Airedales love to mess up the laundry, pull winter hats off their owners and inspect the garbage. A curious, rambunctious fellow, he needs lots of exercise and activity. Highly entertaining, the Airedale is a loving, devoted companion and a very light shedder.
Often called a "broken coat," the Airedale's outer coat is coarse, dense and wiry. It's also either curly or wavy. The undercoat is softer and almost fur-like. The Airedale’s coat also is referred to as a short-haired double coat. To keep from shedding, Airedales require some grooming. His coat needs clipping at least twice a year or hand-stripping to keep him comfortable and to eliminate fur piles. Brushing is essential because everything sticks to his coat. Take him for a romp in the field and be prepared to brush out thistles, burrs and stray twigs.
Some Airedales have hair that doesn't seem to grow at all, while others must be clipped every three or four months. The coats that are longer and curly require more frequent clippings. The shorter and straighter hair may need a once-a-year trip to the groomer.
Hand-stripping the coat, instead of clipping, requires the use of a small, serrated knife to detach the loose hairs. It's a time-consuming process some feel increases the chance of skin allergies, a condition Airedales are prone to develop.
Brushing the Coat
Brushing the Airedale's coat also helps eliminate shedding. Brushing once to twice a week is sufficient. Use a grooming rake or a pin brush, and follow through with a bristle brush. Brush the hair in the direction it grows. Brush down to the skin, so you are getting to the undercoat where mats can occur. If you find a mat, try to loosen it with your fingers or pick at the outer edges with a fine-toothed comb.
Because Airedales shed little if they are kept groomed, they are a good choice for some allergy sufferers. Hypo-allergenic dogs still shed but not as much as most dogs. It's not the hair that causes the allergic reaction; it's the dander and saliva that sticks to the hair. If you are considering an Airedale because he sheds little, visit the breeder and spend time with the dogs to see if your eyes start watering and you start sneezing.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.