Is Coloring Cruel?

Hard Rock Mohawk!

In the 4 years I lived in New Mexico, I made a reputation for myself in Albuquerque as the FIRST groomer to offer Extreme Makeovers with Color to interested clients. The success was instant and overwhelming! Using Pet-Approved, non-toxic semi-permanent dyes, I have done everything from Color Accents to Extreme Makeovers. My clients have been featured on KOB’s Good Day, New Mexico, the ABQ Journal as Costume Contest winners and are an eye-catching sight at many dog parks.

Since Creative Color is a relatively new option for many Pet Parents, I have taken the opportunity to answer some Frequently Asked Questions.

Is Coloring Your Pet Cruel?

Of course not. Here’s why:

  • For those pets with laid-back personalities and good “table manners” due to being groomed often, the Coloring process is indistinguishable from the usual grooming experience. If a Pet Parent is interested in exploring color, I carefully assess their pet’s behavior, health, skin and coat condition, and personality at Check-In, before agreeing to attempt color

What if my pet hates being groomed?

  • If a pet can barely tolerate grooming, I refuse to prolong the experience by applying color. if a pet is used to being groomed, has a calm temperament, and doesn’t object unreasonably, they are more likely to have an enjoyable and beautiful Color Experience, which is what it’s all about.

Will my pet feel embarrassed or self-conscious? Will other dogs “laugh” at him? Will s/he notice the difference?


This is a common argument I saw online. The practical truth is:

  • Canine vision is extremely limited when it comes to color.
  • A dog’s visual perception of him/herself is limited to their front feet and occasionally, their tail.
  • Most dogs recognize their surroundings and others by scent or sound FIRST and by sight LAST. Your average human passerby might not be able to tell if you’re walking a Panda bear cub or a cleverly-colored pup at first glance, but the dog they are walking will recognize the scent of a familiar species and won’t give the hair style or markings a moment’s consideration. in other words…
  • Dogs don’t discriminate based on looks! Think about it, have you ever seen a dog ostracized at the dog park because he is overweight, badly bred, dirty, the “wrong” color, or just plain funny looking? Of course not!

The only behavior modifications that I’ve noticed are based on people’s reactions to seeing a colored dog. One veterinarian has been quoted for warning that the attention directed toward a newly-colored pet can be a bit overwhelming for a few personality types. For this reason, I cannot offer the Color Experience to some pets.

Children are especially likely to forget how to respectfully approach a dog they don’t know. If a pet is likely to snarl and snap at interested bystanders then applying eye-catching color is probably not a good idea.

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2 Responses to “Is Coloring Cruel?”

  1. mark February 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for posting rational pros and cons of coloring a dog.

  2. Kelly September 8, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Very nicely written. I as a groomer who offers color highlights. (not artistic enough for the extreme stuff). Never thought of the type of dogs that are best nor about how people can forget they might not like to be approached. Great job!

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