As with all walks of life fashions come and go. The current trend for crossbreeds, often referred to as designer dogs, affects the groomer to a degree in that they frequently come into the salon. Many of the crossbreeds are coated, long coated, thick, wool type coats, coats that form mats if neglected, and can be harder work than the individual pedigree breeds that produced them. Some of these coats moult for England – as the saying goes.
Certainly many of the designer dogs shed hair more than the pedigree parent and some of them moult as well as shed fur into their coat as the Poodle does, making double the trouble. So we can see both moult and matted-wool on one dog with growth of hair varying within one area of the dog, such as its back. Sometimes we see thick curly coat along the spine and thinner wire type hair on the side of the body and the legs. One area may need clipping the other area hand stripping or shortened with scissors.
Some groomers may not know how to deal with these dogs. Many have behaviour problems along with difficult coats. Grooming the varied coats has been described as a nightmare by some groomers as it can be difficult from dog to dog and is not a general rule like the pedigree coat of say an Aierdale. Indeed several puppies from one litter could have completely different coat types.
The designer dog may well have been developed to supply demand, or its popularity may have sprung into being by celebrities, cute photography and media attention, but for the groomer the only consideration is the trimming of these dogs and how best to present each dog and take the best care of the individual coat.
Some of the designer crosses are the Labradoodle, Goldenpoo, Cockerpoo, the Bichonpoo, Lhasapoo, cavipoo as well as Yorkypoo, then come the terrier crosses in many their forms, as well as Old English Sheepdog crosses, and many others. It is true to say that there are now very many types of crossbreeds with sometimes no rhyme or reason for the cross, and following on to the next generation we may see the first cross of two breeds being mated back to one half of the two breeds, creating a three quarter type cross. Whatever name they are given these crossbreeds are important as clients and should be groomed as efficiently as possible to create the best picture possible.
Our Grooming Box friend, Andrew Graham says, "According to some of my groomer friends, cavapoos and Labradoodles are the most popular of the designer dogs that come into the salon in some areas. They range in size (and coat) depending on the type of Poodle used. The Labradoodle can be trimmed in full clip with a Poodle head (shaved face and top knot) they generally look just like a chunky Poodle.
"These two seem equally popular, both are easy to do and offer a variety of styles to a creative groomer.”
Andrew says he trims a cavapoo that is usually in lovely coat, but it had been staying with the owner’s mother-in-law and so hadn’t been combed. "The poor soul was absolutely matted from head to toe, and tail. One wad connected his left leg and testicles and there was an awful rash from the fluids caught in the wad.
"I did a full 7F taking extra care as the wads were right to the skin and very very tight. You know the type – been wet/dry/wet/dry over and over. I was amazed that under pads were totally free of any wads. The coat had to come off with a 30 blade. I managed to save the feet with a swipe of a 5F and then cut round foot with the shears and shaped with my 44 tooth thinners. He actually looked very cute when I finished. I used a 7F on his face but used thinners in parts so he would look more natural in the head rather than clipped.”
Andrew goes on to say, ‘I’m loving the Grooming Box by the way – very interesting every time. You have a knack of putting good information out in print. Thanks for including my contributions, the more we groomers can share with each other the better we become. I was talking to another groomer a while back and all she wanted to do was bring down other groomers. I just said, "Look love, I really don’t want you to carry on this chat, I’m not here to judge other’s talent, all I want to do is improve myself all the time, that is my focus, not what anyone else is doing. It’s usually the ones who don’t put in any effort that have the time to bring everyone else down!”
Super groomer Alison Rogers of ‘Pretty Paws’ says she has a lot of Cockerpoos, Labadoodles that look like luchers, spoodle – springerxpoodle, a nice pokie – yokie cross poodle, a chorky, maltipoo, sprocker, goldendoodle, boxerdoodle, lashaxmalti, bichonx maltise.
"Too many crossbreeds,” says Alison, "that people pay more money for than pedigrees! Not all pet breeders – but people just think it’s fun to put anything with anything and owners are getting ripped off as they are often sold as non-shedding dogs when they are anything but. When the dogs have a Bichon or Poodle as a parent the coats do shed and get more matted than the pedigree as the breeders are just not aware of the care the coats need, as they generally own Labradors or non wool coated breeds, and they don’t know about coat change or levelling the dogs until six months or year old then comes the groomer to try and sort out the coat – never mind the behaviour of some of these dogs.”
Professional groomer Tracy Brown from Kent says, "The Labradoodles can vary so much with the coats. I don’t really have many of them in – thankfully, as they can also be very big and heavy to do. The ones that I do have in have the Poodle coat, so comes in regular. The more popular cross here is the Cockerpoos, and they have curly coats that need trimming regular.”
Sam Kohl tells me the same applies in the US: "We do have the same problems here with the designer doodles. There seem to be tons of these crazy crossbreeds, as you call them. Groomers don’t know what to expect from them, the coats and dispositions are never what they’re supposed to be. Nor are their breeds near what the owners have been told they are mixed with. Worst of all, they are terribly overpriced for the fact that they are in actuality mixed breeds that would, before the hype, have been referred to as mongrels or mutts.
"What was originally touted to be a smart and ‘non-allergic’ breeding of a Standard Poodle and a Labrador (which is far from non-allergic) as service dogs, turned out to be a boon for unscrupulous breeders. Since we know there still is no such thing as a ‘non-allergic’ dog it’s been a dreadful hoax on the public and a nightmare for groomers.”
Thank you to all. Perhaps others of you have stories to tell about designer dogs in the grooming room that you may like to share?
Photos curtesy of Kathverena Groomers and Animal Healing Centre.