After Emma Watson is pictured with a pink pooch… Is dyeing your dog the most barking craze ever
00:04 GMT, 25 June 2012
Tucked away in a fashionably shabby corner of East London, moments from the famous Columbia Road Flower Market, Groom Dog City looks — from the outside — like your average unassuming dog groomer’s.
Anyone opening the glass door is greeted by a chorus of woofs and howls from dogs of all shapes and sizes — from little pugs to a drooling British bulldog.
But look closer and there’s something rather peculiar about a few of those pooches.
Stuart Simons, who runs Groom Dog City, is pictured with his own bright pink bichon-frise Molly, left, and Casper
As Ralph the poodle spins around, there’s a flash of colour: his tail is bright green.
Casper, a very vocal bichon frise, has a midnight-blue Mohican running down the middle of his head, while fluffy four-year-old Molly, also a bichon, is shocking-pink from head to tail.
Welcome to the newest canine trend to hit the UK: the doggy dye.
Last week Harry Potter actress Emma Watson made headlines when she was spotted leaving this salon with a one-year-old Maltese terrier called Darcy — thought to be her flatmate’s dog — after the pup had been dyed fuchsia.
Not surprisingly, the photos sparked fierce debate among dog lovers, many of whom are highly critical of the practice.
The salon has even had abusive emails, branding it cruel.
Some vets have expressed concerns that even if the dye is completely safe, this process alters the way the dog looks and smells to other animals — and that could affect how they interact.
Stuart begins to prepare Casper for his Mohican by putting blue dye in his fur where it will stay for ten minutes
The little bichon frise is not looking particularly happy about being in a bathtub getting the dye out of his fur
Roger Mugford, a leading animal behaviourist, says: ‘Dogs are intensely
visual creatures, and I have no doubt they would be aware of a major
colour change, particular green and blue hues which their eyes pick up
‘It would likely
affect the way other dogs interact with them, too — we know that dogs
even interact with other breeds differently due to physical appearance,
such as bulldog breeds with their squashed noses.
‘In my opinion, it is a step too far. We should let dogs just be dogs.’
The dogs face is covered in blue dye but Stuart admits that there is no telling if the colour is going to come out right with blues going green and reds going pink
But there’s no denying the growing trend, so I’ve come to the East End to find out why anyone would part with their hard-earned cash to give their mutt a cut and colour.
Dog dyeing is still quite rare in
Britain, with only a few salons offering the service, but surprise,
surprise, it is a well-established business in the U.S. and Japan.
the States it is known as ‘creative grooming’ and has spawned
competitions. It’s not unheard of to see pooches dyed in rainbow colours
or made to look like tigers, pandas and other exotic animals.
Depp’s rumoured new girlfriend, actress Amber Heard, has been seen
carrying a cerise dip-dyed Yorkie, while the girls from reality show
Jersey Shore often sport dogs in girlie pink and purple.
So perhaps it was only a matter of time
until it came to this country. After all, we already have salons
offering doggy mud baths and nail varnish (Victoria Beckham’s bulldog
Coco has been known to have a pink pedi).
Before and After: Casper in his blue Mohican, right, and there is no telling whether he prefers it or not although his owner says he loves the attention he gets when he has had it done
The results are in: Writer Jenny Stocks poses with a dry Casper in his finished blue Mohican
And here at Groom Dog City, owner
Stuart Simons, 38 — a former musical theatre actor who retrained as a
dog groomer five years ago — has been offering the service since he
opened the salon two years ago.
heard it was happening abroad, so tracked down dog-friendly
vegetable-based dyes, which are made in the U.S., on the internet.
don’t come cheap — Stuart pays 16 a tub, which means his prices for an
entire dog start at 50 (but you can get a Mohican for 20).
He says: ‘You can’t use human dyes on dogs. It wouldn’t be safe and can compromise their immune systems.
Emma Watson pictured in Bethnal Green walking maltese terrier Darcy all done up in bright pink at the same salon
People complain it’s cruel but there is nothing in the dyes to harm them, and we always do a health check beforehand to make sure they don’t have allergies or skin conditions.’
Even so, Stuart admits it can be miserable for the doggies if they spend too long on the grooming table — so he refuses to do multi-coloured dogs.
They have to stand around for hours, which can give them sore legs.
So why does Stuart think people put their dogs through the rigmarole of being coloured
‘If they’re already coming in for a groom, it’s just fun and it makes an individual statement, like getting a tattoo done,’ he says.
And Stuart certainly has no problem practising what he preaches — Molly, the bright pink bichon, is his dog.
‘We get people stopping their cars to see her, and the reaction is always good,’ he says. ‘She looks like a pink teddy bear, so people love her.’
As did Emma Watson — apparently it was Molly that inspired Darcy’s transformation.
‘Emma’s been in here a couple of times, and she was admiring Molly’s colour,’ says Stuart, ‘Darcy is so well behaved and looked great afterwards.’
Pink, as you would expect, is by far the most popular shade. But doggy dye comes in 12 vibrant colours, with fittingly silly names including Monster Green, Vampire Red and Silver Shimmer — which I’m told gives a lovely sheen to black dogs.
So how on Earth do you begin to dye a dog Well, I’m about to find out. Booked in today is Casper for his third blue Mohican.
is dropped off by owner Chris Amos, 37, a marketing director from
Bloomsbury, London who says that Casper loves the attention he gets
after his dye.
‘I think it really suits him, and kids absolutely love it,’ he adds.
waves goodbye to Casper, who is whisked away by one of Stuart’s two
groomers for a quick shampoo (with specialist hypo-allergenic dog
shampoo Double K).
Then when Casper has been showered in a huge bathtub, he is ready to be dyed.
Stuart pulls on latex gloves and opens a gloopy pot of Midnight Blue.
Midnight Blue: The special dog coat dye the salon uses
Holding a rather puzzled-looked Casper in one hand, he pulls the dye through the pup’s fur.
Against the white of Casper’s coat, it’s pretty shocking to see the depth of the colour.
Stuart admits you can’t always tell how it will come out. ‘It’s not an
exact science, so we’ve had blue come out green, and red go pink,’ he
‘It depends on the
breed too — poodles and bichons are perfect, as their hair doesn’t
moult. If you put it on an Akita or Alsatian, it would just fall out in a
On the right
breeds, the colour can last up to eight weeks. That’s a long time to
wait if it all goes wrong — though it does fade over time, especially
Stuart doesn’t leave Casper for a moment, and stands holding his head in place for ten minutes.
‘If he shakes his head or throws it
back, it could go everywhere,’ he warns. ‘And I want to make sure it
won’t go in his eyes.’ Needless to say, I keep my distance.
the time is up — the dye is left for between five and 15 minutes,
depending on how bright a customer wants their dog to go — Casper gets
another rinse and shampoo before being transferred to an enormous
The final touch is a quick trim to neaten up the edges — and, voila, one bright blue Mohican.
it’s back to the floor to play with the other dogs. Casper seems
unaware of his edgy fashion statement, and if his friends have noticed,
they aren’t letting on.
of them appears upset about their new styles, it’s true, but I can’t
help wondering whether they’d rather scamper around a park with their
coat a natural colour.
Colourful pooches: Bichon frises Casper (right) and bubblegum hued Molly at Groom Dog City just like Darcy, the dog pictured with Emma Watson