Veteran groomer Ben Thorpe is the co-founder of Brighton’s Bone Idol salon. With a passion for breed standard grooms, Ben has made his 14-year career a lesson in creating high-end grooms, which define and surpass traditional looks.

An interest in the history of the poodle breed has seen the master groomer craft out an expertise in the fabulous and flamboyant style the breed is known for.

Recently, Ben brought home a poodle of his own, 14 week old Arnold, who has already enjoyed his first ‘puppy pants’ grooming sessions from his doting dad.  

Here, Ben explains why he loves breed standard work so much, and why the origins of the poodle groom might not be what you think…

“I really love breed standard work, that real art of getting the dog to look as close to the breed standard as it can. I have been grooming for 14 years and it is the part that I enjoy the most.

“The poodle when they are properly clipped, and the schnauzer with their eyebrows looking correct, for me the enjoyment comes from seeing a dog at Crufts, and then coming back to the salon and making the dogs we see look the same way.

“At the salon we can refine our techniques and skills, such as putting the flat work in with a shorter blade to make it look hand stripped, or getting a pom-pom just right on a poodle, that is really lovely work to do.

“I am fascinated by the history of dog breeds, and where their standard cuts come from, particularly the poodle.

“Nowadays their cuts are seen in popular culture as flamboyant, but there is a reason that the standard groom is that way.

“Poodles were working water dogs, and their owners gave them a version of the standard grooms we see today to protect the joints, but also remove any unnecessary hair so as not to weigh them down.

“I recently got Arnold and so far he’s had three haircuts and a maintenance bath once a week. 

“We are going to show him so he will be having the traditional breed standard groom with all the poms-poms, hopefully he will make his ancestors proud!” 

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