Same dog, different strokes. Napoleon the poodle styled two ways. Photo: Terence Toh.

A new year is a time for self-improvement. A time for change, a time to develop yourself into the best you that you can be.

The same also goes for our furry friends. This 2014, why not give your pets a new makeover?

Pet grooming outlets are flourishing around Malaysia, many of them offering affordable and comprehensive treatments for all pet breeds and types.

Marketing specialist Hilda Looi, 52, says she sends her family dogs for basic grooming every once a month, as well as full grooming every two and a half months.

“When I lived in Penang, it was basic grooming every week. It’s more expensive in KL. I also send my dogs for dental cleaning every one or twice a year,” Looi said.

Hilda Looi and Napoleon. Photo: Terence Toh.

Looi’s family owns two dogs, a mini poodle named Napoleon, and a mini schnauzer named Spencer. Both are four years old. Occasionally, Looi says she will send her dogs for purely cosmetic grooming, trying out different cuts on them.

“The cut depends on the breed. For example, our schnauzer, he can have a schnauzer style, furnishing scissors up, cut with skirt, shaved out (botak), clipped short, or a cut with long or short beard. I usually get a schnauzer cut with a short beard. Schnauzers normally are prone to skin problems. So it’s best to keep their fur short,” Looi says.

 

“It used to be that a pet was just a pet. Now, pets are family members.”

 

According to Nancy Tan, manager of retail chain The Pet Family, most people visit pet groomers in order to save time.

“Nowadays, both members in a couple tend to be working. Their only time off is on the weekends, which they want to spend with their children. When do they have time to groom their pets? The easiest thing is to send them to us,” says Tan, who has about 13 years’ experience in the pet industry.

“Malaysian pet owners have improved a lot. They are more educated, they know what is required for them to look after a pet well. It used to be that a pet was just a pet. Now, there’s no such thing. Pets are family members now.”

Dante, an Afghan Hound. Photo courtesy of House of Groomers.

Dog Spa

Tan recommends that pet owners send their animals for grooming every two to two and a half months, as animal fur tended to grow out of proportion during that time.

The Pet Family has four branches, located in Petaling Jaya, Setia Alam, Klang and Johor Bahru. The Petaling Jaya branch is manned by a staff of four groomers.“We tend to be especially busy on weekends,” says Tan. “We can receive over twenty dogs on Saturday or Sunday. How long it takes depends on the breed and the type of grooming they want.”

“We have basic grooming: just a shower, ear cleaning, paws and eye cleaning, all in. For full grooming, it’s a whole body grooming, and it’s more complex. If it’s straightforward, it can take two hours. If, for example, the dog’s hair is really matted, it can take up to two to three hours,” Tan said.

Tan said different cosmetic styles were available for different dog breeds.

“For example, for poodles, we have styles like the normal poodle cut, the puppy cut, and the teddy bear cut. This is where the dog’s fur is fluffy and round, like a teddy bear. The teddy bear cut is one of the more difficult ones because poodle hair is curly, and we have to straighten it, which takes some time.”

“Another popular cut is the lamb cut, where we make the dog look like a lamb, with round legs, a round head and so on. It’s easier to do than the teddy bear cut, and is also easier for owners to brush and maintain.”

Styling other animals on the other hand, were less easy.

 

“Cats don’t really have much styling. They’re very temperamental and not as patient as dogs.”

 

“Cats don’t really have much styling. They’re very temperamental and not as patient as dogs. We usually just give them basic grooming. Thankfully, our regular cats have gotten used to us,” Tan said.

“As for rabbits, they generally come in for a basic shower. Unless you’re talking about long-haired rabbits, those we have a bit more work to do. If their fur is very tangled, we have to take our time to smooth the tangles. Rabbits have very fine skin, so we have to do it gently.”

No matter how difficult the animal could be, however, Tan stressed that a pet groomer’s duty involved getting an animal to be used to its surroundings, and calm them down before grooming.

For fashion forward pets, the shop also sells clothes and accessories. “These fashions tend to be seasonal. For example, Chinese New Year is coming up, so that style of fashion will be very popular,” Tan explains.

Dressed-up dogs are a common sight at Woofstock, a dog festival in California. Could it catch on in Malaysia? Photo: Heather Williams, Creative Commons.

Pet-onomics

Pet groomers are part of a burgeoning industry. According to the New Straits Times, there are more than 350 pet stores in the Klang Valley alone, with more than 700 pet stores nationwide.

It further reported that in the United States, pet industry sales reached US$56.67 billion (RM173.27 billion) in 2011, while the Malaysian pet industry generated about RM50 million, with an annual growth rate of 20 percent.

 

In 2011, the Malaysian pet industry generated about RM50 million.

 

House of Groomers Pet Grooming Salon and Academy manager Annie Goh said pet grooming was currently a very popular choice of career. Goh is the first Malaysian pet groomer to have won first place in an international dog grooming championship held in the United States.

“We predict it will surpass many other vocational training courses. Demand is exceeding supply at the moment and we predict demand to surge even more in the next 10 years,” Goh says.

Annie Goh of House of Groomers demonstrates how to groom a dog in class. Photo: Terence Toh.

Previously known as Champion Pedigree, the House Of Groomers Pet Salon is a one-stop pet services provider in Subang Jaya. In 2005, the company further founded House of Groomers Academy, which specialises in pet grooming education and training.

All the instructors here are qualified with American Master Groomers certification. The academy offers many courses, such as the Pet Cosmetologist Course, the Master Groomer course, and the Executive Diploma In Pet Grooming Management, their most popular course.

“To become an all-rounder pet groomer, one needs to learn about breeds and their requirements, breed identification, diseases, anatomy, diet, nutrition and many more. Grooming techniques and handling are all part and parcel of the learning process,” Goh says.

Founder of House of Groomers Gan Wee Yet is a Master Groomer certified in the USA (National Dog Groomers Association Of America), an International dog grooming judge accredited by the International Judges Association, and the president of the Malaysian Pet Groomers Association (MPGA).

Asked her opinion of the pet grooming industry in Malaysia, Goh said that like most other businesses, it was competitive.

“Customers need to make sure they know what they are getting into, choose the right school and be careful of the false claims made by many smaller training schools.  When choosing a pet groomer, make sure they are properly trained by a recognised grooming school. The only certifying body in Malaysia is the Malaysia Pet Groomers Association.” Goh said.

“Pet grooming plays an integral part of pet ownership. Maintaining the well-being of your pet fortifies the relationship between your pet and you. A clean and properly groomed pet is a happy pet!”