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Choosing a Grooming Table That’s Perfect for Your Pet

Don’t cut corners when it comes to choosing a grooming table for your pet. Here’s an expert guide from a professional groomer.

Choosing a grooming table
Choose a grooming table based on your needs. Photo: Petful

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.

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

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One of the most basic needs — and certainly the most important — is the table where all this grooming is performed. But what’s the best pet grooming table for your needs?

I have been a professional dog groomer for nearly 20 years, and I’ve spent time on the dog show circuit, working groomer trade shows, and managing grooming salons and pet shops. And now I want to share what I’ve learned about choosing a grooming table.

In this 6-part expert guide to choosing a grooming table, we’ll discuss:

  • Part 1: Choosing a Grooming Table That’s Perfect for You
  • Part 2: Bargain Shopping for Grooming Tables
  • Part 3: Best Grooming Tables for Large Dogs
  • Part 4: Best Grooming Tables for Small Dogs
  • Part 5: How to Make a DIY Grooming Table for Your Dog
  • Part 6: How to Make a Grooming Table Arm

Ready? Let’s dive in!

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

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

Whether you are grooming the family dog, handling a string of dogs, or own a salon full of barking or meowing clients, choosing a grooming table is central to getting the job done.

That’s why it’s important to do your research into the best pet grooming table.

What’s the General Purpose of the Table?

Let’s say you’re grooming a lot of cats. Some of these long-haired guys need a lot of attention! This will mean a certain type of table.

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But if your main clients are Saint Bernards or the Irish Wolfhounds, that’s an entirely different sort of table.

Table Size

If you’re in a salon, chances are you’ll get dogs of all shapes and sizes, and perhaps some cats, too.

You may find it useful to buy more than one grooming table:

  • You’ll need one in the bathing and blow-drying area.
  • And you’ll want another table for the grooming area.

With a variety of pets coming through, it’s good to have larger, sturdy tables — that way you can accommodate both the big boys and the little guys.

Amount of Grooming

  • If you’re taking care of your own dog at home, you won’t need the same kind of grooming table you’d find in a salon.
  • If your pet is large, get a grooming table that will easily work for both you and your pet, such as a hydraulic or electric grooming table.
  • For in-home grooming of a small or medium-size dog, such as a Cocker Spaniel, you may do better with a folding grooming table that collapses down. It’s nice to be able to collapse the table back down when you’re done with it and get use out of the space again.
  • But some of the collapsible tables aren’t great for large dogs because the tables can be too wobbly.

Traveling

In both of the following instances, a grooming table that can fold up and down for easy travel is ideal:

  • If you’re showing your Pomeranian or Poodle, you’ll be doing last-minute grooming before you enter the ring. You’ll need a grooming table that goes with you.
  • You may also be a groomer who travels to locations doing demonstrations or classes.

Personal Use vs. Professional Use

Grooming at home with just 1–2 pets can mean an entirely different situation from that of a salon with a wide variety of pets coming through:

  • A home groomer won’t have as much space for grooming. A lightweight, collapsible grooming table is a great choice: Just tuck it away when you’re done.
  • But for salon groomers, you’ll want to accommodate even the largest dogs in your salon, unless you want to limit your clientele. For this reason, consider at least one high-quality hydraulic or electric grooming table.

What’s Your Budget for a Grooming Table?

Don’t cut corners when it comes to choosing a grooming table.

After all, it’s the most important piece of equipment you’ll have in a salon, in your home or at a kennel. It’s also really important for doing a safe job. For these reasons alone, you’ll want to buy the best grooming table that you can afford.

Here’s what you can expect price-wise:

  1. Folding grooming table: Under $100 to a few hundred dollars. These collapsible grooming tables are the most affordable option. But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean a table like this will be the best for the environment you’ll be grooming in. A good example is this Master Equipment folding table (pictured above).
  2. Hydraulic grooming table: Less than $200 to $1,000 or more. If this is what you’re looking for, you’ll have plenty of options to select from. Hydraulic grooming tables are sturdy and dependable. A good example is the Z-Lift Hydraulic Grooming Table by ComfortGroom.
  3. Electric grooming table: A few hundred dollars to as much as $2,000. This is a professional-level class of grooming table. A good example is the Ultra Low Z-Lift Electric Grooming Table by ComfortGroom.

I have so much more to cover in this expert guide to choosing a grooming table! Please keep reading for my specific recommendations below.

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

Part 2: Bargain Shopping for Grooming Tables

Now that you have a better idea what kind of grooming table you need, it’s time for the fun part: shopping.

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 can definitely find bargains.

Buying a Grooming Table Online

As you probably guessed, one of the best ways to get a deal on a quality pet 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 buy a grooming table online because they don’t want to deal with shipping costs.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Check the reviews: Look at both 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. Obviously, a site like Amazon.com is legit.

Buying at a Grooming Expo

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

Sometimes you can find deals at 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.

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

Another way many people look to get a bargain on their grooming table is by buying the cheapest one they can find.

Unfortunately, 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’s often a case of “you get what you pay for.”

These cheaper tables can collapse when 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? You’ll be struggling to explain to a client how her dog broke a leg in your care.

How to Find Sales and Discounts on Grooming Tables

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. Photo: Kristy May/Petful

Part 3: Best Grooming Tables for Large Dogs

Grooming dogs professionally is a dirty, physical job.

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

Most people know their dogs don’t like baths, so 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 3 groomers. The dog can feel uncomfortable and may get nervous while on the table.

Large-Breed Requirements

People with large- and giant-breed dogs soon realize these bigger dogs have different requirements than those of smaller dogs.

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

In the salon, these big guys mean more physical labor for the groomer. The dogs will need to be lifted more, and they often take longer to groom. They are heavy, you’ll need a table that is able to support their weight.

Different Types of Tables

Not only do you have 3 main types of grooming tables — collapsible, hydraulic and electric — but you also have differences among them:

1. Collapsible Grooming Tables

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

They’re 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.

But folding tables can feel insecure to a large dog. If you’re not doing a lot of traveling, a collapsible grooming table is generally not the first choice for plus-sized pooches.

If you’re considering a collapsible table for a heavy breed of dog, then be sure to check the weight capacity of the table. Most have a weight limit or suggestion — don’t deviate even 1 pound over it. Safety first!

2. Hydraulic Grooming 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 folding tables, and they let you move the table up and down to more comfortably work on a dog.

Although many of the higher-end grooming tables allow a wide range of mobility (able to be lowered to just 1–2 feet off the ground and then back up), the time it takes to do this with the hydraulics can be frustrating. As a result, they are often recommended for small to medium dogs.

3. Electric Grooming Tables

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

Unlike hydraulic tables, you can easily lower an electric table to the ground, have the dog step on, and then raise the table 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. That’s it pictured above. 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 a Hydraulic Grooming Table

It’s not unusual for groomers to purchase or even recommend hydraulic grooming tables for large-breed dogs. But hydraulic tables weren’t really intended for larger dogs.

Their biggest benefits include:

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

Benefits of an Electric Grooming Table for Large Dogs

For the most part, when you ask professional groomers what grooming tables they recommend for large dogs, you’ll hear the same response, hands down: electric grooming tables.

An electric grooming table is the best choice for any large dog. Here’s why:

  • You can easily lower these tables all the way to the ground, allowing the dog to easily climb aboard. Table parts don’t need repair as quickly as do some of the hydraulic tables.
  • You can raise electric grooming tables without a lot of noise.
The right table can certainly help a groomer out. Photo: 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 grooming 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 to you, the groomer.

Rotating Grooming Table

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 grooming tables out there, and they work well for small dogs for several reasons:

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

The best reason to get a folding grooming 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 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.

Small Dogs Only? No Need for an Electric Grooming Table.

If you’re in the salon and looking for a table for grooming only small dogs, an electric table would be overkill.

How to make a dog grooming table
Know how to make a dog grooming table? Photo: 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 need to test it and see if it wobbles easily.
  • You’ll want strong legs and a strong top.

Non-Slip Covering

  • The top of your table will need a cover that the dog won’t slip on.
  • Some do-it-yourselfers use linoleum squares to cover the table top for easy cleanup. However, these squares 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 grooming tables to place in a salon, make a few tables 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 to Use as a Dog Grooming Table

The most common way to make a table is to use a pre-made folding 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 a grooming table like this is it will be fast and simple.
  • The drawback, though, is you’re usually not able to adjust these tables.
  • Not to mention, safety is very questionable — the table wasn’t originally designed to hold dogs.

How to Make a DIY Grooming Table for Your Dog

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

Materials Needed

  • Eight 2-by-4s, cut to the height you’re after
  • One full-length 2-by-4
  • Two sheets of plywood, cut to the size you want
  • Rubber matting
  • Krazy Glue or 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 4 inches above your belly button.
  2. Measure out the tabletop either using the standard of 36-by-24 size or deciding on your own. Cut your 2-by-4s for the desired leg height and tabletop.
  3. Attach 2 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-by-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 Part 6 below), and you’ll be ready for your first trim.

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, such as 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. Photo: 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 I’ll tell you 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 grooming 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.

Why You Need a Grooming Arm

If you’ve ordered a grooming 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 because 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, they will still be tempted to jump off or wiggle around.

Having a grooming arm with a loop securing the dog will help make them feel more comfortable and secure.

2. Safety for You and the Pet

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

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

With a large dog, it can be a battle keeping them from trying to jump down. With a secure loop helping to tether them to the arm, it’s far less likely they’ll jump into you or over you.

3. Mobility

Perhaps the dog you’re working with isn’t nervous or trying to get off the table. Even so, the loop and grooming arm will help you keep the dog still.

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:

Building a Grooming Arm: The Materials You’ll Need

Basically, when it comes to making your grooming arm, you’ll have 2 choices of materials.

  1. Wood: Creating 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 creative. Your best option is #2…
  2. Metal: Many people understand that the metal grooming arm is the best choice, but they may not realize this should also be the only choice to consider if you’re looking into making your own.

How to Make a Grooming Table Arm

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

Materials Needed:

  • Measuring tape
  • Hacksaw
  • Straight metal conduit
  • Drill
  • Elbow conduit
  • Metal exterior outlet cover
  • Metal file
  • Threaded eyebolt
  • ½-inch connector (3)
  • 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 their head.
  2. Use the hacksaw to cut the straight metal conduit to the appropriate length.
  3. 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.)
  4. Drill 1 hole in the straight conduit and 4 holes in the exterior outlet cover. File away any rough edges.
  5. Insert the eyebolt into the conduit, but don’t over-tighten because it might buckle.
  6. Attach the 2 pieces using the elbow conduit and 2 of the connectors.
  7. Use the third connector to attach the large L-shaped arm you now have to the exterior outlet cover.
  8. Mount the cover to a table or countertop using C-clamps or hand clamps. Make sure to clamp both sides securely so it’s stable. (If you wish to secure it permanently, you can use 4 wood screws to attach it to your table.)

Now all you’ll need is a grooming loop to complete the arm. You can fashion this out of an old dog 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, I just want to conclude with a few more words about safety.

There is such a wide range of grooming arms available for anywhere from $30 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.

I strongly encourage you to forget about building a grooming arm — just buy an adjustable arm, especially if you’re going to be grooming professionally.

Using a homemade grooming arm just to save a few dollars shouldn’t be more important than safety.

What to read next:

What It Takes to Start a Dog Grooming Business

A career as a dog groomer might be right up your alley. But do you really have what it takes? See the article

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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