All Mixed Up!

Article written by: Melinda Owsley

In the words of the great Bob Dylan…the times, they are a’ changing.  17 years ago, when I completed grooming school, we focused our main attention in breed standards. I remember the Complete Dog Book from the  AKC as one of our primary text books.  We focused of pure breeds because that’s what we mostly worked with.  Pure bred dogs got groomed, mixed breeds ran around back roads in the country.  Today, probably 75% of my clientele fall in the “designer breed” category, and are most certainly “groom dogs”.  I go days sometimes without seeing a purebred dog.
This bothered me greatly, when the phenomena began.  I didn’t want to see us lose the value of our purebred dogs, but mostly, I didn’t like seeing my clients lied to and exploited, by the ever famous, pocket padding, breeder of the non-shedding, non-matting, doodle.  It hurt my heart to see breeders that work so hard to preserve and protect their breeds, get passed over, in search of an even more expensive mutt.  I’ve come now to just accept it.
I see so much ugliness on the professional grooming groups, in response to mixed breeds.  So much disrespect to the owner, of said mixed breed… So much personal offense and indignation. Jokes and cutting comments when legitimate questions are asked. “What is the best length for a doodle?” “A #7f all over!!!” Tons of laughter… It’s getting old, groomers.  While I agree that we are responsible for educating our clients, we should do so gently, and by leading with example.  I don’t consume animal byproducts anymore… How obnoxious would I appear if I were a waitress,  taking an order like, O…M…G… you want steak??? I hope you like diabetes, then proceed to make their order look and taste horrible, just because I could? This may seem ridiculous, but is our general attitude really that different?
I don’t support or recommend any dog be bred, sold, or bought, unless it is by a dedicated breeder that health tests and guarantees puppies.  I personally own two wonderfully bred Standard Poodles and a Cocker Spaniel.  My clients see this, my clients get my advice if they ask for it.  I lead by example.  I personally feel if you aren’t willing to invest in a dedicated breeder you should adopt.  Indiscriminate breeding didn’t start with Doodles.  Allergy ridden, bad bite, bad eyes, ill tempered, fiddle fronted, Shih Tzus made up LITERALLY 75% of my clientele for a decade. When it wasn’t them it was a warty, puss eared, pooping Cocker on my table…all of them were “purebred” but no closer to breed standard than I was… Society is never going to make sense, they are always going to go from one goofy trend to the next. Personally, I prefer Doodles and Mixiewhatsits to the Shih Tzu and Cocker of yesteryear.
I give my mixed breed clients the same care, consideration, time, and quality work as I give my pedigreed crew… I use the same product, strive for balance, and work to find each pet’s perfect trim.  Why? Because I like money, I like referrals, and I love tips.  I am a stylist, and I approach my clients in a non-judgmental way.  I have specific products I use on apricot Poodles, due to the texture of the coat.  I love Espree’s  Keratin Oil Shampoo, and Aloe Hydrating Spray as a light conditioner, then follow up with Boost spray to help lift the floppy coat…. My Doodles get the same thing…. I want them balanced and beautiful… Not shaved down because I’m too good to groom a mutt.
It saddens, me just like it does my industry peers, that we are loosing the public’s interest in the wonderful sport of purebred dogs.  However, at least in my region, I have seen a drastic increase in the quality of care and value placed on the canine family member.  This is my main concern before anything else.  My clients hire me, because I come highly recommended, and I give them the best I have, regardless of papers… Because that’s what I do;) Happy Grooming Everyone!!!

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