How Much to Tip a Dog Groomer?

Consider the total bill, as well as the quality of the service, your pet’s temperament and where the work is done.

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Dog ownership comes with many responsibilities, and keeping your dog clean is one of the most challenging. Some owners tackle the bathing, brushing and trimming themselves, while others pay for a dog grooming service. If you’re one to leave it to the professionals, you may have wondered if you’re supposed to add a gratuity after receiving the bill.

Here's what to consider when deciding how much to tip a dog groomer.

Start with the average cost of dog grooming

Tips are often calculated by taking a percentage of the total bill. A basic grooming service can cost $50 to $75, according to Erin Myers, a grooming expert and project analyst at the American Kennel Club.

According to etiquette experts, the industry standard for tipping service professionals is 15% to 20% of the bill, so for dog groomers that would work out to $7.50 to $15. If you’re unsure, use our tip calculator.

Factors that could affect the size of your bill or tip

While calculating a percentage of the total bill is a good place to begin, there are some other things that may influence your tip.

Dog breed and size: Some breeds require a little extra maintenance, especially if they’re prone to matted fur or shedding (think poodles and bichon frisés). If your dog needs lots of brushing or a special haircut, you might want to consider that in your tip. Bigger dogs also can take longer to groom.

Temperament: If your dog hates getting groomed and is difficult to manage, it might make the appointment last longer and, potentially, endanger the groomer. Consider tipping more if this sounds like your dog.

Salon address: Location influences the prices of most things, including grooming. People going to a shop in an urban area should anticipate a larger bill and expect to pay more in tips than those in suburban or rural areas.

Mobile vs. brick and mortar: A mobile grooming service can be a convenient option for owners who find it difficult to bring their dog to a salon. However, Myers says “people should anticipate that [mobile grooming] is going to be a little bit more expensive” to cover vehicle gas and maintenance, permits, specialized equipment and the fact that mobile groomers can typically care for only one dog at a time. When calculating how much to tip a mobile groomer, take these factors into consideration.

Quality of service: The salon’s cleanliness, groomer’s communication style and your dog’s final appearance will likely influence how much you tip. Myers suggests assessing your dog after a groom to make sure that there are no tangles, cuts or other issues because they could be red flags for subpar work. If you feel like you received poor service, you might tip less than 15% or nothing.

Number of groomers: Some groomers do everything from start to finish while other salons have groomers dedicated to different parts of the process. If there is a division of labor, you might want to spread out the tip.

How to reduce your dog grooming bill

The cost of grooming should be top of mind before you adopt or purchase a dog. If the breed you want needs regular grooming, include those recurring expenses in your budget. Many people consider pets to be family members, which means veterinarian and grooming expenses might fall under the “50% for needs” category within the 50/30/20 budget framework.

Here are some other ideas to help cut costs:

  • Get a shorter cut to go longer between grooms. This extended timeline can save you money in the long run. 

  • Join a loyalty program and take advantage of seasonal promotions. Some groomers might offer discounts after completing a number of visits or feature holiday specials.

  • Keep up with at-home grooming between services. Taking over more manageable aspects of your dog's care, like ear cleaning or toenail clipping, can make your groomer’s job quicker, potentially leading to lower costs. 

  • Switch to a national chain. If you’ve been going to a mom-and-pop groomer, you could save money by taking your dog to a national chain where tipping isn't expected, according to Myers. 

  • Check to see if your pet insurance offers a wellness plan. Some providers let you add on certain grooming services. 

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Should you tip a dog groomer?

A grooming appointment can last two to four hours, according to PetSmart, a national pet retail chain. The average appointment includes brushing, ear cleaning, toenail clipping, bathing, drying and styling. Groomers may be grappling with scared or grumpy dogs who make the job more challenging. If your groomer delivers consistent results and is kind to your dog, tipping is a way to show your appreciation

And while some argue that tipping culture has run wild, skilled dog groomers are contributing to your dog’s overall health.

What if you can’t afford to tip?

If a 15% to 20% tip isn’t feasible, tipping a smaller amount might be an option. You could also reserve your tip for the holiday season, which can be a time to thank the service providers who make your life easier throughout the year. Adding a line in your holiday budget for your groomer will give you time to plan and save for the extra cost.

Myers suggests having an open conversation with your groomer about tipping when you drop off your dog. Asking for the costs upfront and establishing whether a tip is expected can help build an honest relationship.

If a tip isn’t in your budget, there are other ways to show your appreciation. Posting a positive review online could help boost business, and praising your groomer directly to their manager is a kind gesture.

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