Taking a stroll down grooming memory lane and recalling the years when five or six Shih Tzus crossed my table every day helped remind me that dog breed trends do come and go with the whim of the humans that buy them.
True confession. I have a weird quirk. I tend to think that the way things are right now is the way they will always be. So, for example, if the weather is dreary for a few days, I get into the mindset that it has always been that way and will stay as such until the end of time. Rationally, I understand that this is not true, but my funny brain gets sort of stuck. I need a reminder to help me realize that time brings change.
A long-time grooming friend of mine, Bonnie Peregoy (Bonnie’s Dog and Cat Grooming, Washington, DC), recently wrote a fascinating post on Facebook that had me nodding my head in agreement and remembering changes that I have seen in the grooming industry over the years. For example, I recalled when grooming didn’t involve endless Poodle mixes, but had other genuine challenges instead.
Bonnie has been involved in dogs most of her life and has been grooming since the 1970s. She has been at her busy Washington, DC location since 1997. Her post started with some statistics from Wikipedia: “For 25 years, the American Cocker Spaniel was the most popular dog in America. It was ranked number one first in 1936…and held onto the spot until 1952, when Beagles became the most popular dogs. It regained the spot in 1983 and held on at number one until 1990.”
Then Bonnie wrote, “Old groomers like me remember when every second or third call was for cocker grooming, and they always had to be shaved down in spite of the fact that the owners wanted full furnishings or something approximating a show groom. The ‘brush at home’ speech was no different than today. The outcome was no different either. Many of their temperaments were iffy, and their ears stunk. All of this explains why most people didn’t get a second one.
“My own breed, the Afghan Hound, roared into popularity in the 70s (when I got my first one). Even Barbie had an Afghan Hound. Professional grooming that left them ‘looking like an Afghan Hound’ was out of the question. I was fortunate that the breeder I got my first one from said that before I could take one home, I would need a crate, a grooming table, and a stand dryer, and the dog would have to be bathed and thoroughly blown dry once a week. That equipment and experience launched my grooming career. But, the Afghan Hound could not have been a more inappropriate pet for most Americans; they are very cat-like in temperament, extremely difficult to train, and need a large, fenced area for exercise.
“In one year, the Southern New Jersey Afghan Hound club that I was a member of had to take in over 200 individual Afghan Hounds in our rescue program. People tired of them quickly and dumped them into rescue, and nobody—other than a few fools like me—got a second one. In popularity, they were rapidly replaced by the Chow Chow. Oh, what cute puppies Chows were in the pet stores that then existed in every mall and most shopping centers. What a disaster they were as pets. Besides the unmanageable coat, they would bite just about anyone. But groomers like me in the 80s could count on seeing several each week,” Bonnie recalled.
I vividly remember the Chow days. I used to have nightmares about them and try to push my newlywed husband out of our bed, thinking he was a Chow I was supposed to groom! I could also remember the popularity of another breed at about this same time, the Lhasa Apso. Though much smaller, they also had a challenging coat and often less-than-stellar temperaments.
“All of this is just an introduction to the ‘Newfadoodle’ we groomed on New Year’s Eve,” Bonnie continued. “The dog wasn’t in awful shape; there was definitely some brushing going on at home. But really that does not matter because we all know the ‘trouble spots’ on a dog like that are going to take as much work in each spot as grooming an entire Yorkie. This dog probably weighed more than 125 lbs.”
Bonnie’s grooming salon commands Washington, DC prices, and she quoted the owner a fee of $300 for a short trim or $600 for anything “fluffy.” The woman said she expected the price to be astronomical, but not that astronomical. She opted for the lesser-priced groom and was pleased with the finished result.
Bonnie finished up with, “The point of this story is that for whatever reason this person thought she wanted this dog, she probably won’t be getting a second one. And I can say the same thing about 95% of the people who bought the big ‘doodles.’ It will be one and done. I suspect smaller poodle mixes will remain popular and get smaller. I think this craze with the big ones will be just a memory for any groomers who stick around as long as I have.”
Reading this cheered me immensely. Although I no longer groom large dogs, I empathize with younger groomers who must deal with the fallout of the large “oodle” mixes. Taking a stroll down grooming memory lane and recalling the years when five or six Shih Tzus crossed my table every day, and the miniature Schnauzer years (I miss them!) helped remind me that dog breed trends do come and go with the whim of the humans that buy them.
It is a happy realization to know that these often challenging large Poodle mixes will someday be a distant memory. But, of course, no one knows what the next fad will be. May the grooming gods smile upon us and send us a kinder trend for our bodies and psyches! ✂️