Bichons and Grooming

I have always had a dog as a pet.   I’ve had a German Shephard, a Beagle, a Terrier, and my share of “mutts.” In 2005 my husband and I were ready to get another dog.  While researching what type we should get this time, I read, for the first time, about Bichons:

“…the Bichon Frise (is) a white powder puff of a dog whose merry temperament is evidenced by his plumed tail carried jauntily over the back and his dark-eyed inquisitive expression. The Bichon Frise is pretty easy to live with.  This cheerful, pleasant house dog enjoys playing games, snuggling into laps and pillows…”  They have a curly coat that doesn’t shed, is small but sturdy, is playful but doesn’t need much outdoor exercise, and makes an alert watchdog, but is not aggressive.”    ( 

This description sounded just like the type of dog we were looking for.  “Doesn’t shed,” especially, kept repeating in my head.   When royal blue carpets were all the rage back in the late 70’s, we had one. With a white dog that shed. I vacuumed every single day, and I was not interested in doing that again.  

And that is how we came to adopt our first Bichon, Riley. I’ve mentioned our 2nd Bichon, Stella, lately, so – yes, we now have 2 Bichons.

And here is my point. Bichons are high maintenance dogs in the grooming department.  They should be brushed every day, and they need to be groomed fairly often to keep their adorable appearance.  For us, “fairly often” means every 5-6 weeks.

Grooming can be expensive. It’s worth the investment when the dogs come back from the groomers all clean and sweet smelling and adorable again.  But when paying grooming expenses for 2 dogs, I found myself trying to extend the time between grooming appointments just a little longer. It wasn’t working. So I made a decision.

And before going forward, I apologize to all professional dog groomers who might be reading this.

I decided to try to groom Riley and Stella myself.  I watched YouTube videos, I bought all of the equipment I need, and I’m ready to give it a try.  I am expecting a learning curve. I even accept that this might be a total failure. I might end up taking my Riley and Stella to their groomer with a chopped up look, begging her to “fix” them. 

But when I compare their grooming fees to the amount I paid for all of the equipment I bought, I only have to “try” 2 times in order for the expenses to “equal out.” I figure I can do anything twice, right?

I’ll let you know.

Riley as a puppy, 2005

Stella on the left, Riley on the right, last winter

My new equipment


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Comments (18)

  1. Good luck! Anything to save money. As you know I adopted an adult cat a little over a month ago. I can trim cat nails, but being she is an adult cat who was from a shelter, she was not use to being handled. I tried trimming her nails and managed with a towel to cut 3 paws. That was not what I wanted to do. I took her to the vet yesterday for a wellness checkup and have him trim her nails. I told him my delima and asked if there was anything I could give her to calm her down so I could trim her nails. There is! He gave me some pills for me to give her when she needs trimmed. Hopefully that works next time. She is an adult shelter cat who loves attention and I do not want to traumatize her, but it is $20 to have her nails trimmed at the vet. That would be expensive for me in a years time. I can do the pill every couple of months. Let us know how you progress in your dog grooming. Your babies are adorable!

    November 4, 2017 at 8:09 am
    • Karen

      That is a good option for you, DeLoris. It might be something I will need to keep in the back of my mind for Stella. Riley won’t be a problem, he is so calm. Stella on the other hand is quite excitable still. Thanks for your post. And good luck next time you try trimming your sweetie’s nails.

      November 4, 2017 at 8:33 am
  2. Glori

    Well, you once again succeeded in getting me to chuckle (even with my headache! lol) with what you have decided to accomplish…or should I say try?? I also love that you attached a few photos…how uber CUTE is Riley as a pup and they are indeed both beautiful dogs! Loved seeing your backyard and the coarse mountainous area in the background! Now call me anxiously awaiting to hear how two times of grooming goes…don’t forget those photos of before and after! :)))

    November 4, 2017 at 8:25 am
    • Karen

      LOL… I was hoping that no one would ask for a before / after shot. But okay. Will do. You know that is REALLY putting me “out there” right? 😛

      November 4, 2017 at 8:31 am
      • Glori

        Yep, and I’m totally good with that Karen! LOL 😉

        November 4, 2017 at 8:32 am
        • Karen


          November 4, 2017 at 8:33 am
          • Glori

            You know I LOVE you!!

            November 4, 2017 at 8:35 am
          • Karen

            I do. 🙂

            November 4, 2017 at 10:43 am
  3. Maria

    Good for you! I am curious about the blower/dryer under the table. Can you tell us more about that please? (Cost, where to get, etc.) I occasionally wash my poodle myself, but I can’t get his coat as nice as the groomer does. I’m thinking that a dryer like that may be the answer. And yes, we definitely need before and after shots. 🙂

    November 4, 2017 at 10:39 am
    • Karen

      I think you are right, Marla. I was talking to Stella’s groomer, and she said that the dryer makes the difference. It is very powerful and really blows the hair out straight. This particular one I bought on Amazon on sale for $65, but it is quite loud. Riley (the sedate 12-year-old) tolerated it, but he didn’t like it. I haven’t tried it on Stella because I think it would traumatize her. I am returning it and am trying to find one that is not as loud but still does the job. I’ll let you know when I find one. If you find one, let me know please? Thanks!

      November 4, 2017 at 10:49 am
  4. Judy Carter

    Knowing you, Karen, you will master the grooming of your cuties in no time at all. They are so adorable.

    November 4, 2017 at 11:27 am
    • Karen

      You are kind, Judy. I hope you are RIGHT too!

      November 5, 2017 at 5:21 am
  5. Hi Karen,

    Our last dog was a Cairn terrier who needed regular grooming to avoid her coat becoming a mess. I learned to trim her with electric clippers. She didn’t like it but would tolerate it and after a few tries, I managed to do a fairly decent job. It’s well worth the try and the cost of the equipment. Good luck with Stella.

    November 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm
    • Karen

      Elaina, your comment was well-timed. I had just finished grooming Riley when I saw this. Riley, the 12-year-old, was just as calm as could be. I can’t say he looks awesome, but it will do… especially for a first time. It’s good to know that you improved after a few tries. That encourages me! Now to try Stella. THAT will be another experience, I know!

      November 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm
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