competition grooming. The whippet media
competition grooming. The whippet media

How to get into competition dog grooming.

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Have you ever thought to yourself about stepping into the competition ring? Then chicken out? You feel too scared, think “I can’t do it.” I wont place. I’m not good enough?! 

You don’t need to think like that… we have your back!

Theres nothing like that feeling of stepping into the competition ring. Yes, it’s knackering, it’s scary, It’s overwhelming, but everyone’s in the same boat when we are standing in that ring. Also remember your judge has been there too.

competition grooming. The whippet media
competition grooming. The whippet media

Here are 5 reasons on why you should compete!

1. You get 2.5 hours to groom a dog without any interruptions! No phones, moaning clients or staff! 2.5 hours of pure bliss to groom a perfectly prepped pooch.

2. You get judges feedback! What is better than being told by a breed specialist on how you can improve? Make sure you find your judge to get your feedback.

3. Competing gives you the opportunity to learn from others around you. You can speak to other groomers you admire too.

4. Before or After your class most grooming events have seminars too so you can go watch these & learn some great advice & techniques

5. Builds up your confidence in perfecting that trim or even trying something new

Newbie groomers wanting to compete! What to do? what to bring? 

Everyone shits themselves when they first compete. Most people pack their entire salons and think “WTF HAVE I LET MYSELF IN FOR.” And trust me every single person thinks they aren’t good enough to be there the first time. But if you give it your best, when you finish you are well and truly hit with the BUG!

competition grooming. The whippet media
competition grooming. The whippet media

“When I first competed I was determined to place but it took me 2 years to actually place! I went to groomers for private tuition and took my feedback on board and finally placed”

Lia henderson

No placing is not a FAIL!

No one fails. You took part to learn and further yourself, which is considered a huge success. It means you’re passionate & want to work your way up. We all start somewhere so don’t doubt yourself by thinking you’re not good enough! We are ALL good enough in our own ways.

Top Tips for newbie competitors!

Do not take your whole salon – This is what you need

  • Portable table with single arm bar
  • Tablecloth to present your dog on to judges – (don’t wear black if grooming a black dog. You want that dog to stand out & pop for your judge)
  • Bring the equipment you only need for that groom… Cordless Clippers, trimmers, blades, scissors, comb & brush & any products you need.
  • Water for dog & Drink for yourself 

Pick a suitable dog

Don’t take a dog with you that spins 360 degrees on the table, bites you and takes a poo for everyone to see. You want to pick a dog that stands well, has a great coat & solid temperament. Make sure you practice stacking your dog for the judge. A sitting or sleeping dog isn’t a great look for the judge to look at (dogs can relax whilst waiting for judges)

Check your class eligibility 

There are different levels for all groomers in competitions from Juniors, Beginners, Students even Veterans! There is something for everyone & all grooming competitions will have a set of rules to follow. Make sure you read them before you go.


OMG prep. Prep that dog like it’s nobodies business. This is your BIGGEST MUST!!! Do not bring a dirty dog… bath the evening before or if you’re competing in the afternoon prep in the morning. Make sure there are NO TANGLES.

  • Bath x 2 – Use a shampoo to suit your dogs coat! Judges will check your prep work. (condition ONLY if you need to)
  • Stretch dry and get that coat perfect. Fluff dry that coat to within an inch of it’s life.
  • Clipping Nails. Cleaning Ears. Clipping Pads & Sanity Area. These are all allowed before your class. Before the class, poodles Feet & Face are allowed to be shaved but ONLY for the Poodle Class! 

Bring a helper

Be a diva and have an entourage! It’s always handy to have an assistant with you to help you chill before. They can look after your dog whilst you set up in the ring and grab anything you forgotten from a trade stand & feed you!

Have fun and socialise

Most of all have fun enjoy the class. The time flies by. If you are next to a friend even better! You can chat, have a laugh little boogie. If not then make friends with your neighbour! Everyone is always super friendly, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. (Remember don’t talk about your grooms… that’s considered cheating) 

Competing is a great way to get to see your grooming friends that live all over the UK (or world in some cases!) It’s a good opportunity to get a look at new products the amazing traders have to offer. You can go and watch seminars from some of your favourite groomers to ensure you keep learning while picking up clever tricks. Competing is also a really good way to show your clients you are still learning, improving your skills and having fun!

Trust me once you get the BUG you will love it. There are so many people in the grooming world who will help and guide you! Even if you go to a show as a spectator first, it’s a great way to get familiar with the set up. What have you got to lose? Nothing! So find a dog, practice and get ready to start competing! 

competition grooming. The whippet media
competition grooming. The whippet media

Want to try competing for the first time? Why not try Madra Mania? Digital international grooming competition. Click here to enter.

Listen to Nicole and Sophie on the Whip It Out Podcast here