Extreme Poodles, Where Dogs Are Art


Last night, TLC aired the one-hour special Extreme Poodles about the Barkleigh’s dog-grooming beauty pageant. It was like Best in Show meets Toddlers & Tiaras meets Bronner Brothers Hair Show. Basically, it was the culmination of everything camp.

In the Barkleigh’s Creative Grooming Competition, dogs are groomed live on stage in front of an audience. (They are allowed to be colored—using a non-toxic, vegetable-based dye—beforehand, but all cutting must happen during the contest.) The prize is a cover shoot for Groomer to Groomer magazine.

The grooming is judged by people like this guy.

There are a host of unpredictable elements that could ruin the chances for competitors, like irregular bowels. One dog, Odin, was constipated the morning of the event, and his owner feared that he might poop on the table. He didn’t—but he farted a lot. This exact thing has happened to me before, except substitute a dog-grooming competition for my wedding, and “table” for “altar.” (I ended up finally going during the salad course at the reception.)

The two and half hours of live grooming is followed by presentations—akin to the “Wow Wear” portion of kiddie pageants—in which humans don costumes and put on elaborate performances set to music to display their work.

Although I thought that “Cherokee Heritage” had all over the other entries, he only took home third place.

This little guy pranced away with second place.

Amazingly, this entry—”The Snake in the Garden of Eden”—didn’t place at all.

This jungle-themed entry took home the grand prize. He was a lion in the front, and then had a giraffe and a zebra crafted onto each side of his butt. While all of this grooming is definitely unnatural, it somehow seems a little more humane than kiddie pageants, in that the dogs seemed to be treated with much more respect than child beauty queens.

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