The Luxurious Life of Dogs in Japan: Dog Grooming

Japan seems enthusiastic when it comes to spending on pets. Specifically, the culture of dog grooming, with breeds such as the Miniature Poodle. Dog fashion events can be seen advertised to be held until April 2023. And in 2020, Japanese dog owners in general claimed to have spent more than 3,000¥3,000 JPY ($21) each month on grooming for their dogs.

Mako Wade is the owner of a Toy Poodle named Gali. She claims to spend between “¥9,000 to ¥18,000 JPY ($65 to $130 USD) for monthly grooming, depending on the salon.” She even recalls buying a fashionable winter coat from Green Dog “costing around ¥10,000” ($72).

Gali has even been to a “training school that also offers dog hotel service for ¥7,000-9,000 ($50-$65 USD) a night.”

Japan has a great abundance of smaller, purebred dogs, so it’s no surprise that the services are so popular and expensive, but what makes these treatments so special?

Gali in her winter coat ©Audrey Dumas

What do grooming visits involve?

This month, Gali was taken to Doggie-Do in Azabu for her grooming session.

He received a basic package including a shampoo session, a haircut and a final shampoo session, for a total of 16,500 yen ($119).

So what makes a plan more expensive? “There are grooming packages, and the number of treatments in the package will increase if it’s an expensive package,” says Gali groomer Miss A.

Miss A elaborates. “For example, take the shampoo. We can use sparkling water to wash the dog. There are conditioning treatments, facial masks and massages. As the package gets bigger, the price goes up because of the time and processing that goes into it.”

For his basic package, Gali was treated for about 3 hours. Wade even received a card with his photo after the last session, along with service details such as the date, type of treatment and his dog’s weight.

Gali the dog during his grooming session ©Audrey Dumas

The dog breeds that come to the Doggie-Do store for grooming “depends on where the store is located,” says Miss A. “For this location, I see a majority of Poodles and mixed breeds such as the Maltese Poodle mix and the chihuahua poodle. mix.”

Miss A qualifies her answer, however. “It will be different depending on the location of the store in Japan, or even other stores in Minato Ward. The breed that is becoming popular is the poodle and the bichon,” she explains.

Safe and enjoyable grooming

Aside from the feeling of relief for owner and dog after a grooming session, what makes groomers love working on dogs like Gali and others?

“When a dog comes in every month and the fur is long, the moment it’s groomed and trimmed, there’s a transformation, and I love seeing that transformation,” says Miss A, adding: “Also, I can see the different characters of each dog and get to know them.


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Occasionally there is cause for concern if a certain style of grooming is necessary or even harmful to the dog. However, Miss A says a groomer ‘will examine the condition and condition of the dog’s scalp when they come in. When an owner comes in and wants to do something that is not in line with the coat and the condition of the dog, we will refuse it. However, she adds: “On the other hand, if there is something that we want to encourage because of the condition of the dog, we will recommend it”.

In Gali’s case, he got an extra shave on his face and sideburns to keep him cleaner at Wade’s request. The cost: an additional ¥800 JPY (5 USD).

Gali before her grooming session. ©Audrey Dumas
Gali after being treated. ©Doggie-Do.

How do you become a groomer anyway?

Saya Shimai attended Aoyama Kennel School on weekends starting in 2018 and graduated in 2020.

She recalls that the selection process was easy, with “no difficulty in being selected to enter the school. I had to say why I wanted to become a groomer and go to school. Shimai says she wanted to go to school because of her love for dogs.

Currently, she grooms her own dog, a miniature dachshund, “as well as Gali and another miniature dachshund,” she says.

Shimai explained the main teachings of the grooming school. “Each session I had to take care of at least one dog, starting with shampooing and brushing, followed by another session of shampooing, nail trimming and ear cleaning, and finally , a full body cut.And sometimes decorations with ribbons.

The required course content included “48 different subjects to learn and each subject lasted approximately 60-90 minutes”.

Saya Shimai grooms her dog. ©Saya Shimai

During training, Shimai recalls spending “four to five hours” in each session with a dog, during which “a teacher would come in periodically to step in and teach me skills.”

She goes on to explain the different certificates you can earn in school. “The lowest license is a ‘C’, where people can wash dogs after 47 hours of training and 12 registered dogs.”

A ‘B’ license, she tells us, “means you can wash and clip a dog’s hair, [after training for] 155 hours and 33 dogs registered.

Very specifically, “An ‘A’ license means you can cut and dry a Toy Poodle’s hair, which is the hardest because it’s curly, with 132 hours [of training] and 32 registered dogs.

Take your dog for grooming

Of course, there are countless dog groomers in Japan, with a variety of price tags. The point to remember is to be prepared to spend money on grooming your dog and choose a hairstyle that will benefit your dog.

If you have a poodle of any kind, Shimai points out current trends. “A style that is in fashion today is the round head shape where the hair on the head is left in place. But the fur gets tangled and hurts because it is long, so I don’t recommend it .

She goes on, however, to say, “If they are home brushed and groomed, (the round head shape) is okay,” reminding owners that caring for your dogs outside of the salon is just as important as grooming. professional.


AUTHOR: Audrey Vanessa Yoko Dumas


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