When we sent the article on Why Your Doodle Keeps Getting Shaved out to Doodle Doods newsletter subscribers, we got a ton of replies displaying a range of how Doodle owners feel about groomers.

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But before we get into those replies, I want to say that I’m publishing this article not to start an echo chamber or pit people against the other group, but rather to start a conversation that seriously needs to be had. I want to help address the growing tension between groomers and Doodle owners, and ultimately facilitate strides toward a mutual understanding.

This article is meant to help Doodle owners feel “seen” and validated, which hopefully is a first step toward a resolution. I hope anyone who reads this can learn what they need from these peoples’ perspectives.

Table of Contents

But First: MY Perspective

I’m in a relatively neutral position, personally, as I have been grooming Chloe myself for the past 6 years (not out of frustration toward groomers, by the way). Most previous interactions we’ve ever had with groomers were actually quite positive, even if Chloe was shaved down that day. In fact, they always used to praise me for how well-behaved Chloe was during grooming.

Nonetheless, I can see both sides. When Chloe was shaved down, it was usually without warning, and it was always shocking to lay eyes on such a drastically different-looking dog when that wasn’t what I asked for. This was, no doubt, always a frustrating experience.

But I think the difference is that I knew what I was doing wrong as a Doodle owner, which was that I wasn’t brushing her as often as I should’ve been. I also accepted the shave downs as a trade-off for my personal convenience.

I think another huge factor contributing to the groomer/owner disconnect is that many owners – new owners especially – are in a state of “ignorance is bliss”. I don’t mean this in a demeaning way – just look at the stats. Based on a previous reader survey, 75% of Doodle owners were NOT completely aware of Doodle grooming and coat care requirements when they first brought their Doodle home.

I personally didn’t choose Chloe because she might look scruffy someday…but I know a lot of you did, and that’s totally valid. But if we look at the graph above, there’s an obvious disconnect. Do we blame the breeders for this? Do we blame ourselves for not researching Doodles? I don’t know the answer.

And, I’m not saying this is the case with all shave downs, but I believe many people overestimate their brushing efforts when in fact they either aren’t doing it enough or doing it correctly.

And if one is actually in a state of “ignorance is bliss”, they just don’t know what they don’t know.

All they do know is that:

  1. They bring their Doodle to the groomer
  2. The groomer claims “mats”
  3. The dog gets shaved
  4. And that’s it – oftentimes, there’s no communication or effort made to educate the Doodle owner.

Is that experience enough to prompt someone to do the research themselves? What if they don’t know what to search for, or how to put the information they’re looking for into words? What if they don’t even realize it’s a problem they can solve?

Again, I remain neutral and I am seeing that these two things are true at the same time:

  • It is true that more and more Doodle owners are becoming fed up with groomers – and not for no good reason
  • And it is true that more and more groomers are becoming fed up with Doodle ownersalso not for no good reason

How can we work together to stop this cycle? Add your constructive perspective in the comments – Doodle owners and groomers alike are invited to join in on this conversation.

Doodle Owners Who’ve Had Great Luck With Groomers

Deborah’s Perspective

I have been extremely lucky with my groomer. Both the shop owner and his assistants absolutely love my two doodles – Moki, a miniature Sheepadoodle, and Roco, a miniature Bernadoodle. Both are under two years old and are groomed every month. 

I had a horrible experience recently when I left my puppies with a Rover approved boarding home…When I returned to get my pups, I was horrified by their condition. They were filthy and they smelled. Worse of all, Moki was so matted that I knew a shaving was the only option. 

When I called my groomer, he made space and rushed them in (grooming emergency!). He was able to leave about a one inch coat on both of my boys, save the length on the ear and around the muzzle. Both dogs came home clean and very cute. And although Moki no longer has his shaggy sheepdog look, it will grow and it still looks cute. 

My advice is for folks to interview groomers. Check references and make sure the groomer understands doodles and their differing coats. 

Brian’s Perspective

I have a 6 month old Bernedoodle, Noel and she has been to the groomers 3 times so far and each time has been better than before. The idea was from an [article] of yours to get my doodle used to be grooming. My wife’s personal time with Noel is daily grooming with the brush and she loves it. I guess that I have a great groomer and a special doodle.

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Barbara’s Perspective

I would recommend that we get face to face with the groomer so that we first, observe that they do not have horns, split tongues and barbed tails and allow them to observe us in the same light.

We just went through the ‘he’s really matted so I can’t just trim him, or, I could brush them all out, but it will be 3 more hours and an added $60’ conversation yesterday. I told her to brush him. She was stunned.

I told her I was very frustrated with her report because we have been combing and brushing Murphy (golden doodle) every day. Rather than just dismissing my comment, she asked me to bring all the grooming gear in when we picked him up. She verified that the comb and brush are the right type and that our technique was correct. Murphy is a shaggy but also  dry curly dood. Maybe I can’t keep his coat as long as I want it to be? We will see.

Loretta’s Perspective

I have no issues with my groomer. She has taken care of a wide variety of dogs I have had for the last 19 years. I worry when she retires. If you don’t like the way your dog is groomed get referrals and try someone new.

Sheila’s Perspective

I’ve always had great luck with my groomers.  Ozzy is a goldendoodle who always gets a great haircut when I take him to the groomer.

I’m very clear about what I want, but I also realize that if the coat of my doodle is matted, things may not work out exactly as I was envisioning.

Ultimately, I have never been disappointed when I pick Ozzy up from a day at the spa! 

…I feel the most important thing is that I’m reasonable with my expectations and that Ozzy is comfortable with his grooming.  In the summer we do go a bit shorter because he loves to swim and it is easier for him to dry off with a shorter coat.

Candace’s Perspective

Brushing/combing daily has always worked for me and none of my dogs ever needed shaving.  You have to do it daily from the very first day you get a puppy. 

I’ve had the same groomer for 30 years, she always shows me where she had to shave other doodles and the hair comes off in one piece because it’s matted down to the skin.  It’s got to be painful for the dog to be matted that badly.  If someone doesn’t have time to do it daily, they can expect shaving, I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.  Although, I’ve heard groomer horror stories from friends and family, I’m just lucky I guess to have such a great groomer.  She appreciates that I do it daily and I pay 30% less because of it. $80 for a bath and groom for my 80-lb. dog.

Doodle Owners Who Are Frustrated With Groomers

Jeff’s Perspective

Two salient points emerge from my perspective:

1) the comb test – that test will NEVER pass on 80% of doodles, because they have thick, curly hair at even a medium length, even if they are perfectly groomed and brushed at home

2) the way groomers unanimously say they “need” to shave a dog. They don’t “need” to do anything, they can and should make the wiser choice to leave a dog they consider matted alone! Don’t cut the dog’s hair at all if there is any doubt as to what the customers (dog and owner) desires.

I continue to be of the opinion that groomers are unqualified to make health decisions about dogs, and generally have a negative view of dog owners. The bottom line is, do not trust groomers to do anything more than bathe your dog and check his nails and ears. Also, most of the advice you will get from groomers is simply incorrect.

Sandra’s Perspective

I think Jeff is entirely correct! When groomers have told me they had to shave my Goldendoodle and did so, it was a disaster! … My take is groomers work like machines and don’t take the time to deal with any mats and I mean any, they just want your money and love to admonish you regarding your care of your pet.

…It’s high time we stop overusing the word professional in so much of our vernacular, because it means very little more than half of the time. I am a professional dog owner who is tired of the litany espoused by most of the dog groomers I’ve come across and I’m fed up with their preaching that I don’t do enough to keep my dog free of mats. I have a well trained, fun-loving companion, who sometimes may look a bit like Einstein’s famous coif, but he is a bright and happy dog!!!

Way to go Jeff…I’m in your camp.

Leigh’s Perspective

Hello! We have a mini bernedoodle who will be turning 1 on 1/13. To be honest, we were so frustrated with our groomer, I decided to start grooming Lucy ourselves! It started with telling us she had matting, even though we had brushed and combed her almost every day. I chalked it up to, “Maybe I missed something?”. Each time, even though we asked them to leave some of her length, she came home shaved. The final straw was when the groomer claimed Lucy was too unruly for her to trim her nails. When we got her home, she was, yet again, shaved, but this time had multiple cuts and nicks under her front legs (sort of the armpit area) and was TERRIFIED of us messing with her paws.

I wrote a review/email privately to the owner of the grooming business and asked her for a different groomer. Her response was to have that same groomer call me and leave a snarky message.

This is a dog who loves EVERYONE. She’s energetic, but not uncontrollable. Until we had her groomed, she allowed us to mess with her face, her paws, brush her all over, even clip her nails. Now we have to put her in one of those hammocks to even get close to her nails. We have no issues with matting, not even between her toes and underarm areas. So I feel we were being taken advantage of and worry we will receive the same treatment anywhere else. This is why I’m now exploring grooming her myself. I won’t be out $150 every 8 weeks and won’t worry about her getting hurt!

Lynda’s Perspective

I soooo agree with Jeff. Sandra and Leigh! I, for awhile thought I was alone in thinking I’d done a good job on Autumn when I hadn’t. I always line brushed her completely out (took about 45 min) just before putting her in the car to ride literally 5 min or less to the groomer. I was always told she was matted: “see I can’t get a comb through her!” Of course the comb sticks….she’s extremely curly! She has a Poodle coat! Funny, I can get a comb through her! Last straw was when they razor burned her so badly I had to contact the vet. Skin burned, vulva area swollen and the worst of it is a dog that used to love her grooming table hates it now. She’s good once I get her up there and let’s me groom her but she’s not happy with it.

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Robin’s Perspective

I agree with the people that have had issues with their groomers. I have been to 2 groomers and eventually Dood was so traumatized that he wouldn’t go through their front door. I have decided to groom him myself. He is 88lbs and not very many groomers want to do the big dogs. I spend a lot of time brushing and combing him and he loves the attention so I’m sure with some practice I will be able to trim his coat without stressing him out. It was heartbreaking how scared he became of the groomers.

Gena’s Perspective

This is such great information as I have a Sheepadoodle and have also had horrible experiences with so called “Doodle” groomer experts. 

My beautiful pup Pepper was so unrecognizable after one groomer shaved down like a rug that I nearly fell on the floor. The groomer has so how spiked her hair on the top of her head and tail as if she were a punk rocker. Then stated the I wasn’t doing a good job brushing here which was a lie and insulting.

I have sinse commenced in doing it myself with grooming table and necessary tools. I even bought bows and perfume to enhance her grooming experience.

This website has kept me from losing my temper as I clearly wanted to after the last stint from this well sought after dog grooming service in my neighborhood.

Doodles don’t need to be shaved, they need patience!

June’s Perspective

My groomer accuses me for not brushing my goldendoodle, and prices keep growing constantly, She has also yelled at me when I bring up a cut on Gunners body or I notice her rear legs and butt area was left long. I’m ready to look for another groomer.

Patricia’s Perspective

I would like all groomers to know, This is MY first doodle…I am Afraid to bring my dood in for grooming! I don’t want them to dislike doods before they even know mine. 

…I am afraid you will just want to show him who is boss and shave/ cut him down

Judy’s Perspective

I too have had a horrible time with the groomer we have used for the last 2.5 years.  Never had an issue with them until one time I picked her up and noticed that her ears were very loop sided! I questioned them and they then proceeded to tell me that my dog is aggressive. Huh, I have been going there for this long and they have never brought this to my attention? 

We did reach out to our vet about this and they suggested to condition her with help of  a trainer. Sadie is nervous dog. They continued to groom her for 6 months after until I went to get her and they advised me that she bit the groomer and they will no longer see her. I do appreciate that these other dog owners have similar issues . 

Cathy’s Perspective

I have a 1 year old sheepadoodle. Millie loves everybody and is a well disciplined dog, even the groomers love her. I use a detangler spray when I comb her at home. I have tried several groomers in the past year. My opinion is that they don’t want to take the time or put forth the effort to groom her properly, which I don’t understand since her grooming bill is around $150, every 8 weeks. A good conditioner is all it takes with her bath.

Different groomers have shaved her three times. This is unacceptable to me and hopefully will never happen again. After each shave, the hair curled easier and faster and also matted faster. The groomers are not all bad, I’m sure, but they sure are getting younger and younger. There are no doodle only groomers near us.  This business is growing, hopefully someone will soon realize that owners will pay for a good job with our doodles. Most groomers will not just bathe your dog, I don’t understand that but it’s true.

Sam’s Perspective

I don’t have a doodle I do however have a seven month old Irish wolfhound. And omg Poppin can get so matted. I’m like Jeff and Leigh I was snorted off to by a groomer who shaved the poor thing as a poodle yup lion cut I believe it’s called. The weather outside was 6*. Poppin weighs in at 79 pounds and is as tall as I am 5’9”.

Like Leigh’s Lucy, Poppin hadn’t learned there were bad people until petsmart groomer got to her. I’m very out spoken and honest. And very angry when you harm any animal especially one of me own. So I got the store manager there. My request was bath. Nails. PERIOD.  75$ quoted and written bill. I received a 195$ bill I refused to pay as her inner ears were bleeding by slits from whatever they used on her. Nails UNDONE. Which she allows me to do.

Just wanted my baby to have a spa day for a special treat and get used to being handled by a groomer. HA never again. Poor thing won’t walk into that store again… 200$ and a harmed pup is outrageous. Poppin won’t be returning for any spa days … we do our nails at home and groom ourselves at home. 

I’m not against a groomer who is an actual professional. As Leigh said I’m an actual 40 year professional giant dog and Irish wolfhound mum.

Don’t forget: add your constructive perspective in the comments – Doodle owners and groomers alike are invited to join in on this conversation.

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One thought on “Doodle Owners Reveal How They Feel About Groomers

Ella Reply

As a doodle owner AND a groomer, I have to say that I strongly disagree with Jeff, Lynda, and Sandra on this topic. My doodle Koda (an f1b aussiedoodle) has the coat of a poodle—so I understand where it’s frustrating when groomers use the “comb test” to show evidence of matting. However, to say that the customer is always right when it comes to the welfare of your dog is genuinely concerning–especially when it comes to vanity over humanity. I personally groom on a one-on-one basis, as to dedicate as much time as possible needed for the safest, most comfortable groom for the DOG. Even if it means coming back a different time to finish up a session, the dog itself should always be the first priority.
I’m not saying I have any qualifications as a “groomer”—I’m a 15-year-old saving up the money to go to vet school and get a certification in animal husbandry and grooming. That being said, a groomer’s job is to make sure clients not only have a healthy skin and coat, but to report anything of interest (i.e. external parasites, lumps, odd behavior, etc.) to the owner that may be of veterinary concern. There have been many times that I have CHOSEN to shave my own dog down—not because of a mat or tangle here and there (although that has popped up from time to time when mud season hits), but because I know that I simply don’t have the time to brush him every day. As long as you are brushing (not just the top coat, mind you!) the longer areas, a good groomer has no reason to shave!
That being said, remember that it’s okay if you can’t keep up with your dog’s brushing from time to time. Even poodle owners struggle from time to time—heck, that’s why shaved faces, feet, and tails are among the most common trims in curly/wavy longhaired dogs. Even then, it will all grow back in 4-8 weeks depending on your dog’s coat type. If you are really displeased with a groomer, please, don’t turn off grooming for good. Unless they injured your dog through genuine carelessness, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. But instead of simply holding it in, tell them (albeit courteously) how you feel. Most of us are people who genuinely care about dogs and want to improve. I hope you everyone is able to find groomers who fit them, or at least educate yourselves and take up home grooming. After all, doodles are beautiful and amazing dogs who deserve to feel as such.

September 11, 2023 at 1:38 pm

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