When Stuart Simons visited Florida in 2004, all he noticed were the dog groomers, says Zoe Williams in The Guardian. They were on every street corner, and since we “always follow the US”, he reasoned, they were bound to turn up in the UK before long. He was right. Simons now runs the luxury pet parlour Tails of St Leonards, and business is booming. And no wonder: there are more than 12 million dogs in Britain, and owners are spending more money on their pets than ever. In 2018, Brits shelled out £1.7bn on pet care and grooming. By 2020, that number had risen to £3.8bn.
Visiting his salon, says Williams, I meet Ernie, a six-year-old greyhound getting his nails done; Zorro, an eight-month-old Afghan hound who wails as he’s washed; and Otis, a cavapoochon (part cavalier king charles spaniel, part poodle, part bichon frise) getting shaved “back to glory”. (“His eyes keep asking: ‘Why? Why does it matter what my tail looks like?’”) Prices are steep. A shave costs up to £75 and a cut is £90, depending on the breed. Customers complain that their dog’s haircut costs more than their own, says Simons. But think about a dog. “It’s wriggly, it will take two hours, sometimes it will poo on the table. At least a human will sit still.”