How to Judge Dog Grooming

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Emphasis on balance, symmetry, on the dog’s profile, style and overall finished appearance. Depending on the class this may also tie in with the Breed Standards.

Clipper Work

The quality of the clipper work. Whether the pattern is placed correctly and evenly and clipped with the appropriate blade. Whether the clipped lines are definite and straight and neatly bevelled where they meet the body coat. Whether the groomer has used a blade complimentary to the coat (if there is no pattern and the body is clipped overall). Whether the feet, face and tail are clipped with the appropriate blade. Whether the clipper lines on the face are straight and the clipper work is smooth with no tufts of hair around the lips or eye corners. Whether the feet are clipped clean between the toes and pads.

Finished Appearance

The overall finished appearance with emphasis on balance, symmetry and the smoothness the originality and execution of the clip and its suitability to the dog's conformation.

Scissor Work

The quality, uniformity and smoothness of the scissoring, whether the finish is like that of plush velvet, free of scissor marks. Whether the legs are scissored evenly and are of sufficient fullness to balance the dog. Whether the topknot and tail are properly shaped and in balance to each other. On breeds with eyebrows or falls and beards, whether the trimming is correct and points up the distinctive features which characterise the breed. On Spaniels and other sporting breeds, if all other criteria are equal preference will be given to backs that are carded and thinned rather than clipped.


Technical use and finish, the quality of the finish when using your equipment such as clipping, scissoring, thinning, hand stripping, plucking and carding.


The degree of difficulty of the clip. This does not mean that fancy patterns should necessarily take precedence since scissor trims can be just as difficult with certain coat textures. This can be based on anything the judges sees from the start to the finished style. For example, correction of faults, coat, type.

Types of Dog Grooming

Breed Class

Each breed of dog has its own breed standard.  These are a set of defining characteristics of each breed of dog. This class requires the competitor to cut, trim and groom the dog to suit and complement those standards.

Salon Styling

Salon styling is more typically how a competitor would cut, trim and groom a typical dog that visits their salon. This style isn't judged against Breed Standards, and may take techniques from different breeds. Competitors must Trim based on what they would do in the salon every day.

Asian Freestyle

Asian Freestyle (or Asian Fusion) is a creative grooming style that has displays a unique and charming cut that seeks to give our pets a fun-loving look like that of a stuffed teddy bear. Asian fusion options also include spiral patterns, carving, flared legs, mushroom heads, donut muzzles, koala ears, cone heads, blushed cheeks, top knots and curled ears etc.

The above judging criteria and comments have been provided for the purpose of education and do not represent the views, opinions or position of judges, officials or the RA&HS. Any resemblance to actual persons, competitors, or exhibits living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

More Judging Information