Book Reviews - Groomer to Groomer

Book Reviews

By Daryl Conner

The All Breed Dog Grooming Guide 4th Edition

By Sam Kohl

Sam Kohl has been an industry legend since before I was even old enough to hold a dog brush. Earlier editions of his All Breed Grooming Guide were the standard “bible” for groomers for a great many years. Not one to leave well enough alone, he completely revamped and updated the guide in 2012.

There is so much information in this book; I truly believe it belongs on the bookshelf of every groomer. Novice groomers, in particular, will find the answers to many questions tucked nicely inside this clearly written guide. Early pages have a wealth of information about tools, health and safety issues for groomers, and some excellent information about handling and controlling pets.

Have you ever wondered how to best cut bandana type neckerchiefs from fabric? This book will show you how. What about how to most effectively get skunk scent out of a pet’s coat? It’s here! Did you know that hanging scissors or clipper blades on a magnet can affect the way they cut? These are the types of nuggets of knowledge this book is filled with.

There is also helpful information about grooming tools, release forms, calculating fees, and even some great tips on the best way to shave a badly matted pet.

One fun feature of the Guide is the addition of pages called “Groomers Message Board”. Nice little hints and tips are randomly “pinned” on the board. Appealing photos are there, too, enhancing the visual appeal of this attractive book.

Perhaps what I love best about this updated edition is the detailed way that certain difficult-to-master pet grooming techniques are explained. Many grooming books show lovely “big picture” photos or drawings of dogs, but The All Breed Grooming Guide breaks down some of the hard to understand techniques. For example, I know that many groomers struggle mightily with the concept of the tufts on Scottish Terrier ears. Page 529 is entirely dedicated to both ear tufts and eye brows on this breed. Using beautifully executed drawings and diagrams, along with clearly written instructions, this tricky little grooming technique is perfectly explained. Bonus: dog breeds are listed alphabetically, which makes it simple to find what you are looking for when you are in a hurry.

I’m proud to have the original Guide that I bought when I was a new groomer 32 years ago snuggled up next to the latest edition on my bookshelf. The industry has changed a lot over the decades I have been a part of, and Kohl’s beautiful book captures much of the progress within its covers.

Notes from the Grooming Table 2nd Edition

By Melissa Verplank

Let’s say a new customer calls you and makes an appointment for their Spanish Water Dog, and you have never groomed one before. This uncommon breed was recently accepted by the American Kennel Club and is gaining popularity across the U.S.  They fall into the “rustic breed” category and have specific and unique grooming requirements. If you have the new second edition of Notes from the Grooming Table, all you have to do is turn to page 554 to receive clear, excellent step-by-step instructions on how to style this dog to breed standard.

I didn’t think anything could eclipse Verplank’s must-have first edition of Notes, but the addition of several new breeds that may be coming to a table near you makes this book an even better treasure.  If you don’t know how to properly scrub a Sloughi or have no knowledge about Norrbottenspets, you need to have the new edition of Notes in your reference library.

As before, Lisa VanSweden’s artwork is breathtakingly beautiful. She somehow manages to capture the essence of both well known and rare breeds.  She catches the sparkle in the eyes of the whimsical Pumi, the spirit of what makes a terrier look like a terrier, the elegance of the Borzoi and Poodle and so much more.

Early chapters have clear information on the all important “pre-work” that is the basis of every good groom. This makes an excellent reference for training new bathing staff members.  In depth descriptions of tools from clippers to combs and everything in between is an excellent reference for newer groomers. The same can be said of the section on canine anatomy, though it is a handy refresher for seasoned stylists as well.

No matter how long you have been grooming, when a breed you rarely or never see comes in for a spa day, you will appreciate the investment you made in this superior reference book.

Dog Grooming Simplified: Straight to the Point

By Jodi Murphy

Jodi Murphy, a well known and highly respected figure in the pet grooming industry, put together a unique book to help groomers grasp how to best place patterns on the pets they groom.  Beyond breaking down grooming instructions for each individual breed, Murphy uses a set of three pattern groups to simplify the process of understanding the basic lines that can be used to groom a myriad of breeds.  She separates the patterns into “Terrier-like,” “Setter-like,” and “Sculpted body trims.”

Over 400 fabulous, full color photographs are used for illustrating the breeds, with a unique, color coded chart accompanying each photograph to show what lengths and techniques are suggested on which area of the dog.  Busy groomers can glance at the photograph, even from a distance, and instantly see what length/technique to use on each area of the pet’s body.

Interesting and helpful grooming tips are generously spread through the book, as are informative snippets about many breeds.

The section of the book which describes sculpted body trims goes into great detail, describing balance and proportion, areas which many groomers struggle with.

Murphy offers a wonderful chapter illustrating the different types of ears found on dogs, with photographs showing how those ears should look when properly groomed.  She does the same for tails, showing the difference between flag, carrot and poodle tails, just to name a few.  This section also boasts amazing close-up photographs so that readers can see exactly what the end result should look like.

The wrap up chapter, aptly called, “Mixing it Up,” shows wonderful ideas on how to use the patterns mentioned above to make mixed breeds look their best.

Finally, there is an excellent section to aide groomers in working with each pet’s structure to camouflage faults.

I find that I often turn to this book, even when grooming breeds I am familiar with, to see where I might improve my “game” a bit.  This grooming book is unlike any other I have owned, and it is well used in my studio. ✂

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