It wasn’t too long ago that grooming your animal meant a shampoo, comb and maybe a trim.

Today, extreme grooming, or ‘intergrooming’, has exploded in popularity with the internet awash with pictures of pets preened into innovative shapes and creations. “Extreme” dog grooming, or creative dog grooming, involves groomers creating elaborate designs on dogs’ coats.

Enter the creative grooming competitions. This isn’t your typical “shave and a haircut” kind of grooming competition. And the competition is fierce. In the USA, dog grooming is a multi-billion dollar industry and winning can transform a business. Every year, thousands of groomers compete to win honorifics, trophies and thousands of prize dollars in extreme dog grooming competitions.

Creative Styling Creations!!! Who is your favorite?! 🐩👏😍

A post shared by EMPIRE EDGEWORKS (@empireedgeworks) on

Groomers typically work within a rigid set of breed standards. Creative grooming evolved to give professional groomers the opportunity to apply their skills in novel, unique ways, like creating a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha or the cast of The Muppets. The dyes used are nontoxic and last anywhere from a few washes to a few months, depending on the dye and the dog.

To win the pets will need to be perfect, complete with a clean, fluffed-up coat, a flawless dye job and a haircut to be proud of. Points are awarded for the transformation achieved in front of the judges, and most of the cutting work has to be done on stage at the expo or event in front of the 1000’s of visitors.

A post shared by Dusty (@dustythehairwizard) on

Not surprisingly, it’s sparked fierce debate – and the question remains; is the practice harmless fun or can it seriously compromise the pet’s wellbeing and health?

What do you think? Is this silly, playful art that bonds owners and pets? Or is this just taking the grooming thing way too far?

WATCH ABC’s behind-the-scenes look at extreme competition grooming:

ABC Breaking News