Multi-coloured animals have been cropping up at grooming contests in Sweden over the past twelve months, with a handful of dog lovers following a trend for so-called 'creative grooming' which is already popular in the US.
Jennie Johansson, 28, from Genevad in southern Sweden is among those leading the pack, after learning from fellow professonal drog groomer and mentor Lina Laurin.
Johansson has dyed several poodles, recently modelling one on her favourite My Little Pony character for the Scandinavian Master Groom competition in Malmö in March, for which she won the top prize in the creative grooming category.
She has also turned a dog into a more traditional horse, complete with a saddle and over the weekend dyed one of her animals yellow and blue in honour of Sweden's national day.
“I have been colouring dogs for about six months after watching plenty of shows in America,” she told The Local on Monday.
“My goal is just to have fun with the animals and I have an eight-year-old daughter and that has revived my interest in My Little Pony,” she said.
Jennie Johansson and her pet poodle Kåge. Photo: Jennie Johansson
But her efforts are starting to stir debates in Sweden, with animal rights organization Djurens Rätt among the first to criticize the growing creative grooming craze.
“We think that dogs shold be considered as family members, not as toys or possessions,” Moa Richter-Hagert, Communications Manager explained to The Local.
“If you do it [colouring] right it probably deoesn't physically hurt the dogs. But we see that creative grooming is obviously a hobby for the owner and not one in the interest of the dogs,” she added.
“This kind of grooming is pretty new in this kind of form here in Sweden, so I can't really say how popular we think it is getting, I don't think we have had to issue any guidelines on this kind of thing before.”
Johansson insists that the hair dye she uses on her poodles does not harm the animals although she admits that it “can contain bleach”, while other colourants she uses wash off after a few days.
She encourages other would-be creative groomers to make sure that they only select animals who already enjoy getting a lot of attention.
Jennie Johansson and her winning pet poodle Kåge. Photo: Jennie Johansson
Jennie Johansson's dog Snövit. Photo: Jennie Johansson
“My dogs are always happy, they like to say hello to new people…one of the dogs has become happier with the hair and the other one has always been a bit crazy,” she laughs.
“The reaction to what I do has been both positive and negative. A lot of people say 'leave the dogs as dogs' and some people say if the dogs love it then just keep doing it,” she said, noting that she hadn't been contacted by any animal rights groups.
“Not yet, but you never know!”
Johansson says she is currently dreaming up future hairstyles for her two pet poodles and is also open to offering creative grooming for her client's animals, some of whom are already requesting service such as painted toe nails for their animals.
“It takes a lot of time to come up with an idea and to sort out the colours, but I think I am going to do a pink My Little Pony next. I have always loved that one.”