Grooming The Double Coat is just a matter of patience and observation. Look at the results as you go. You spend time with your dog and come up with a handsome friend.
Equipment you will need to purchase or collect from your home:
• Old plastic rain coat keeps you clean. Wear it buttoned at the back for the bath and the clip.
• Electric semi-professional dog hair clippers kit for your Airedale. You will need all the smooth power they provide — a good basic set with at least # 3, # 5, # 9, and #10 Cryotech blades. These blades specially hardened, they last; oil for the clippers and grease if the clippers need it; some do not. All these are included in the clipper kit or each item can be bought individually.
• Scissors — 5-6 inch, not kitchen scissors, intended for grooming. They can be sharpened at your local sharpening service.
• Blade wash, liquid or aerosol, and blade cooler for the clippers are essential. These are also available in Two-in-One cans. Paper towel wipes off excess oil.
• Dog brush – a sturdy one with metal bristles; get rounded tips on the bristles — it is more comfortable for the dog, avoids the danger of scratching or irritating the skin. A stiff plastic-bristle brush works well too.
• Comb: metal or sturdy plastic, and a tapered barber comb works well for eyebrows and muzzle.
• Slicker brush for removing mats as well as loose hair from undercoat.
• Nail clippers strong pliers for large dogs. Your adult Airedale Terrier will be between 50 and 70 pounds.
• Styptic Powder is essential, stops bleeding quickly if nails are clipped too closely.
• Rubber mat for the table or table height bench. On it the dog will stand comfortably without slipping
• Dog collar and lead — The pinch collar for bouncy dogs works well. Train the dog and yourself to the pinch collar when you walk with it. The pinch collar is not harsh, painful or over correcting. It is better than the choker style which can be used too aggressively and hurt the dog.
• A tubular frame, quick to set up and break down again, can be used if you wish to keep the dog tethered while you work. We do not use it although we did buy one.
• A cloth muzzle which controls the jaws gently if your dog is nervous. It fastens with a clip-strap at the back of the head. Train the dog a short time each day for a few days to accept the muzzle (Note: a muzzle can really help a boisterous dog settle down, everything is much more pleasant for the dog and for yourself. Cloth muzzles are not uncomfortable.)
• Waste basket to hold the hair while you groom. Your vacuum cleaner at the ready.
For your first time allow for up to two hours. Plan it for a cool day, and a cool frame of mind. Remember that it is not necessary to be perfect or to complete the whole job in one session. The dog and you can relax any time, half done, quarter done or proudly finished.
Good brushing and a bath are a must — do it the day before. A well washed and dried coat is easy to cut and much better for the clipper blades.
Note about the bath: Prepare the dog by a pleasant bath with good dog shampoo, towel dry and blow dry. If the dog shies at the noise of the dryer take your time. Let it nose the tool, hear the dryer, feel the vibrations and the air and relax even get bored with it. At the first time for you and your pet it is all about getting comfortable together.
Collect and set up all your equipment. Place your pet on the bench, put collar and lead on and tether if you wish. Brush and comb again to loosen any tangles and turn on your clipper. The noise may startle the animal so just let it hear, sniff, and feel the vibrations on its body moving the clippers gently over back, sides, head, and legs. It is well worth the time to accustom the animal slowly. Using your voice in a calm, confident, happy way helps a lot.
Blades #9 or 10 for summer cut gives a very short coat, a very neat look to head and ears, #5 is good for cold season cut, when learning to groom, and for the thigh of back legs where you want to see a smooth transition from back to pastern, #3 is good for the light feathery leg hair. Use scissors to trim front leg feathering evenly.
Frequently during the whole job take time to spray-clean and cool-lube the clippers when they get too warm against your hand. The clippers work better, last longer if you keep them cool and clean.
Assemble the clipper and blade, run it, feel it. Get familiar with mounting and dismounting the blade, oiling and cleaning it easily. Unless you bought a cordless clipper make sure you have a long enough extension cord to work comfortably,
Top of back and neck:
If this is the first time for yourself as well as the dog start with a #5 blade. This will give you a clip that is not too short to repair if there is something you do not like. Run the blade flush with the body from neck to tail in smooth repeating strokes always with the natural hair direction. Here along the back you get the real feel of your clippers and gain confidence. There is no rush, enjoy the look, rhythm and feel of your tool stroking the body of dog.
For uneven parts brush the coat against the grain then clip again with the grain. This cutting, brushing, and re-cutting is done frequently as you see how things look. As long as you move the back of the clipper blade against the body of the animal you will never get a jagged section.
Cut the sides of the animal from the neck and spine down and angling toward the back. Let the blade glide over the lovely curve of chest and stomach then straight down and off the body. This leaves some thinner, long hairs at the base of the chest, stomach, and hip which will be trimmed later with scissors. Continue till the back and both sides are done, If the dog has quite curly hair it may seem uneven and rough. When you have consistently repeated the back-brushing and clipping again with the growth direction you will find that the hair blends very neatly.
You and the dog are becoming comfortable with this new experience. Take a break, let the dog lie down on the mat, and sit, relax, enjoy.
They have kinks and notches where they meet the body. You can do it with clippers without cutting the animal. Trim down from head to tip of the ear holding the ear flat with one hand while turning and adjusting the clippers to do the irregularities. If your clippers are always lying flat while you move them around you will not cut the ears. Remember the underside of the ear but do not cut much here. This hair protects the ear from dirt, bugs, and sticks. Just a little tidying here is all you want to do. Clip with short strokes.
For a lovely clean ear edge trim around the ears with scissors or clipper. Holding the ear close to its edge trim along the ear line going against the hair growth carefully cutting only what is above your fingers. Watch the little pouch at the top where the ear flap meet the head. It is a place easily nicked. If you do nick it and it bleeds do not panic. Your dog may complain but it is not serious. Put a little Styptic Powder on, it stops the bleeding quickly.
Head, neck, muzzle:
When you do these areas you can stretch the loose skin which tends to lie in folds to be reasonably smooth and so make a very neat job.
Start the trim from top of head down blending in with the neck and back cut. Then reverse, move forward over the brow between the ears, carefully all around them, down over the muzzle and down each side of the muzzle keeping your blade as flat as possible on the face. Keep blade gently flat against nose while cutting down and away from it, leaving under side till later. Hold your hand over the eyes and eyebrows. Then hold the head up to go under the jaws from the chest upwards to the jaw. about half way to end of muzzle leaving the front part of nose and mouth to form the longer beard hair which will be tidied later. Go down the chest to top of the front legs.
Some groomers and owners like to leave a narrow center section on the chest with longish, tidied hair. Iroquois style. You can look at pictures and decide what you would like. All these areas are trimmed so the look pleases you.
While you are here you can comb the eyebrows. Then, holding your hand over the eye to protect it, stand the eyebrow upright and clip across with scissors to about two inches.(taller if you like the bushy look)
If you and your pet are tired now stop a while. Doing all this is quite invasive for an animal. They consider their head, tail, backside and feet very private. Take time, do not force the pace. You are aiming to peacefully get a clean, smooth look for face, ears, and neck leaving only the beard area long.
Comb it down straight from nose and mouth on both sides to about the width of half the mouth opening and clip with scissors across bottom to even out the hair. Do this several times to get a clean, sharp look. The beard will be cut about three or four inches long. Pups do not have much beard hair.
The front legs are clipped very short to the knee. Hold the knee joint with one hand while running the clipper down from the shoulder along the leg to your hand cutting all sides. Keep the blade against the body not angled away and you will avoid that bare, patchy look here. Use the bone structure as your guide. Remember that a blade held flat against the surface will always give you even hair length. Back-brush and repeat but do not obsess about perfection.
This leaves the long hair on lower front legs which is a comb and scissor job.
The back legs including the hips, tail, and back of the body are done the same basic way: clippers close to body held flat, hips, sides and back of body and the leg down to the pastern which you hold and clip above your hand as with the front legs. top, sides and underside of the tail again with clippers smoothly against the tail cutting from body to tip. Your dog may love or hate the tail clip. Some find it very invasive. Take your time.
Again leave the feathered silky lower leg till later.
Creating the fluffy feathering on the four legs:
The typical feathered lower leg for your Airedale is not difficult. The really rich soft leg hairs will not develop fully till your dog is adult. You still work to create the look while you wait.
There are dogs who will sit happily for this pedicure/manicure. All the better for you.
Comb the leg hair straight out at right angles to the leg from the pasterns at the back leg and from knee joint for front legs. Find the area that has the shortest or reasonably even hair and trim to about that length around the whole lower leg. Include a brush and trim of the upper paw hair and the hair between pads on the under side cleaning out any mat or stones you find.
To do all four legs and feet takes a little time and care but it does look nice till the dog dashes about to catch a crow.
Now the nail clip. A first time nail trim will probably be difficult for the dog. Let someone hold the animal. Take a paw, hold it gently but firmly turn it up backwards. You will see the four main nails. Clip each one only a very small amount for the first time. Do all four feet. If you happen to cut too much off the nail and there is blood apply a little Styptic Powder. It stops any bleeding quickly.
If the dew claws have been removed that is perfect, if not they may need a little trim.
Note: Ask a veterinarian to remove dew claws for your pup. Dogs get caught on them and get hurt.
If your dog struggles wildly when you try clipping the nails relax, stroke the dog, talk gently to it, try again in a few minutes or try for one nail only, try another one next day etc. It takes time to make your pet comfortable with this part of the beauty treatment.
Chest and Belly hair:
Brush and comb straight down from top of back in line with the body contour. Trim with scissors to shorten and even these hairs out. Comb and cut several times to get a neat look here. At this time also check the hair between front and back legs which is very light soft hair. Comb and cut with scissors or clipper to tidy and shorten them.
These details take the most time and thought. Do it the way you would like to see it this first and even second and third time. For instance you can choose to just tidy up the coat evenly all over with no fancy touches. Get used to the work. You can adjust next time after you see how you like it. The dog coat grows quickly. Our dogs love to strut in their newly groomed state.
Professional groomers look at age and build of the animals and the wishes of the owner. They groom to bring out the best cut for each animal. You might like a demonstration on your dog. You can learn to do it yourself. It is good to make time for yourself with your pet and it is much less expensive. By comparison the investment in equipment is not very great.
Now your dog gets a quick rub all over, praised and released for a treat and a romp. A healthy treat like a carrot will clean the teeth while you finish up.
If you have put the clipped hair into the waste bin as you go there is not a big task left. Just vacuum, clean and wipe the mat, table and floor. Clean and store the clippers according to owners manual instructions Put everything away till next time.
Note on grooming Airedale Terriers:
The formal cut of a show dog is not necessary for your pet. While your learn you are plan for a relaxed style. Look at “Grooming The Double Coat Of Airedale Terriers” on the internet. There are many pictures of show dogs and companion dogs. Choose the style you want.
While your dog is young and you are learning it does not matter so much. After a few times you and your Airedale Terrier will be happy with grooming. If you like you can become more ambitious later.
Where I live our dogs are clipped every six to eight weeks in the warm season and twice with just a tidying trim in the winter months when they need the fur. Our two ladies, Honey and Pippa, love to look trim.