From my experience with dog grooming during my time in the grooming course, I've learned all the special ways of how dogs are groomed, including the overall process. In truth, the process can take a long time, depending on the state of the dog and the general breed, but it's a fun process all the same.

There have been a lot of news stories recently about dogs getting sub-par treatment when they go to the groomers. This is leaving a lot of pet parents wondering what exactly happens to their dog when they go to the professional pet groomers. It's also good to know what should happen during a grooming session so you can be sure your dog is getting the care she needs.

Most pet owners make sure their dog looks good when they leave the grooming salon, but there is a lot more to it than that. Proper care should be taken to keep your dog's nails, skin, coat, and ears clean.

How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs
Photo: Petful

If your dog is receiving anything less than that, you should look for a new groomer.

In this article, you are going to learn the process of how groomers professionally groom a dog and why these things are important for your dog's over health and well-being. Keep in mind that this may not be the exact order that your groomer does things in, but this is typically what they do.

How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs

When done correctly, professional grooming has a lot of benefits. At-home grooming is great too, but if you're not properly trained you may run the risk of injuring your dog. Professional groomers have a knowledge and understanding of the canine body that most pet owners do not.

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They know how to groom your pet without hurting her, and they will usually do an inspection of your dog's skin, coat, paws, eyes, and ears to make sure there are no signs of trouble. Professional groomers won't diagnose your dog, only a veterinarian can do that, but they can recommend products that may help your pet and also inform you of issues that you may not have noticed.

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A standard grooming has many steps, which we will cover now. Remember, that most groomers offer additional services for an extra fee, but we are just going over the services offered with a typical standard grooming. You can check with your groomer to find out exactly which services are offered in their standard grooming package.

Clipping the Nails and Using a Clipper Blade

Groomers typically begin by clipping the nails, instead of giving the dogs a bath, which we will go over later on in this article. Using a nail clipper specifically for dogs, the groomer will clip your pet's nails to the desired size. If the quick is cut by accident, they will typically use styptic powder or a similar product to stop the bleeding instantly.

How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs
Photo: Ray Dehler

Clipping your dog's nails is extremely important. If nails are not trimmed they will eventually break, causing your dog pain and possibly leading to infection. Long nails also push in on your dog's paws and can cause her to walk in a way that doesn't put as much pressure on the front of her paws. Walking like this could result in skeletal damage if left untreated.

After they trim her nails, your groomer will use a clipper blade to shave her, which typically includes using a 10 or a 15 blade for the main clipping job. Depending on what the owner wants done, a professional groomer will either go against the grain, with the grain, or give her a certain cut in a style that the owner has requested.

Not all canine coats can be shaved. Of course, your groomer should know this, but if your dog has a double coat she SHOULD NOT be shaved. It will ruin her undercoat and cause lifelong damage to her fur. Breeds with undercoats include akita, sheep dog, Australian shepherd, Newfoundland, Labrador retrievers, and many other popular breeds. If you're not sure if your dog has a double coat, do some research or check with your veterinarian before you have her groomed.

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Going against the grain means that you are completely shaving the dog down, by going against the growth of the fur on the dog. Going with the grain means that the groomer will be shaving a certain amount of fur off, but still leaving enough, by shaving in the direction where the hair is growing. This method can be a little difficult, because you have to watch where the hair is growing from, and where it's going on the dog.

Owners can also request a special cut for their dog, or one of the more traditional cuts. An example of a traditional cut for a Shih Tzu, would be where the head is shaved slightly, but enough is left for the head to remain fluffy, and the body is shaved against the grain. The ears and the paws are left fluffy, as well.

Bath Time

Groomers will typically give the dog a bath after she has been shaved down and had her nails clipped, unless they were asked not to shave her down when they came in. Bath time at a groomer's will consist of different shampoos, conditioners, and products for special breeds and coat types.

How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs
Photo: windygig

Many dogs have skin allergies or sensitivities, so most groomers use all-natural shampoos and conditioners that are recommended for sensitive skin. You should definitely double check with your groomer if your dog has any skin issues. If you use a special product on your dog, your groomer will most likely use it as well if you provide it for them.

Professional groomers usually use large tubs with a shower hose to get to places that are more difficult to reach, instead of actually filling up the tub. This saves water and creates less of a mess. Sometimes a professional groomer will have a ramp to connect with the tub to help get older or larger dogs into the bathing area.

Dryers and Dry Boxes

Professional groomers will either use stand dryers or dry boxes. Stand dryers are powerful dryers that are basically just as they sound, a drying unit that is attached to a stand, while dry boxes are something that the dog sits in while they are drying.

There has been some controversy about drying boxes lately, and many groomers are moving away from that method. However, when supervised and used correctly, drying boxes do work to dry the dog's fur without harming him.

Once a dog is in a dry box, they must be watched. Groomers are able to adjust the temperature for the drying time, and the majority of dry boxes have a timer for when the dog is supposed to come out. As a safety precaution, most drying units will shut down after a certain amount of time has gone by. With my experience as a groomer, I preferred using the stand dryers instead of the box dryers, because very few dogs enjoyed being in that box.

The Finishing Touches

Once the dog is completely clean and dry, this is where groomers are typically able to see where the finishing touches need to be done. A groomer will use an F10 blade, which is a special finishing blade for small touch ups and to give a cleaner shave. They'll also use grooming shears to even out the fur on the paws, the face, and the tail.

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This is also the time when a groomer cleans your dog's ears. This is important, because build up in the ears can lead to infection, inflammation, and eventually hearing loss if not treated. Dirty ears can also cause pain and discomfort for your dog. Be sure to let your groomer know that you would like your dog's ears cleaned if it is not included in the standard package.

It would also be easy for you to clean her ears at home if you'd like to save the extra money. Natural ear cleaning products are sold in most pet stores and it only takes about 5 minutes to thoroughly clean your pet's ears. Plus, cleaning his ears is simple and you really can't harm him unless you are excessively rough.

At the end of a grooming session many groomers will use a spray conditioner which comes in a bottle, and is sprayed all over the dog. This leaves her coat shiny and adds natural oils that help her skin and fur. It also leaves the dog smelling extra good for her owners.

At this time, the dog gets a quick brush through. This takes off any loose hair and also gives the skin a nice massage to work in the spray conditioner. Some groomers also add a bandanna, bows, or other accessory to the pet's fur before their owner picks her up.

How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs
How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs

That's how the professionals do it

Through my time being a groomer, I've learned a lot of great tricks – a few of which I just mentioned above. As I previously said before, the process can take half an hour to two hours, or even more, depending on the size, breed, and personality of a dog.

Dogs that are groomed regularly, whether at home or professionally, are usually easy to groom. Still, some dogs come in with mats and tangles that are painful to them and it takes much longer to groom these pets. As a pet owner it is your responsibility to groom your dog properly so she doesn't have to endure unnecessary pain.

Other dogs do not want to be groomed at all and will do almost anything, including biting, to get away from a groomer. I remember grooming a couple of dogs who did alligator rolls on the table, and absolutely did not want me touching them. However, I've also groomed a ton of fantastic dogs who absolutely loved the process of being groomed.

Select a reputable professional pet groomer and check their references. If other pet parents have been satisfied with their services, chances are you will be to. It can be scary to leave your fur-baby in the hands of someone else, but professional grooming is a service that all dogs will require eventually. As long as you do a little research and find a responsible groomer your dog will get the care she needs, and she'll probably enjoy it too!

Katherine is certified in Domestic Animal Sciences and Animal Grooming with primary focus on dogs. She has had her pet canine, Anastasia, for two years now, who is also her ESA service dog. Katherine has written multiple articles about pets and their grooming, and has knowledge on multiple specialty pet grooming products for dogs.