Creating the “Right” Look for your Dog: How to Communicate with your Groomer

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When you drop your dog off for his/her appointment, it’s important to provide the groomer with clear information about the expectations you have for your dog’s haircut. In order to best communicate with your groomer, it is important to know accurate grooming terms to use and which popular phrases and terminology are inaccurate or unclear.

Following are some popular, yet unclear terminology or phrases that many dog owners use to describe the haircut they are hoping to achieve for their dog:

  • Puppy Cut – there is not one clear definition for the term “puppy cut.” Every grooming shop may have a different interpretation. Basically, “puppy cut” means one length all over your dog’s body. Although it usually means on the shorter side, it does not specify a length. It is better to tell your groomer you want one length all over, and then specify the length you would like.
  • Teddy Bear Cut – like “puppy cut,” the term “teddy bear cut” is used often by dog owners, but does not mean the same thing from groomer to groomer. Again, be specific with the length of hair you would like left on your dog (assuming it is possible based on the condition of the dog’s coat when he/she arrives to the grooming shop).
  • Just a Trim or Short but Not Too Short – some dog owners explain they would like “just a trim” or for their dog’s hair to be shorter, but “not too short.” While these phrases explain that you do not want most of your dog’s hair removed, it does not specify just how much you want cut, nor is it very descriptive as far as how much hair you want cut from your dog’s tail v. feet v. face, etc.
  • Not Like a Poodle – this phrase drives groomers crazy! With the rise in popularity of poodle mix-breeds (Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Sheepadoodles, you name it!), we hear this phrase almost daily when dog owners are trying to describe the hair cut they want (or don’t want) for their dog.
    • Guess what? Groomers have NO IDEA what you are talking about. First of all, the “oodle” in your doodle is a poodle! It is sometimes half or even more than half of the breed your dog is
      made up of. What part of the traditional poodle trim do you dislike? Do you mean you do not want a shaved face like a poodle in a show cut? Do you mean you do not want your dog’s feet shaved like a poodle?
    • It is better to describe what you DO want. What makes your dog look like a poodle to you doesn’t make it look like a poodle to your groomer. Explain what shape you would like your dog’s head, face, feet, tail, etc. Since poodle mixes are exactly that – a mixed breed – there is not a traditional or “show cut” for doodles.

Like the age-old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Your best bet is to bring a photo of a dog sporting the haircut you are hoping to achieve. Just be sure to present a photo of a dog that resembles your dog, i.e., the photo should be of a dog that is the same breed as your pup. Even if it is the same breed; however, dogs can differ in the same breed as far as the type of hair they have (some are thicker or coarser, etc.). And of course, if your dog arrives matted, there is only so much your groomer can do if
the mats are too tight. During drop off a reputable groomer should be able to tell you just by feeling your dog if your desired haircut is possible.

In addition to accurately describing the hair cut you would like to try to achieve for your dog, it is also important to communicate other information about your dog – like if he or she has skin issues, allergies to certain shampoos or cologne, or temperament issues in regards to how your dog relates to other dogs, people or situations (e.g. being in a crate). By communicating as accurately as possible, establishing a relationship with your dog’s groomer, and getting your dog groomed on a consistent basis, you will be well on your way to achieving the look you hope to have for your dog.

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