A Cut Above

Grooming competitions give professionals a chance to snip and clip their way to victory.


Wherever people take pride in their work, competitions can be found. Pet styling is no different. In professional-level pet-grooming competitions, contestants are judged on the execution of the trim and the proper accentuation of a dog’s physical attributes. Judges focus on coat preparation and correct AKC breed-trimming standards for purebreds, or a style that complements a mixed breed. Judges also evaluate the technical execution of various grooming skills, including clipper, scissor and hand-stripping. When all of those skills are combined with balance, style, symmetry and artistic flair, you’ll find top-winning professional pet stylists.

Most shows in the United States are open to all professional pet groomers and stylists. “The contest ring entries keep growing every year,” says Sally Liddick from Barkleigh Productions, a company based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., that organizes grooming seminars and trade shows. 

Grooming shows typically break their classes into divisions: Novice or Entry level for new competitors, Intermediate for stylists who have won or placed a few times before, and Open or Expert for seasoned competitors. Each year, more professionals step into the ring. “The Novice is the largest-growing division of the three levels in International Judging Association [an organization that places judges for grooming contests] competition,” Liddick says.

Grooming classes vary based on the show. Most shows have four to six classes. Traditionally, a typical list of classes includes: Non-Sporting (both large and small) or Poodle, Sporting, Terrier (scissored), Handstripping (which is sometimes included within the Terrier class), and a Potpourri or Mixed-Breed class for mixed-breed or purebred dogs not trimmed to the breed standard.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the October 2008 issue of DOG WORLD today, or subscribe to receive the best dog articles, dog news, and dog information every month!


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