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December 1, 2014

All that has changed recently. When Asian-style grooming was introduced to the United States, most groomers were a bit surprised to see the incredibly creative varieties of grooms all hallmarked by radical asymmetry. Here were dogs with necks clipped very close, boasting full heads, so that they resembled a bobble head doll or over-the-top adorable stuffed toy.

There were dogs with short head furnishings but long ears or shaved ears on a breed known for having full ear feathering. There were pets with very short body coats accentuated by long, flowing hair on the legs.

It was a bit mind boggling but once the shock wore off, American groomers in droves began to adopt the fun and unique trims invented by stylists in Japan, Korea and China. There are plenty of reasons why we have fallen so hard for the whimsical eastern flair.

One reason is that “It’s cute,” said Olga Zabelinskaya, Groom Team USA member and owner of Elite Pet Spa and Boutique in Madison, N.J. “It is a kind of haircut that is unbalanced. Most often found on small dogs like Maltese, Yorkshire terriers, poodles and shih tzus, this groom is created by clipping the body short, having longer, flared hair on the legs and creating a unique style on the head. Heads may be in a panda or a mushroom style or a teddy bear style. Ears may be very short or very long depending on the pet. Tied-up top knots are common as is short chin fur with a longer coat on the top of the muzzle. This gives dogs a puppy look no matter what their age is. When creating the head, accentuate the eyes and nose, so they appear to be three dots in the middle of the face.”

A second reason that Asian trims are terrific is that the typical close-clipped body, often as short as a 7F blade, lends itself to easier care between grooms for many pet owners. While it is true that those long, flared legs need between-grooming upkeep, the short body coat means reduced matting which is a major bonus for pet owner and stylist alike.

Zabelinskaya encourages customers to book every four weeks to keep the longer leg coat from becoming tangled.

Reason number three to love Asian style grooms is that they are original.

“A Yorkie groomed in the Asian style will not look like all the other Yorkies in the neighborhood,” said Zabelinskaya.

For customers that want to change things up a bit, having their pet clipped to make it look unique and stand out can generate the desired attention.

“Decorations are part of the look, as well,” said Zabelinskaya. “Bows, neckties or colorful flowers all add to the fun.”

More and more of her clients are requesting Asian type grooms.

Different can be a delightful challenge for groomers. Learning a whole new way to groom dogs and create fun new looks is a terrific outlet for creative people. Asian-inspired grooming allows us to step away from traditional breed standard styles and create a look that emphasizes each pet’s personality.

Award-winning creative groomer Cat Opson of Estrella Pet Grooming, Capistrano Beach, Calif. agrees.

“When I think of Asian fusion, the first thing that comes to mind is cartoon, teddy bear-looking styles,” she said. “Big heads, big tails, over exaggeration, styles pushed to the limit. Adopting these techniques is a really unique way to set yourself apart from the shop down the road. My clients love it. The way I got them interested in the beginning was by grooming my own toy poodle that way. He comes to work with me and greets everyone as they enter.”

Groomers interested in learning more can purchase Japanese grooming books online that are filled with beautiful photographs of uniquely groomed dogs. They can also attend grooming seminars given by people like Opson and even learn from the comfort of their own home by watching Learn2Groomdogs.com. Adding some eastern flair to your grooming repertoire is a fun way to exercise your creativity and delight your customers.

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