And the Top Five Breeds Are…..

As of this writing, the AKC currently recognizes 202 dog breeds, the UK’s Kennel Club 211 breeds, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale 344 breeds officially. Most of these breeds are groomed very differently from each other.

In March of 2021, Newsweek Magazine published an article entitled, “The 28 Hardest Dog Breeds to Groom.”  We noted that Newsweek used as its measuring stick, breeds that took time, involved a skill set, or required a lot of maintenance.  Speaking personally as 40+ year Puli owners, we’ve come to learn that in the world of dog grooming, the toughest breeds to groom are the ones that are “time consuming, “difficult to do correctly,” and require maintenance.

Are there really 28 such breeds?

We cross-checked Newsweek’s list with other dog-centric media sites to see if there were breeds in common, and winnowed their lists down to the Top Five breeds named by all of them.  The sites we checked included the AKC, MSM, I ❤️ Dogs, the Soggy Dog, and a few others. The breeds they all had in common?

Afghan Hound
Old English Sheepdog

Honorable mentions (breeds that almost made the Top Five) are:

Portuguese Water Dog
Shih Tzu
Cocker Spaniel

We were frankly surprised at the breeds that didn’t make the Top Five, namely the Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, any of the Schnauzers, the Scottish Terrier, and the Kerry Blue Terrier. We were also a bit surprised that our own breed, the Puli, did make the list. We always maintained that of the long coated herding breeds in the AKC’s Herding Group, ours took the most time to wash and dry, and yes, there are hours spent splitting cords…but we never regarded Puli grooming in the same light that we do grooming a Bedlington or Poodle where the wrong cut can be disastrous. One doesn’t get in the same room with a show Puli and a pair of clippers, and anything more than one’s fingers, a spray bottle of water, a crochet hook (shhhh!) and perhaps some finishing product (for frizzies) is probably all one needs. A corded coat is pretty forgiving because if you trim it wrong (yes, corded coats are trimmed because they grow continuously), the dog gives itself a good shake, and the hundreds of cords land differently than how they were when they were trimmed. But we digress.

We had hoped to get an idea of what professional groomers felt were the toughest breeds to groom when we came across a forum for groomers, but once someone mentioned “doodles,” the on-line conversation focused on doodle coat horror stories and we never did learn what those other breeds might be.

Do you have your own list?

Image: Photo of Miniature Longhaired Dachshund by Darren Richardson from Unsplash

6 thoughts on “And the Top Five Breeds Are…..”

  1. Love this article – thank you! Many of us grooming educators with a focus on coat types will debate this. Part of the problem is defining what makes a groom “harder.” Often it is the behavior of the dog, not the coat of the dog that makes a groom the most difficult.

    Doodles are a common complaint because they are a cross between Fur type coats, the natural canine coat that needs to shed out undercoat, to Hair type coats that won’t let them shed. Like who thought THAT was a good idea? A heavy undercoated Bernese Mountain Dog to a Poodle? They are matting machines.

    Or is it the length of time or muscle strain that makes a groom the most difficult? In that case bathing, blow drying, brushing out a coat like Newfoundland or an OES is the biggest job. For me, one of the most challenging coats I ever worked with was on a heavily coated Briard in full length coat and very matted undercoat. Working to save that coat without shaving it, which I never do, was quite a job.

    In the end the groom that may require the most skill, the most careful execution, the longest time, and significant work under the blow dryers is the Standard Poodle. But they are such a dream of good behavior and beauty on the table, it hardly seems like work at all.

    Thanks for thinking of us groomers on this wonderful page!

    • What a great comment, Jennifer, thank you! Groomers are a wealth of “insider” information, we’d always love hearing from them!

  2. After decades of grooming professionally, the absolute worst breed to groom, taking into consideration the coat and temperment is the Siberian husky. Without a question, the worst. Ever.

    • We admit that we’ve heard Sibes can be very “vocal,” but what about the coat is problematic? We are Puli owners, if we can’t cord it, we don’t know what to do with hair…

  3. Husky coats may not need to be styled or dematted, but the coat is very dense and extremely waterproof. A typical groom on a husky goes like this:

    Just getting the coat saturated with water to begin the bath takes some time. Not to mention the breed hates being wet, and will scream and holler and try frantically to escape the tub all the while being bathed. They also,, without fail, shake the water off themselves every 30 seconds.

    Once, after what seems an eternity, the coat is ready to accept shampoo, it takes hands of steel to get the soap to the skin.

    Rinsing takes a long time as well, and enevitably the groomer is totally soaked, including their underwear.

    Now comes the really fun part. Blow drying. Nightmare central. If you think your husky hates being washed, it is nothing compared to their hate for
    being force-dried. This is when the screaming and scrambling comes to a fevered pitch. All the while, there’s usually tons of dead undercoat (because most husky owners only bring their dog to a groomer when it is blowing coat, which means once or twice a year, at best) that comes out during rhe blow dry that ends up covering anything and everything within a 2 mile range. The groomer ends up looking like a Yeti, and the grooming room looks like the Himalayan mountains after a blizzard.

    I would rather groom 10 Afghans for every one Sibe.

    On the other side of the coin, my favorite breeds to groom are springer, goldens, and cavaliers. And, lest I forget, whippets.

    • We doubt you meant to be funny, Hindy, but your answer is so vivid and colorful that we chuckled all the way through it. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Note to self: Stick with Pulik.

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