EGG Challenge is Tops

Louisa Tandy, secretary of EGG gives an overview of the highlights of the two day challenge

With over 100 dogs competing over the two days, it is safe to say that the English Groomers Challenge is as popular as ever.  The White Oak Leisure centre in Swanley , Kent is the home of the Challenge and Saturday saw the Champions Class, the Juniors class and the introduction of  three Creative classes take place. 

Champions-after01The Champions Class was won by Denise Westbrook who was awarded with a total of £1000 generously donated by Simpsons, this class allows previous Challenge winners as well as other groomers who are normally excluded from entering the Challenge to compete. We were very grateful to Peter Ensell and Colin Taylor for judging this class along with the Juniors.

Sian Beddoe from Aspera won the Juniors section, sponsored by Dee4Dogs and the Creative stylist of the Year was awarded to Tanya Stevens for her wonderful flowerbox design which was expertly judged by Su Eld Weaver. The Creative Class was split into two levels, Novice and Open this allowed competitors who had not been previously placed in a creative class to compete against others of the same level.

We also introduced the Abstract Runway Class where the style is more patterns with little or no colour. The dogs are groomed prior to the day and the finished dog is judged on the day. This is ideal for those who like to groom creatively without the extreme colour that is normally seen in the creative classes.

We also introduced a series of micro seminars, these lasted about 20-30 minutes long and concentrated on specific areas of grooming including the Westie head, how to trim the perfect cocker foot, how to bandage a paw, angulation, Schnauzer head as well as the QA standards amongst many others.

Sunday saw the Challenge take place, sponsored by Groomers, Redcape and The Pet Spa Training Academy.  Our judges, Peter Ensell, Eve Somers, Sara Hussein and Dione Spice had the difficult task of choosing a winner.  The standard was exceptionally high this year across all three levels.  However our judges awarded the English Groomers Challenge to Amanda Marshall with her Handstrip Fox Terrier. Congratulations Amanda!Best-in-show-02

We would like to thank all our sponsors for their generosity.  The Challenge could not take place without these companies

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of The English Groomers Challenge.  Plans are already well under way to make this our best yet so keep the 14th June 2015 free in your diary


Champions Class 2014 Sponsored by Simpsons of Langley

Judges Colin Taylor and Peter Ensell

First Denise Westbrook Poodle
Second Heidi Anderton poodle
Third Julie Lalou Simpson cross breed

Juniors class      Judges Colin Taylor and Peter Ensell sponsored by Dee 4 Dogs

Sian Beddoe Min schnauzer

Creative Stylist of the year:  Novice sponsored by The Brighton Pet Spa & Louisa’s Grooming Salon

Judge Su Eld-Weaver

First Vikki Pearman Wild West
Second Daniela Forshaw Venice
Third Denise Clare Masquerade

Creative Stylist of the year:  Experienced sponsored by The Brighton Pet Spa & Louisa’s Grooming Salon

Judge Su Eld-Weaver

First Tanya Stevens Window Box
Second Wayne Robey Wizard of Oz
Third Lorraine Brackley Music and Romance

Abstract Runway sponsored by The Brighton Pet Spa & Louisa’s Grooming Salon

Judge Su Eld-Weaver

First Ellie-Jo Lodge bulldog cross
Second Wayne Roby poodle
Third Tanya Stevens poodle




Newcomer sponsored by The Pet Spa Training Academy 1st 2nd 3rd
Scissor Molly Norman poodle Ria Winstanley bichon Christina West poodle
Real Life Tim Dodson bichon x Sammy Russell cross breed Patricia Tilley shih tzu
Clip Katie Kimberley Wire fox Amy Higgs Min Schn Christina West Cocker
Hand strip Fiona Durdy border terrier Daisy Tomlie springer
Experienced sponsored by Redcape
Scissor Brenda Furlong poodle Angela Flowers poodle Dana Grant poodle
Real Life Wayne Roby poodle x Emma George poodle x Coral Taylor Labradoodle
Clip Amanda MacRaild scottie Denise McGlennon wire fox Wayne Roby Airedale
Hand Strip Amanda Marshall Wire Fox Angela Flowers Welsh Terrier Karen Hobson Irish Terrier
Advanced sponsored by Groomers
Scissor Jessica Walker Soft Coated Wheaton Tiffany Jennings Poodle Joanne Beddoe poodle
Real Life Lorraine Brackley cross breed Steven Gorman cross breed Rachel Hart shih tzu
Clip Joanne Beddoe airedale Debbie Aylmer cocker Rachel Hart min schnauzer
Hand strip Klaudia Szonyi scottie Lesley Harpham norfolk Andrew Carr cocker

Judge : Dione Spice

Best Preparation sponsored by Look North Tim Dodson Bichon x
Biggest Transformation sponsored by Aspera Tiffany Jennings poodle
Best Handling sponsored by Groom Team England Sian Beddoe min schnauzer
Best Technique sponsored by The Brighton Pet spa Gemma Guile cross breed
Best Finish sponsored by Groom Dog City Steven Gorman cross breed
Great Expectation sponsored by Dogs DelightSpecial Award sponsored by EGG Molly Norman poodleAdrian Long Bouvier


BEST NEWCOMER sponsored by The Pet Spa Training Academy Molly Norman Poodle
BEST EXPERIENCED sponsored by Redcape Amanda Marshall Wire Fox
BEST ADVANCED sponsored by Groomers Klaudia Szonyi  Scottie
BEST IN SHOW 2014 sponsored by Groomers Amanda Marshall Wire fox


The Pet Groomers – where Quality is Assured

The Pet Groomers has become the first groomer in Kent to achieve the new Quality Assurance Standard for Groomers. Designed to help cat and dog owners find a reputable groomer, the Quality Assurance Standard was launched by the Pet Industry Federation in 2013, in association with Dogs Trust and PDSA. The Pet Groomers has now been officially awarded its certification.

PIF QAQuality Assured Groomers have to pass a rigorous inspection and testing process to ensure their knowledge, health and safety procedures, business practices and animal welfare policies are up to scratch. Participating businesses are also given a star rating, which is based on the qualifications and experience of the staff.

‘Grooming is unregulated, which means that anyone can set up in business, no matter what their qualifications or experience,’ said Nigel Baker, Chief Executive of the Pet Industry Federation. ‘Sadly, there have been incidents of injuries to animals – or worse – in grooming salons. Whilst these incidents are few and far between, the general public may not know where to turn to find a groomer they can trust. Specialists from national charities Dogs Trust and PDSA and the British Dog Grooming Association have launched this scheme to provide peace of mind. Quality Assured Groomers have demonstrated that they operate to best practice guidelines and put animal welfare first.’

‘We are delighted that Sue Birley, who runs The Pet Groomers, has had the courage and enthusiasm to take on the challenge of achieving the Quality Assurance Standard,’ said Nigel. ‘Our inspectors were impressed with the salon and, due to the qualifications of their staff, The Pet Groomers receives the top star rating. I am sure this will be of particular interest to pet owners in the Kent area.’

Sue Birley Says:

I run a small business in West Kingsdown, a pet grooming business. I recently under went a test and audit carried out by the PIF and was awarded the highest star rating possible, 4 stars. Not only was I the first in Kent to achieve such an award, I was told at the time of the audit that I was also one of the first in the country to do so.

A little background on The Pet Groomers... I was made redundant from a medium sized local housing association as Performance Manager in March 2011. I had been dog grooming as a hobby for five years up until then. About six months before the redundancy I had an inkling my team were going to get 'the chop' as part of the Association's reaction to the Government's cut backs on social housing.

Not deterred, I decided to take the impending unemployment situation as a chance to have a complete change of career. I had already completed all my training as a dog groomer at Hadlow College, achieving the City and Guilds Level 3 in Professional Dog Styling in 2010. I put  my redundancy money towards purchasing my salon, in West Kingsdown, in July 2011. I am very proud that I now employ two full time groomers and one part timer. To have all my efforts recognised by the PIF is icing on the cake and an award that I and my staff are extremely proud of.

Furst Class Lounge brings the wow factor into grooming

Reception desk and Boutique
Reception desk and Boutique

Groomers Martin Mawson and Lee Hollingsworth have taken canine chic to a whole new level with the opening of their new salon. Never mind the X factor this really is the wow factor!

Reception desk from other side
Reception desk from other side

To create a lifestyle for fabulous dogs has always been Martin and Lee’s vision from the outset when they first set up Furst Class Lounge in 2010 in their garage. Although small, it was perfectly formed and Martin and Lee’s talent to create something special was clearly evident. Nearly four years on and through sheer hard work and dedication they have fulfilled their dream and feel that the new Furst Class Lounge finally reflects what they want to do. It would be fair to say it has not all been plain sailing. To start with they had to find the right premises that would provide the space they were after and the parking. Finally, through a lead from one of their customers, they found a new build light industrial unit at the planning stages. They then had to apply for change of use, which took a frustrating eight weeks to come through. Then came the daunting prospect of

Creative displays of coats, collars and leads
Creative displays of coats, collars and leads

working with a completely blank canvas and making decisions on the fundamentals such as where the water supply should come in and where all the electrics should go. Eighteen months down the line and with the help of local husband and wife designers Nemus who converted Martin and Lee’s ‘back of a fag packet design’ they have produced something truly inspirational. “The designers were quick to grasp our brief,” says Lee. “They understood just the kind of thing we wanted and they have helped by adding their own creative input into things like the display systems.” “We wanted to create something beautiful and something customers really want,” adds Martin. “From our flying jobs with BA we know what people aspire too and that’s what we wanted to reflect.” Martin and Lee also consulted PIF and Heavenlyz for advice to help make sure they got everything right, especially on the health and safety front. First impressions as you walk through the door are of a luxury hotel reception combined with an uber-chic and trendy London boutique.

The top-end and innovative products are displayed to their best advantage in eye- catching ways, which invite customers to browse. A seating and coffee-making area means people can relax while they wait for their dogs to be groomed in the adjoining salon. It also gives Martin and Lee the chance to sit down and discuss any issues concerning clients’ dogs in a more informal way.

Looking down from the mezzanine
Looking down from the mezzanine

The grooming salon itself is equally inspiring with a central work hub and workstations radiating from it. A separate bathing room with different bathing systems caters for all types and ages of dog from puppies to the infirm. With its exposed heating and lighting system and polished concrete floor it represents cutting edge modern interior design yet it is dog friendly and functional with its easy-clean floor and white walls that reflect the light and a ventilation system to ensure the temperature is always right for the dogs. In addition to the boutique and the salon they have also created a mezzanine floor, which contains a kitchen and an ideal

L - R, Rebecca, Martin and Lee Woring around the Central hub
L - R, Rebecca, Martin and Lee Woring around the Central hub

space for demonstrations, seminars and training days. “We are slap bang in the middle of the country so ideally situated for many groomers,” says Lee. “In the future we aim to hold some events for fellow groomers to network with other groomers and learn from some of the best groomers in the country.” Martin and Lee may have taken grooming to another level in the design of their new salon but their ethos remains exactly the same which is to encourage responsible pet ownership through working in partnership with their clients. Their experience at BA has made them experts in customer service and they recognise that each owner thinks their dog is the most important so they devote as much time to the owners as they do to their dogs. This gives them the opportunity to educate owners about looking after their dogs’ coats between grooms. They remain as passionate as ever about grooming and strive to make sure they are delivering the best possible service they can, fitting in extra specialist training days and working towards their diplomas. They have also taken on an extra member of staff, Rebecca, who does the bathing and prep work,

The Boutique
The Boutique

allowing Martin and Lee to concentrate on the grooming. Despite their hectic schedules they have created a relaxed and happy ambience throughout, helped by aromatherapy oils or incense. “We like to use aromatherapy ourselves and I am sure it helps relax the dogs,” says Martin. In a short time Martin and Lee have created a very successful and unique business but more than that, they have taken professional dog grooming to an aspirational level. Anyone thinking of going into the grooming industry would be well-advised to go and visit to see their stunning new salon

Chips Ahoy By Sue Corfield

Following the announcement of new legislation requiring all dogs to be microchipped, more dogs than ever before are being implanted. This could offer an opportunity for dog groomers keen to develop a new income stream.

For, although many people have their dog microchipped by their veterinary surgeon, the procedure is relatively simple and does not require a veterinary professional to inject the chip.

Earlier this year, as the prelude to the introduction of new legislation being introduced in 2016, Government Ministers announced that dog owners will face fines of up to £500 if they don’t get puppies and dogs microchipped.

This has generated an increase in the number of dogs being microchipped. In fact it is estimated that microchipping figures have rocketed to around 8,000 new registrations each week.*

Because it is classed as an invasive procedure, all professionals  need to demonstrate a level of competence before they can offer a service to pet owners. Microchip companies provide training along with the necessary tools of the trade – scanner, microchips, implanter syringes or guns with needle screws and full promotional material – as well as organisations such as PIF and Heavenlyz.

On average, training takes around an hour or two depending on the competence of the groomer.  Most microchip companies will visit groomers at their premises to conduct the training, making it an easy step to take. There are also courses available at some colleges.

Microchipping facts:

Why microchip

It is commonly agreed that the best chance of finding a lost dog is through a microchip.

What is a microchip?

It is a small electronic device about the size of a grain of rice that is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner that energises the microchip using a radio signal.

The process: most pets are microchipped at the time of their first vaccination at about eight weeks of age.

It is a simple and relatively painless process that involves a tiny chip being inserted by a fine needle usually into the skin around the neck area usually between the shoulder blades.
A unique number is provided to the pet owner together with a registration form which they have to complete and forward to the microchip providers who keep their own database. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to keep the information up-to-date with any changes of address or ownership details.

In the event of the pet going missing and subsequently found, a scan is conducted and the unique number is searched for on the database until the pet’s details are found and then the owner can be contacted and reunited with their pet.

Vanessa Cunningham scanning Wood Green rescue dog, Tilly

As it is not a surgical procedure, any person may implant the chip providing they have been properly trained and proven to be competent. Although veterinary practitioners commonly conduct the procedure, many rehoming charities also microchip and now pet retailers and dog groomers are also conducting the procedure.

Costs to pet owners vary, depending on who implants the chip, but are generally in the region of £10-£25.

So, are microchips a sure-fast method of recording a pet’s details?

Very few adverse reactions have been reported. On occasions a microchip may move or migrate around the pet. Even if this occurs, it won’t affect the functioning of the chip. Even rarer will this affect the welfare of the dog and the number that fail to work is very small indeed.

Richard Cratchley, sales manager of Avid plc - producers of microchips and managers of the PETtrac UK database - says it is the best form of identification.

There are several different suppliers of microchips and four national databases which log the pets’ details. Richard explains: “Although we compete with each other on the chip sales, we all co-operate with each other in terms of the databases. As a result, it doesn’t matter which chip provider is contacted in the event of a pet going missing, we all pull together and put the owner in contact with the correct database.”

Most of the leading microchip producers and database operators conduct training on this basis.  Many groomers offer microchipping services and believe success as an income stream is based on the amount of competition in the local area.

Chelmsford based, Pooches Grooming Parlour invested £350 in training and products three years ago and have been reasonably satisfied with their investment. Eve Cook said: “We get a steady number of requests for microchipping. Unfortunately, we have a lot of competition around us from vets and pet retailers who are able to under-cut us. It is basically ‘another string to our bow.’ It would definitely be worthwhile for groomers who operate in areas with less competition.”

Thanks to their microchips, many dogs have been reunited with their owners after having been missing for many years.  Last year Poppy, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was found by a dog warden service approximately 30 miles from her original home after being missing for eight years. The circumstances leading up to Poppy’s disappearance led her owner, Claire Hackett to believe that her lovely dog had been stolen: Poppy had been happily playing in their secure back garden, but when Claire returned just a short while later she found a fence panel had been removed and her dog was missing.

After almost a decade without their dog, many people would have given up hope of ever finding them. But Claire always felt she would one day be reunited with Poppy and her optimism was rewarded when she received the call she had longed for.

Dog warden, Nigel Stephens was called out to a busy by-pass by a member of the public who had found Poppy at the side of the road. When collecting the dog he scanned her as a matter of course and was pleased to discover she was microchipped and could be returned to her delighted owner Claire.

Useful contact information:

Four current databases for microchips implanted in dogs in the UK:

Petlog – 0844 4633 999.

PETrac – 0800 652 9977.

Anibase – 01904 487600.

Pet Protect – 0800 587 0660.

* From UK’s Microchipping Alliance.

Learning some new tricks of the trade

Lois Dalton describes her training days with Groom Team England and what the Aesculap scholarship scheme means to her

Part of the winning package for an Aesculap scholar is the chance to take up two days free training with a Groom Team England (GTE)committee member’s training school. Lois Dalton, the youngest scholar at 19 opted to spend her days with Peter and Becki Ensell and Jitka Krisova.

‘Winning the scholarship has enabled me to fulfil a life-long dream to run my own business. Before I won the scholarship I had even considered giving grooming up. But the prize of grooming equipment, the training and the Aesculap clippers has given me that opportunity,” says Lois. “The range of products, the discount vouchers and the kit bag, which everyone is envious of is amazing – I’m so grateful, “ says Lois. “Being short-listed for the scholarship was brilliant but then to be chosen was amazing – it really is the best thing that has ever happened to me!”

At Peter and Becki Ensell’s she did a clipped Fox Terrier and a scissored Kerry Blue. Lois explains: “I worked with Becki on the Fox Terrier and she gave me some breed specific tips to help the dog’s conformation, for instance how to clip with a longer blade to make the neck look wider, which made the dog appear shorter in the back. Peter showed me a technique for trimming round the ears to get a closer finish on the Kerry Blue, which I would never have had the confidence to do and how to use different types of scissor such as thinning scissors on heads and faces to help the coat blend in better. They also advised me on where I could get away with clipping and where to scissor. These will be an invaluable time-saving tips for running my own business.”

“At Jitka’s I had the chance to handstrip two Westies. I’ve never done this before so it was like starting from scratch. Jitka showed me how to improve the top line by leaving the coat in the middle part of the back a bit longer so the back looked straighter. In fact Jitka has offered me the dog to use at competitions if I’d like to! I’ve got a Cocker Spaniel at home – Baker who’s five months old - which I’m hoping to take to competitions. Jitka’s advised me which parts to clip and which parts to handstrip and also gave me some competition advice which was to take my dog to as many competitions as possible to get him used to the atmosphere.”

Jitka, Peter and Becki were all impressed with Lois’ work, her enthusiasm and her ability to absorb information. In fact, Jitka thinks Lois could be a star in the making. She commented: “It’s unusual to see someone so young so talented and the finished result on the Westie was brilliant!”

Lois officially started trading in her own business – Vanity Furr – on August 9th. She can be contacted on 07931 654456.

Judges announced for British Dog Grooming Championship

Further plans for the British Dog Grooming Championship 2013 have been announced by the British Dog Groomers’ Association.

Taking place on Sunday 6 October at Bingley Hall, Staffordshire Showground, alongside a new and exciting family dog day, ‘Paws at Bingley’, the Championship is designed to attract groomers of all abilities to test their skills in the UK’s longest running grooming contest.

A number of new and exciting features of the competition are on offer this year, including:

  • Total prize fund of £4000, including £1500 for the Groomer of the Year
  • PIF Accredited Training School Team of the Year
  • Young Groomer of the Year
  • Opportunity to go to Intergroom USA
  • Salon skills class
  • Cordless clipper prizes for student and newcomer competitors (courtesy of Oster)

The British Dog Grooming Association (BDGA) is delighted to announce that this year’s judges will be:

  • Marlene Carter - Poodle classes

Marlene is a top breeder and international championship judge of Standard Poodles. Under the kennel name ‘Somanic’, Marlene is highly regarded for her show poodles both in the UK and overseas; she also holds the City & Guilds 7750 qualification in dog grooming.

  • Alison Rogers LCGI- Mixed and others

Twice Groomer of the Year and a member of the Guild of Master Groomers, Alison is one of the most well-known and respected dog groomers in the UK today. Alison is a previous winner of the Professional Groomers’ Championship and recently won the Liz Paul Achievement Award at Mastergroom. She has received the further accolade of being nominated for USA Cardinal Crystal Award for international groomer of the year. Alison is also one of the founder members of Groomteam England. Her salon, Pretty Paws grooming and training centre in Huddersfield, is a PIF Training School. She also breeds and shows bichons (Alizo) after many years showing other breeds.

  • Magali Delaye – Terrier Classes

Our international judge, Magali Delaye, hails from France and is an international grooming champion and judge, having competed in and won many European grooming tournaments. She also breeds fox terriers, Airedale terriers, West Highland white terriers and Cairn terriers, and runs her own grooming school.

  • Kelly Davies LCGI – Juniors

Kelly began grooming in 2002, having picked up the grooming bug during a work experience placement, and rose through the ranks to gain her Higher Diploma in Dog Grooming, a teaching qualification and her LCGI. She is also a member of the Guild of Master Groomers and has recently gained her Assessors’ Award.  The proud owner of KD Grooming Studio, Kelly is a PIF Premier Training School and is passionate about teaching, committed to constantly improving her own skills and raising standards in the industry.

New Classes

A new feature of this year’s competition is the Pot Pourri Clip & Scissor class, enabling groomers to show off their salon skills on a variety of breeds and cross-breeds using clippers and scissors, and will include fusion grooming. Heidi Anderton, Director of the British Dog Groomers’ Association explained: ‘We believe this new class will be extremely popular, allowing all-round groomers to let their salon work shine. Whilst the class won’t count towards Groomer of the Year, I’d encourage all groomers, especially those who are new to the competition world, to come along and have a go!’

A trip of a lifetime beckons….

To add even more excitement to the competition this year, two PIF members will have the chance to win a trip to the USA.  We’ll send the highest placed member of the BDGA from this year’s competition and an individual from a randomly selected Pet Industry Federation Accredited Training School to compete in the International Groomer of the Year competition at Intergroom 2014 in the United States.

Professional Groomer Entry

If you’re not competing all day, there will be plenty to keep you occupied. Bingley Hall will also play host to a fantastic new family dog day, ‘Paws at Bingley’, sponsored by Company of Animals and PetHead, with dog displays, a trade exhibition and a Companion Dog Show taking place alongside the grooming competition throughout the day. There will also be a range of professional grooming seminars to keep your grooming practice up to date, with morning and afternoon practical sessions on City & Guilds level 3, tips for speeding up salon work, creative grooming and improving hygiene within the salon, all confirmed as topics.

All groomers, whether they are competing or not, have access to an inclusive ticket price which will give them entry to all areas of the show. There are also great discounts for BDGA members. Please visit for further details, including a competitor entry form.

British Dog Grooming Championship 2013 rules for competitors

Click here for the entry form to BDGC competitorentryform_2013

We are grateful to the sponsors of the British Dog Grooming Championship:

Total Grooming Magazine - Media Sponsor

Pet Revolution – Advanced Class

Red Cape – Experienced Class

Christies – Student & Newcomer Class

Oster Pro – generously providing cordless clippers for the Student & Newcomer class

Simpsons of Langley – Special Awards

For further information, please contact:

Alexandra Baker, Communications Manager
email:; tel: 01234 224507 (direct line)

Rosie Loft, Communications Manager
email: ; tel: 01234 224509 (direct line)

Main office: 01234 273933.

Regulating the industry – is now the time?

Qualifications and regulation seem to be the new buzz words. Here, Dana Grant gives a thorough analysis of the arguments for and against regulation and introduces the results of a fascinating survey with groomers and pet owners…


Capacity, knowledge, or skill that matches or suits an occasion, or makes someone eligible for a duty, office, position, privilege, or status. Qualification denotes fitness for purpose through fulfillment of necessary conditions such as attainment of a certain age, taking of an oath, completion of required schooling or training, or acquisition of a degree or diploma. Qualification does not necessarily imply competence.

1. General: Principle or rule (with or without the coercive power of law) employed in controlling, directing, or managing an activity, organization, or system.

2. Law: Rule based on and meant to carry out a specific piece of legislation (such as for the protection of environment). Regulations are enforced usually by a regulatory agency formed or mandated to carry out the purpose or provisions of a legislation. Also called regulatory requirement.

The definitions provided are set out to clarify the meaning of these two oft misused and mistakenly interchanged words. In the grooming world qualifications can mean that one is qualified through experience or has perhaps sat a required set of exams through City and Guilds. Throughout the following article, the meaning is generally the latter. Regulation however has nothing to do with qualification, unless qualification becomes a requirement in which to obtain a license.

In January of this year, a Lhasa apso called Dusty was severely burned in a grooming salon in Essex which resulted in the dog being euthanized. The owners have petitioned the Government (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to ask that dog grooming businesses be licensed and regulated to ensure that dogs are kept safe while being groomed.

The petition reads: “A petition calling upon The Secretary of State responsible for the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to create a regulation under Section 13 that will control and license the dog and cat grooming industry, specifically the type and conditions of use of "drying cages" and all forms of heating applied or used by commercial animal groomers.

On 30 July 2012 our 12 year old family dog Dusty visited his usual dog grooming parlour, which he had been going to for the past nine years. After being bathed and clipped the groomer put Dusty in a ‘metal’ dog crate with an industrial dog hairdryer pointing at him, she went off to answer a phone call. Dusty was severely burnt internally and externally and had to be put to sleep due to his injuries.

This is the fourth case in two years of a dog losing his life due to groomers leaving them to burn in front of a dryer!”

While it is the case that many thousands of dogs are groomed without incident every year, the few that do have fatalities will rightly make the public take notice. The RSPCA have added their voice, potentially willing to try to control the procedure for licensing. It seems now the grooming industry in the UK is perhaps closer to being regulated than ever in its history; regulation has hitherto been discussed for years without result.

The sort of inflammatory articles such as the one in the Daily Mail headlined “How your family pet could be maimed or killed by dog groomers: 'Incompetent' entrepreneurs to blame for rise in accidents” and so on are garnering comments from the members of the public, many of whom are concerned that the pet grooming industry is not regulated as they assumed. The article about “incompetence” mentions lack of qualifications in the groomers.

It is considered that with some form of licensing in place, that health and safety measures will be in place to ensure that our clients’ dogs go home as they should – healthy and safe!  Accidents can and will happen in the salon, but can negligence be eradicated with a license?  Many groomers think not – that cowboys will still operate outside the law.  There are professional associations such as Pet Care Trade Association and the Scottish Professional Groomers Network which have a code of conduct in place which asks their members to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, to treat their clients with honesty and integrity, and at all times behave in a manner which is professional and reputable.

The Pet Care Trade Association has responded to the e-petition with a statement in which they discuss the legislation possibility. It states: The Pet Care Trade Association (PCTA) believes in improving groomers’ knowledge and skills through qualifications and continuous professional development (CPD). Our members have a voracious appetite for training.We run City & Guilds qualifications through our network of 18 satellite training centres situated throughout the UK. The licensing issue raises the question: would licensing a groomer make a significant difference unless that groomer was properly trained?

At the PCTA we believe proper training and CPD is more beneficial than a licence .Signing up to our code of conduct and enrolling on City & Guilds qualifications is a groomer’s best route to providing reassurance to their customers. Members of the PCTA are listed on our website and display their membership window sticker at their premises. Pet shops selling animals need a licence – the City & Guilds pet store management qualification is a prerequisite of this to ensure that the individuals have professional knowledge. Animal boarding establishments also need a licence to operate .But there are some areas of animal care that don’t need a licence: dog walkers, pet sitters – groomers are not alone.

This is a very complicated area to legislate.The PCTA therefore believes that professional training is the better route in the short term to guaranteeing the safety of animals left in the care of a pet professional.”

On the English Groomers Group Facebook forum, threads dedicated to the discussion of legislation outlined some of the concerns that groomers have if and when regulation comes to pass. Some of these concerns were costs, whether formal qualification (eg City and Guilds) would be required, time spent chasing qualifications, or how it might be policed once in place.

Following the story of Dusty, the Lhasa apso which suffered burns in a grooming salon, I queried on Horse and Hound Online whether or not their readers felt it necessary for regulation. Many had the impression that dog grooming was already regulated in some fashion and were surprised to find that in fact it was not. While it would seem there are some pet owners who would pay more money to a groomer to be sure that their dog was groomed safely, we as groomers know that this is not always the case. On any given day the phone can ring and the first (and sometimes only!) question is “How much?” Many groomers have become increasingly savvy about pricing; higher pricing means fewer dogs required to cover overheads and salaries. Fewer dogs being groomed can relieve some of the pressure and dogs can be safer while in the salon. And yet…there is still much complaint about “cowboy” groomers who undercut in order to capture market share.

Our surveys said…

While the debates and comments on Facebook and other forums do make for very interesting reading, I conducted my own online survey with two sets of questions. One was directed at groomers and the other was directed at pet owners. With an incredibly fast and prolific return rate this survey came back in the first twelve hours with over 100 responses (out of approximately 200 persons who viewed it).  Within a three-week span there have been 177 responses. The pet-owners’ survey needed a little prodding to get replies, but in the four days that it ran, there were a respectable 76 responses.

Pet Owners Opinions

Of the pet owners polled, those that brought their pets to a groomer  were split nearly equally between “regular” users and “occasional” users,  with “once a year or less” making up a large portion (18.42%) but the frequency favoured was “up to four times per year” (52.63%) with the rest being split between “up to eight times per year” (21.05%) and the latter options of “eight to twelve times per year” making up the balance (5.26%) and “more than twelve times per year” (2.63%).  It would seem that according to these figures, that despite groomers trying to educate pet owners about keeping their pets groomed frequently that they are still opting for the “less is more” option. One might surmise that tight financial times would be partially to blame for this, yet according to another question pricing was a far lower priority than groomer reputation.

Following are results from other survey questions presented to pet owners:


How did you choose your current groomer?







How important do you feel qualifications are for a dog groomer?








Would you be willing to pay a higher grooming fee to someone who has formal qualifications?








Please rate the importance to you for the grooming industry to be regulated (ie formal licensing):










Despite the poll questions being answered with a positive slant toward regulation being favoured and higher fees being paid to those with qualifications, in reality many groomers have commented that they have never been asked whether or not they hold any formal qualifications, or if in fact they are even trained.  It is perhaps just an assumption being made, and trust is based upon that assumption.  When it comes to pricing, however, more often than not the obligation felt by groomers to keep their pricing low in order to be competitive is increasing.

And now it’s our turn – survey responses from groomers

Groomers have become divided in their opinions about whether or not the industry should be regulated – and if so how.  For some there seems to be a bit of confusion and perhaps angst toward the whole idea of regulation. Some assume that the regulatory bodies will opt for City and Guilds examinations to be basis for licensure. If that is the case, many groomers may quit the industry altogether as the process for sitting the exams is too time consuming, too costly, or too daunting.   Yet others feel quite firmly that regulation is necessary and are happy to sit exams or undergo formal inspection.

In an effort to gauge the type of groomer in our survey I asked some questions about business premises and practices. Their responses follow:


What type of grooming establishment do you work from?











How many years have you been grooming?









How did you train to be a groomer?








*More than one option could be chosen


How long did you initially train for before starting to groom professionally?









How many dogs per day do you groom in a typical working day?








How many people does it take to produce the number of dogs you groom in a typical working day ?








What criteria do you feel that a groomer should meet before being allowed to work independently?









How do you feel about regulation in the grooming industry?





*more than one option could be selected



How about self-regulating groups?

At the moment it is unclear which direction regulation will take, if it happens at all. Could it possibly be that this current excitement over regulation will once again fade away once the dust settles – or is now the time for action? Trudy Anderson, Founder of the Scottish Professional Grooming Network suggests that self-regulation is a possible alternative in the absence of independent regulation, eg voluntary adherence or opt-in to codes of professional conduct. She explores the notion with other questions such as “How effective is this system? In the absence of regulation, is it a viable alternative? How might self-regulation be improved? What are the possible sanctions for offenders – striking from membership, disciplining etc?”

She also comments:  “It is an unfortunate irony that it is all too often the start-up groomer, advertising at commercially unsustainable bargain basement prices to gain entry into his or her local market, that attracts initial clients with the pets least suitable to be groomed by an inexperienced (and sometimes untrained) novice – those unused to being handled for grooming or for whom grooming is either a completely novel or unpleasant experience, or who may have developed an aversion to grooming through previous negative experiences at the hands of 'have-a-go' groomers who have since disappeared.  In the absence of regulation many professional groomers have over the past number of years organised themselves into grassroots networking groups whose aims include continual improvement through groomer education.  Additional to this they serve some self-regulatory function, through peer interaction. These networks thrive on committed memberships which actively promote groomer education (as well as continuing professional development) and exchange good practice.”

Another view

Colin Taylor who runs his own training academy in London thinks that the grooming industry should be regulated. He says: “Regulations should start with the schools. If I was looking to hire a groomer, the first thing I would say is not ‘Are you C&G qualified?’ However what I would ask is ‘can you groom a dog well, with compassion, and do you know what is in the best interest of animals that enter the salon regarding the animal’s welfare along with health and safety?’ I am all for qualifications as they are important but I do not feel they should determine and judge one’s total ability.”

Does Colin think it will ever happen in our lifetime?  “Yes I do and I say bring it on but should be regulated by a private put-together committee not the Pet Care Trust.”

Dr Susan Horsfall, who grooms from her home based business in the Borders agrees that we should not have a charity or a trust running the steps toward regulation. “I cannot see how aligning ourselves with a charity of whatever hue can further the cause for professionalising groomers,” she says. “No other body I can think of has gone to an outside agency to improve upon its members’ qualifications and code of practice unless impelled to do so due to lack of ability to self-govern. We are far from that position. We as groomers know what we need to do to improve our industry. We have the knowledge to move forward. We have the will to do so. Groomers, no-one else, should be responsible for improving and professionalising grooming.”

It is apparent that in as much as groomers and members of public alike agree that regulating the industry may be necessary, it will not be an easy move.  There has not been a proposed timeline for groomers to observe so that they may begin preparing themselves. It certainly may not be “right” straight from the beginning, but hopefully with the involvement of those working in the industry, it might have a chance to evolve in to something that will be a workable system for groomers, and give peace of mind to those who are entrusting their pets to us.

For Further details and results of our surveys click the below links to see these in full details

Groomers Survey -

Pet owners Survey -





Dealing with complaints

Knowing how to deal with complaints can be tricky, especially when you first start out. Alison Thomas of Look North Grooming and Training Centre has some good advice on how to avoid complaints and how to deal with them when you get them…

The important thing is to stay professional at all times. Make sure you understand what it is they want the finished dog to look like.

It is important to make a note of all complaints received and the outcome..

Joanne dealing with a customer

It doesn’t matter how experienced or professional you are as a groomer, you cannot please everyone all the time! You will at some point be faced with a customer who is not happy with the work you have done and will voice their dismay either at the time of collection or during a phone call at a later date when they have had time to think about it! Whatever the situation is there are certain principles that you must adhere to in order to keep the peace and also to protect the reputation of your business. Whilst we all may feel that the customer is not always right, they are the bread and butter of your business and as such you must take their complaint seriously. Even if you are being talked down to, shouted at or accused of something you believe you have not done, openly show that you are listening to what they have to say. Look at what they are showing you, look at the customer when they are directing comments to you and above all else...keep your cool!

It doesn’t matter what you feel inside the important thing is to stay professional at all times and not to be tempted to retaliate with a flurry of abuse or accusations. This will only make matters worse and may result in public complaints about you and your business when a little patience could have nipped the situation in the bud.


Take your time

Listen to the complaint and acknowledge what is being said in an understanding way. This doesn’t mean you have to agree but the customer must not feel belittled. If the complaint is down to the style of trim, try explaining what you have done and why.  If the trim looks a little untidy or uneven, go over it again in front of the customer checking that you have covered the particular areas they are upset about. If you have taken the coat shorter than wanted there is nothing you can do except apologise and assure the customer that you will leave more length next time.  Explain that you misunderstood the requirements, or, if the coat was more matted than you originally thought you could perhaps salvage some of it to show them unless, of course, it has already been disposed of!

If the complaint is regarding an injury of some kind examine the area of concern and again try to explain what may have happened. Is it down to clipper rash? Has shampoo got in the dog’s eye? Have you nicked the skin or perhaps the ‘injury’ was there when the dog was brought in.

Avoiding complaints

Very matted dog, half way through being clipped

There are things you can do to avoid some of these situations arising. Firstly check the coat thoroughly when the dog first arrives and if there is a possibility that, due to excessive matting, the coat will have to be clipped off or taken very short explain this to the owner in detail before they leave. If the change is going to be extreme it would be a good idea to ask for a disclaimer to be signed. If the coat is to be clipped off, make sure the owner is aware of the possibility of clipper rash or ear haematomas and how to deal with them if they occur.

If you find anything wrong with the dog or the dog’s skin during this initial consultation make sure you mention it immediately to the customer so that you can’t be accused later of causing it. If you find anything wrong during the time the dog is with you, make sure you tell the owner as soon as they return and show them the problem area. Perhaps advise them to go to the vet if you think it necessary.

Make sure you listen

Listen carefully to the instructions you receive; give advice and opinions and if the dog’s coat allows, do what the customer wants even if you don’t agree with it. Do not argue with the customer over how a trim should look.  If they want something out of the ordinary that’s up to them.  Just make sure you understand what it is they want the finished dog to look like. If you or a member of your staff causes a minor injury, be honest and tell the customer when they return to collect the dog. Explain what happened and advise them to keep an eye on it and if concerned at all to take the dog to the vet and you will refund the money on receipt of a bill. If the injury is more serious or the dog is taken ill whilst with you, you must of course consult the vet immediately and contact the owner.

Next steps

It is important to make a note of all complaints received and the outcome. If a member of staff was involved, get their written report on what happened.

If the complaint cannot be resolved to the customers satisfaction, refer them to the British Groomers Association (if you are a member) giving them the contact details and assuring them that their complaint will be taken seriously.

Even at this point remain calm and professional, and remember......word of mouth is by far the best advertising and bad reports spread faster than good!

Aesculap and Groom Team England announce scholarship winners

Aesculap and Groom Team England are delighted to announce the winners of their scholarship scheme. The winners are:



Lois Dalton, Birchdale Boarding and Grooming Ltd, Cheshire;





Joanna Hart, Give a Dog a Comb Mobile Grooming, Hertfordshire;





Karen Lofthouse, Ulti-Mutt Dog Grooming, Wiltshire;





Leandro Peres, Pets at Number 1, Buckinghamshire





Verity Watts, Shampooches, Yorkshire.




‘It has been very difficult choosing the final five but with the help of Groom Team England we have made our selection,’ says sales manager clippers Erich Jedersberger. ‘As the standard was so high, we are also awarding clippers to Anita Dolby and Sharon Lofthouse and are making a special award to Sian Beddoe, who at nine years old was our youngest applicant. We shall look forward to presenting the winners with their prizes at Crufts and following their careers as they progress. Aesculap is proud to be the instigator of a scheme which will help further the careers of some very talented groomers.’

Joanne Angus, Chair Groom Team England adds: ‘The standard of entry was impressive and shows the commitment of groomers to strive to do their best. Groom Team England looks forward to welcoming the winners to their training schools and watching how their careers develop.’

The Aesculap scholarship scheme is supported by: Animology, Christies Direct, English Groomers Group, Groomers Ltd, Mutneys, ProGroomer, Redcape and Simpsons.