Austin Facial Hair Club hosts dog facial hair competition

Megan Kallus

When Tamara Cao first found her dog Remington Steele at an animal shelter, his coat was so matted that he developed eye and ear infections. Five years and many haircuts later, Remington will strut down the Mohawk’s stage to show off his facial hair.

The Second Annual Dog Beard and Moustache Competition, an event that allows dog owners to showcase their pets, will be held at 12 p.m. Saturday at the Mohawk in downtown Austin. The Austin Facial Hair Club, which represents Austin in beard championships worldwide, teamed up with the Austin Animal Center to host the contest. The entry fee is $5, and all proceeds benefit the Austin Animal Center.

Paul Hendricks, an Austin Facial Hair Club member, coordinated this year’s competition and will be the master of ceremonies at the event. At last year’s competition, the club hosted about 40 dogs and 120 people, according to Hendricks.

“We’re hoping to double that attendance this year,” Hendricks said. “I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm from sponsors, and we’ve gotten dog treat bakeries and businesses like that to support us.”
UT alumna Andrea Nelson is an associate of the Austin Facial Hair Club and participated in coordinating last year’s contest.

“The AFHC put this event together because it was much more fun for people than just writing a check to the shelter,” Nelson said. “Charity doesn’t have to be guilt-based. It’s actually easier to raise money if you promise people cool dogs in costumes, and you foster a community.”

The Dog Beard and Moustache Competition is not just for dogs with facial hair. The event includes categories such as Dog & Owner Look-A-Like and Old Timer. Hendricks said he is most proud of the Old Timer category, which is open to older dogs.
“I have two pitbulls,” Hendricks said. “I rescue dogs with these snub noses, and they can’t grow beards too well. My oldest guy is 15 years old, and I wanted to be able to celebrate senior dogs too.”
When last year’s Best in Show winner Remington was dropped off at the shelter, he was malnourished, suffered from social anxiety and had atrophied hind muscles because of his tangled leg hair. Remington Steele’s owner Cao entered the competition when she learned the event would benefit other rescued dogs such as Remington.

“The Austin Facial Hair Club has tailored a uniquely Austin event,” Cao said. “There is no question that Austinites are huge animal advocates, and AFHC recognizes that.”

Remington, a standard poodle, stands at about the height of a golden retriever and sports a thick, gray beard. Cao said Remington’s award-winning facial hair happened by accident.
“[Remington] hates when I trim his face,” Cao said. “So, a little scruff started growing at his chin. Then it started getting longer. I still have to trim his beard every six weeks. He gets a little sad every time I trim it — like I’m taking away his powers.”
Cao said she admired the creativity and the love for dogs that the Austin Facial Hair Club members displayed.
“It’s amusing, really, to see these men,” Cao said. “Men who are completely intimidating, with the most impressive facial hair I’ve ever seen, throwing events to honor and judge the facial hair of our dogs.”
Hendricks said he encourages people to come and show off their dogs but wants to emphasize that the event is not just for people with pets.
“We really want to encourage people to come out and see us,” Henricks said. “They might be apprehensive because they don’t have a dog, but it’s a great cause, and it’ll be a great time because we welcome everyone.”