Meet the dogs of Westminster: London, the standard poodle

Holly Bailey

One in a series on show dogs and their owners.

NEW YORK—The first thing you notice about London, a standard poodle competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week, is his giant fur pompadour. The black hairdo makes him look like, well, a doggy Elvis.

It's a hard look to achieve. According to his owners, Jamie Danburg and Michele Molnar from Boca Raton, Fla., it takes an average of four hours to get London ready for a dog show. Among other things, he’s combed and shaved, his hair is coated in oil and then wrapped—making it appear as though he's wearing giant curlers.

“We call them his boy curlers,” Molnar said. “It's like what little old ladies used to do back in the old days. His hair is wrapped to protect his coat from breakage because when he scratches, it might snarl.”

Four hours of grooming seems tedious for anyone, much less a dog, but Molnar said London “just loves it.”

“He loves the attention, being talked to,” she said. “He’s an attention monger. London would tell you, if he could speak, that he’s never met a stranger. He’s a very spirited dog.”

Sometimes, Molnar said, London even falls asleep on the grooming table. “It’s very relaxing to him, very soothing,” she said. “He doesn’t have any different reaction than what a human would have to feeling a brush running through your hair.”

London has no off days when it comes to grooming. Even when he’s not competing, his handler spends at least an hour on his coat, unwrapping his curlers and brushing his hair, then applying more oil and rewrapping.

“It takes a lot to keeping him looking the way he does,” Molnar said.