Monday, 5 January 2015

Is My Dog Groomer Qualified? And Why Does It Matter?

Did you know that there are no legal requirements for qualifications within the dog grooming industry? In fact, other than vets and vet nurses, there are no legal requirements for training or Qulifications in any animal care jobs. How scary is that? Literally anyone can buy a pair of scissors or clippers online and set up a business as a dog groomer with no training, knowledge or qualifications.


Yes, that's right. There are no legal requirements to ensure that your dog groomer went to school to learn how to do their job.


Dog grooming, like human hairdressing is a skilled profession. There are severe health risks involved in this job to both the groomer and the animal and attempting to do it with no qualifications or training is both dangerous and irresponsible. You could badly injure yourself or the animal, cause death or disfiguration, skin irritation, infections or even spread contagious diseases.

There are many ways in which people can become dog groomers. You can set up with no training at all and just make it up as you go along (not recommended), be trained by an already established and practising dog groomer through an informal apprenticeship program (these are extremely hard to find and you have no way of knowing that the level of training you are getting is appropriate), do an online course and receive a certificate that is not accredited (these involve no practical work with live animals at all and do not provide recognised qualifications) or undertake one of the recommended pathways into the industry by shelling out the thousands of pounds that it costs to gain a City and Guilds qualification through a college or private training school. If you are dedicated to provided the bast care possible to your clients then you will take the last option.

What are City and Guilds Qualifications?

Until 2014, there was only 1 nationally recognised dog grooming qualification in the UK. This is provided by City and Guilds. The Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming (Level 3) or the Diploma for Professional Dog Stylists (Level 3) is suitable for those who have experience of working in the dog grooming industry or have completed a related qualification. Each of these stages of qualification have lengthy practical and written examinations as well as candidates providing a portfolio of work to the exam board. These qualifications can be passed with a pass, merit or distinction.

In my personal opinion, if you are leaving your dog in the care of a professional groomer the Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming (Level 3) or the international equivalent is the absolute minimum level of qualification that they should hold unless they have over 5+ years experience in the industry already.

All City and Guilds Level 3 work is provided to the same standard and is the equivalent of other nationally recognised qualifications such as NVQ level 3, A-Level, Scottish highers, AVCE, BTEC National, Certificate/Diploma, and Vocational A-Levels.

Are there International Grooming Qulifications available for my groomer?
Until 2014 City and Guilds was the only nationally recognised qualification in the UK. In 2014 the International Certified Master Groomer qualification was introduced by the IPG.

Although the ICMG qualification is new to the UK, the International Professional Groomers Inc. is well established and highly regarded. The Association certifies groomers from USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore and provides international industry standards, a Code of Ethics and an extensive examination process. It certifies groomers at two levels and globally promotes and preserves the professional certifications and accreditations of Pet Groomers, Grooming Salons, and Grooming Schools.
The exams and study materials have been written to reflect the UK recognised breed standards and will enable the groomer to be certified in 5 stages. Each stage has a written and a practical exam. A certificate will be awarded for a score of 70% and above and a score of 86% and higher will earn the applicant the chance to take the Masters Exam. Providing this is passed, also at 86% or higher, the candidate will be awarded a coveted International Certified Master Groomer Certificate (ICMG). This qualification will eventually be rolled out to cover the rest of Europe too. This qualification is usually taken by extremely experience groomers who usually have already achieved their City & Guilds qualifications or have the relevant experience.

What qualifications should my dog groomer have?

A minimum of City and Guilds Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming (Level 3) should be sought.

Further qualifications include the City and Guilds Diploma for Professional Dog Stylists (Level 3), IPG Certified Salon Professional Certiciate (CSP) and the International Certified Master Groomer Certificate (ICMG). 

Qualifications from any other sources other than City & Guilds and IPG are not recognised in the professional grooming community.

Professional Groomers can also choose to be members of The Pet Industry Federation and The British Dog Groomers Association if they wish. Both industry bodies provide strict codes of ethics for groomers to abide by and keep the, up to date with industry news and developments.


Further career development steps should also be undertaken to ensure their knowledge and techniques are up the date with new methods and technologies. This includes going on regular training days in areas such as first aid, safe handling, breed workshops, alternative trims and keeping all equpitment and learning materials such a books, industry magazine subscriptions and DVDs current.

How do I know if my groomer is qualified?

Simply ask them. Most groomers will proudly display their qualifaction certificates (but remember to check they are a recognised qualification). You should also ask them if they regularly go to workshops, demo days, competitions and training days to keep they knowledge current. All of these things can be very expense and groomers can travel hours to get to them but a dedicated and professional groomer will always make the time to go.

If you don't feel comfortable asking your groomer directly, alternatively you can contact IPG or City and Guilds directly and ask if they can tell you if your groomer holds the qualification they are claiming too. Sadly some groomers will use official logos to deceive clients when they have not passed the exams. It's always best to double check if you are unsure. You wouldn't send your child to an unqualified and unregistered child minder so don't do the same for your pet.

Hayley currently holds the City and Guilds Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming (Level 3) which she passed with Distinction and is currently working towards the City and Guilds Diploma for Professional Dog Stylists (Level 3).


  1. Dear Hayley
    Thanks for writing this nice blog! Its just what I was looking for 😊
    Im a first time dog owner and have a lovely toy poodle that I would like to learn to groom myself (i only want to groom my own dog - not to do it professionally). I have been told that the hair on the dogs nose/face should be kept very short in order to avoid moist and potentially fungal infection. Do you know if this is infact important? I like the look with longer hair on the nose (as you have on the poodle mix Terry). But I dont want to risk my dogs wellbeing and health. Do you have any tips on how to care for this kind of hairstyle - or is it simply a no go for a poodle?
    Thanks very much!

  2. Hi Py!
    Thanks for your comment. Firstly, congratulations on the new addition to your family. Such exciting times. Do you live locally? If so I would be happy to show you some basic grooming techniques to keep your poodles coat knot free and looking lovely. The first thing I would say is there are no rules to the style of haircut that your dog can have. Hair on the poodle face will not cause infection or anything like that unless it becomes matted and extremely dirty. To avoid this you need to groom your dog for atleast 10 minutes every day with a slicker brush. Get them used to have their face and feet touched from an early age as this is very important. The only part of a poodles face that should be kept short is around the ear canal. Poodles as a breed are prone to eat infections and their ears need to be kept hair free and dry by shaving and plucking to let airflow in. I would recommend visiting your local grooming salon for a training day as they will show you how to groom your dog in the safest way possible and maybe even some basic first aid. Grooming and animal with sharp objects such as clippers is dangerous and you need to make sure you know how to do it safely. If you would like to come in for the day and learn what equipment you would need at home for basic grooming and how to use you are more than welcome to. Just get in touch. Good luck! Hayley