"Don't make him look like a poodle!"

There are a lot of things that we hear at a grooming shop that we laugh off. Once you’ve been working with dogs for a little while, you hear the same things over and over again. Most of them don’t get to me, except “don’t make him look like a poodle” or “the last groomer made him look like a poodle.” I want to take a few minutes to go into detail about why this is one of the worst things you can say to your groomer.

  1. When you say you don’t want your dog to look like something, you have an idea in your head of what that something is. The truth is, what you see, and what I see are two completely different things. I had a customer once tell me that I made his Schnauzer look like a Poodle. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what I could have possibly done to make a Schnauzer look like a Poodle.

    Imagine if I walked into my salon and asked my hairdresser not to make me look like Jennifer Aniston. The poor woman would need to figure out what exactly I didn’t want! Did I not want the length she has, the color, the “Rachel” look from her days on Friends? When I think of breed standard haircuts, especially on a Poodle, we think of them as form fitting for the specific breed. Each haircut is designed to accentuate certain parts of the breed needed for working. So don’t be surprised when you tell me not to make your dog look like a Poodle, I will ask you about a dozen questions trying to figure out what you actually mean.

  2. Asking me not to make your dog look like something is making an assumption that I will do a haircut that you are not requesting. You are assuming that after our in depth conversation about what haircut you do want for your dog, I’m going to ignore everything and give your dog a shaved face, big head and kidney patches. My job is to give your dog the haircut you want, even if it isn’t something I would prefer to do. I am here to please you and give you back a clean and healthy pet. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, tell me what you do want.

  3. We hear this phrase the most when it comes to dogs mixed with Poodle. A phrase repeated quite often in the early days of designer breeds was “Don’t Poodle my Doodle!” When it comes to Doodles, or any poodle mix, if they have that curly coat, they are going to look like a Poodle when I am done. The most common haircut I do on Doodles is a 3/4” body with a 1” round head, which is technically, wait for it, a Poodle cut! That cute round face that you love on your Doodle? That’s what we call a Teddy Bear face. We’re attempting for a round, donut shaped muzzle and a round head with ears up to the customers preference.

  4. Poodles are the most versatile dogs in the grooming industry. I can make a poodle look like anything. I can make them look like Bedlington Terriers. I could give them a Schnauzer cut. I can make them look like Doodles! Poodles have a coat designed to be cut and styled in many different ways, there are even entire books dedicated to just Poodle cuts!

My overall message here, is just to talk to your groomer. Tell him or her what you want your dog to look like. Use as descriptive of words as you possibly can. If you can say that you want half off, or 1” left on the body with a slightly longer, round head and long ears, I will know EXACTLY what to do!

And for reference, the picture at the top of this article is what I think of when I think of a Poodle. This is Sebastian, one of my favorite dogs on the entire planet, hanging out with my daughter Grace. So be warned, if you ever ask me to make your dog look LIKE a Poodle, they’re getting a colored mohawk. :)