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How Do I Become a Dog Groomer?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

To become a dog groomer, it is important to gain hands-on experience as well as become familiar with various dog breed standards. Dog grooming schools offer training to familiarize you with grooming equipment and develop your grooming skills. Many pet grooming shops also offer internships and training programs for people seeking to become a dog groomer.

Start by choosing a reputable dog grooming school to attend. Hands-on and online courses are training options to become a dog groomer. If you want to work for a particular grooming shop, it is best to ask what their hiring, training and experience requirements are so you don't waste time on the wrong path. Verify that your training program has reputable and qualified instructors, will teach you up-to-date techniques, and has a good record of placing graduates in quality grooming shops.

A dog being washed.
A dog being washed.

Another way to become a dog groomer is to complete an internship at a local grooming shop. This may require you to start out performing lower-level tasks, such as giving dogs flea baths, as you gain knowledge about the grooming process and perfect your skills. A productive internship will allow you to learn and practice grooming skills at a steady pace. To get the most out of an internship while learning to become a dog groomer, it is best to let the employer know exactly what skills you would like to acquire while working in their shop. For example, if you are hoping to open your own shop, it may be helpful to learn about the business side of grooming as well as learning the actual grooming process.

Groomers should be comfortable with the equipment involved in the trade.
Groomers should be comfortable with the equipment involved in the trade.

When studying, it is best to develop a basic knowledge of various dog breeds and their grooming standards. It would be difficult to groom a dog if you are not sure of how the dog should look when you are finished. Some dogs have the fur trimmed out of their eyes, others are "plush-cut" to create a smooth appearance and others are closely shaved. Expand you knowledge base by learning the dog show grooming standards adhered to by major dog organizations, such as the American Kennel Club in the United States or The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom.

A local dog grooming shop might offer internships.
A local dog grooming shop might offer internships.

Practice your skills on dogs belonging to your friends and family. As you study to become a dog groomer, it is crucial to become comfortable with your grooming equipment, various styling techniques and working with dogs with differing personalities. Take before and after photos of your canine grooming clients in order to develop a portfolio to show potential employers or customers.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - I actually think there's less work for people who don't want to do fancy dog grooming. I know that my dog only really needs her toe nails clipped and maybe a bit of hair taken from her eyes and I either do that myself or get the vet to do it when she has her checkup.

The smaller tasks are easier to do at home. I think it's only people who really need a professional job done who will become regular customers that a dog groomer needs.

So, someone who wants to be a professional dog groomer had better know how to do as much as possible, fancy and basic included.


@umbra21 - Well, that's the thing, there are lots and lots of different styles for dogs, but there are only so many techniques. Each style only needs a handful of techniques in order to make it and they are the same techniques every time. I don't think many groomers know each dog style off by heart. Most of them probably just know how to shave and shear and cut the tail into a bob, and then they look up exactly what needs to be done for each individual dog.

It can even be somewhat creative from what I understand, you don't always have to follow conventional styles. I know that at the moment it seems like dyes are really popular. And I've also seen dogs that have been done up to look like other kinds of animals, like lions or pandas.

Plus, there are plenty of opportunities for people who just want to do standard grooming, that doesn't involve much fancy work, but is just clipping the dog's nails, making sure the hair is out of their eyes and so forth.


It's actually quite amazing how much you need to know if you want to become a really professional dog groomer. It's not just a matter of washing the dogs and clipping their coats back.

Poodles, for example, have dozens of different kinds of cuts for different seasons and different climates. If the owners want to show the dog at all the cuts need to be perfect and also need to suit the dog so that they show off her best features.

And that's just one breed of dog. There are hundreds of different breeds, all of which need different cuts for different times and different kinds of shows, or for professional work, like herding or police dogs.

If you want to know how to become a dog groomer you will probably need to be an apprentice first and then work your way up learning all the different techniques.

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    • A dog being washed.
      By: Eric Isselée
      A dog being washed.
    • Groomers should be comfortable with the equipment involved in the trade.
      By: Quasarphoto
      Groomers should be comfortable with the equipment involved in the trade.
    • A local dog grooming shop might offer internships.
      By: Pavel Timofeev
      A local dog grooming shop might offer internships.
    • A dog groomer may start out by being an intern.
      By: Africa Studio
      A dog groomer may start out by being an intern.
    • A dog groomer may clip a dog's nails.
      By: Diana Taliun
      A dog groomer may clip a dog's nails.