From Teddy Bear Cut, Puppy Cut, to Don't Poodle My Doodle, I cover these and more as I interview grooming industry expert River Lee and ask all of the questions doodle parents have about grooming. River pulls the curtain back and invites listeners into the grooming salon back room to hear what groomers and the industry are experiencing. River and I both want the best for our dogs and use this time to bridge the gap and create more understanding.
Want to know how to brush the RIGHT way before your next grooming appointment? Catch Episode #6 on How to Brush Your Doodle.
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- Why does grooming cost so much (and is about to cost much more)?
- Why is there a grooming shortage leaving appointments harder to get?
- How often should your doodle get groomed?
- Why do groomers shave doodle's coats?
- How can you prepare your doodle to have a good experience at the groomers?
- What are doodle parents doing that is driving groomers crazy?
Download my free gift to you for listening at thedoodlepro.com/brushing to get the inside scoop on what groomers WISH you knew about brushing your doodle!
For our free gift on the best brushing tools, the Doodle Coat Must Haves Cheat Sheet, go to https://thedoodlepro.com/musthaves/
You can follow me, The Doodle Pro™ on instagram.com/thedoodlepro or Facebook.com/thedoodlepro to see behind-the-scenes peeks of the doodles she cares for daily.
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Hello, this is Corinne, The Doodle Pro™, and I'm thrilled to have a talented grooming business coach and expert join us. Her name is River Lee, and not only has she been a groomer and owned her own salon, but now she coaches and is a business expert on the groomer side of things across the country. We are excited to get some answers for the many questions that doodle parents often have when they go to the groomers.
What is the groomer looking for when they say that the doodle needs to be brushed? What are we doing that's frustrating groomers? And why is it so hard to get an appointment right now? I'm thrilled to have River with us to answer these questions and happy to introduce her now. Hi River! Hey, how is everyone? Wonderful, we're so happy to have you.
I know I didn't give your background justice. If you can share a little bit more about what brings you to this point in your career and what you're doing now. Absolutely. So for those you guys that don't know my name, my name is River Lee. I'm the founder of the Savvy Groomer, where I teach groomers to go from being burned out, broken, broken, to healthy, wealthy, and happy building a grooming business on their terms. My background is a unique, I opened up a grooming salon four days before my son was born because I was pregnant living in my car. And I built that up to a five employee grooming salon with a membership model. We were doing 40 dogs a day.
I built that up and I sold that and actually went and did a feline exclusive mobile. I built that up and I sold it. And a lot of it was figuring out how to best serve my customers as well as taking care of the pets. And that's really what I help groomerss do. And I, this is such a great opportunity. I feel like I should do a trigger warning.
Like we're all friends here though. And I really want to thank you so much for letting me have the opportunity here, because I think that we can bridge this gap. I think there's so much anger on either side and I think it's really unfortunate. So my goal is today is we're here for the dogs. Yes. Right? And we're here to bridge this gap.
So I'm hoping that we can at least help guys understand And River, I shared with you that I posted on a couple doodle groups on Facebook, just polling, what their top questions were. As I got the opportunity to chat with you. And it got volatile, quick groomers and doodle guardians just fighting it out in the comments. They would have to be shut down or deleted people going into real life and pulling stuff from each other's profiles and attacking them.
And I'm so grateful that you and I are on the same page that we both share a love for dogs and want the best for these dogs. And there can be a better understanding of what each side is experiencing and how we can help each other. So I'm so happy to have this conversation. Absolutely. And I hope when I said come into my group, you'll see the difference. And I want you to see that not all groomers are crazy because I know in that group, I said they were being absolutely belligerent and vile, but in my group, they were like, we hope we can find that happy medium. Absolutely. And your group, the Savvy Groomer where you help coach other grooming businesses.
They were so professional and respectful and just excited to hear our conversation. They really are. And I can share when I listed a bunch of questions, I listed some that said things that I know groomers hear a lot that often are unfair. Like “why do they insist on poodling my doodle”, et cetera, just to gauge where people were, but people added their own questions that included, what are we doing that are making groomers crazy? How can I make my dog better behaved for the groomer? What can I do to better prepare my doodle for the groomer? And I loved that, that approach came out organically. And that's what I'm really excited to get the answers to from you. Absolutely. So I'm here for you guys. I'm ready to answer your questions the best I can.
Like I said, guys, I can't speak for my whole industry, but what I can do is speak for my students and myself as a groomer. Thank you. Well, my first question as you're an industry expert is can you talk about what you're seeing in the grooming industry as a whole and what trends are happening? So what a lot of owners and I mean that by, you know, doodle guardians or, you know, pet owners in general, don't understand this. We're going through a massive shift in the industry. Before we used to have illegal independent contractors that were being paid 50% commission. And these shops were not keeping up with pricing because they were just not paying taxes on the groomers. They just saw that money as gravy.
So California, you now have to pay hourly. And as a whole, we actually have to pay people as employees. So the average shih tzu groom in the United States in 1980 was $45. If you put that to today's standards, that would be $144. And that is not including the increase in grooming products. It was not uncommon in 1980's to use things like Dawn dish soap, and even 10 years ago, the average shampoo bottle was a gallon was about $20 or $40. And now higher level professionals are paying between $60 and $100. And there's even some products that are $400 a gallon for shampoo. So there's a shift between becoming better groomers. We take better care. These people used to shave 10 dogs down a day using Dawn.
And there's a lot of shift there. So a lot of this old school groomers are not keeping up with the times. And so as an industry, we have to massively raise our prices because we have not raised our prices in 20, 30, sometimes 40 years. And a lot of groomers are getting incredibly burnt out just for the people that have retired, especially during COVID we need about 50,000 more groomers, not including all the COVID puppies, but just keeping up with the people that retired 50,000 more groomers by 2030. That, and like I said, that is just, I have so many clients that'll talk to me and say, I would rather just close my doors and be done and they'll have six or seven groomer employees, but they're not making any money. Can you break down a little bit for us? You said that they used to be into contractors where the cost goes for a groom. Yeah. So just to put a perspective again, if you have seen the housing prices rise like in California, for example, let's say a condo 10 years ago, when for $150k is now $500k, well the same commercial lease, they used to be $500 is now $2,500. So in a perfect world, what would happen is in a groom, 30% would go to payroll, which would be your groomer, your batherand your receptionist. You figure at least 20% is going to go to taxes depending upon where you live. And then it really depends if they are mobile, because if they're mobile, that van's a hundred thousand dollars professional. A professional mobile van's a hundred thousand dollars. And so if you have that mobile for five years, and then you pay it off, you have some leeway, but if it needs repair, you're gonna lose a week or two down, especially right now, guys, with everything being so hard to get a lot of people are actually buying a second van because it's cheaper for them to pay two van payments than it is to lose several weeks of income because they can't get a part for their grooming van. And shops have things like workers' comp. Workers' comp is extraordinarily high with the new legislation. That's trying to pass with things like, I don't know if you guys know this and please don't panic, but most insurance companies see dogs as a depreciating asset. So if you purchased your doodle for $2,000, you spay and nueter it, it's no longer what they consider as income producing.
So now it's worth half. And then if that dog gets older, it depreciates in value. So responsible business owners. And this is what I teach. They have, what's called sometimes called a have a heart clause, which is we're going to fix your dog because your dog has intrinsic value. However, a lot of insurance companies have artificially kept these prices low because if something happens to your dog, it's only like if you hurt a car, guess what? You don't get a brand new car. And if someone, God forbid let's say broke your doodle's leg, God forbid, it's $5,000. Well, if your dog's only worth $1,500, that insurance company's only going to give you that $1,500 And the grooming business then needs to cover that difference if they choose too?
We don't legally! That's right. They are not legally obligated because pets are property, unfortunately. And a lot of boomers are not expecting that bill. And because I had a student today, her payroll is actually 85% and that includes her. And she grooms 10 dogs a day, six days a week. And she takes only the money she makes.
So her staff take 80 to 85% of everything that her business does. So she's actually losing money, employing all of those groomers. And it's very unfortunate because she's like, I would just rather quit. She's like, why am I doing this? I'd rather just close, Which helps you understand why some of even the most popular salons have closed or didn't reopen after COVID.
Absolutely. And I do think it's important. You know, I'm in my thirties and I look like I'm 12 and I'm in my thirties. I have carpal tunnel in both of my hands. I need my left shoulder replaced. They won't do it before in 40. And I only groomed for about 15 years. So groomers that are grooming. And I have to admit,
I switched to cats because grooming big dogs destroys your body a lot faster. And I don't think owners understand that because you know, just, just from a time and energy and effort perspective, you know, one, let's say 45, 50 pound doodle is, is about two to five Yorkie's worth. If I talk to a groomer, I said, would you rather groom eight Yorkies or one doodle?
A lot of times they'll say eight Yorkies because I don't hurt at the end of the day, I can go home and hold my child. I can go home and go for a walk with my dog. And that's often because of the size difference of the 8 versus 80 pounds, or is there more to it than the size? There's a lot more to it.
And I'm really gonna oversimplify. A lot of doodles are what's called a combination coat, which is very rare and some of them will have an undercoat and a top coat and they still need a haircut. So, and you don't know what you're going to get. You could also have a dog who has different hair patterns in different places, lots of cowlicks that may require a lot more scissoring that may require a lot more brushing.
It may require more skillset. You know, when I'm setting the coat of a standard poodle, for instance of them are pretty same similar coat. So I can put, you know, a stand dryer on and just stretch the coat. However, with a doodle, I actually have to pay attention to which way I'm going. In what direction it reminds me a lot of when I,
I used to breed and show labs and some of my labs would have cowlicks, but you wouldn't, you wouldn't show a Dogwood Calex all over because it takes so much time and not the short hair dog and for better or worse. A lot of doodle owners want those more plush cuts. And most people with small dogs, it's, it's a lot less maintenance.
So are Yorkies going to have very flat, thin hair. And there's basically two haircuts. They want the other one a long and flowing, which is really easy to do, or they want it really short. And I do think that owners forget anything over an inch has to be hand scissored. Can you explain for doodle parents what hand scissoring means? Cause they'll hear a lot from their breeders,
“Make sure they don't use a clipper and request hand scissoring”. So if I bring in my 65 pound golden doodle and say, “I want it to be hand scissored,” what does that mean to the groomer? So there's two different methods. There's comb there's, you know, using the comb method. And then there is actually hand scissoring. A good example for doodle owners to understand is to take and try and get on camera, take your ring finger and touch your thumb. And now do that for two hours because that is about the time it takes to hand scissor a doodle, and do that with both hands. If you just sat there, how tired would you be? You'll actually feel it in your arm because we don't use, this is the finger we use because our ring finger and our thumb,
and it takes hours. And like I said, we have a groomer drought and a groomer shortage. It takes a minimum to put in perspective, guys, it takes two years to make what we would consider a finished groomer and a finished groomer can do clipper work, but they can not do hand-scissoring. They don't have the technique. And because of the way doodle coats again,
are combination, they would be able to do it on a dog's hair that is very similar, for instance, like a standard poodle. It's the same hair on the top kot as it is on the legs and the tail, but with a doodle, they have to know how to blend in straight flat hair with curly wavy hair and not create these very unfortunate looks, right? You've all seen those unfortunate looks. So that groomer probably needs five to 10 years. And just to put in perspective, it takes two years to create an average groomer, not a hand scissor groomer, and the majority of groomers leave after five years. So the majority of groomers either don't have the skillset or if they do, they really can't do more than one to two of those hand scissor dogs a day.
And when we're talking about the individual doodle needs, how have the influx of doodles on the market and in our families affected the grooming industry? I don't think doodle owners, it's not. I always, and it sounds mean trigger warning. I always say it's our fault as groomers for not creating healthy boundaries with doodle owners. I understand you want these really fluffy looks, but what happens a lot of you guys come from labs and I'll tell you labs are like a Chevy, right? They're an easy car and you have a Ferrari, a standard poodle is like having platinum blonde hair. A doodle is like having mermaid hair. You know, a lot of you guys want these very elaborate haircuts. And unfortunately the staff that can do them can only do a finite amount of them.
And as an industry, we used to only do probably one or two standard poodles a week at best. We didn't expect this influx of very large high-maintenance breeds. You know, we, we really didn't see them. You know, old English sheepdogs were not popular. And if they were, they were farm dogs, they got shaved down once a year.
For those that own standard poodles, their breeder starts their grooming around three or four weeks. So they're coming in at eight weeks and getting a groom every two to four weeks. So they kind of know what's going on. There are so many people who close their shops because they don't want to confront doodle owners. They don't want to be mean to doodle owners.
They don't want to be mean to the dogs, but they just, it's easier for them to go work at Chick-fil-A than it is for that. And I think it's really unfortunate because if we, and I'm going to have to scare you guys, but if a shih tzu is 65 to 85, your doodle, even a mini doodle needs to start at $200. And the St.
Bernedoodles, the saint bernedoodles, they need to be $400 or $500, especially if you guys want hand scissoring, because that's an entire groomer's worth of day for them to go home and be able to spend time with their family. And a lot of them won't because they love the dogs. And so they get bitter and resentful. And it's really hard.
I also will say, it's kind of like owning a Chevy or a better example. Someone gave me today and it was really good. They said “Imagine you've only ever owned electric cars and you waited 10,000 miles to get your first oil change. And you were like, ‘But the dealership, never told me I need an oil change.' Imagine if you're a mechanic and that's all you got were people who used on electric cars who didn't need oil changes.
And you have to explain to them when oil changes and why their car needs it. And not only that, their engine is blown.” That is an excellent analogy. I love that. And when you look at some particularly backyard breeder, but when you look at some doodle breeders sites where they're advertising their puppies, and these are ones that have professional websites and everything, they'll often say these are low or no maintenance coats, or do not bring your doodle puppy into get groomed until they're a year old, because it will ruin their coat. So that sort of like that car owner who the dealer didn't tell them something, and now the mechanic is trying to fix it. But unfortunately what we know on our side with training and behavior,
if you introduce a dog to a chaotic grooming salon, a high velocity dryer, being brushed, clippers, nail grinders, all of that at a year old, when they are past the point of being open and sociable to those things, you've got a lifelong difficult dog to bring to the groomers. Absolutely. And I think that's just, it there's so many groomers that they're like,
“If the dog's over four months that's never been groomed, we'll never groom it,” they will not take, especially doodles. And if a doodle is not used to doing something, if they're not used to being in that environment, it is really stressful for them. And we don't want it to be stressful for them.
And by then they have so much coat that, I mean, it's again, it's like, what are we, we're not sure what we're supposed to do in a way. And we can't make you happy because if the dog's matted, we only have, we have, we have the option of basically torturing your dog, dematting it for hours. And having its very first experience be this really unpleasurable experience or we have to shave it bald.
I would say it's Mr. Clean, short, and neither one. We don't like your dog looking like a sacrificial lamb. And it's not a look… That isn't something you're excited to hand over either! Can you imagine being like, I'm so proud of my work and you're like, like, I mean, they just, it's, it's a very unfortunate look and a lot of them, you know, when you shave them down, they're just, you know, they just don't have that look. It's just, you know, some dogs have, I don't like standard poodles naked either. It's just not a good look for them. I think it's wonderful to hear the groomers feel the same way and that it isn't a look that they desire, but it's out of necessity. I always liked the phrase that groomers use, “Humanity over Vanity.” And do you mind sharing a little bit what that means to the grooming industry? So what I think a lot of doodle owners just don't understand is when your dog is matted, it's basically being mummified and its own dead hair. So if you've ever had somebody who has really tough mental health and they're laying in, or they're very sick, they're laying in bed and they get a knock and they get a giant matt or like an intentional version would be a dreadlock. I mean, imagine coming to a hair salon and you have dreadlocks down to like your ears. And you're like, no, no, no, brush it out. But I, you know, I want,
I don't want to pay extra or whatever. It just doesn't. You're like, okay, you're going to sit there and you want me to do this. Or worse, imagine if it's a child or even worse, it's a special needs child. You would say, absolutely not. That's not fair to that pet is not fair to that child. Right.
You'd be like, absolutely not, but doodles, you know, for them, you know, it's funny because they do go through the coat change. And I think what, unfortunately, owners don't understand or guardians, I apologize. I love the term guardians, by the way we say pet parents a lot. But I think one of the things you guys don't understand is that we don't know what kind of hair your dog's going to have.
And so, and we don't know at what age, and it was really funny. I just want to point out if your breeder says, “You'll ruin the coat by shaving it.” That actually tells me that that dog has double coated because you can shave a standard poodle with anything beyond a surgical blade. And you won't damage the hair. The only dogs that will be damaged by shaving are double coated dogs.
So shaving things like labs, goldens, pugs. So for me, if you guys see that that is a little bit of red flag, and again, they might be like, we don't know if your dog is going to be a double coated dog. And so double coat, the undercoat when they are crossed, you knowthis more than I, can get trapped in the wiry curls on the outer side when it's a cross.
Right? So the best way to think about it, just like that. So this is our undercoat. This is our top coat. So this is your, if you have a dog that sheds, this is the insulation and this is the roof. So when you have a single coat of dog, this is the roof and there's no installation. That's why,
if you have a single coated dog, you have to wear sweaters, right? Cause they get cool. So the problem here is that when you shave it, it actually can grow backwards. And now your installation can become longer than your top coat. Your top coat takes so much longer to grow. And this is an incredible simplification guys. That's great.
But what's tough is that, I mean, I have seen so many doodles that'll have, believe it or not, a poodle type coat as their undercoat, and then they'll have a straight, flat coat on top. So as their undercoat is growing in, it's actually immediately locking up. And so these owners get very frustrated cause like, “Why can't my dog be more than like a fourth of an inch?”
And it's because as that undercoat is growing in, it just grows in, cause it's curly into that straight coat and there are things you can do. We, you know, I call it, setting the coat other groomers have other things and that's basically blow dry the roots straight every one to two weeks. So if any, I'm an Italian girl.
If you know anybody out here with curly hair and they got curly hair, right, you're Up there. If you're not careful the way you dry your hair. Right. But the difference is you don't go out into the pool or out into the ocean and then not wash your hair. And so I think a lot of people want these beautiful, you know, voluptuous hair on their doodles. And I'm like, so the friends I have that have standard poodles, they actually spend about three hours a week blow-drying and washing their poodles, banding them up and their dog does not go swimming. Their dog does not do any of that stuff. And the second they're done showing they zip them down. Understandably. Yeah, it's a lot of work.
And, and so with that undercoat, if you're, you know, and again, we don't know, and I see your puppy's always going to go through puppy coat change. And depending upon when you spay or neuter, your dog, your nutrition, there are so many factors. Your large breeds may not fully mature their coat till they're three. You know? So if you have like a Bernedoodle or a Saint Bernedoodle, your coat may not fully mature to they're three. So, and we can't tell you what that coat's going to look like, but when it grows in, it's a matter of, is this a straight undercoat? Is this a wirey undercoat? Is this a, what we call, a cottony undercoat? Or is there no undercoat? Right.
It's tough for us because every dog is different and we can have the same dog every four weeks and their dog turns two, right? And they've spayed the dog. And they're like, “I don't know why he's matting up so quick.” And we're like, “Well, it's just no different than when you become older and your hair changes.” You know,
It's like if I come in with a picture of Jennifer Aniston's “Rachel” hairdo and I want to get this haircut at the salon, I don't have that texture nor is my face, the same frame or structure as the Rachel picture. And so I know that a lot of doodle parents are given photos and guides from their breeders saying, “Show this to the groomer and make sure they follow these directions.”
Yes. Trigger warning. We hate that. I'll tell you why, because it is again like, cause okay. So here's the thing. A lot of times when we see that and even with pure bred dogs, let me clarify. Even with certain breed, like legatos and Polish sheep dogs and things like that, we hate that. I'll tell you why, because if, imagine this again, if you're I like analogies, they helped me a lot visualize things. It's basically like saying, this is what we want you to do. And for us it's like, okay, instead, we're going to offer what you do. You don't go to a restaurant and say, this is what I would like to eat.
And when you go to a tattoo artist, if you show them the exact picture of what you want, they're going to give you the artist interpretation of that. Groomers come in, two flavors, they're artists or technicians. Your technician group is more likely to give you what you want because they don't really have an artistic flair. I'm a technician groomer.
I will generally do what you want. But again, if you want a certain haircut, just like, if you want a certain level of blonde, you may not get it. The first time. If you hand me. If you, if you guys came in at eight weeks for your first, very first puppy, bath and blow dry. And you said,
okay, this is what I would like my dog to grow into. And I say okay. You understand it's gonna take one to two years and you're like, not a problem. A lot of groomers would really not mind that what happens instead is your dog's eight months. We're going to have to turn that dog, like I said to a sacrificial lamb, and you have this beautiful picture. I mean, it's like coming with dreadlocks, like you said, and showing like you said, and being, I want the Rachel and you've got dreadlocks and you have black dye over, you know, in your hair, you can do this, but it's going to take till all that hair grows back. Thankfully, doodle hair grows back and faster.
But even then we don't know what kind of undercoat or top coat your dog has. We don't know what your lifestyle is like. And a lot of the, again, it's, you wouldn't show. It's funny. And I feel like this is why people, like, I should say groomers, like poodle people over doodle people because there's no poodle owner coming in with a continental or an English saddle cut, which is a fancy fancy haircut and being like, yeah, my breeder gave me this. This is what they said, my dog should look like, we'd be like, then go back to your breeder, let them go do that. Right. And I think that's the unfortunate thing, you know, that would be the equivalent. I think you guys have to send that the things that your breeders are bringing in, if they're the breed cut, if you had a Welsh terrier or a Kerry blue terrier, and you said, this is what my breeder thinks my dog should look like. We would send you to a specialist who that's basically all they do. All they do is that cut. And I do want to see more groomers that really have a flare for doodle grooming becoming doodle exclusive.
Yes. But I do think like, it's we do the same thing. If you guys have ever heard of Asian fusion, it's super cute. It's a certain style. It's sooo cool, we see it a lot on Tik TOK and stuff. Yes. But again, it's like having, bringing that to the average groomer, you know, if you bring that,
they're gonna be like, I have not spent the hundreds of hours perfecting that style of grooming. And unfortunately, a lot of those breed standard cuts are built by people who are not groomers, or they're going to take so much time that we know you're not going to pay for it. And when they, when they have those pictures, which I see passed around a lot in our doodle community, you'll notice that most of them that they use as an example, are not freshly groomed. And they have like a beachy wave. They're very piecey. You see some of the eyes, not all of them, et cetera. Most of them they're not, don't look matted, but they don't look like they've been brushed that day. So when they go to the groomers, people are often really thrown when they brought in, hopefully it's a really well kept dog, and it doesn't come back with the piecey, teddy bear look and the coat is blown out. And can you explain a little bit why the blowing out of the coat is part of the process when a groomer's doing it right? So I think what you guys have to remember again, remember we talked about the under and top coat. We have to set the coat. We have to blow dry the roots straight, and guess what's attached to the roots guys, the ends. So, and we actually cut the coat dry. I think a lot of doodle owners don't know that. So we have to clean the hair, blow dry the hair.
It's all straight. Cause if you do have curly hair, I flattened mine and it's still starting to curl and stupid thing. Won't behave itself. You know, you, it's, it's really difficult. You're also not going to be adding product to your dogs hair. I tell doodle owners all the time, a lot of groomers will not send a dog home looking kind of curly and beach wavy, but you can very easily just take some ideally distilled water, spritz your dog and scrunch it. Right. Cause you know, it's so easy and it makes us so much happier because what happens is, as you're checking out the dog, we're double checking our work. And if we scrunch your dog's hair up, we can't see if we've made a mistake.
Right? I mean, that's the tough part. Right? And you know, again, and plus, if you guys imagine you're, if they're an artist, groomer, technician, groomers for like, you want your dog, oh, wavy, crazy, whatever, man, whatever you want. But an artist you have just taken their perfectly sculpted hand scissored dog.
They painstakingly their hands hurt. They might even be in the back, popping an ibuprofen and putting their wrist on ice for you, that haircut. And then you're like, oh, could you please mess that up for me? And they're like, “Nooo!” Every strand is even, and we're scrunching it. Yes It is. Cause, and it's funny too, because like,
if you pay attention, but groomers are like the thing that we appreciate in a haircut, you guys don't even notice. And it's funny. Cause like we feel the same way about bows and bandanas. Like we want you to admire a grooming. You're like, oh my God, I love the bow. And we're like “What about the groom?!” Looking at the shape of that top knot.
I feel like, oh, he's got so much angulation. Oh I see he had a narrower front, but you really made it look wide and voluptuous. Thank you so much. I mean, we're, you know, we're like you fixed my dog's tail set. Cause like it takes a lot to see what the faults are in a dog because every dog has faults.
And then we fix it. We had a lot of it again like standard poodles have less conformation correcting. Then when you're doing a doodle, because if I breed, like, you know, if you look at a lab's top line, their shoulder and the way it's connected, a poodle's is very different. So if you have a poodle back and then a lab shoulder,
it's almost like there's like this random like ridge and you'll see some of them have all this extra hair and a poodle well and a doodle. You guys don't want that extra poof. Right? You want it to be more even and more balanced and that's great, but that takes a lot more work, but it takes a really skillful eye to do that.
And that's not easy, especially cause most doodles are happy, go lucky or they're anxious. I feel like they come in two flavors. So they're either like panting, incessantly, like, “Oh my God, I'm going to die.” Or they're like, “Hi!, you're my friend. And hi, you're my friend. And you're my friend,” you know?
And that's very tough. It's like, please sit still because my sharp objects, like, like we don't want to cut you today. Please let's go, go home with all of ourlegs. But it is hard, you know? And I do think that's another thing too, is like you have to stand, like it can take a year or two to have a dog sit perfectly still.
So the people that I know that breed and show poodles, their dogs are trained from three weeks of age to stand like a statue. And actually they'll have pillows and their dog will lay its head on the pillow. And it's tough because that dog, we can enhance this or because it's taught from a very young age to sit perfectly still. And most of you guys are not teaching your,
your doodle stand. Right? If you, I want you to think about, can you guys get your doodles to stand perfectly, still standing up, no tail wagging perfectly still for 10 minutes. If you can't do it for 10 minutes, expecting us to do it for an hour or two, Especially with a hand scissor sort of request. Yeah. And that's an excellent point that some people were really interested in knowing how can they better prepare their doodle to be better for the groomer.
I have some suggestions, but I'd love to hear if you have any. So first things first, please bring your doodle as soon as you can, to a groomer. I'm if you're worried about vaccines, get a mobile groomer and call your mobile groomer. When you actually, before you even get your doodle, like literally when you put the deposit down, call them a lot of them have a year waiting list. And if you know, and so that's a great way of doing that or calling the owner saying, listen, I'm one of those good. We call them unicorn doodle owners. I just put my deposit down. I want to book, you know, first thing in the morning from the time my pet becomes eight weeks, every two or so or weeks. But things at home you can do is teaching your dog to stand and if you look up on YouTube ways to teach, what's called stacking in the show world, teaching your dog to stack and stand and stand very perfectly. And there's many ways of doing that. Actually have lots of dog trainers that can come on and train that.
Another thing that I think a lot of owners don't realize is don't use squirt bottles to create punishment. That's we spritz things I could just, and your dog is going to need product. Okay. So when you use a water bottle, the other thing is too, is don't play with vacuums, don't make the vacuum the “Monster”. What I actually, when I was a dog trainer, what was one thing I would teach people is to put whatever their food is. If they're they're a good eater, not all poodle mixes are good eaters True. But if they are, you guys should put on YouTube, just put on YouTube at the sound of a vacuum while they're eating and they're associating something positive with that.
Or, you know, you can say things like dryers on and then click the sound and give them something high value that they'll go “Oh this is really good,” or throw the ball. If they're fetcher's throw the ball and be like, you know, and that way they hear that or they hear the sound and they associate that with something really positive. Don't use the water hose in your backyard as a play thing.
Don't spray water and let them bite at it. Especially your herding mixes are going to see that. And what happens is we put them in a tub and they're a danger to our staff because they think they're playing and they can accidentally rip open our bather's hands. And they don't mean to, they've just always been told, like chase the water and they're just excitedly biting at it.
And if my hands in the way, guess what, that's it. And if you ever touch it, I want you to touch your hand muscles for a second. And by the way, this is how we make our money. Your dog could end someone's career because they're just playing. Excellent insight. And there's obviously things like brushing, but brushing, we always warn you. If you're going to do brushing, you've got to commit to it. Don't half brush your dog. Don't skunk stripe, brush your dog. Oh, Oh yes. Explain what you mean with that. I know exactly what you mean by explain that for us. So one thing that we noticed, especially with doodle owners and I always feel really bad cause they're like so excited.
They're like, I've been brushing my dog. I'm like, yes. And then it's what we call the skunk stripe. So if you imagine like the dog's back, it's literally just the dog's back. So it might be the head, but it's never the muzzle. Right? It's like the top of the head, the neck and then all along, down to the tail.
And then we're like, well, what about the legs? And they're like, what about the legs? Did you brush the legs? So like, I think so We always laugh. Cause you guys will say like, just, just shave the mats out. So you want him to actually look like a little sheep? Cause we're gonna have to like completely strip his legs and the, if his whole body, cause you're like, you did a good job on the body or they'll forget the belly. Yes. And it's really unfortunate too. I'm like, you know, it's funny. Cause people are like, why do people shave poodle faces and shave their feet? And like, have you ever tried to de mat a dog's toes? No, because they got a little bit here in between. You've got a comb and brush that all up. That's a lot of work. Yeah. And you can understand why the skunk brushing would happen as that is how a quote compliant doodle, not one who's loving brushing will let you do. That's the position they'd likely lay in and the parts that bother them, the least. And so you really have to counter condition and get them used to the belly behind the ears, the hips, the tail. I know. And it's so funny too, because I laugh. A lot of you guys, unfortunately are when you're, when you're petting your dog, you're adding a lot of natural oils and think about everything you touch and you're putting all of that, whatever you've touched and you pet your dog, you're actually putting that on your dog. So if you put a lotion on your body or you're putting product in your hair and you don't wash your hands before you touch your dog. Cause none of, I mean, nobody does, right? Yeah. Especially cause you're like, you'll do a quick belly rubs.
You'll like put product in your hair and your dog lays on his belly. You're like, Ooh, belly rub. Right. Well then you've just scrunched in all of that product. And if you only see your dog once a month, we've got 30 days worth of hair. Gel stuck in that belly. But you know, things we don't think about.
So I'm also doing this motion. If you have curly hair, you ever do this to your hair? No, because it damages your hair. My husband knows he's not allowed to touch my hair when it's curly, it's going to knot right up! I feel like if we took like all the curly girl hair knowledge and we just applied it to dogs and you'd go, oh Right. You bring up how often you're seeing the doodles. Can you tell me what if we're not doing scissoring? If we're doing like a medium clipper cut and they want to avoid their doodle getting shaved, what would be if they were the unicorn doodle parent. And then what would you think the, the most reasonable would be for the average doodle parent?
What would you guys love to see? So I'm going to speak for me. Not everyone else, because I feel like every groomer, again, I'm a technician, groomer, not an artist. Artists are like, I want to do this and all my God and dah, dah, dah. So I think what's unfortunate is I feel like what you guys consider shaved.
A lot of us just considered like a sport cut or what we would call a kennel cut to us. Shaved is like to the skin like Mr. Clean, bald, like what we'd call a 10 strip. So when we think shaved, that's what we think. And again, I think that's a lot of misunderstanding. Also puppy cut is actually a poodle cut.
So you say don't poodle my doodle, then say puppy cut. We're like you just like saidall kinds of things. We don't know what you're talking about. But so I'm a technician groomer. I'm a very practical person, a half an inch every month is you can go swimming. You can do anything you want. And half an inch is not a lot of hair, but at a half an inch, your dog can go swimming and go play ball and go play with your kids and play with our dogs. And I am not a big fan of brushing. I have a standard poodle and she hates to be brushed. And guess what? I don't like to brush her either. So I would rather just keep her short and maintained.
And if she needs, if she gets longer and that would be like a 5/8ths or an inch cut, I will get her a bath and a blow dry every two weeks. And that is again to set those roots because I don't want to be, I don't want to brush her. And I think that's where you guys have to decide to do I want to do any home maintenance?
Am I honestly going to do that home maintenance or do I want to have the groomer? I mean, I, when I had my shop, we had lots of doodle owners, great doodle owners that would come in every week because their dog did like to go in the ocean and guess what? You have hair and you go in the ocean was your hair do- frizzes right up.
And so they would come in, they'd come in every Monday morning and they're talking, we'd get their blowouts and then they can be clean all week. And then they got to be wild all weekend, you know? And it was a great way of maintaining it. But I like to see, I think a doodle looks really nice at about 5/8ths of a coat.
And again, things like “teddy bear cuts”. Every groomer has a different interpretation. That doesn't mean anything. Right. So we vaguely know what it means. We know that means you want it kind of fluffy, but not super fluffy. But again, when we think “teddy bear”, we think kind of fluffy and round somewhere it's round. So if you asked me, but a lot of us groomers I'm really, this is like a little confessional here. I used to make up names of haircuts because then I got to do whatever I want. I'd be like, oh, you want the “Benji cut”? They're like, yeah, “Benji cut.” I've heard of the “Benji cut.” And we hear all kinds of crazy stuff.
I had a lady tell me she wanted her doodle to look like a little Dutch boy and right. I mean, we get, we get all kinds and lots of times…You can bring In the overalls? Or I was like, well then, then you have to play detective. And I don't think you guys realize how it, but I do think it is tough because like with a shih tzu,
I can give you a menu of options. But with doodles, I, there is no, your dog is unique. I can't even if, even if you have a litter mate, we don't, they're probably not going to look completely similar. So I can't give you what that dog is going to look like. I'm like, listen, we're going to find out.
And I think that's the thing. Right. But I like, I like a doodle and again, take it for its worth. I say, I don't like beards. I'll tell you why, because it just gets nasty everywhere. Like so, but I like, I like short ears, I like shaped ears where I liked them to the chin. Like I think it looks very puppyish.
I agree- that's the request I do for mine. Yeah. I liked that. I liked that little thing. I like less of like a, I don't like the stock, which is here. I like that to be very rounded and round into the skull. I liked that. Look at it, very liquid. I would consider a “teddy bear.”
Right? Where you think about that. And then I do. I like, because I'm a practical human being. I like the legs a little bit shorter on than the body, which is not the most attractive. But let me tell you if your dog loves to swim or your dog loves to like run through the woods, you're pulling stuff out of your checking for ticks.
The last thing I want to do, I'd probably check through the body because the body's the easiest, right? So that's, if you can imagine that, but there is every, you know, like there's things like even the poodle world, people make up, like, they'll say, oh, I want a modern, I'm like, what is a modern,
I don't know what that means. I've had a standard poodle and I don't either. And it's just like or there'll be, I want a modified Miami. I'm like, okay, let me pull up my groomer book, you know, but even listen. And just to talk to you guys about that, like Cocker spaniel owners and schnauzer owners do the same thing where they'll say they want the breed standard, but they don't because the breed standard is significantly different than what they actually want. So a lot of times it's you guys giving us the grace and understanding. It could take us a year to figure out what you want. And we wish we could pull out of your head, but we can't. And your dog's hair is going to keep changing. And if you live in a four season area, we're going to have to modify it just depending upon your lifestyle, you guys go away to the beach every weekend, having that dog be super long, it's not realistic, no different than you would a friend with platinum blonde hair. She is not in the ocean rolling around the dirt. Right. And if she is, she is super meticulous with her hair.
She spends a lot of money at that salon. Right? Yeah. So I hope that helps a little bit, right? I mean A lot, a lot of pet peeve, a common pet peeve for doodle parents is when the bridge of the nose is shaved. And that's often where we hear the phrase, they poodled my doodle. Well, our doodles are usually at least half poodle.
So It's so, so first things first, actually, I want you guys to know this as groomers. We also hate that. Like we will, in groups if we see people shave the bridge of the nose we're like “Nooooo!” And it's, it's a very old school tactic, that's actually from people that would do pets on 12 weeks schedules, because it would take, it's basically like doing what you remember a baby bangs, right? So if you want like the Zooey Deschanel bangs, that's like when we just trimmed the corners, cause that's only going to last you two weeks. Right. And then you're going to, you can't see. Right. But a proper bangs here. But so when someone shaves the bridge of the nose thing, baby bang like that, they're like,
I'm going to let this grow. So, or it's their style and their interpretation of that style. I don't like it. I feel like it's very so on a poodle, it's very flattering because their, their nose is like, like a gun. But if you have that wide stop, like a lot of other breeds do like you have a more boxy skull, it's really unflattering. And to really it's really, and again, but ready. This is also why we need groomers who have more education and more style. And that's the thing you have to understand is that what they could do with a shih tzu or what they could do with a Yorkie may look really poor on a dog because they don't know conformation. And that could either be a young groomer or an older groomer who was like, you know what? This is my style. If they don't like it, they can go somewhere else. And you mentioned, if somebody wants more low maintenance and they are too busy or their dog doesn't like being brushed, what that ideal schedule would be, what would be the ideal schedule for some of our really committed doodle guardians who are really willing to do some daily, brushing all over the coat, but still want to be on a regular schedule with their groomer. So I will tell you guys, this, I personally full heartedly believe four weeks is the longest. You should go in between seeing a rumor. And I'll tell you why. When a pet comes in every four weeks, it's a part of life. A lot of pets, you have to remember, okay, this is my belief system. Take it for its worth. So if every human year is seven dog years, that means every eight weeks is one dog year. So when they come in every four weeks, it is mentally every six months. Any of you guys have children, your child is significantly better at the dentist.
If he comes to twice a year, then if you do it once a year, you're also going to less likely to have cavities, right? The flea cycle is around 22 to 30 days depending what you, so I don't do fleet dogs. A lot of us don't do fleadogs, but we're going to catch it. We're going to say, Hey,
I noticed on Monte, he had two fleas. Keep an eye on your yard versus having an entire cycle. Most groomers I know are going down to a four week or less model. They're not going to do six or eight weeks. There's such a shortage that they'd rather commit to clients and they want to have a relationship with your dog. And that's the best way they can do it.
It's less work on them. It's less work on your dog. A great analogy I heard. And I didn't realize I was doing this accidentally was when I would go to hotel rooms, I would only let them clean on the last day. So I would be there for four days and I would be like, oh, they don't need to clean. And then it's four days later, right? Did you do you know, they actually hate that because it's no more work. It's more work for them because instead of it being a short, quick thing they have to do a massive deep clean, Oh, I thought I was doing the nice thing. I know exactly. And I feel like doodle owners think, but I brushed him so I can go six weeks.
It's like, no, you can. But guess what there's going to be. It's really tough. Because even if your dog you think is perfect, every four weeks, it takes about four weeks for a pattern to grow out. So again, if your dog we're fixing your dog's conformation, there's nothing wrong with that. It just is what it is.
Even poodles conformation fix. But if you have like a big boxy lab chest, and then little tiny poodle legs, like we have a lot of work to do there. We're going to, we're going to make hair where there's no, there's no leg there. And so when you wait more than four weeks, we lose your dog's patterns. So you're the kind of person who's like,
I don't care. My dog doesn't need to have any style. I don't care about. I don't like basically the person who wants it, their dog shaved bald. They could go a little longer. It's not good for their mental health, but we're not creating any kind of pattern after four weeks, I have to recreate that pattern. And that's significantly more work.
Another great analogy. And I'm sorry for analogies, but this is going to get to you guys. I promise. So if you guys have ever been platinum blonde, I was, and it was a mistake, but I was. So would you do is like when your roots grow out, you have to get them done every two or four weeks, depending upon how fast your hair grows.
So you're like, oh, well I'll wait a little bit longer. Cause it's a little bit further. I'll get more from my money. But what happens is that the heat from your head actually makes the hair dye faster. So they have to watch your hair because your hair is going to have different points. And it's going to lift in different areas at different times.
When you go more than four weeks, we can't hand you a baby groomer. You need a groomer who has five to 10 years worth of experience because we have to reset that pattern every time. And guess what? With a groomer shortage, that means you're going to be paying significantly, significantly more and just sort of break. And just remember to, you know, think about what a livable wage is, where you live. Is that a hundred grand a year? Like how much is rent? So rent's two grand. You have to make three to four times that that's $6-8,000, $8,000 a month is $50 an hour. If we're going to keep that payroll at 30%, that means that your dog is $150 bucks an hour.
And if your dog takes for a shave down two hours and it takes a, for a more manicured look takes three or four. Think about that. That is at least $300, right. To $600, right. To be able to pay that groomer just to wait two weeks, is it worth it? Because again, we have to redefine that entire haircut.
We have to look at your dog like a brand new dog, instead of just going, okay, it looks like I created this line. Looks like I created that line. No, instead they're like, oh man, what did I do here? I can't see it. It's grown out too much. Oh, that's fascinating. So if someone is trying to grow their doodle coat out longer, but still want to be that unicorn client that comes in maximum amount of space of eight weeks. Can they continue keeping that line and still grow out the coat with you by doing bath of blowouts? Well, it depends it really, again, ready? You guys have so many different coat types. I can't even answer that because guess what? You have to have a real, you really need a good relationship with your groomer. And that's what it comes down to. You have to tell them what you want. It's no different than if you have a good hairstyle. So you say, this is what I want. I had a pixie cut guys. I'm growing out my pixie cut. I have to have a good relationship. She's going to help me grow my hair by still going for regular trims.
And I will say, this is that eight weeks is too long for doodle. I don't care if you brush your dog every day, if they need to have a, unless of you have been trained by a professional groomer, because don't forget to your brushing a dirty coat. If you didn't wash your hair and you were just brushing dirt, skin cells, you know, slobber, you're just brushing that through your hair, right? That's not good for you. That's how you create coat breakage. And you guys know if you want to grow your hair out, you still get trims. Right? Right. That's true. And we maintain our own hair at home. We're using hundreds of dollars worth of products and all that.
And I'm excited to talk to your exclusive membership more about what products they can use and things like that. So they're getting some juicy insight after this. Thank you. We really appreciate it. The Doodle Pro Society is excited to have their time with you. I'm going to ask you one more question, just to close. You mentioned us having strong relationships with our groomers.
And if we want to do better on our part, here's your chance to tell us what a lot of doodle parents asked, what are we doing that's driving groomers crazy? What can we do better? Unfortunately, there's too many to count, but let's start small and it's not your fault. Okay? You have to understand is that most groomers
We were under a lot of pressure. A lot of us are having to significantly increase our prices. We don't have help. We can't hire help. So you're like, what can I do? And you have this big, let's say, you know, I know you guys don't consider 50 pounds a big doodle, but by the way, OSHA means that we have to have two people to lift the dog.
You know? So it's a lot, I'm saying puppy, cut, puppy cut is a thing. It's you're not, you know, it's kind of funny. It would be like, if I made up doodle to mean something different and you'd like, that's, that's a word. It has a meaning. And one thing that you guys say, poodle my doodle to us.
When you say poodle, my doodle, we think you don't want the clean face and feet. Right? You don't have the whole muzzle shaved. That's what you're Right. But here's the thing with that. So in a poodle that is done with a 10 or 15 reverse, which is to the skin.
So even a short muzzle, you really can be poodle your doodle also. And I'm going to be a little trigger warning here. Your dog is part poodle. So you not, you don't when we shave your dog, you never say we Labradored your poodle. Like, why is that not a thing I would love for you guys to be like, oh,
I love the goldened my doodle. And don't forget it. There's so different. There's so many haircuts. We don't, we want to know what you want and it could take awhile. It could take awhile. And that's where coming in every month, letting us check the coat length,letting us look at how the coat is growing out and understanding that your dog, its coat is going to change its entire life. If you spay your dog or neuter your dog later, you're going to, you could have spay coat, come in. You could have thinning of the coat. If you change what food they're on, that could change. There's so many things that a well-trained groomer. And I think that's one thing.
Actually, I want to point out, I don't know if you know that there is no licensing or standardization of the grooming industry, you could go to Walmart, pick up a pair of Clippers and start a grooming salon. But I would say that I think a lot of it is just stemming from we're burnt out. We're overwhelmed. And you guys act like it's so easy.
It's like, what? Just do this. We couldn't have done it in the last six months, but you should be able to do it in one hour. And I think if you guys can be nice to your groomer, tip them really, really well. Most of them are not making as much as you think they would. A lot of them are working 60 to 80 hours a week.
A lot of them are actually losing money in their business. After coven. I know a lot of salon owners who are a hair away from it. And I think what you guys should know too, is that a lot of people, it's not the dogs that we don't want to groom. It's unrealistic expectations. Right. And I guess, and so we maybe come to your grimmer and before you bring in the dogs, the first one and say, Hey, can we have a consultation? Can we sit down and make a plan for my dog and figure out what it's going to be like the rest of his life. It's a 10 to 15 year commitment again, In a relationship that you're building. I think, I think that's one of the major things is that if you build a relationship with your groomer, you're going to be so much happier. And we want those unicorn clients. I listen, I know this is the unicorn client people group here right? Cause you guys want to know you, you care enough. I really want to honor that. I want to be here to bridge that, you know, because we're, we're upset because we know it's going to be a shock when you guys come to a shop and we're charging $200 to $500 for a doodle every four weeks, that's going to be shock for you guys. But if we don't do that, you're going to be doing it yourself. And that is an option. And I, you know, just be careful, don't, don't cut an ear off and you know, hair grows back, you know, but you know, but that's it. And I would say the biggest thing is, like I said before, when you put your deposit on your puppy, contact a groomer, like make those appointments, make a plan and understand your groomer's going to be upset. And it's not that you're upset with you or your dog. A lot of it is that we see so many dogs who owners are not prepared. Again. I want you to imagine you're a mechanic and everyone's owned a Tesla and you're saying,
I've always owned Teslas, but now I bought this Ferrari, what am I, what am I in store for? They're a little triggered. Just be like, Hey, listen, it's all good. Like I'm here to build this relationship with you. And then you're like, oh my God, thank God. Thank you for helping us be better. Doodle parents for the groomers.
I really appreciate it feels like you pulled the curtain aside and brought us back into the backside of the salon and let us know what it's really like on your side of things. I really appreciate it. I want to thank you guys so much for listening and just know like we're in all together. We all love the dogs. It's a matter of coming together and bridging this gap and you know what?
It'll all work out. Great. Thank you River.