Dog grooming

How often you groom your dog depends on the breed and your needs.

Personally, my hair dresser is as important to me as my primary care doctor. I wouldn’t go to just anyone, and when she is on vacation, and I happen to need a color and cut – I wait patiently until she returns. I’m loyal, and I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do my hair.

Well, the same goes for my dog’s “hair dresser” or groomer, if you will. My dog’s groomer was hand-picked based on how they interacted with my dog, if he seemed to be comfortable with her when I dropped him off, convenience of their appointments and distance from my house. I wouldn’t take my peke-a-poo “puppy” — who happens to be 14 now — to just anyone and I’ve found I am definitely not alone in that sentiment.

Rosemary Miller of Mount Pleasant has three shih-tzu dogs – Chynna, 8; Dakota, 8; and Jasmine, a 1-year-old puppy. Miller is adamant about taking her dogs to the groomer every six weeks. “Being consistent with the same groomer keeps my pets calm and under control because they are familiar with her,” she says.

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Dakota, Chynna and Jazmine enjoy grooming appointments every six weeks.

Miller takes her dogs to Ziggies Dog Grooming in Mount Pleasant with Ashlie as their groomer there. “The groomer builds a relationship with the dogs and me,” she says. “Even though I groom them at home between appointments, it is important to me that they see a professional groomer on a regular basis.”

One of things Miller says she has appreciated with her groomer is the fact sometimes they will point out when something needs attention on the dogs. “She lets me know if there are any skin, eye or other issues that I may miss,” she says. “Grooming is a huge part of their overall health and well-being. Ashlie informed me a few months ago about a cyst over Dakota’s eye that she discovered while grooming. I took Dakota to the vet and sure enough, the cyst had to be removed surgically. Now Dakota’s eye is perfect with no damage to his sight.”

Many people do need to be somewhat convinced grooming is indeed worth the money. Tad Legare has two dogs – a 7-year-old shih tzu named Tinkerbell and a Pomeranian mix named Periwinkle, 10. He said he tried to groom his dogs at home, but realized quickly spending the money on professional dog grooming was well worth it. “They have a lot of hygiene issues that need to be addressed by a professional, like anal gland expression and nail clipping – neither of which I am comfortable with doing,” he says.

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 Tad Legare with Tinkerbelle and Periwinkle

Legare takes his dogs to Swirl Dog Grooming in Summerville. “Melva at Swirl has a way with dogs. They have fun, look sharp and smell great,” he says.

Heidi Hoepfner and Kevin Stephens own The Barker Lounge in West Ashley, and vouch that every dog breed will have a different length of time that they can go between grooming sessions.

"Some breeds require routine haircuts and some breeds simply need a good bath," Stephen says. "A good rule of thumb is that dogs with long hair need to be groomed every four to six weeks. Owners may need to be brushing regularly at home too. If you fall short, a bath and blow out may be needed every two weeks.”

A popular add-on is de-shedding for dogs of breeds that tend to shed more. It gets the hair off the dog and less inside the house. Teeth brushing can be added on, as well as nail filing, paw pad clean outs, sanitary trims, expressing anal glands and an assortment of glamorous choices for nail painting and hair coloring.

Hoepfner says one of the latest trends in dog grooming is "Asian Fusion," in which styles of haircuts make dogs look more doll-like or like a particular animal, such as a lion, zebra or camel. Mohawks and spurts of color on a dog are also popular.

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Charleston Kennel Club Dog Show (copy)

A clean cut isn't just for show dogs.

While these eye-catching cuts can be fun, Hoepfner says her "resident dog groomer, Adrienne, will say that she still prefers a classy and well-done haircut over something over-the-top,” she says.

Another popular trend in grooming is going mobile with at-your-door grooming services. Juli Martin, the owner of Beauty Paws, says the obvious attraction to her service is they come straight to you. “That’s a big draw,” she says. “It’s easier for the customer and the dog because they won’t have to leave the house and there aren’t any other dogs there to stress them out.”

She says her van can do everything that a pet grooming salon can do, with some size limits. “The only thing I cannot do is accept very large breeds, like a mastif or Irish wolfhound,” she says.

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Pet grooming

"Asian Fusion" is a pet grooming trend that entails creating a coif that emulates another critter's image - such as a lion or bear.

Martin says that typically the owners are home when she is there, but that sometimes they leave a key and Martin can very conveniently get the dog from the house or yard, groom them and then return them safely back inside.

Her tip for summer grooming is to not cut a dog’s coat too short. “Many dogs are double-coated and owners request that they be shaved down,” she says. “That extra coat is there for a reason to keep them cool so the dog can actually get hotter if shaved.”

Hoepfner recommends calling ahead this time of year as the summer is very busy. She also recommends brushing after water activities while the dog is still damp to prevent matting. “Dry the dog thoroughly and don’t be afraid to use a hair dryer on the dog – on the cool setting – if needed,” she says.

Grooming a dog, or a cat for that matter, by a professional has many benefits that mostly boil down to giving the owner peace of mind. “We’re always looking out for the best interest of the animal,” Martin says. “Society’s perception of a dog now is different than what it was 30 or 40 years ago. They are a member of our family and we all just want the best for them.”