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By Tricia McGuire, Canine Cuts, Edinburgh

Well, here it is at last. The article I have been promising for the last two issues of the magazine. And after all the heated discussions that many of you will have seen on our website and E-List I dread to think what I am letting myself in for! But before anyone starts to get on their high horse before I’ve even started, please stay calm. This article is not about whether a Groomer should be qualified or not. It is not about whether qualified or unqualified groomers are good or bad. I am writing this as an informative article for those who would like to have some sort of qualification in dog grooming but do not know what is available or how to go about gaining such qualifications. Unfortunately, there have been many rumours and bad feelings with regard to qualifications in our industry. Many people new to grooming have been put off even asking about qualifications in fear of having their head bitten off, so I hope this article will help them make up their own minds.

At the moment anyone can become a Groomer. You do not need any formal training or qualification to be let loose with sharp cutting implements to be used on live animals. Scary, isn’t it! But, we are led to believe that the public don’t mind this. Do they ask you if you are qualified? I have been grooming for seven years now and not one of my clients has asked this. They just assume that you are. After all, how many of you ask your plumber or electrician if they are qualified in their profession? It’s just not polite is it?

So, why bother with qualifications? If your clients are happy with your work, that is all that matters – they are the ones that are paying for your service. At the moment, I would say, if your are not bothered about being qualified then don’t be. There is nothing to say you have to be. However, what is going to happen if licensing occurs. Many other countries license Groomers and having a qualification is one of the requirements. You can be sure that if other countries have licensing for Groomers then this country will too, at some time in the not too distant future.

But don’t let fear of licensing force you into gaining qualifications. From my experience there is a lot more to achieve than just a bit of paper to hang on your wall. In studying and practising for examinations, I have greatly improved my grooming knowledge and skills. Gaining qualifications has also boosted my self confidence. Just to have someone else say "well done, you do know what you’re talking about. Here’s a wee certificate to prove it" doesn’t half make you feel good. It’s also amazing how much my clients look up to me now and ask my advice, instead of trying to tell me my job!

So, if I have wetted your appetite and you would like to find out more about the qualifications available and what is involved, read on. If not, read on anyway. If I can convert just one of you non believers it will make my day. So please, keep an open mind.


Dog Grooming National/Scottish Vocational Qualification Level 2

This qualification only became available this year. It is the most basic qualification available in dog grooming and is in fact a qualification for an Assistant Dog Groomer. Those who gain this qualification can go on to Level 3 the qualification for a Dog Groomer, however, this is still being finalised and not yet available.

The Dog Grooming N/SVQ Level 2 is based on continual assessments in the workplace. To achieve the qualification, seven units must be completed. The following areas are covered by this qualification:

Basic dog behaviour


Preparing coats

Bathing and cleaning

Shampoos and conditioners

Ways of drying

Coat types


Cleaning ears & clipping nails

Skin and coat problems

Signs of healthy coat and skin

Use of tools and equipment

This is a basic dog grooming qualification, but those who do not like the process of the City & Guilds exam or perhaps wish to be a Groomer’s Assistant may want to opt for this qualification. It may also interest Employers who wish to have their Assistant Groomers qualified.

For more information contact:

ACENTO, Suite No 3, St Mary’s Mews, St Mary’s Place, Stafford, ST16 2AP

Telephone: 01785 608080, Fax: 01785 608070, Email: acento@acento.org.uk, Website: www.animalcareers.co.uk


City & Guilds Dog Grooming Certificate 775

For those of you who wish to gain a Dog Grooming qualification and do not want to wait until the Level 3 N/SVQ is available, the C & G Certificate may suit you. To achieve this qualification you must pass both practical and written exams.

The two hour written examination consists of 35 questions requiring short answers and covers the following subjects:

Grooming and styling techniques

Handling and control

General Care of Dogs

Customer Care

Health and Safety at Work

Use and care of equipment

First Aid



The exam is held once a year, in June and can be taken at your local college which participates in City & Guilds external examinations. It can also be taken at the Pet Care Trust Centre in Bedford. Before you can enrol in this part of the qualification you must have taken, or be registered to take, the practical test before the written.

The practical exam is the part that many people disagree with. I will not go into the politics of this just now as I am running out of space and still have a lot of facts to tell you. However, no doubt there will be an influx of letters and comments from you all for the next issue of the magazine and I’ll do another article about C & G then.

You are required to trim three different breeds of dog:

Miniature Poodle in a blended lamb trim, (i.e. legs blended into clipped body – no big puffed up shoulders!). In 2 hours you have to bath, blow dry, pluck ears, clip nails, clip and scissor.

Cocker Spaniel clipped or handstripped and scissor finished. All preparation i.e. bath, nails, etc is done before the exam. Trimming time is 1 hour.

Short Legged Terrier. You can choose from a Westie, Scottie, Cairn or Sealyham. Again preparation must be done prior to the exam. Clipping and scissoring is to be completed within 1 hour.

This examination must be done at a Test Centre. You must provide your own grooming equipment such as clippers, scissors, etc, but the test centre will provide dryers, bath, shampoo, etc. Unfortunately, there are not many around the country so you may have to travel some distance to get to a Test Centre. However, other venues can be arranged and if you have a salon that meets test centre conditions and can get together 4 candidates, you may be able to sit your practical exam there.


Advanced Grooming Diploma

If you already have your C & G Certificate and are a member of the Pet Care Trust and are crazy enough to want to sit more exams, then this is the one for you. There are seven practical modules:


Style and Clipping

Clipping Long Legged Terrier (x2)

Handstripping Wire Coats (x2)

Handstripping Gundogs

You are given a list of dogs to choose from for every module. Dogs must be provided by the candidate. The length of time for each exam varies depending on the type of dog and which module you are doing but tend to be between 1 and 2 hours. All bathing, nails, etc are done prior to the exam. The dates and venues for the practical exam are advised by the Pet Care Trust.

The written exam is held in June and candidates must have passed at least 3 practical modules before sitting the two papers. The following subjects are covered:

Health and Safety

Business Law

Employment Law

First Aid


General Care

General Grooming Knowledge

Kennel Club Breed Standards


Business Management

For more information about C & G and Advanced contact: PCT, 170 Mile Road, Bedford, MK42 9TW, 01234 273933

This concludes my article for now, but I am sure there will be a Part 2 in the next issue of the magazine, once I have received your comments and questions. I hope I’ve given you all something to think about!

All material in this publication is subject to copyright. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.
Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Northern Groomers.

Send mail to tricia@torphinbank.freeserve.co.uk with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2000 Northern Groomers
Last modified: January 13, 2001