How much to tip your dog groomer? A groomer tells her story

You walk into the store and the groomer brings your dog up front. Your dog looks great. The receptionist hands you the bill and you reach for your wallet. But a question sticks out in your mind…

Should I tip? How much? Do they expect one? If I leave too small of a tip will the dog groomer be insulted?

So many questions. That’s why we have Katlin here to tell her side of the story.

Katlin has been dog grooming professionally for over 10 years. Having worked in a few different facilities (big box stores, little boutiques, and mobile) she has some well rounded experience on what the tipping experience is like.

Should I tip my dog groomer?

Let’s start with the easy one. Should you tip?

No pressure, it’s totally up to you.

In my experience as a groomer: tipping isn’t expected (but always appreciated).

I understand people have different budgets and different takes on the tipping system in general.

The truth is dog grooming isn’t cheap for a lot of people. But it’s necessary. I would rather have you as a regular client who doesn’t tip than a one-time client that feels obligated to spend extra.

How much should I tip my dog groomer? 

This can really change from one area to the next. In my experience, if I do receive a tip, the amount I receive can vary.

When I present the credit/debit card terminal there are options for 10%, 15%, and 20% tip (if they want to leave one). Analyzing my data from the last 6 months (about 250 transactions in 2021) I found the average tip was 12.5%.

However, with cash transactions most clients will give me a $10 or $20 bill. Which is an easy way to tip without any extra math.

So, how much should you tip? The simple answer is: whatever you’re comfortable with.

How often do groomers get tipped?

Looking at my data from the past 6 months: about 70% of my clients tip regularly.

But looking at the big picture; things like economic downturns or upswings can certainly have an overall effect. Which is completely understandable.

A tip can be an indicator that I’m on the right track. It says to me “Thanks, you’re doing a great job”. But even if you can’t contribute, some honest feedback or appreciation is still very valuable to me.

Interesting Observations

In my experience (so take this with a grain of salt) wealthy clients tip less or not at all. While your typical middle class person nearly always tip. Elderly people generally tip too, but in smaller amounts because their budget is usually tighter (which makes me even more appreciative!)

You might expect people with more wealth to tip more and those with less to tip less. But in 9 years of grooming I’ve often seen the opposite.

I don’t mind – it’s just an interesting little observation.

What if I can’t afford to tip?

I have many clients who live on a small budget. It wouldn’t be fair of me to ask for more money.

So what if you like the groom but can’t afford anything extra? Easy, just show us some love and appreciation.

A simple “Awesome job!” can be really uplifting, especially if we’re having a long day (we have a lot of those).

Here’s something 10x better that you can do for FREE: tell your friends about us.

It can be as simple as tagging us in a picture of your groomed dog on Facebook. Or sharing our business page with your friends.

In fact, I have clients that receive life-long super discounts because they brought in so many new faces.

Why pay for dog grooming if you can’t afford it?

You might ask why someone on a tight budget is paying to get their dog groomed.

The truth is an ungroomed dog can be a big health risk unto itself. Matting will continue to tighten overtime, pulling on the skin and leading severe skin bruising or lesions. Unkempt dogs will have difficulty going potty, and will lead to a buildup of bacteria or disease. Not to mention the buildup of oils and dirt on the surface of the skin will deteriorate their overall health.

Eventually a veterinarian would have to intervene and you would be left with a heavy bill.

Not being able to afford a tip is one thing, but not grooming your pup is going to cost you (financially and emotionally) in the long run.

Phone around and ask your local groomers about low-income options.

You may also want to consider learning to groom yourself.

Do dog groomers rely on tips?

Some troubling data from FiveThirtyEight shows just how hard servers have to work in the U.S. to earn minimum wage (if each customer leaves a 15 percent tip).

Your typical working groomer is more likely to receive a straight commission from each appointment than hourly pay.

How much we groomers earn completely depends on the regular stream of incoming clients. Some weeks are busy and lucrative, and some are really slow and painful. Tips help bridge the gap.

(Check out my guide on starting out as a dog groomer for more details on commission rates, tips, and marketing.)

I can’t speak for everybody. But I will say that the extra generosity helps me weather the storm during a slow week.

Seeing that a majority of my clients tip is also very motivating. Regardless of how I’m feeling that day, I always want to do my best work because I know my clients appreciate the extra effort.

What groomers are saying

I’ve worked with dozens of other groomers, and we all have a similar mindset:

We don’t expect a tip, but it’s always appreciated.

Like I mentioned before: it’s an indicator that we’re on the right track. But sometimes just a simple “thanks, I love it” is just as strong an indicator.

Sharing pictures of your groomed dog with friends or on social media is even better than a tip. Because it can lead to new life-long clients.

Specialty Services

One thing I haven’t mentioned is tipping when it comes to specialty grooming.

What is specialty grooming?

Some groomers have mastered specific techniques or working with specific breeds. Such as hand stripping dogs, or show grooming styles and trims. Or even working with nervous or aggressive dogs.

Owners looking for these skills will seek these groomers out (sometimes travelling long distances). As you might expect; their costs are higher than average.

It’s not uncommon to receive a much higher tip for specialized skill. Just like you would in any field.

Has Tipping Changed in 2022?

During 2020 and 2021 many groomers called it quits for one reason or another.

We also saw a record number of puppy adoptions during this time.

That, in turn, created a perfect storm that has put a lot of pressure on existing dog services. I suspect this increased demand will be around for several years.

While recent global events have certainly affected my day-to-day business, I find tipping has has seen a few small changes as well.

Overall, tipping has increased.

Perhaps my clients are feeling the stress of the past few years, and are hoping to relieve some of that pressure through generosity. Or perhaps they are grateful I could accommodate them during this incredibly busy period.

Either way, I’m eternally grateful for my clients and their kindness during this time.

Photo of author

Katlin Primrose

​​Katlin is ​a certified advanced professional groomer and a registered veterinarian tech assistant (working in emergency, exotics, and general practice). You can also find her in the show ring with her dogs, winning awards in rally obedience and show grooming with the Canadian Kennel Club. You might say she's multi-talented when it comes to pets.

14 thoughts on “How much to tip your dog groomer? A groomer tells her story”

  1. Great article! I just think of the grooming as similar to hairdressing. Good point that many of the dogs need the grooming for health reasons. I still feel if a client is able to tip for grooming, they probably should. My daughter is a wonderfully talented dog groomer. Thank you!

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  2. That was a fantastic article! Generally, I can’t afford tipping and yet I do feel obligated. So, I try to do a small cash tip so I don’t have to press one of the buttons on the checkout terminal. I can’t really afford the grooming either but I got a high maintenance dog— ugh—as much as I lover her the grooming is very expensive for my budget.

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  3. Very good article! Thank you for the info! Question? I would like to groom my Pom (trim especially his bottom) and he loves me to brush/comb and trim him all over — 🤦‍♀️except- – he won’t let me near his back end; is there any way I can do it? I have to have him groomed every 6 wks. ($55.00 ) at Petsmart, where only one Groomer knows how to do a Pom properly. I have had one occasion when his poopy got stuck and 😢😢yes, he had to go to emergency!👎😢 If I could keep his back end trimmed, I wouldn’t have that cost as often! and like many Seniors, my income is only S.S.; that’s all!! Thank You for your help! You mean after writing this time consuming page you aren’t going to answer it?

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  4. We have a rough coat Saint Bernard, and are on a budget. He’s a sweetheart with a meet-and-greet attitude. The first place we took him gave him a skin staph infection. So, we stayed away for a year, but the at home grooming was just too much. We have since found a great groomer and bought a discount package for 12 bath/brush. The discount saves our budget, and we can tip the rest of the normal price. At 150#, we know he’s a lap and tub full, but he always comes back to us happy and looking great.

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  5. Great article and very helpful! I generally try to give a great tip, but there are times when I’m stretching the budget for a grooming appointment…that said, I still tip something because I appreciate you caring for my dog. And although I realize that my dog is very good during grooming sessions, I know that many are not. You all deserve thanks in one way or another. Thank you for all you do!

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  6. Very helpful input. Will definitely tip if the job is well done but expecting a 10% tip for a lousy job is out of the question.

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  7. Very informational. I live on a small budget so it’s hard to tip a lot of times.
    I understand how hard it is to work with different dogs.
    I’m very appreciative of the groomer doing an excellent job.

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  8. Great article! Very helpful. When and how much to tip has become a common topic between my wife and me. It’s good to get the perspective of someone in the business. Much more credible than some freelance writer giving their opinion. Thanks so much!

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  9. Thanks for this info… quite needed as I have struggled with the knowing and even more when 2 dogs are groomed $200.00 plus any Vet attention. But, it’s not business fault…. I didn’t do homework on maintenance this type dog required when I made purchase😬🫣🥴 I try to tip best I’m able

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  10. my groomer has been patient with my shelter dog that can be anxious he is only 20 lbs but has tried to nip her. She is nice enough to continue taking him so i tip her extra. at least 20 % or more for her trouble she does a great job too, and really doesnt need any clients. I think she is really being nice to take him

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  11. Great article. I have two doodle mixes of some sort and take them to my local petsmart for grooming. I feel with what the groomers are paid a tip is important so I give 20 to 30.00 per dog and feel they go above and beyond for my dogs. I’m happy I can do it. Back in the day when I had a Scottish terrier I was lucky to be able to scrounge up the fee for grooming and was rarely able to afford anything extra so I feel lucky I can tip now.

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