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How to Start a Dog Grooming Business

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Grooming By Meg Marrs 12 min read March 26, 2020

how to start a dog grooming business

When your four-legged friend gets a bit messy or smelly, it might be time to take him to the groomer. Maybe your pup isn’t either of those things, but it could be his birthday or you just want to treat him to a nice little “personal day”.

So, after some time of working at bathing and grooming your pup, you may decide it’s time to open up your own dog grooming business! No doubt your pup will love your newfound skills, but there are a few things you should know before jumping into opening your own biz.

Read along to pick up some helpful tips that will guide you to opening your own dog grooming business!

Reality Check: Is Dog Grooming the Business For You?

Is this career for you? Is it something you enjoy? That’s usually the question you need to ask yourself before going into a career like this.

Just because you have your own little pup at home doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a great grooming shop owner.  There’s a lot more than just spending time with dogs and making them look pretty.

Before you go too far, ask yourself a few questions…

  • “Am I prepared for the ups and downs of running my own business?”
  • “Do I have a supportive group of friends and family?”
  • “Do I like caring for and handling other people’s dogs?”
  • “Is this a suitable livelihood for me?” 
  • “Is this a hobby, or a passionate career?”

Being as honest and upfront as you can be with yourself in the beginning will give you a greater idea of whether or not this career is a good fit. Either way, it’s smart to have an understanding of how much you need to learn, whether you’re a seasoned grooming pro, or jumping in for the first time.

If you like working with dogs but aren’t crazy about grooming, be sure to also consider starting a dog walking business or a dog training business. There are a plethora of jobs out there that are great for pet lovers!

How Much Do Dog Groomers Make?

Before you jump into your new business venture, salary is one of the many things you should take into consideration.

The average salary for a pet groomer is just above $35,000. This number can fluctuate however depending on the city you live in and the services you offer.

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As you get more in-depth to differentiating your grooming business you can add on special services where people will be more willing to pay a premium for. You may earn some tips too, which will provide a bit of extra cash you can pocket (although not everyone chooses to tip their dog groomer).

Still, even if you’re on the higher end of the range, it’s not a fortune, so keep that in mind when considering whether or not this is a good career choice for you.

What Kind of Training or Grooming Certifications Do I Need?

While you can jump into a career in dog grooming with just prior knowledge and experience around caring for canines, it’s wise to get some training or some type of certification under your belt.

Not only will training and certifications provide you with a good refresher of what you already know, or accelerate your learning, but it will also help you gain dog owners trust when they walk into your business and see that you’ve taken things one step further and become certified.

An online grooming certification option allows you to receive hands-on training from professional grooming experts. Online courses can be great if you’re still working a full-time job and can’t afford the time crunch of being in a groomer or at school for a set amount of time.

If a 12-month training certification course is too long for you or doesn’t fit your schedule and you’re ready to go all in on becoming the best groomer possible, look into apprenticeship training or find grooming training schools near you that can get you certified in a matter of weeks to a couple of months.

Either way, you’ll come out with new techniques, insights, and in some cases a start set of gear you’ll need to get going.

Pros and Cons of the Dog Grooming Business

As with anything in life, there’s always a positive and a negative to everything. Let’s play a little devil’s advocate and give you a look at what both the pros and cons of opening a dog grooming business are.

Pros

Running Your Own Business = Freedom

How great would it be to be your own boss? Self-employed dog groomers don’t have to take orders from anyone above them and you’ll be able to work on your own pace with whom you choose (if anyone).

You’ll Have Tons of Flexibility

As a dog groomer, you would have the flexibility of making your own schedule, setting your own hours, and bring able to make changes and pivot as you see fit.

Dogs, Lots of Dogs!

Somewhat self-explanatory, but if you love dogs, and grooming, well, this has to be your dream job.

Cons

You’ll Be On Your Feet All Day

Hanging out with cute four-legged friends all day is great until you consider you’re standing up while they’re on the table being pampered.

While you enjoy the grooming aspect, the strain of standing for hours on end eventually takes a toll on your legs and back. Be sure you wear a comfortable pair of sneakers, or if the pain persists, try a back brace to keep your posture straight and add extra support.

You’ll Have to Work Weekends

While you do have flexibility in setting your own schedule, if you actually plan on making money you’ll be pretty beholden to when your clients are available.

When you’re in the service business the biggest thing you can offer your clients is convenience. So, it may not be great having to work Saturday and Sundays, but if you want to be profitable and run a successful shop, you need to put your customers first and put your best paw forward.

Dog owners have jobs and busy weeks and may not have an opening in their schedule until the weekend, so you need to be there for them.

You’ll Handle a Variety of Breeds – Not Just Your Favorites!

Just like people, all dog breeds are a little different, and certain breeds can be more difficult to work with than others.

If possible during training, don’t specialize in one breed over another, rather, get a good understanding of how they all work. If there’s a tougher breed you’re good working with, be sure to showcase that as well!

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Dog Groomer Business Planning

Going into anything without a plan isn’t a wise idea. Opening your dog grooming business isn’t any different and requires plenty of thoughtful work before you open.

A few vital questions we’ll touch on for you to think of in the early planning stages include:

  • What are the initial costs? 
  • Are there monthly expenses, subscriptions, etc?
  • Who’s your market? (Aside from cute pups…)
  • What will your name be, logo look like, etc?

To make this all easy to digest, let’s look at each question one by one for a little breakdown of what your thought process should look like.

Cost of Starting a Dog Grooming Business

Whether you plan on having your dog grooming service be mobile or have a brick-and-mortar shop, know that you’ll need a substantial amount of capital to secure your spot.

Depending on the location, and size, plan on spending anywhere from around $75,000 for an initial cost to purchase a commercially zoned building to higher, plus any property or business taxes on a yearly basis.

If you opt to rent your commercially zoned building, expect to pay a few thousand dollars for rent, again depending on the size and location. Landlords may also tie in business performance and have you pay a lower set price monthly along with a percentage of business sales.

And then there are other costs involving dog grooming tools and supplies, such as:

If a brick and mortar store sounds like too big of an upfront investment, starting a mobile-grooming business is an option too, with additional benefits and challenges.

First, you’ll want to secure a van big enough to fit your operation, and then consider all the insurance and size-specific equipment you’ll need.

There’s no doubt a mobile-grooming business makes you attractive to customers who can’t get to your shop, but you’ll have to deal with many of the same struggles food trucks face, such as:

  • Automotive & mechanical issues
  • Parking restrictions and ordinances
  • Specialized equipment (power connections, water tanks, generators, etc)

After you determine your location, it’s wise to get insurance as well. While business banking keeps your personal and business expenses organized, grooming insurance helps protect your business in case something happens while a pet is in your care.

This can include anything from a dog getting sick, or if their owner trips and falls, injuring themselves on your property. 

Building Your Dog Grooming Brand

Brainstorming a business name and your identity will be key to succeeding when you open.

Pick something original, but make sure it still conveys what you do. Being relevant to your market and getting your name out there is based on people being able to resonate with your brand and not having to think too hard.

As consumers, dog owners will be looking for something that they can trust and looks professional. 

Try incorporating some key phrases like:

  • Wash
  • Wag
  • Paw
  • Suds
  • Pup
  • Bubbles
  • Bath

After you determine your business name, it’s time to get the word out about your new grooming business!

Your name will be the backbone of your business, but what’s equally as important is the logo you choose. If you aren’t design-savvy or can’t find someone local, a freelance graphic designer will do the trick.

Logos can be a powerful branding tool for businesses because they take less time to read and are more recognizable than a name. For example, Nike’s “swoosh” is synonymous with their brand and people can equally identify either as Nike.

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Depending on your budget, or goals, you can go big or small in your marketing and branding efforts.

A great way to build your brand, while also keeping customers happy, is giving away goodies. Think how you can implement your logo and name with something they’d like!

Consider branded chew toys, clickers, or dog bandanas as a way to thank them for your business. Not only will these make your customers feel valued, but it will also help get your name out there and the memento will keep you top of mind when they need a grooming service again!

Establishing a Social Media Presence

After all the behind-the-scenes work is set and you are near your opening date, it’s time to start blasting your name and what you do to the community.

A great way to gain exposure is through social media.

These will allow you to easily communicate with potential clients, as well as show off those awesome dog hairdos!

Whether you buy ads on Facebook or sponsored posts on Instagram, you can organically boost your post reach by using top dog hashtags to get more eyes on your posts.

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Aside from social media, having a basic website with your services, hours and location is key.

After you’ve begun to grow a bit, it’ll be smart to include client testimonials to share positive stories from happy owners and their pups.

Not only is this a testament to your work, but also reflects well and instills trust in people looking for your services that their friends or people they may know have had good experiences with you!

Form An LLC For Your Dog Grooming Biz

Getting into the technical aspect of the business, you’ll need to file your newly found business name to get you up and running. We recommend filing as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to protect yourself from any having angry clients go after your personal assets.

An LLC helps protect you as a business owner by not holding you solely liable for anything that potentially goes wrong.

Aside from protecting yourself, filing as an LLC can also help you raise money from investors and offer numerous tax benefits for your dog grooming business, allowing you to deduct the supplies and gear you’ll need.

Though the initial cost is higher than filing as a D.B.A, an LLC will give you more leash (pun intended) to grow your business and potentially open up other ventures under your LLC name.

Small Business Banking

Separating your business finances from personal is paramount to succeeding in business.

Not only will separate accounts make your business and personal spending easier to manage, but will also help in your bookkeeping efforts come tax time.

While you can open a business banking account at any bank, one that specializes in online banking for small businesses will offer you the best benefits and user experience to make the finance side of your grooming business seamless. 

Having a specific business banking account will help you track reporting such as profit and loss and give you a streamlined view of how your business is performing without needing to sift through personal information, eliminating the guess-work.

Separating your personal and business accounts will also help you when it comes time to pay yourself or any expenses you have, from rent, new equipment and hopefully as you grow more employees!


Opening a business can be a whirlwind of an experience. Opening a business you are passionate about and enjoy makes it easier.

Between the financial side, training, certifications, nailing down a location, staffing your business and getting your name out there, you have a lot on your plate when it comes to starting a dog grooming business, but it’s all manageable.

Over the course of your journey, you’re bound to run into roadblocks or bottlenecks in the process, but if you’re truly passionate about this, you can make it work!

As you jump into the process, be sure you don’t take it all on yourself. Lean on a partner, or trusted friends for help if they have the bandwidth. Reference this list of helpful tips on your road to opening your dog grooming business and also look around for other advice.

If possible, talk to other people in similar industries and seek advice from them so you can avoid potential pain points they had.

If you stay focused on the ultimate goal of opening your dog grooming business, and accomplish each step in the process to the best of your ability, there’s no doubt you’ll have wagging tails and happy owners in no time!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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