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Dog Grooming - A Short History

 by Amy Fernandez

Price USD $3.99


This illustrated e-book gives a short but detailed history of dog grooming, and the trials and tribulations of the development of show dog grooming and dog grooming in general.

From the days of hand clipping  and no running water, this book tells the story of how dog grooming has grown up.   



1906 Poodle in Show Clip

In Gordon Stables 1893 novel Sable and White: The Autobiography of a Show Dog readers are introduced to Dandy Joe Robinson “Weterinary Surgin -Dogs Borded Poodils Klipped”. Robinson’s workday also included selling bespoke dog clothes, performing dental surgery, and applying judicious spots to a customer’s Dalmatian. This tale foreshadowed a range of contentious issues in the dog world. But probably none more so than the parameters and ethics of grooming.

Today dog grooming is a recognized profession replete with certifications, competitions, and technical marvels. It also goes without saying that we are expected to keep our dogs clean, neat, and properly groomed. However, none of these concepts came easily to the dog world.

Charles Cruft was the first to envision the inherent promotional opportunities of good dog care. He foresaw that dog shows could “achieve two purposes. First they would enlarge and improve pedigreed stock. Secondly, it would improve the level of dog management, which was not very high at the time, except among owners of sporting animals.” (The Dog Book)

That is an understatement. By the late nineteenth century, there was very limited understanding of how or why to groom dogs, and almost no tools available to do it. Revising this situation seemed virtually impossible considering the obstacles it entailed. “Grooming to be effective must be constant and thorough. A casual overhauling with a dirty brush once in two or three months does not represent our views on the subject; but it is very hard to convince some kennelmen of the benefit proper grooming will bestow on the dogs’ coats.” (The Illustrated Book of the Dog)

Many practices associated with cosmetic improvement of animals originated with the Romans, who were unquestionably obsessed with grooming and hygiene. However, this perception pretty much fell by the wayside in Western Europe after the Romans departed. For many centuries, grooming was a luxury reserved for aristocratic pets and valuable hunting dogs.

Cruft’s marketing concepts would never have gotten off the ground, without the combination of sociological changes and inventions that defined the nineteenth century. A major impediment was the ingrained resistance to bathing and washing. The merits of bathing were debated for almost a thousand years. Because disease transmission was so poorly understood, intentionally subjecting yourself to this process was commonly regarded as pointless and dangerous. These fears finally began to disappear in the Victorian era as the germ theory of disease gained acceptance.

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