New Dog Grooming Show Divides Viewers

Dogs play an important part in our lives. Their intelligence and will to help means they are often more than just great companions. Many dogs have additional jobs, assisting those with additional needs, such as the Blind and D/deaf community; working in fire and rescue departments; or even working on farms. But in controversial new BBC talent show ‘Pooch Perfect’, dogs are being shown in a very different light.

‘Pooch Perfect’ takes a similar format to other competition shows in the UK, such as the Great British Bake Off. Here, professional dog grooming hopefuls battling out in weekly challenges to become best in show. This feels very familiar, as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing a range of talent hopefuls pop up on our screens.

It’s not unusual for us to get our pets in on the act either. Doggy dancers are a firm staple in the ‘Got Talent’ universe. Even talented cats or rabbits have tried their paws at performing too! But on ‘Pooch Perfect’, the talent doesn’t lay with the animals. Here, they are simply the canvas that the groomer uses to share their vision.

From simple trims to quirky, high-fashion makeovers, there are a range of challenges for hopefuls to complete on the show. But this is where ‘Pooch Perfect’ seems to have divided fans. While some dog-lovers see it as wholesome entertainment, others see it as setting a worrying standard about using dogs as accessories.

Pooch Perfect “Sends Out A Worrying Message”

Animal welfare charities back this sentiment, too, especially with some challenges seeing groomers performing daring works of design such as dyeing the colour of dog’s fur. This in particular led to some concerned comments from Dr Samantha Gaines, a welfare expert from the RSPCA. Speaking about the show, she said “Our pets are intelligent and sentient. Treating them in this way sends out a worrying message that they are ours to objectify and treat as fashion accessories or toys.”

This idea is reflected even in the names of some styles. One popular style, called the ‘Teddy Bear Cut’, sees dogs groomed to resemble children’s toys. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and with a rise in ‘lockdown puppies’ being abandoned, many concerned viewers are worried that the cute, toy-like aesthetics of these pampered pooches might cause potential owners to take on a puppy without proper consideration for the care they need.

Whilst a spokesperson told The Sun newspaper “we had an RSPCA approved Animal Welfare Consultant, a Grooming Consultant, and a vet, to ensure that we put every precaution in place to keep the dogs safe and well,” it can’t be denied that broadcasting a show such as Pooch Perfect seems to reinforce some worrying standards. 

It remains to be seen whether ‘Pooch Perfect’ is a passing fad, or a new prime-time staple for our screens. As always, we recommend trusting issues of animal welfare to your local animal specialist. 

Want to find out more about how to safely care for your dog? Click here to read our guide on brushing your dog. 

Milly Harrison
Milly Harrison is a postgraduate student, writer, and dog lover from the North-West of England.

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