American pet grooming has recently begun to follow trends that in the last decade have taken East Asia by storm. In Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand, Asian Fusion (also called Asian Freestyle) dog grooming has become a popular movement that combines stylish pampering with sophisticated artistry.
People in highly-populated East Asian cities tend to have limited living space, making small dog breeds like Shih Tzus, Yorkies, Maltese, and Chihuahuas very popular. These dogs have inspired a focus on cute, rounded haircuts that mimic a teddy bear or stuffed animal.
Pets also tend to be considered members of the family (the name “furkid” is commonly used for dogs in East Asia), which has inspired an increasing use of clothing, costumes, and accessories in grooming. Color for tails, ears, feet, and even the whole body is also popular.
In Japan, pet groomers must complete a two-year degree (whereas in the US, no formal training is required for groomers). Training focuses on shape, proportion, and geometric precision as applied to the form and anatomy of a dog. Rather than focusing on breed-standard styles, groomers aim for a look that is fluffy, round, and as cute as possible.
Asian Fusion styles emphasize a short and smooth body coat, especially in areas prone to matting (which are shaved). This creates easier maintenance for owners at home, and also allows for comfort in wearing clothes and accessories! The legs and tail are kept long, full, and flaired, and the face is sculpted for a round, “cheeky” look that emphasizes the eyes.
Pet parents in East Asia tend to have a different grooming commitment than Americans do: a 2-4 week window between appointments is the norm. And they are willing to pay a premium for the adorable style they want: top groomers such as Kenichi Nagase in Japan charge as much as 20,000 yen (about $184) per appointment.
Asian Fusion-style groomers share Pawsitivity’s perspective on compassionate care: their goal is to be “skilled in understanding what dogs feel," in order to "offer full service dog grooming in a stress-free, relaxing environment” (from Bubbles Grooming Shop in Tokyo).
In America, our shifting perspective of pets is partially inspired by Asian culture. People are moving from seeing dogs as working companions to treating them as members of the family. Pet parents’ lifestyles and priorities are changing, which explains why Asian Fusion grooming is becoming popular here (as it already has been for years in Europe).
Pawsitivity owner Rachel Ackerman has taken several Asian Fusion courses, and does continuing education online. She and her stylists are looking forward to attending an upcoming trade show in Atlanta in March 2020 to take classes from master Asian Fusion stylists. Stay tuned for Asian Fusion flair coming soon to your favorite local pet spa!