilation system, which kill a lot of the germs you might worry about elsewhere.”

Finally, remember that making a few fun “social visits” to the shop to say hi and get used to the smells, sounds, and so on, will help every dog—and potentially worried owner—feel great about a doggy spa day!

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2 thoughts on “How to find a great groomer

  1. I really liked your suggestion to visit a groomer in person prior to bringing your pet there. My sister recently got a dog that has long hair and needs proper grooming from a professional. I’m sure she’d feel a lot more confident taking her dog someone she’s been able to check out in person for herself in advance.


  2. I like your suggestion to start your search for a pet grooming service by visiting dog-friendly areas and asking other owners for recommendations. My husband and I have just moved, so we are wondering how to find the best person to cut our dog’s hair. We will definitely have to start our search for a pet grooming service by visiting puppy parks to see if any other owners can offer recommendations.


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