The Airedale

Grooming Advice

Known as the King of Terriers, the Airedale’s origins appear to be from old lines from the Aire Valley in England and is generally known as a good all rounder used not only for hunting game and birds but as a police dog and a war time guard dog. Owned by many of the famous and the discerning, the Airedale is the largest and hardiest of the Terriers. He is faithful and protective of his family and a good companion.

His coat is required to be hard, dense and wiry with a softer undercoat and lying straight and close with some of hardest coats being crinkly or slightly waved. Therein lies the dilemma for most exhibitors as to how to present a clean and pleasant smelling coat AND maintain the texture with harsh texture being such a hallmark of most terrier breeds.

The usual routine has been to bath well ahead of show day and wait till the coat hardens again or leave the coat and not bath at all. That assuredly will maintain texture but is not ideal today with all the progression in beautiful presentation due to better products and equipment to achieve what you want instantly. Just know that the secret to keeping harsh texture and the coat lying fl at is to not “excite” the coat. A highly static and fl yaway coat is caused by highly foaming shampoo and of course any softening agents. To keep a harsh texture is of course to use a low foaming shampoo and one formulated to not alter texture.

Plush Puppy Az Iz is a unique product that is a low foaming wash suitable for maintaining texture. Formulated to work for those using either a recycling water tank bath or those who use a regular bath set up, just a few squirts into the tank or bath or bucket and the rule is that if you see too many bubbles, you have added too much. Just add more water. It’s as simple as that. This is a great cleansing method and a great way to refresh and clean the coat.

The alternative for between baths or for those who just don’t want to bath with a wet method, is to use Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Harsh Coated Breeds. This wonderful powder will clean, deodorise AND give the most incredible texture - leaving the coat like barbed wire! You have never seen texture like it. As your standard calls for a hard, dense and wiry coat then this is the stuff to use. It has a faint odour of mandarin & ginger but not fl owery, artifi cial or obvious and is applied by sprinkling onto the coat or applied with a brush or hands and worked through well. It’s that easy. Then keep brushing or better still, blow dry to remove excess and bingo! a clean dog with a coat you could scrub the pots with.

Either way is good and often exhibitors will use both methods depending on time constraints as to which to use and when. The Powder Puff is a great help for cleaning at long away from home show clusters or emergency situations.

The other conundrum for the Airedale exhibitor is the issue of how to maintain hydration in the coat without softening. The last thing you would use on a terrier such as the Airedale would be a conditioner - heaven forbid! You need to utilise a moisturising product that adds all the strengthening properties and hydration and not leave the coat too soft or greasy. Apply a liberal application of Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil 1 tspn to half a bucket of water, either sponged on or sluiced well through and then left in - do not rinse. This is quite a unique product in that it is also water soluble and not greasy - it just adds all the goodness of Evening Primrose Oil , Calendula Oil etc for outstanding healthy vigour to the skin and coat. Use either after a wet shampoo routine or between baths during the week for maintenance to the coat and furnishings. This is one product you cannot be without - just the best!

For those wanting instant texture to the coat, use Plush Puppy Ruffy Tuffy Coat Spray, applied layer upon layer - that is, spray lightly at least 30 cms/12” away, allow a few seconds to pass and then keep re-spraying the same way till the level of harshness is achieved. You build up the level of harshness to that which suits that particular dog. Good product to use the next day after utilising a wet bath routine and to ensure that so desired harshness is there afterwards.

The Terrier is a no nonsense group of dogs owned usually by no nonsense people! The very things most exhibitors need for their non terrier breeds is not what is required by the terrier people. It is thus challenging to work to fi nesse the coats whilst maintaining integrity to the breed. Having to think outside the square for real outcomes is great fun. For the arts of shaping an Airedale with hand/knife stripping I suggest you watch one of the masters at work as this is a skill that has to be learned and not described on paper. I could not cover enough paper to do so. The quest to achieve that sense of short back, strong, straight & level, showing no slackness with muscular loin, well sprung ribs, short coupled and well ribbed-up dogs with little space between ribs and hips is one that you must pursue no matter what it takes. Beg, bribe or whatever you must do to acquire the skills for great presentation. Some of the groomers are geniuses at presentation and the old hairdresser within me marvels at the perfection of these masters at work. This ideal silhouette/outline is what it takes to achieve the lofty heights of a true Airedale presenter.

To groom that “just so” Airedale head, use Plush Puppy Sit N Stay, applying a small amount rubbed into the hands till the product crosses over from wet sticky to what I term dry sticky, and then worked down at the sides of the face furnishings.

I will share a good tip for the legs also. Use Plush Puppy Revivacoat which is a great moisturiser to use without overly softening the coat. Hard to fi nd things that will do just that. It is perfect for after show bathing out of the furnishings to protect and moisturise. Easy and quick to apply. Just foam a small amount to the hands and work through the legs.

Not to forget for show day, that fi nal fl ourish for a great smelling dog - Plush Puppy Odour Muncher. It literally munches the odour and works well for smelly problems such as emergencies in transit etc. Leaves a light fragrance - certainly not too much and defi nitely not too little. Also a light mist to the legs with Plush Puppy OMG Concentrate diluted approx 40:1 (40 parts water to one part OMG) to use as a grooming spray. This allows easy brushing/combing and diluted enough to not soften.

So what is it about the Airedale that is so arresting out there in the ring? What is it that stirs the soul and brings the hairs up on the necks of the watchers in the crowd? Why do we all think this is the dog to watch for out here in the ring? Perhaps it’s because your Airedale cuts such a fi ne picture with his keen expression, quick movement, and his on the tip-toe of expectation at any movement. His confi dent dignity, friendly, courageous and intelligent temperament make such an eye catching entry, is it any wonder that so many of the high profi le handlers choose Airedales as the dog of choice on the end of their leash? Make way for the King of Terriers!

- Cheryl Le Court