Commercial Grooming Versus Show Grooming
Most pet groomers provide what we call “commercial grooming services” and not “show grooming services.” Those awesome pets you see at dog shows are usually groomed by their handlers. Grooming to the strictly defined standards expected of a show dog is conveniently termed “show grooming.” The typical family pet doesn’t require show grooming. Demand for showing is then quite weak. However, pet groomers skilled in show grooming make excellent commercial groomers.
Oddly enough, some pet owners with no interest in showing their pets ask groomers to provide non-breed standard styling. Others do. Then again some groomers do as little as 20% purebred pets and instead groom mixed breed pets. As a pet groomer you benefit from knowing both breed standard and mixed breed grooming. Cover all the bases.
There are commercial groomers that also provide show grooming services. They are exceptional groomers and commonly certified by a pet grooming association only after rigorous training, experience and testing. No one told them to become certified, and there are commercial groomers with the same certifications. Certification is about self-improvement and taking a serious pride in your education and skills. For some it was expensive and inconvenient, but they did it. You will have to make your choice.
In summary, the largest share of pet owner demand for your services is for commercial grooming, not show grooming. If you work in an area noted for large numbers of purebred enthusiasts you can create a large following if you have the qualifications they require. Study the market for grooming in the area you plan to work as a groomer.
Dog, Cat, Exotic, Livestock & Creative Grooming
Grooming is not just about grooming dogs. “Pet Groomer” is a loosely-defined term. Logically, you would think that a pet groomer grooms more than dogs. However, there are pet groomers that only groom dogs and rarely refer to themselves as “dog groomers.” Historically the term “dog groomer” has been in use the longest. In the 1980’s a trend started wherein many dog groomers adopted the term “pet groomer.” It was during this time that the demand for cat grooming also grew. Since 2000 the term “pet stylist” has gained more favor.
Today the majority of pet grooming businesses serve cat owners. Some groomers still refrain from offering cat grooming. Cat grooming has exceptional demands for patience and handling skills. You may be interested to learn more from cat groomers on the GroomerTALK Message Board and GroomWise Blogs.
Cat grooming is a challenge for many groomers, and the extra time it takes means higher fees. Typically cat grooming costs $10 to $20 more than a similarly sized dog because of the special attention required. You should be prepared to provide every cat with extra time, never rush them. Sometimes a second of hands is absolutely necessary to safely restrain cats especially if they have become overly matted or fear water. For this reason most of the businesses that don’t offer cat services are one person grooming businesses unless they are exceptional cat specialists.
There are very few cat only groomers, yet their numbers are growing and expected to continue. With the skills and promotion it is possible to develop a cat grooming business. Cat owners know other cat owners and referrals should develop a steady base of clientele for the skilled cat groomer. Not all schools or home study teach cat grooming. If you have an interest in cat grooming ask your educational provider if instruction is available.
Exotic grooming refers to rabbits, ferrets and sometimes birds. Few grooming businesses serve these creatures on a regular basis. It’s entirely up to the business owner. Livestock grooming has almost no relationship with commercial pet groomers. Some groomers have a background in 4-H and stables where they learned livestock grooming. It’s not unusual for country groomers to own horses. However, the public doesn’t regularly call upon pet groomers to do livestock or exotic grooming. If you see yourself as a commercial groomer you will primarily groom dogs, some cats and an occasional exotic.
Creative grooming is a special art. It’s gaining more attention with exhibitions in major magazines like People. Today’s creative grooming includes blo-pen designs applied to pet coats, artistic coat sculpting with themed patterns, and artistic coat dyeing. Sometimes the groomers even wear costumes matching the theme of their grooming art, and bring along props! There are groomers who regularly use their pets for creative grooming, or participate in creative grooming contests. Sales of your creative grooming skills to pet owners will be very limited when compared with standard grooming services. There are states and local communities where some forms of creative grooming are not allowed by law. Yes, it is illegal to dye your pet colors in some places. Most of the major trade shows now have creative grooming competitions. You can use the Calendar at this site to find a show near you. We suggest your study this topic on the GroomerTALK™ Message Board.