Our puppy is ruined because of petsmart!

So I know i’m being dramatic for writing this. Hopefully, I can save someone else from having the same experience as me from this blog post.

Let’s start this by saying I don’t like shaved dogs that typically have long fur/hair. Especially golden doodles!! Golden doodles aren’t supposed to be completely shaved! And I TRUST when I go to a groomer that they will not shave my dog when I specifically ask them not to.

Aspen’s First Grooming Experience

Today, Aspen was groomed for the first time. She had gotten a “puppy trim” before from Petsmart, and it was great! They trimmed her face, bathed her, and brushed out some mats. So, naturally, I scheduled her first grooming session for Petsmart since we had a great first experience. Ryan dropped her off for me while I was at work. I told him specifically not to let them shave her. So, Ryan distinctly clarified “do not shave her and keep the hair as long as possible, my wife does not like her hair short”. Ryan said the groomer claimed she was very matted, but that she would try her best to keep her hair long.

Aspen a few weeks before being groomed

So, The Grooming Begins…

3 hours pass. The groomer calls to tell me Aspen was ready for pick up. I arrive and she shows me a mat about the size of the palm of my hand. Maybe she was trying to brace me for what was to come. “I had to cut her short because she was so matted”, she told me. I honestly had no idea what short meant. Then, our groomer preceded to tell me about how we need to brush her more, play with her paws and face more, and take her on runs sometimes. I was insulted at first, because I felt like this groomer was schooling me in all the ways I needed to be a better dog owner. I became defensive because of the fact we do take her on runs at least weekly, take her on walks daily (in Utah’s freezing winter might I add). We pet her all the time, and we pull her paws apart daily to extract the snow that becomes trapped in them after our runs and taking her out to go potty. Whatever. I let it go. I was just ready to get Aspen back and head home!

And Then I see Aspen…

She asked me to go pay at the cash register and said that she would bring Aspen out for me. I complied. I went to pay. A dog comes out for another owner on front of me, furry, brushed, and beautiful. Next, there’s this skinny, hairless dog that appears. The groomer looks towards me as she walks down the aisle and hands me the leash. “This is really my dog?” I respond, in shock. “I know, it’s shocking at first”. “Wait, but are you sure?”, she nodded affirmatively, smiling. Aspen was shaved. HEAD to TAIL. There was not an inch of hair on her now bare body, except one tiny 3 inch long piece of hair on her ear the groomer missed. Here’s a picture I took of her right when we got home from the groom shave, so you can feel the shock that I felt.

I was so upset, I was speechless. I really didn’t know what to say. “She’s going to be so cold now”, I muttered. “Well, you can get her a sweater”, another groomer chimed in. They said this was a “fresh start for her fur”… We talked back and forth a little more. I expressed my shock. I figured nothing could get her fur back…

So I left…

I mean it’s just hair, it’ll grow back. I thought to myself. It won’t even matter in a year, don’t let it bother you… I tried to convince myself. But it did bother me. It bothers me because I entrusted Petsmart to follow our instructions, but they didn’t. I literally would’ve rather spent my Friday night brushing through my dogs matted hair than to come back with a dog I don’t recognize. Or, I would’ve rather had Petsmart call me and told me they couldn’t do what I wanted and to take her somewhere else, instead of doing what we specifically asked them not to do. I am upset because I don’t recognize her, she seems traumatized for a good few hours after the experience, and now my fur ball puppy is gone- and never will be again- unless there’s a miracle and her hair grows super fast!! Praying for that!!

A Learning Experience

Later, while getting a refund, we found out that the groomer was new. Therefore, Aspen was likely her guinea pig as far as grooming golden doodles. Also, golden doodles become very matted as they begin to lose their puppy coats and their adult coats come in. Plus, goldendoodles are prone to matting to begin with. You need to brush them daily (which, I’ll admit, we hadn’t done). BUT her face was not matted at all… the typical golden doodle grooming leaves their face long. I am very disappointed that the groomer didn’t leave her face long at the very least.

I’m sad because I loved my fluffy dog, and it’s going to take months for her to become fluffy again. But, of course, I still love my ratty, skinny, hairless dog too. She still has the same cute, sweet, and ornery personality- and thankfully hair grows. I just really really really hope it grows back fast…And I will never trust petsmart to groom her again.

The bright side: We won’t have to vacuum as much or brush her as much. Our puppy is alive and well. Also, I’ve realized just how cute Aspen was with long hair.

Have you all ever had a bad grooming experience? Any tips for the future? Think I’m being absolutely crazy? Any tips of how to make her look more normal in the hair growing process? Comment your thoughts below!


15 Responses

  1. Sorry to hear of your upsetting experience with Aspen. Dogs are a lot of work too, just like kids. She is a cute dog and will be beautiful again sooner then you think. Be thankful..look at it this way..
    Grandpap said he lost his hair too, but unfortunately he has no hope of it growing back.
    Love, gram and Pap Hilderhoff

    1. Thankfully her hair is almost back to normal now 🙂 haha tell Pap he still looks good without the hair! Love and miss you guys!

      1. I am a groomer and honestly? I agree with what the groomer did here, sometimes starting over is better than constantly trying to detangle and dematt a dog that causes more pain than shaving. If there was no matts on the face or head it could have been left at the very least, i believe. But sometimes pet parents dont even brush the faces out 🙁 im sorry about this experience.

        1. I understand that, but we brush her several times a week and wish the groomer at least would’ve kept the face intact! And called us before she shaved her since we said to not even cut it short. It’s now months later and she has shave shock on the back half of her body :/ It’s very sad, but we are taking her to a great groomer now and hoping her fur improves!

        2. Hi!
          This exact situation just happened to me… I even had them check for matting before I left to confirm that I would not get a naked mole rat of a dog back, they checked said he was good to go and when I returned a fully shaven down to the skin dog. How did you get a refund?! Who do I call? I am so mad that I paid before I saw him I would have just said I’m not paying you guys anything. Please let me know. Thanks!!

  2. THIS HAPPENED TO ME YESTERDAY! i dropped my dog off at a groomer as said i dont want it short and then i come back to a completely shaved down doodle and hes only 4 months!! i was so upset and cried for an hour because he just looked so different and i was so shocked that she saved down to skin and it is all patchy :/ but now my dog is scratching like crazy and is cleary getting frustrated and i dont know what to do about his itch now? any suggestions

    1. Ugh, I’m so sorry this happened to you! Did they say why they did it? Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do short term other than complain and get your money back. For the future, I’d say make sure as the fur comes back to brush your pup often! Just to make sure he doesn’t get matted. Also, my NEW groomer gives my dog conditioner treatments everytime (she soaks her coat in conditioner) which helped my dog’s hair grow back more evenly, so I recommend that! I’m sorry once again, I know how sad and upsetting it can be! I also recommend trying to be positive to your dog and say he is still cute because idk about your dog but mine was definitely embarrassed and knew she looked bad. 🙁 And doodles are very sensitive! The good news is the fur will grow back! But the bad news is it’ll take a while…


    “i like her hair longer, but she needs trimmed up because she’s been so hot”
    just a few small mats to take care of during the assessment.
    i don’t know where the disconnect was..

    …we live in TN and the humidity is matting her hair more than usual. we’ve sat down every other night to comb her out, but i knew it was time to get her in and lose some of the weight. everywhere is booked solid for two weeks out. EXCEPT for a petsmart about 25 minutes away. We’ve used petsmart for training and her first real haircut and it’s always been great, (BUT this wasn’t our normal store). I jumped on it, dropped her off at lunchtime and then 3 hours later went to pick her up.
    My beautiful aussiedoodle, who had just turned 1 the day before, does not even look like the same dog. i think my jaw is still on the floor. she was insanely anxious all night and i tried my best to not show my emotions about it all.
    I’m trying to remind myself it’s just hair and it’ll grow back before i know it, but i’m honestly a little nervous that her soft waves won’t return the same as before.
    They left her tail and her face longer, so i guess there’s that. when her tail touches her back, she jumps thinking someone/something is touching her. i got her a shirt to wear when we go outside because i’m worried she’ll get sunburnt. also noticed a little nick on her leg from them shaving her. i can’t imagine how she felt during those 3 hours. i’ve already done a bunch of research for independent groomers in town and know exactly where we’ll be going next time. i hope aspen’s beautiful long hair is back!

    1. Aw I’m so sorry to hear this!
      It is so frustrating and disappointing that petsmart does this!

      It’s like you can’t trust having your dog there! It’s so sad to pick up your dog and not recognize it!!
      And then for them to feel embarrassed, too. Ugh, I am so saddened this happens to so many pups! I hope your cute Aussiedoodle’s fur grows back quickly!

      Thankfully, since she’s already 1, I’ve HEARD that their fur is more likely to grow back normally! Aspens fluffy again, but her fur is a mixture of black, gray, and brown now. I heard that was because of her age, though. (She was only 6 months when she was shaved!) I wish you and your adorable pup the best! And hope that she’s fluffy again before you know it!

  4. The reason I looked this up was because my friends golden retriever just got shaved by pet smart when they specifically said not to shave him. The worst part was he wasn’t even shaved well. It’s all patchy and spotty. Also whenever they look at him they feel it’s their fault.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁 I know it’s so hard! I hope they can get the shave evened out and that the fur grows back quickly!!

  5. The same thing happened to my 4 month Whoodle yesterday! I am in total disbelief and can’t rap my head around knowing that it’s the same dog! For me, it’s more shocking that her hair color is completely different as I was aware that eventually it would lighten up & turn wheaten color as she got older. She had a beautiful brown/tan color fur & it’s now completely white….. This is double my pain & feel so guilty for letting her mat to the point they had to shave her. It’s my first dog and didn’t even know what mats looked like & the importance of daily brushing. How long did it take for your puppy to grow it’s fur back? Did it grow the same texture & Color? She’s still my baby & I love her no matter what… I just hope I can soon get past this new look 🙁

  6. I spent 2 hours the night before I took my doodle Maggie to get groomed at my local PetSmart. I knew she had a mat underneath one ear that I couldn’t get out but if it had to be cut it was underneath. She doesn’t like her tail brushed at all but we do attempt it. Now I’m not saying it didn’t have a couple mats but when I went to pick her up they’d completely shaved her tail. And botched her ears so bad I had to trim them when I got home I’d specifically asked them to really trim around her eyes and mouth and I think they completely forgot about that My husband was terribly upset. We are hoping it doesn’t take long for it to grow back because she looks awful. A long curly body with a rat like tail. I have a shihtzu as well and the girl that normally grooms them both is pregnant and not doing big dogs now. So Maggie had a different groomer this time. I reached out to the regular groomer who in turn informed me that Maggie was badly matted and they don’t torture dogs. Had I not spent 2 hours the night before I might think well maybe but I knew different. Like you I felt like they were saying I didn’t take care of my dog. I’d had a poodle prior to her and I know how to take care of their coats and that offended me And isn’t that what we are paying them for to begin with ?!?! I’d only started going there because I knew the groomer that took care of both my dogs and I occasionally got a coupon to help offset the costs. I informed them my dogs would not be back. I’ve got back on my previous groomer’s schedule and she’s already groomed my shihtzu and Maggie is on her schedule. She’s more expensive but my husband said he didn’t care as long as they do what we ask or at least call us prior to anything outside of what we’d asked for
    Funny thing is the one groomer I knew that worked there had just posted on her Facebook a few weeks earlier how PetSmart gets a bad rap and they’re all trained as well as any other groomer. Well I’ll dispute that claim. My advice to any pet parent is find a groomer that is independent and not part of a chain and form a good relationship with them. That’s what I do for myself with my hairdresser so why not for my furbaby

  7. Hi!
    This exact situation just happened to me… I even had them check for matting before I left to confirm that I would not get a naked mole rat of a dog back, they checked said he was good to go and when I returned a fully shaven down to the skin dog. How did you get a refund?! Who do I call? I am so mad that I paid before I saw him I would have just said I’m not paying you guys anything. Please let me know. Thanks!!

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