Grooming contests have evolved over the years, with
competitors better prepared before stepping into the
ring, according to Leady.
“In my opinion, the tools out there today help stylists
improve their craft,” she said. “The grooming is stronger
inside the ring.”
With groomers more prepared and armed with better
tools, the competitive atmosphere has heightened, Paw-
“Contests have definitely become more mainstream,”
Breen said. “It’s a little more formalized, but we are also
receiving more recognition, money and prestige. It’s
great for the industry.”
Pawlosky noted that competitions have led to a high-
er skill level within the grooming industry.
“People see pictures in the magazines and aspire to
that level of expertise,” she said.
REACHING FOR THE TOP
Beyond grooming expertise, reaching the top of the
grooming contest game requires preparation. This
groundwork includes obtaining the right dogs for competition—a cornerstone to a winning outcome.
“I think the most difficult component to open level
competition is lining up dogs to borrow for the con-
tests,” Breen said. “It is important to be in contact with
other competitors, breeders or dog show handlers when
searching for the perfect dog.”
Further, with competitions scheduled close together,
the right canine string with optimal coat growth and oth-
er competitive attributes becomes even more important,
An ongoing commitment to caring for and maintaining an animal’s coat is crucial, Pawlosky said.
“A lot of these dogs have to be bathed and brushed
out every single week,” she said. “If that is neglected and
they get tangled up, for instance, you’ll actually lose hair
and then the dog is not in optimal condition. So, it is a
weekly commitment until you go to the show.”
Nutrition also plays a role in keeping a coat healthy.
“If a dog ends up with a sore spot, resulting in the
need to go to the vet to have an area shaved, that can
keep them out of the competition for six or eight months
until it grows back,” Breen said.
Training and socialization are essential attributes,
and a dog accustomed to the commotion of a show environment along with standing on a grooming table for
several hours at a time will enhance the competitive experience, Breen said.
“Dog show environments and that of grooming
competitions are similar,” Breen added. “So, if you
are borrowing show dogs, a lot of these qualities are
Breen noted that a broad understanding of grooming
techniques and tricks contribute to a win.
“You train your eye,” she said. “Every groom is dif-
ferent—it’s important to be flexible and adaptive.”
Further, good sportsmanship and a willingness to
help fellow competitors are characteristics common in
top competitors, she added.
“Being a winner doesn’t always come with a ribbon,
no matter the competition,” Leady said. “Winning comes
However, dedication and passion form the founda-
tion of every triumph, and these idiosyncrasies are not
confined to the day of the event, according to Breen.
“We basically eat, sleep and breathe dog hair,” she
said. “If not actively competing, we are looking at
pictures and analyzing other people’s work.” •
IPG ROLLS OUT A NEW PROGRAM TO
ASSIST INTERNATIONAL STYLISTS.
Among the leading benefits for many buyers attending SuperZoo is the opportunity to connect with exhibitors hailing from around the
globe and browse the myriad products and services
these vendors offer.
Jim Warner, executive director of Salem, Ore.-based
International Professional Groomers (IPG) (booth 209),
said he has been looking forward to meeting with
several of the international affiliates that represent a
portion of the 26 countries in which IPG has certified
“There’s been an international rollout since the last
SuperZoo of our professional groomer certification,”
Warner said. “Now in Singapore, Malaysia, Central and
South America, and Europe, this program was created in
answer to the safety needs of the grooming profession.
It meets or exceeds all standards developed by the
Professional Pet Groomers;and;Stylists Alliance (PPGSA)
and is now available around the world.”
The Maverick System of groomer and pet
professional success coaching is also launching at the
“This is a complete system of marketing,
management and small business success skills to help
groomers, pet day spas, doggie day care and small pet
business owners realize the success that they deserve,”
Warner said. “We look forward to reaching out to even
more international-based groomers that want to become
a part of the movement for even safer grooming.”
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