Airedales have a tendency to explore everything. Although it's an engaging trait, you will need a proper grooming routine to avoid your handsome terrier turning into what appears to be a bundle of mats, burrs and mud with a tail.
Wait until any mud or dirt on his coat has dried before commencing your grooming session. Airedale coats are stiff enough at the best of times -- you will not have any fun whatsoever trying to brush through wet mud.
Brush off any dirt.
Comb through his coat, especially where his hair is longer, notably under the jaws, and carefully work out any tangles.
Brush through his entire coat with a wire pin or stiff bristle brush, starting with the head and working your way down to his feet. Don’t forget his tail.
Return to his head and brush out the hair around his muzzle to enhance that handsome square look.
Lift each foot and examine it. If the hair is growing long, give it a trim. Also look out for any signs of injury. Walk him across a hard surface. If his nails make a rapping sound, they need trimming too, although this is a procedure you must see demonstrated in person by your vet or dog groomer before you try it yourself. Dark nails in particular are difficult to cut without nicking the quick, the blood vessel in the nail.
Wet a cotton ball with water, squeeze it out and wipe the outer parts of the inner side of his ear. Do not use cotton swabs, which could injure your pet, and don’t push the cotton ball into the ear canal. If you notice a discharge, residue or odor in the ear, contact your vet. Wet a fresh ball for the other ear.
Wet yet another cotton ball with water and wipe around his eyes carefully. Again, if you notice a discharge, phone the vet. Some “tear” crusts are normal in Airedales, a steady discharge is not.
Trim any overlong hair around his muzzle, feet or tail with the scissors. Don’t cut off too much if your dog’s appearance is important to you -- Airedales are tricky to clip properly and you might end up with an exceedingly scraggy-looking dog.
Bathe him about once every couple of months after brushing and combing. Use products specifically for harsh coats unless your Airedale has a soft coat, in which case use normal dog shampoo and conditioner. Take him into the shower, wet his coat with tepid water and massage in a drop of shampoo, avoiding his face. Rinse out the suds and repeat with conditioner. Once you have finished, remove him from the shower or tub but not out of the bathroom. Wait until he has had a good shake before toweling him dry. Comb through his coat again and keep him inside until he is completely dry, especially during cold weather. Terriers might be hardy, but a damp coat and a cold snap is not a good combination.
Take him to a professional dog groomer for a trim every six to eight weeks. This is also a good time to ask for a demonstration of nail clipping, ear cleaning and tooth care.
- During the summer, check his coat for ticks after each walk and during your regular grooming session. Medium-sized, energetic dogs who love exploring vegetation are the perfect target for ticks. Ticks blend in to the tawny rough coat of an Airedale, but you might be able to find some. Pull each tick away steadily with tweezers by holding it firmly close to the mouthparts (i.e. your dog’s skin) and drop it into a vial of alcohol. Check to see if tick-borne diseases are prevalent in your area and if so, be even more alert for swelling or irritation around a bite and any signs of illness. Ask your vet about a tick collar or other preventative treatment.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.