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Grooming Tables: An Expert Guide to Choosing the Perfect One for Your Pet

Don’t cut corners when it comes to a pet grooming table. It’s the most important piece of equipment a groomer (even a do-it-yourselfer) will own.

grooming-tables
Choose a grooming table based on your needs. By: Akaporn Bhothisuwan

Pet groomers tend to have a lot of equipment.

They may have many types of brushes, shedding blades, combs and nail trimmers, just for starters. Often they have several sets of clippers and dozens of blades and scissors.

These items are really just the beginning of what a groomer needs to produce a happy, handsome pet with a fantastic hairstyle.

One of the most basic needs — and certainly the most important — is the table where all this grooming is performed.

Part 1: Choosing a Grooming Table That’s Perfect for You

Whether the groomer is working on the family dog, is a handler with a string of canines, or owns a salon full of barking or meowing clients, the grooming table is central to getting the job done.

This is why it is important that time and thought go into buying the best grooming table to get the job done.

What Will the Table Generally Be Used For?

If you’re grooming many cats (some of these long-haired guys need a lot of attention), that will mean a certain type of table.

If your main clients are from the Saint Bernard family or the Irish wolfhound, well, that’s an entirely different sort of table.

  1. Consider Size: If you’re in a salon, chances are you’ll get dogs of all shapes and sizes, and perhaps a cat or two as well. Several tables can be very useful. You’ll need one in the bathing and blow-drying area, and one for the grooming area. With a variety of pooches coming through, it’s good to have larger, sturdy tables. Accommodate the big boys and your little guys will be happy too.
  2. Take into Account the Amount of Grooming: If you’re taking care of your own dog at home, you won’t need the same kind of table you might in a salon. If your pet is large, it is smart to invest in a table that will easily work for both you and your pet, such as a hydraulic or electric grooming table. If you have a Cocker Spaniel, you may do better with a table that collapses down. Some of the collapsible (folding) tables aren’t great for large dogs because those tables can be too wobbly. But for in-home grooming with small to medium breeds, folding tables can be ideal. It’s a real advantage to be able to collapse a table back down when you’re done with it and get use out of the space again.
  3. Will You Be Traveling With the Table? If you’re showing your Pomeranian or poodle, you’ll be giving last-minute grooming before you enter the ring. You’ll need a table that goes with you. You may also be a groomer who travels to locations doing demonstrations or classes. In both of these instances, a table that can fold up for easy travel is ideal.
  4. Is It for Personal Use or a Salon? Grooming at home with just one or two pets can mean an entirely different situation from a salon with a wide variety of canines coming through. Remember that you’ll want to accommodate even the largest dogs in your salon, unless you want to limit your clientele. For this reason you should consider at least one quality hydraulic or electric table. You won’t want to move tables around a lot, so you won’t need collapsible tables. On the home-grooming front, you likely won’t have as much space devoted to grooming. In this situation, a table that is lightweight and can be collapsed and tucked away when you’re done is an excellent choice.

Consider Your Budget

You don’t want to cut corners when it comes to your table. This is the most important piece of equipment you’ll have in a salon, in your home or at a kennel. It is also integral to a safe job. For these reasons alone you want to buy the best table that you can afford.

Once you’ve decided what kind of table you want, it’s time to look at what’s out there for sale. Do everything you can to have as much in your budget as possible for your table. The more you can invest in your grooming table, the better chance you’ll have of getting the best out there and not dealing with it breaking down — or worse, being dangerous.

  1. Your fold-up tables can be purchased for anywhere from under $100 to a few hundred dollars. They are by far the cheapest on the market. This doesn’t mean they will be the best for the environment you’ll be grooming in. If it is the table you’ve chosen, then by all means start shopping for the sturdiest collapsible table you can find.
  2. Perhaps your decision has led you to the hydraulic table. These are sturdy and dependable and can be purchased for less than $200 on up to a thousand dollars. If this is what you’re looking for, you’ll have plenty of options to select from.
  3. Maybe you’re more interested in getting an electric table. You’ve decided they seem to fit what you need the best and are set on buying a professional grooming table of this caliber. There are plenty of these on the market as well, and they range from a few hundred dollars to as high as a couple of thousand.

This quick video shows an example of a hydraulic (foot pump) model:

Dog Grooming Table Recommendations

Now that you have your finances squared away and an idea of the perfect table, it’s time for the fun part: shopping. You can go to grooming expos, head out to dog shows or go online. All have their advantages and disadvantages.

Grooming Expos

Advantages:Disadvantages:
You can see the table and get a feel for its qualitySalespeople can be pushy
You can talk to other groomers to find out what they likeLimited selection
There are occasions where you can get big salesLots of travel time

Dog Shows

Advantages:
Disadvantages:
You can see what top breeders useVery limited selection
Take advantage of salesTravel expenses
See the tableMay not deal with tables for salons

Online Shopping

Advantages:
Disadvantages:
Unlimited selectionDon’t get to see the table first
Comparison shoppingDifficult to seek advice
Client reviews
No travel time
Tons of pictures and descriptions

With all the tools to find the perfect grooming table for you, it’s time to get out there and start shopping!

In my next section of this guide to grooming tables, I’ll give you some pointers on ways to save money.

grooming-table-bargains
Bargains are out there for grooming tables. By: John Leslie

Part 2: Bargain Shopping for Grooming Tables

Now let’s talk about some ways to find great deals on grooming tables.

In any budget there are ways we can cut some of our spending. For example, think about how you can buy shampoos in concentrated gallon-sized jugs to save money.

For those starting a grooming business or just looking to groom their dog at home, one area that gets scoped out for possible deals is the grooming table. Honestly, for a professional a grooming table should be one of the last areas to skimp on spending. However, if you do your research you’ll definitely find some bargains.

Buying Grooming Tables Online

As you probably guessed, one of the best ways to get a deal on a quality grooming table is to shop online. Some people flinch at this idea because they want to see the product before they buy it. Others don’t like to order online because they don’t want to deal with shipping costs.

Grooming salons will get used to having items shipped because traveling to a warehouse to pick up stock is generally impossible. If you’ve decided to hunt online, follow these tips to ensure you’re getting a deal rather than a dud.

  • Check the reviews: Look at both the good and bad product reviews.
  • Buy from reputable, established sites: Check to see how reputable the site is. You can easily Google most sites for legitimacy. Tip: Look at the bottom of the page and see how long the site has been copyrighted.

Check Grooming Expos

(The Z-Lift Hydraulic Grooming Table by ComfortGroom has great reviews on Amazon. That’s it pictured here.)

Sometimes you can find deals at the expos. Some exhibitors will even sell their demo models for discount rates.

Consider this, though: Will there be any guarantees if the item breaks? Ask lots of questions.

What About Used Grooming Tables?

If you have been searching for a used grooming table, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across websites like Ebay and Craigslist. Keep these points in mind:

  • Breakage on the table: If an item you bought used breaks down, you won’t have any way to easily get your money back. Often it will be difficult to get the table repaired.
  • Worn-out parts: There’s no telling what the table has been through. You might have a Golden Retriever on it only to have it collapse because the table top is rotted or the legs are bad.
  • Disreputable sellers: There are many online scams. With Craigslist, chances are you’re working with a local person. You may waste valuable time and money going to meet them only to have them not show up or bring an entirely different table from what was in the advertisement. With auction sites like Ebay, the risks are just as bad. There can be scams or an item sent that was not what was pictured.

Why Get the Big Table When the Travel Tables Are So Cheap?

Another way many people look to get a bargain on their grooming table is by purchasing the cheapest one they can find. These tables generally end up being flimsy fold-up tables. Although it’s true you can get these at half the price of others on the market, it is often the case of “you get what you pay for.”

These tables can collapse while you have a dog on them, causing danger to you and injury to the animal. The parts don’t usually hold up to the heavy use they’ll receive in a grooming salon.

Best-case scenario, you’ll get the table and find it’s too small or inadequate; worst-case scenario, you will be explaining to a dog caretaker how her pet broke a leg in your care.

Beware of Rock-Bottom Prices

Though it’s true that you need to be skeptical of bargain prices, if you are careful you might really find the deal of a lifetime.

Check websites for big sales. Reputable sites may end up with an item on clearance that won’t be made any longer. Although this might mean that finding support for the item is difficult, if it’s a table that has great feedback, the savings might be worth it.

Look for discounts, and don’t be afraid to ask the company what deals they can offer.

There’s a good chance you’re getting a table for the salon you’re about to open — if that’s the case, ask if the company offers discounts for large orders of supplies.

After all, you’ll need clippers, blades, scissors, shampoo, brushes and much more. You can get savings on shipping and even on your items by buying in larger quantities.

Big dogs need sturdy tables for grooming.
Big dogs need sturdy tables for grooming. By: Kristy May for Petful

Part 3: Best Grooming Tables for Large Dogs

Grooming dogs professionally is a dirty, physical job.

Some pets come in and are very scared, while others practically drag their bather to the tub.

Most people know their dogs don’t like baths, and therefore it’s not unusual for a pet to not get excited about visiting the groomer. All of this can escalate when you’re working with large dogs.

Trying to get a giant breed into the tub can take as many as three groomers. The dog can feel uncomfortable and may even get very nervous while on the table.

We reviewed a few grooming tables for large dogs and found some groomer favorites.

Large Breed Requirements

People with large and giant breed dogs soon grow to realize they have different requirements than many of their smaller canine family members.

Often these dogs don’t live as long and they tend to have more hip problems.

In the salon, these guys bring the promise of more physical labor to their groomer. They will need to be lifted more and often take longer to groom. They are heavy so will also need a table that is able to support their weight.

With the right equipment, grooming the large breeds can be easy and rewarding.

Different Types of Tables

When you’re selecting the best table to groom large breed dogs on, it’s important to realize there are quite a few for you to choose from.

Not only do you have three main types — collapsible, hydraulic and electric — you also have differences among these. You can buy tables for just under a hundred dollars or you can choose to get the Cadillac of the table world and go for one that offers all the bells and whistles, costing you a thousand dollars or more.

Understanding the basics of the tables will help you understand which ones will be best for you and the large dogs you’ll be styling soon:

1. Travel Tables

These tables are meant to be collapsed down and easily stored for future use.

They are great if you and your oversized pup will be spending a great deal of time heading out to one show after another. They are easy to fold down and tuck away in a trailer or back of a van and therefore easy to tag along to the show.

They can feel insecure to a large dog, though. If you’re not doing a lot of traveling, this is generally not the first choice for plus-sized pooches.

Getting a large dog on one of these tables can be quite the hat trick. They will need to be lifted up and often this will take more than one person to insure that the dog is fully supported. In addition, two people lifting can take the strain out of the project and lower the risk of dropping the dog.

If you’re considering a collapsible table for a heavy breed of dog be sure to check the weight capacity of the table. Most have a weight limit or suggestion and you don’t want to deviate even one pound over it.

In grooming, safety must always be paramount, and having a table that is fully capable of supporting a large dog is first and foremost.

2. Hydraulic Tables

These tables are meant for adjusting to make grooming more comfortable.

They tend to have a much more secure base. They aren’t as wobbly as the portable tables and allow you to move the table up and down to more comfortably work on a dog.

Although many of the higher end tables allow a wide range of mobility (able to be lowered to just a foot or two off the ground and then back up), the time it takes to do this with the hydraulics can be frustrating. They are often recommended for small to medium dogs.

3. Electric Tables

Electric grooming tables took the concept of adjustable height and improved it.

Some complaints hydraulic tables have is that they take a long time to be lowered or raised and that they can get squeaky. Working with a quality electric table, you can lower it to the ground, have the dog step on and then raise it to working level.

Many groomers even have these on sturdy wheels and use these in place of ramps for getting large dogs into the tub.

I like the Ultra Low Z-Lift from ComfortGroom, which you can find for under $600 plus a mere $4.49 for shipping. That’s it pictured here. The height range is great on this model — the accordion lift goes both super low and super high, so it’s perfect for dogs of all sizes.

Benefits of Hydraulic Grooming Tables

It’s not unusual for a lot of groomers to purchase or even recommend hydraulic grooming tables for the large breeds.

It’s important to remember that isn’t what the tables were intended for.

Their biggest benefits include:

  • Adjustable height range, making working on dogs convenient
  • Affordability
  • Creating comfort for both the groomer and the dog

Benefits of Electric Grooming Tables

For the most part, when you ask a professional groomer what table they recommend for large dogs you will get the same response, hands down. T

he electric grooming table is the best choice for any large dog:

  • They are able to be lowered all the way to the ground allowing the dog to easily climb aboard. Their parts don’t need repair as quickly as some of the hydraulic tables.
  • They can be raised without a lot of noise allowing the groomer to easily get their work done.

Electric Grooming Tables Are Recommended

Across the board most will recommend investing in an electric grooming table for your large breed dogs.

These tables make lifting easy enough that often a single groomer is capable of taking care of a large breed such as a Newfoundland.

If you buy one that has rollers, it’s easy to get the dog onto the table and even let her step down into the tub. They are capable of moving up and down and doing so quickly and without noise.

These days many people are looking for ways to cut corners and save money. In the grooming salon, it is no different. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that skimping on your table can be one of the worst decisions you make.

The table is such a central part to having a smooth and comfortable grooming experience that getting the right kind and quality can be vital.

The right table can certainly help a groomer out. By: Petful

Part 4: Best Grooming Tables for Small Dogs

There’s little doubt that large breeds require a certain kind of table for grooming — but what about small or medium-sized dogs?

The truth is, the right table can benefit them as well.

When it comes to large-breed dogs, a specific table can help lessen the work for the dog as much as or more so than for the groomer. With the small breeds, the greater benefit is certainly to the groomer.

Rotating Tables

When you’re working with a small dog, a rotating table can be quite an asset.

Not having to move around a table top to inspect legs to see if they’re even can save you time and keep the dog more relaxed.

A hydraulic or electric table that can also rotate will help with this. There are also tables that sit on table tops. These are round and look almost like a pizza serving tray — and they’re ideal for toy breeds.

These tables are small and tend to keep dogs from wanting to walk off the edge. They usually come with a grooming arm as well.

This table can sit on a counter for the groomer to work on the dog or can be placed on another table.

Folding Grooming Tables

These are among the most common tables out there, and they work well for small dogs for several reasons:

  • Smaller, lighter breeds don’t need sturdier tables.
  • The table folds up for easy travel.
  • Small breeds don’t need large table bases.

The best reason to get a folding table is if you’ll be collapsing it often because you’re either traveling with it or just trying to save space at home.

This video highlights some things to look for in folding grooming tables:

Hydraulic Grooming Tables

Most professionals will steer you in the direction of a quality hydraulic grooming table for your small- or medium-breed dogs.

These are designed with the groomer’s comfort in mind.

Obviously, not all dogs are the same size, so working on an incrementally adjustable table will help lessen the strain on everyone involved.

No Need for Electric Grooming Tables

If you’re in the salon and looking for a table on which to groom your tiny dogs, an electric table might be overkill. This table is designed with heavyweights in mind.

It can be quickly lowered all the way to the ground so large dogs can step on it and then get raised to a comfortable level for grooming. Though it is possible to groom your little dogs on this table, you don’t necessarily have to get one for them.

No matter the dog’s size, an adjustable table can help prevent pain and injury for both pet and groomer. By: Patti Abbott

Why Height Matters

Working in a salon is physical work, even if the salon specializes in small dogs.

Cleaning up a group of dogs at a kennel for a dog show can also be strenuous. As a result, it’s not unusual to see groomers who have been at it for many years with wrist support or shoulder problems.

Help eliminate these health problems by getting the right equipment, starting with a table. Here are 4 areas where you’ll see benefits from an adjustable grooming table for your small dog:

1. Your Neck

When looking down at a dog, you’re craning your neck at an uncomfortable angle. This can strain your muscles, cause headaches and lead to tension throughout your back.

2. Your Shoulders

Working on a dog who is directly in front of you and at the optimal height can help lessen the strain on your shoulders. The dog will be raised to a comfortable level, allowing you to easily get the groom done without a lot of fuss.

3. Your Back

Many groomers want to sit down while working on a cut. If you have a table that doesn’t adjust to other heights, there’s a good chance this is going to be uncomfortable, so find a way to take the strain off your back with an adjustable chair or something similar.

4. Your Pet

Adjusting the height of a table to a comfortable level while working on a small or even a medium-sized dog can help pets feel less nervous.

Because the groomer isn’t straining to reach the animal, there’s a good chance the groomer is relaxed and this in turn will put the dog more at ease.

How to make a dog grooming table
Know how to make a dog grooming table? By: Mark

Part 5: How to Make a DIY Grooming Table for Your Dog

Quite a few people turn to building their own grooming table as a means of saving some money.

This do-it-yourself (DIY) option can work well if you keep a few things in mind:

Stability

The table you’re going to build must be stable. This means you’re going to want to test it and see if it wobbles easily. You’ll want strong legs and a strong top so that the dog you’re grooming doesn’t have issues with it.

Non-Slip Covering

The top of your table will need a cover that the dog won’t slip on. It is a common reaction for those building a table to use linoleum squares to cover the top because they are easy to clean up. However, these are hard for dogs to get a good grip on and can make them feel unsafe.

Size and Height

Depending on your situation, you’ll need to consider both size and height.

If you’re building tables to place in a salon, make a few of varying heights to better accommodate a range of dog sizes and people heights. If you’re making one for home grooming, take into account the height of your own dog and your height.

Also consider the size of the table top. You’ll need a table top that is several inches wider and longer than the dog you’re grooming:

  • Again, if you’re creating a table for your own dog, this may be measured for.
  • If you’re building for a salon, it’s best to go with the standard size — 36 by 24 inches.
Folding table photo
$30 folding table from Lowe’s, 34 x 34 inches

Repurposing a Folding Table

The most common way to make a table is to use a pre-made table.

These fold-up or banquet tables often have slippery tops, so you’ll need rubber matting to make it safer for your pets.

You can find rubber matting at most home improvement stores and then you can glue this to the table. You will also need to make or order a grooming arm for the table. (In the next section of this article, I’ll show you how to make a grooming arm.)

The benefit of creating the table this way is it will be fast and simple. The drawback is there is little ability for adjustment with these tables.

How to Make a DIY Grooming Table for Your Dog

The way to get the best table short of purchasing one is to make it by hand.

The ideal way of doing this is with several 2×4’s and a sheet of plywood for the top.

Materials Needed

  • 2×4’s (8) cut to the height you’re after
  • 2×4 full length
  • Sheets of plywood (2) cut to the size you want
  • Rubber matting
  • Krazy Glue/staples

Instructions

  1. Decide on the height and accommodate for the size of the dog(s) you will be working on. A good rule of thumb is the top of the table should be about four inches above your belly button.
  2. Measure out the tabletop either using the standard of 36 by 24 or deciding on your own. Cut your 2×4’s for the desired leg height and tabletop.
  3. Attach two of each of the cut legs at the corners of the plywood, forming a V whose center matches the corner.
  4. Attach the other piece of plywood so that you have it double-thick for support.
  5. Use the final 2×4 to cut pieces that can be attached to the legs at the bottom for added support and attach them.
  6. Cut the rubber matting to cover the top and attach with Krazy Glue or staples. All you need to finish the project is a grooming arm (see below), and you’ll be ready for your first trim.

If you’re interested in a DIY grooming arm, check out this video. The guy in this video goes into great detail about how to put one together for a little more than 10 dollars:

A Word on Purchased Tables

If you’re grooming your dog at home and just need a temporary fix, making your own grooming table may work well.

If you’re opening a salon and planning to groom daily, you should strongly consider tables that have adjustable qualities like a hydraulic or electric table.

Remember that grooming is physical work, so anything you can do to remove strain will be better on your body and better for the dogs in the long run.

How to make a dog grooming table arm
Learn how to make a grooming table arm and loop. By: Meara

Part 6: How to Make a Grooming Table Arm

One of the most essential items for do-it-yourself grooming — right next to your shears, clippers and table — is the grooming arm.

First, let’s talk briefly about what exactly this piece of equipment is.

Then, we will demonstrate exactly how to make a grooming table arm yourself, so you can save your money for other things.

Understanding What a Grooming Arm Is

Attached to a grooming table is a metal bar in the shape of an upside down L that a noose or loop is attached to. This is your grooming arm.

Some tables are sold without this essential piece of equipment, but for the most part tables include at least one adjustable arm and often a loop as well.

The grooming arm performs an important function during the haircut.

Why You Need One

If you’ve ordered a table without a grooming arm or are working in your back yard, it could be tempting to forego this piece of equipment. This would be a mistake as the grooming arm is one of the more essential items.

A few of the important reasons you need a high-quality grooming arm:

1. Security for Your Dog

Dogs aren’t used to being up high and on a small table. Even if your table gives the dog plenty of room, she will still be tempted to jump off or wiggle around. Having a grooming arm with a loop securing the dog will help to make her feel more comfortable and secure.

2. Safety for You and the Pet

Because a dog doesn’t like being up high, the added bit of security of a loop attached to an arm can help prevent her from leaping off the table.

While this is a good safety measure, it’s vital that you never leave a dog unattended on a table, especially when in the loop. If she does jump or fall off the table, she can easily hang by this noose.

With a large dog it can be a battle keeping him from trying to jump down. With a secure loop helping to tether him to the arm, it’s far less likely he’ll jump into you or over you in an attempt for freedom.

3. Mobility

Perhaps the dog you’re working with isn’t nervous or close to attempting to get off the table.

If this is the case, your loop and grooming arm will be most helpful in keeping the pooch still. Having a secure loop attached to the arm can help keep the dog from avoiding getting the hair trimmed away from his eyes or his ears plucked.

It probably goes without saying, but home groomers who plan to make a few dollars on the side by grooming some dogs from the neighborhood are looking at a huge liability if they don’t have a grooming arm in place for safety and security reasons.

Now that we know why grooming arms are important, let’s talk about materials.

Materials

Basically, when it comes to making your grooming arm, you’ll have two choices in regards to materials.

  1. Wood: Choosing to create a grooming arm out of wood can mean a simpler task. But it can also mean you’ll end up with a grooming arm that doesn’t work the way you want it to, or one that is very heavy. One of the biggest things you need from a grooming arm is the ability to adjust it up and down. With a wooden arm, this can be nearly impossible unless you are very creative. Your best option is #2:
  2. Metal: There are many people who understand that the metal grooming arm is the best choice, but may not realize this should also be the only choice to consider if you’re looking into making your own. When making your own grooming arm from metal, you will find it difficult to make one that is easily adjustable. One way to create your own at home is outlined below.

How to Make a Grooming Table Arm

For purposes of this tutorial, we’ll assume you want a metal arm.

Items Needed:

  • Measuring tape
  • Hacksaw
  • Straight metal conduit
  • Drill
  • Elbow conduit
  • ½ inch connector (3)
  • Metal exterior outlet cover
  • Metal file
  • Threaded eye bolt
  • C-clamps or hand clamps
  • Wood screws (4) (optional)
  • Grooming loop or old dog leash

Instructions:

  1. Measure your dog from front paw to the top of her head. Use the hacksaw to cut the straight conduit to the appropriate length. Also measure the length of your dog, and cut another piece to this length. NOTE: About 7 inches will be added to this when you attach the elbow conduit.
  2. Drill one hole in the straight conduit and four holes in the exterior outlet cover. File away any rough edges.
  3. Insert the eyebolt into the conduit, but don’t overtighten as it might buckle. Attach the two pieces using the elbow conduit and two of the connectors. Use the third connector to attach the large L-shaped arm you now have to the exterior outlet cover.
  4. Mount the cover to a table or countertop using C-clamps or hand clamps. Make sure to clamp both sides securely so that it is stable. (If you wish to secure it permanently, you can use wood screws to attach it to your table.)

All you will need is a grooming loop to complete the arm and you can fashion this out of a leash or buy one for a reasonable price.

This entire project can be completed for less than $20.

Critical Needs of the Grooming Arm

Because the grooming arm is such an essential part to the grooming process, a few more words should be said about safety.

There is such a wide range of grooming arms like these available to purchase for anywhere from $30 on up to $100 or more. These arms are easily adjustable and come with secure clamps that allow them to be attached to a wide range of table tops.

We strongly encourage you to buy an adjustable arm, especially if you are going to be grooming professionally.

Using a homemade piece to save a few dollars should not be more important than safety.

Jet Perreault

View posts by Jet Perreault
Jet Perreault, a professional dog groomer of 18 years, graduated from Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She has spent time on the dog show circuit, working groomer trade shows, and managing grooming salons and pet shops.

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