About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"I know he's matted...BUT DON'T SHAVE HIM!

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have heard this comment over the years.
When I was new to grooming, just a baby groomer.
This comment could bring me to tears.
The customer should always get what they want.
I should know how to demat the dogs. It's my job.
I did not know how to say no.
I had NO back bone.

Let me just say, that I spent hours of my life dematting dogs because I thought I had to.
Too many hours to count.

I will also say, that I got really good at it, AND FAST.
My goal was to dematt as fast as possible, with as little discomfort to the dog as possible.
I figured out a dozen different ways of dematting and clipping out mats while saving enough coat to keep the customer happy.
I never wanted to hurt the dogs.
At the time, I just did not know that I could tell the owner, "NO your dog has to be shaved."

I did this for an unbelievable 10 years!

Till, in 1999 I found my first grooming forum on-line.

I found people that had the same grooming problems that I did.
I thought only MY customers drove me crazy.
There were really groomers out there dealing with the same things as me!

I started to develop a back bone.
I started to say NO.

The customer is NOT always right!!

I did not just want to say no to my customers, I wanted to explain WHY I could not demat their dog.
I wanted to explain why their dog was matted.
I also wanted to educate them on how to keep their pet mat free.

One of the best things I have done is, take pictures of matted dogs.
Before, During and After the groom.

I mainly started to do this to cover my A**.

If I thought an owner was going to come back and give me a hard time about how short I took their dog, I wanted pictures of that dog to show them WHY I clipped their dog short.
(Keep a camera by your table at all times.)

I would also take those same pictures, and show them to customers with matted dogs, who did not want me to clip their dogs.
They have helped open a lot of owners eyes.
They have also prepared the customer for how short their dog may be when I clip it.

Below are some of the pictures I use.

 I show this picture to customers who have a hard time believing that their dog is matted.

I ask them; "Does this dog look matted?"

They always say; "No, he looks nice.

THEN, I show them this picture.

I explain that the mat is under the good hair, that it is tight to the skin.

Then I explain to them that I have NO control as to how short I have to take their dog.

I tell them that I must find an air space between the mat and the skin.

I also tell them that I will have to use a blade that will glide through their dogs hair comfortably and safely.

I also lay it on thick about how the mat is pulling their skin.

I also make it sound like brushing the mats out is abuse.

If all of that does not work, I pull out the big guns.

I show them how raw and red the skin can be under the matting.

I show them the sores that can develop under the mats.

If they still want to fight me about clipping their pet.
I show the next pictures.

The next couple of pictures are graphic.

This is the matted tail of a shih-tzu that I groom.
They do not groom her as often as they used to because she has lost most of her hair to medical issues.
Most of the hair she has left, is on her ears and tail.
The matting on the tail had gotten so tight, that some of the hair had wrapped around the tail like a rubber band, and started to cut through the tail.
The hair had worked its way to the bone.

No, the owner had no clue.

This Wheaton's sore was caused by both an eye infection and heavy matting.

Most of the time these pictures do the job, and the customer gladly lets me clip their matted dog.

Last year I went through all of my pictures and made a  picture book to use for my customers.
(We had A LOT of snow this past winter.)

I used Winkflash to make my book.
Their website makes it easy to do.
Then I waited till the book went on sale.
50% off for up to 100 pages.

I put in pictures of all the different ways I have clipped the different breeds.
When I am describing a clip, I can show them what it will look like on their dog.

I also made sure to make a section on matted dogs.

If, after all of this, the owner still does not get it...
they are invited to go elsewhere!

I also think that it is very important to always be nice, and never talk down to the owner.
I do not want to make them defensive.
I want help educate them.

Oh, by the way, my daughter still thinks that I do too much dematting.
She's right.
But, I only do it on dogs that are not very matted, dogs that are good about brushing, and for owners that I know are really trying to keep their dog brushed out.
Plus, I like to save ears and tails whenever I can.
It's a sickness with me.
AND, I am good at it.
(All of those hours and years of dematting have to account for something. Right?)
Happy Grooming,MFF


  1. All that matting and brushing for all those years .... Raise your hand if you know how carpal tunnel feels. My hand is UP!! :/

    1. My Shih Tzu had a full show coat....until I left him with my husband for a week while I visited family in Florida. I didn't take my little guy with me because he had been ill and I didn't think a 7 hour car ride would be comfortable for him, When I got back I found that my darlin hubby had neglected to run a comb over him even once and he was now covered nose to tail to toes with giant mats. As much as I hated doing it (those show coats are a ton of hard work) I took my little guy straight to the groomer in town and had him shaved. All of him... He looked positively ridiculous but he was comfortable and that was all I was worried about. I can't imagine why someone would chose appearance over their dog's happiness. God speed to you for telling them NO. Keep up the good work !

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  3. In my opinion, people who let there dog get so matted, it goes into the bone, should not be allowed to own a long hair dog. And be reported for dog cruelty. Since becoming an owner of a shitzue, I know how much time is needed to keep mats at bay. But after trying a few different groomers from cheap to expensive, I realise I have to learn how to groom myself. As all these animal loving groomers, supposedly, as I can see dont exist. I will never leave my dog with a groomer, and no one else should either. Its like watching your dog being tortured for a couple of hours. Yesterday was the last time for me.