Pet Groomer  What They Do

Just the Facts

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dotPet groomers are stylists for the animal kingdom. It's their job to keep the animals they groom looking and feeling their best.

"Pet groomers brush, bathe, trim, clip, dry and cuddle animals. We also rid them of external parasites and keep them safe and as happy as possible while in our care," says groomer Peter Moran.

dotA groomer must be knowledgeable about different breeds of dogs and cats. Every kennel club has strict standards about the appearance of their breed, and many customers want their pets to meet these standards.

"Most pets need an occasional bath or dip, but the pets we see the most have long hair or coats. People who have spent money on one of these animals want them to look good," says Moran.

dotWhile most of a groomer's time is spent working with dogs and cats, they may also be called on to perform their magic on other types of animals. Variety is the name of the game.

"I work with large dogs, right down to the tiniest ones. I work with cats -- a real challenge, since everyone knows how much cats love a bath. I have also groomed a pet pig, sheared a sheep and clipped a rabbit, " says Moran.

dotObviously, there's more to this job than just playing doggy salon. Pet groomers have to know a lot about the whole animal.

"I try to educate my customers, make them aware of potential health problems and also operate a referral program. A groomer usually does nails, ears, hygiene cuts and basic grooming," says Tennessee pet groomer Terry Phelps.

dotGroomers deal with animals of many different temperaments -- and their owners. Not only do groomers have to put the animals at ease, making them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar situation, but they may also have to comfort anxious owners.

"Many of the animals I see are show animals, so their owners want them looking perfect. When I'm dealing with these clients, I have to be totally confident because then the customer senses this and feels more comfortable with me. You have to be a bit of a psychologist in this field," says Linda Rodrigue, a pet groomer in Wisconsin.

dotThe job takes more than a knack with animals and people. A strong back and manual dexterity are also important.

"A groomer should be physically strong. They will have to lift heavy animals and equipment. Often, you'll have to hold a squirming dog and do precise work with a razor at the same time, so it also pays to be agile and good with your hands," says Moran.

dotGroomers can be self-employed and work in their homes, mobile vans (for house calls), vets' offices, boarding kennels and at grooming shops.

dotWork hours and environment can vary a great deal. Weekend work and evening work are common for groomers, who must cater to the schedules of their clients. If they are self-employed and have a well-established clientele, they may dictate their own schedules.

At a Glance

Care for the coats of animals like dogs and other pets

  • You have to be able to comfort anxious owners
  • A strong back and manual dexterity are important
  • Schooling or on-the-job training are both common paths to this career