Competitive Dog Grooming
professional dog groomers from throughout the world have been
participating in competitive dog grooming events for over 30 years.
Major competitions such as Intergroom in New Jersey draw large and
appreciative crowds. These events showcase the skill, artistry and
professionalism of dedicated groomers who have invested countless hours
in honing their skills at this challenging endeavor. The techniques and
practices that result from or are refined by these competitions are
often adopted by the grooming profession at large, so they end up
enhancing the lives of family pets everywhere. Despite the popularity
and importance of competitive grooming, many pet lovers know very little
about it. So, we are providing this FAQ on one of our favorite
What is competitive
its name implies, competitive grooming is a competition that evaluates
the grooming done on individual dogs by dedicated grooming
professionals. Just as at an AKC sanctioned dog show, competitive
grooming contests involve dogs and people (a groomer, instead of a
“handler”) and they are scored by sanctioned judges. The judging system
is very similar to that used at an AKC sanctioned dog show.
Who are the judges?
judges themselves are grooming professionals. These individuals undergo
continuous education and follow standardized judging procedures that
cover issues like time frames for judging and codes of conduct. In 1998,
the International Judges Association was formally established by Vivian
and John Nash, its goal being to standardize and promote fair and
equitable placement of contestants agreed upon and accepted by a panel
of judges in professional dog grooming competitions.
Do the competing
groomers bring their own dogs to these events?
groomers bring their own dogs. They also furnish their own grooming
What breeds of dog
do groomers bring?
Groomers work with all kinds of dogs. In order to be involved in a
competitive grooming event a dog must be diseased free and must be at
least one year old. The dog must also show no signs of aggression. All
dogs must comply with local city, state or county regulations, and all
must be on a safety loop when not crated.
What exactly do
groomers do at these events? Do they groom the entire dog?
that’s pretty much so. A dog has to come to the show washed, dried and
free of mats (unless he’s a corded coated breed). The dog should also
have his toenails clipped, and the hair around the toes and his
underbody hair, as well as the hair around his toes should be clipped.
The goal is that the dog comes to the show ready to be groomed.
Do the groomers all
work on their dogs at the same time?
Much like at AKC Dog shows, when all of the dogs of a breed are in the
rink at the same time. Groomers all begin grooming at the same time, and
all must stop when the judge ends the competition. The only thing a
groomer can do after that is comb hair ends. Groomers have to remove all
hair, equipment and products from the grooming table.
techniques are allowed during the competition?
All recognized techniques, such as clipping, thinning, hand-stripping,
carding, plucking scissoring and vacuum grooming systems. Singing the
coat is not allowed; in fact flame devices are banned from competitions.
Groomers also aren’t allowed to put decorative objects such as beads and
bows on a dog. The purpose is to groom the coat in a way that
highlights the natural beauty of the dog.