By Kathy Hosler
Oh, how times have changed in the pet care industry – and every groomer can be very thankful that they have. Not so long ago, groomers had a very limited selection when it came to choosing the combs and brushes that help them perform their jobs.
Today, groomers have a vast array of grooming tools at their disposal – from the really inexpensive to the elite custom-made, personalized ones. And, many of the combs and brushes have been designed to perform specific duties/functions that will enable the groomer to save time, turn out better finish grooms, and lessen the wear and tear on the their bodies.
High-end combs and brushes have made life easier for today’s stylists and for the pets they groom. If you are not yet using them, listen to what other groomers have discovered….
“Like everyone, I started with the Frank’s Universal Slickers,” says Master Groomer, Linda Trader. “Then, I discovered the Tuffer Than Tangles. It was a big improvement, but I still replaced them monthly. And, I advised my customers to replace them as often as you would your toothbrush.”
Linda and many other groomers realized that they were really not saving money when they bought inexpensive brushes, because they had to replace them so frequently. Linda decided to upgrade to a premium brush, and she found out that in addition to lasting a long time, the brush had many other benefits.
“I am in love with the Chris Christensen Big Black Brush! I use it for ninety-nine percent of what I do,” exclaims Linda. “It is comfortable in my hand and gentle on the dogs. It de-matts with less damage to the coat and skin. The dogs come back in for their next groom with fewer mats because of less damage. And, the owners are amazed that the dog they can’t brush at home, tolerates this brush without protest.”
Groomers are finding that upscale brushes are a smart investment – not just a pricey purchase.
“Last year we invested in the Big K Slicker, and immediately fell in love with it” says Linda Rumler of Pet Craze Grooming. “They save so much time and can get through the nappiest of coats – and it pulls curls out of Poodles like you would not believe. We definitely see a better finish on the dogs. Those crazy, thick coats on the Doodles are no match for it.”
What makes these high-end brushes and combs better than the everyday equipment that is available?
“The way the brushes and combs are designed, how they are constructed, and the materials that are used in the production, make all the difference in the finished tool,” says Ruthi Ashley-Stern, owner of Ashley Craig. “All of our brushes are ergonomically designed. For example, the longer handles are made to be used comfortably by men and women alike. There is no ‘divot’ for the thumb, so you can place your thumb wherever it is the most comfortable for you. They have a special epoxy finish that reduces friction and helps them stay cool in your hand.”
“Quality components make all the difference in the finished product when it comes to grooming tools,” says Ron Weinstein, owner of Bass Brushes and Combs. “For instance, there are many different grades of Boar bristle. You can buy a Boar bristle brush and it may have only ten percent Boar bristle and ninety percent nylon. We use one hundred percent Wild Boar bristle in ours. That makes all the difference in how it distributes the natural oils throughout the dry coat. And, we are always looking for ways to make the groomer’s life easier and more productive. We have just come out with the wet/dry Bathing Brush by Bass. It can be used in the tub and also when drying the pet.”
Carol Harvey of Puppy Bubbles tells how she graduated to using high-end brushes.
“I used Franks Universal brushes for over a decade before I heard about Les Poochs brushes,” says Carol. “I swore that there was no way a brush could be so much better as to warrant the cost to be twenty-five times higher. Then I was at a trade show that was having a silent auction, and a Les Poochs brush was one of the items. It was for a good cause, so I bid on it – and won!”
“I have to admit that I was completely shocked at the difference in the brushes,” Carol says. She continues, “Coats brushed out much easier and the dogs didn’t seem to mind the brushing. And, when I compared the two on my own arm – OMG – I felt so bad for ever using the Universal brush.”
“There is a big difference between inexpensive brushes and those that are top of the line,” shares Michel Raviol, owner of Les Poochs.
“The Brush industry has come a long way in the last fifteen years,” Michel continues, “Quality lasts; the groomers may invest more money, but their reward is time saved and reduced wear and tear on their bodies. And, quality made brushes give the dog or cat a comfortable experience. We manufacture and assemble our brushes here in the USA with high quality materials and under our direct Quality Control Standards. This assures us an outstanding and durable finished product. Furthermore, our brushes cater to breed or coat specificity – that helps the pet in its comfort level”
Brushes that perform specialized jobs are fast becoming indispensable additions to every groomer’s tool kit.
“Our brushes come in single and double wide sizes, and also the duo which is two brushes in one. Each of our brushes is designed for a specific purpose – from de-matting to finishing. We have a brush called the Coatgrabber,” says Chuck Simons of ActiVet. “It is constructed so that the tines are longer and the hooks are shorter. This allows the brush to get past the topcoat and down into the undercoat. It removes undercoat in half the time by using a ‘tap and pull’ brushing method. And, because the brush has a flexible head, instead of the groomer having to flex their wrist, the brush does it for them.”
And combs are no longer one-size-fits-all, they have evolved as well. They now come in different sizes and shapes, with different lengths of teeth and the widths between them.
“A well-made comb can last thirty to forty years,” says Ruthi of Ashley Craig. “High quality combs have teeth that won’t bend or fall out. The finished product is well-balanced, and that helps the teeth glide through the coat. Our Greyhound comb is handmade, pin by pin, and passes through no less than eleven sets of hands before it gets its colored anti-static finish coat and is ready for the groomer to use.”
“The Greyhound combs are sturdy and nicely rounded so they don’t jab the dogs skin,” shares Nancy Gross, owner of Doggone Stylish. “I have used them for years and they really hold up.”
“I love the Chris Christensen ‘face’ comb, especially for cats,” says Amanda McGrath, owner of Pine Lane Grooming. “It gives a much nicer finish and separates the hair beautifully,”
The brand of brushes and combs that a groomer decides to use is a highly personal choice. What works great for one person may not be the best fit for another. If you can go to a trade show and see how the brush or comb feels in your hand – and maybe actually try it out on a demo dog – you may just find that those high-end tools are a bargain at any price!