WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
The difference is a lot and not much. There is an organization called the National Dog Groomers Association. It simply means you know the show dog standard of how to cut a dog’s hair or aka breed standard. It also says you know anatomy, identify breeds, dog terms. They cover ever so lightly what most of us already knew before we entered pre-med for vet school. For master groomer there are practical as well as written exams. Also if you belong to the group they have a number of services you are entitled to. Most liked is the liability insurance the members get or the, “if you sue me over injury or death I’m covered.” For people who started grooming in the 1970s most apprenticed with those people who groomed show dogs which is a very strict standard of “cutting” hair.
Does being a master groomer insure your pet will look better than just a pet groomer? Yes and no. If you compare a master groomer to most groomer’s in a pet grooming store, most assuredly the master groomer dog will “look like the book”. Most groomer’s in pet shops are not taught by people who know the “by the book” look. What some know is what the pet look is. There in lies the big difference.
The “pet look” is what most people want their dogs to look like. They do not care about the fluffy, foo-foo show dog look. They want a dog that smells nice, is not dirty and has hair that is easy to take care of. Most pet people do not really want the big fluffy face on their pet Bichon or all the long fluffy hair.
The “show dog look” is not that often asked for in basic pet grooming. Equally show dogs are bred for a number of qualities one of which is coat (hair). When someone hands me a pet-quality dog and then shows me a book with a champion show dog and says, I want my dog to look like that! I always tell them, give a champion show and your dog can look like that.
A master groomer does not insure that your dog will not be abused, injured, get an infectious disease any more than it would from a pet groomer. If your dog was groomed by a master groomer and someone who is not certified (and that person was either trained by a show dog groomer or had groomed show dogs in the past), you would not be able to tell the difference between the hair cuts.
Unfortunately the average life span of a groomer in the industry is less than three years. Most of them do not know how to groom a dog properly let alone how to handle one. That is why some people are very cautious about finding a groomer. You cannot learn how to groom a dog by videos or reading a book. Some of us who trained the old fashion way had to learn how to cut a ball on Afro wigs! If we could make a perfect circle after the head groomer chopped it up we were allowed to have scissors near a dog.
Most excellent pet groomer’s are not certified for many reasons. However that does not mean they do not know how to cut a dog’s hair. Whether a master groomer or pet groomer there are two things to know. If the person wants the “show look” by all means if you are experienced enough do so. If they are the average person who just wants a nice, clean and easy to maintain haircut, do what they want but explain the differences between the two types of cuts and show them pictures.