Pet/Dog Grooming Costs Explained

We have been asked these questions many times. The simple answer is grooming a dog is much more involved and requires more skill than it sounds like. It is not 'just a shave.' I have also been asked “Why does my dog's haircut cost more than mine?” For that, I have a list of The Top Ten Reasons Why Your Dog's Haircut Costs More Than Yours, and while this list is amusing, it is also very true, and shows part of why it's not 'just a shave'. The list goes as follows:

  1. Your hairdresser doesn't wash and clean your rear end!
  2. You don't go for 8 weeks and never wash or brush your hair.
  3. Your hairdresser doesn't have to give you a sanitary trim!
  4. Your hairdresser doesn't clean your ears!
  5. Your hairdresser doesn’t have to remove the boogies from your eyes.
  6. You sit still for your hairdresser.
  7. Your hair cut doesn't include a manicure and pedicure.
  8. Your hairdresser only washes and cuts the hair on your head!
  9. You don't bite and scratch your hairdresser.
  10. The likelihood of you peeing or pooping while your hair is being cut is slim.

Pet grooming requires a high level of skill, and it's not easy to learn. It takes any decent groomer between 1-3 years to learn the skill and art of dog grooming. Pets just like people have their good moods/days and not as good moods/days. Sometimes pet grooming can be like cutting hair on a moving target. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing a game at the State Fair, especially if the moving target is a very cute baby dog, who is a moving target cause it’s so happy and just wants to give puppy kisses! While that is very cute and sweet, it’s also incredibly difficult, because the last thing I, or most groomers want, is for a sweet baby dog to wiggle right into my sharp scissors. Most pet groomers work on commission and tips. Which means a groomer on average makes 50% commission, which means half of what you are paying (plus tip, if you choose to tip) goes to the groomer who spent hours caring for and working on your pet. The other half goes to the business to pay expenses like: Rent, Water, Electric, Phone, Internet, Shampoos, Conditioners, Salaries, Insurance, Property taxes (on the space we lease as well as the business itself), those are the main expenses that come to mind, there are others as well just like any business.

Pet grooming prices can vary greatly across the country. Let’s figure things on the high end and say you have a Shih-tzu. Your dog is groomed regularly (every 4-8 weeks), the haircut is not complicated (by the groomer's standards), and your dog is well-behaved. The groom cost, $52, and you chose for your pet to have the extra pampering of a mud bath and their teeth brushed, the total is $62.95 plus sales tax which brings your total to $68.14. For that price your pet received an allover massaging bath, a mud bath, teeth brushed, a hand blow dry and fluff out, the coat brushed and mat free, ears cleaned, the ear hair removed, a full body haircut, nails trimmed and filed, anal gland expressed, appropriate conditioner for your pet, and cologne. That's 12 services for the $62.95 that goes to the groomer and business.

If you have your Shih-tzu groomed once a month, even with the extra pampering that breaks down to $2.27/day. If your pet is groomed once every 8 weeks that breaks down to $1.14/day. That's less expensive than a fancy coffee habit.

In addition to the services your pet receives the added benefits of regular grooming are:

Regular Grooming, for short-coated or double-coated breeds reduces the amount of pet hair in your home.

Most shops offer a deshedding treatment, either included with their price, or as an additional service. The amount of hair a professional groomer can remove from a pet is amazing. We have professional shampoos, conditioners and tools, and we know how to use them! The more hair we remove at our shops, the less hair the dog leaves in your home. So in addition to trimming their nails, cleaning their ears, making sure there is not longer hair on their paw pads preventing traction, groomers also d-shed, helping to make your life at home a little easier. Once a month d-shedding makes the biggest difference in your home.

Regular Grooming Costs Less: A dog that is groomed regularly becomes accustomed to the grooming process. They learn the routine, they learn to understand the process, and most learn to enjoy their groom, even though we are doing things that are not their favorites list. For example: cleaning their ears, removing ear hair, expressing anal glands, and trimming nails. While these are all necessary for grooming, they are not among dogs' favorite things. Honestly, they aren't your pet groomer’s favorite things to do either. Most of us in this industry are pet groomers because we love pets, and while we don't enjoy doing the things pets don't enjoy, we do them because we know they are necessary for the pet's health.

Regular Grooming prevents severe matting: Matted coats negatively affect the health of your pet, causing restricted air and blood flow to the surface of the skin. This can lead to moisture trapped next to the skin resulting in hotspots, general irritation, and infections. Matting can also hide growths, tumors, as well as injuries. To your pet, a matted coat feels like wearing a sweater 3 size too small. I once removed rubber bands from a dogs legs; they had begun to restrict the blood flow to the dog’s front feet. The kids, ages 3-5, put them on the dog, not knowing any better. Mom had no idea they were there because they were hidden by the dog's hair. I found them immediately when beginning to groom the dog, as I could tell right off the bat something was off. That's part of what we do as groomers, learn to know what is normal for your pets and what is not. If that dog hadn't come in for grooming it could have turned into something much more serious and much more expensive to handle at the vet. Regular grooming can find issues you might not be aware of. When was the last time you picked up your dog’s paws and looked inside their paw pads? Or flipped over their ear to check the inside? When your dog is groomed, we literally go over your dog from head to toe. With the forced air dryers we use, we can see all the way down to the skin on most dogs and see many things impossible to see otherwise.

Regular Nail Trimming is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your pet.

Nails that are too long are uncomfortable for the pet. Long nails can also help your pet do things you don't care for, like dig holes to China in your backyard. Nails that are too long feel like walking around in a pair of shoes two sizes too small. Plus they can cause structural issues, and put strain on joints, especially hip joints, that aren't necessary or healthy. Many grooming shops offer nail trims for anywhere from $10-$20. So if your pet is groomed every 8 weeks, and the nails need to be trimmed once a month you can bring in your pet for just a nail trim.

Well-groomed pets have a better chance of being reunited with their families: If a pet is well groomed, it is obvious if they happen to get loose; someone is caring for, loving and missing that pet.

Regular grooming can save you money in the long run on vet bills: Just like with people, early detection and treatment can save money and even the life of the pet. I personally have caught anything from a bladder infection, to a dog with Cushing's disease. I did not know the dog had Cushing's disease. What I did know was the dog was not acting like herself, and she seemed like she didn't feel well. I knew what was normal for her because she came in regularly for grooming. I was very familiar with her personality, and what behavior was normal for her. When she was acting strangely, I told her owner she needed to be checked out by the vet. The owner took her in had her checked out, and the dog was diagnosed with Cushing's disease. They put the pet on medication and at age 10 at the time it was discovered, she lived another 3-4 years.

Article Written by: Jessica - Who began her career in the pet industry as a groomer in 1997. She also owned her own Pet Grooming shop for 12 years.

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