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The Wild World of Competitive Poodle Grooming

 by danielle on 01 May 2014 |
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We are used to seeing poodles sport unusual hairstyles beside their fellow dogs – but the poodles at the annual Groom Expo take canine coiffuring to a whole new level. 


Every year, extreme pet stylists converge on Hershey, Pennsylvania to create elaborate and, often mind-bogglingly bizarre, living works of art from the canvas of their dog’s fur.

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After months of preparation, groomers have two hours on site to put their masterwork together. An intense bout of colouring and mad shearing ensues before the poodles are paraded before the judges. 


Competition is fierce. A winner can easily take home $30,000 USD for a top entry. 


The results are nothing if not imaginative. Poodles are transformed into camels and horses, linebackers and dragons. 

Photographer Ren Netherland, a former Navy officer, is fascinated by the culture that has developed around the event. He travels every year from his home in Florida to capture the unusual world of competitive grooming and the designs the poodle lovers produce. His photographs have opened up an otherwise closed circle to the public eye. 


He says whilst the, the competition can seem a little strange to outsiders, it is far from cruel. The poodles are pampered and seem to quite enjoy the spotlight. 

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