Recently, creative freestyle grooming has become a popular activity in the grooming world. Talented groomers across the world are transforming their furry friends into works of art and showcasing just how much one can do with their grooming tools. With creative grooming becoming such a craze, there are many groomers looking to try their hand and improve their skills. 

To help those groomers, Wahl interviewed Lori Craig, a Creative Master Groomer and president of the Creative Grooming Association for her advice and perspective on improving your creative freestyle grooming. With her help, we hope you begin trying some creative grooming and help turn your adorable pets into beautiful works of art!


What is creative freestyle grooming?  Creative Freestyle grooming, to me, is taking a dog or cat that is in for its regular grooming and being able to unleash your artistic or creative side. For a simple shave down, you can add a mohawk to the head or entire body, or you could leave a patch down the back and carve the pets name in the remained fur. In essence, it allows the groomer to do something outside of the box versus just a normal trim.


How do you suggest practicing creative freestyle grooming?  Owners who groom their dogs and pet stylists sometimes get a bit bored with the same routine haircut. Let’s face the fact that each pet is very unique and has their own personalities, but that doesn’t mean they have to have their breed standard clip every time. As a groomer, I have learned that sometimes the clips get boring or mundane, so I enjoy jazzing them up a bit. I love to use my Wahl Creativa clippers and do what is called “edging”—using just the side of the blade on the coat—to sculpt sometimes easy, sometimes intricate designs into the coat. Even short-haired dogs can sport some of the most unique designs.


What are some of your favorite creative freestyle grooming tips you give to beginners? On shorter coated dogs, it is always a good idea to use a stencil. You can make your own with the use of sticky-back foam (this is a great method so you are not stuck holding a stencil while setting that pattern). You can use spray chalk or a blow pen to add the design to the coat, so you see where to clip. 

Edge in the design with a 15 or 30 blade, and go against the lay of the coat. Take just a little at a time until your are happy with your design. On longer coated dogs, I suggest taking the fur down in the desired area to an inch or under. The Wahl blue (#3) and orange (#4) slide-on combs are great lengths to get a much more crisp design. 

To have a design pop out, simply reverse and clip off the unwanted hair and leave the design to pop out. I will often edge my finished design with a #40 blade for a super crisp look.


What are some common mistakes that new creative groomers make, and how can they be avoided? The most common mistake I have found is not being prepared; you want everything you will use by your side so you can focus on your design. Make sure you are calm while working on your pet, for they truly do feed off of our energy. Also, realize that you are working with fur.Rarely is a design perfect, but we are our own worst critic. Chances are your design looks great, so make sure you enjoy the process and your pooch will love his new temporary “pettoo.”


What are your favorite parts about creative grooming? Creative grooming, to me, is soothing and allows you to show your art in a different light. As a groomer, it can show your clients that you can think outside the box and make their pet unique while having fun with fur. I often do my best work when I am alone at my shop and can just focus on a design. My dogs love the one-on-one and then love showing off their new do the next day to my clients.


Why is creative freestyle grooming important? Why do you believe others should try it? Creative freestyle will set you and your clients apart from the others in town. It shows that you truly wish to spend the time to make a pet unique among the others, whether it be a carved design, a touch of color, or turning your pets look into a whole other animal or theme. 

Our dogs enjoy us most when we are happy, and they are getting positive attention from a crowd who wants to see a unique design. Creative grooming opens so many doors for conversation, animal interaction and just plain fun. Most people want to pet a bubblegum pink poodle, a dog with unique carvings, or show support for your favorite team with its logo on man’s best friend. Give it a try. If you do not like it, you can always clip it off and grow it back into a breed style trim.  PB