Before you bring your puppy home we will give it a bath and trim their nails. You will not have to do any grooming on the puppy for a little while, however, we do recommend early and regular exposure to the grooming tools and environment. The following is our recommendations for grooming your puppy and adult Airedale:
If you have not found a professional groomer to groom your Airedale, now is the time to do that. Ask your friends and neighbors where they take their dog. We recommend speaking with and visiting the facilities of as many groomers as possible in order to get a better feel for what is available to you in your area. A great advertisement is not always the equivalent of a great groomer. The groomer should be able to answer any question that you have correctly with confidence. On subjects where your opinion may differ, the groomer should at least be open to hearing your viewpoint and considering your request. The facilities of the groomer should be neat and clean. You should be able to take a full tour of the facility. During grooming hours there may be fur on the floor and tools out of place, but you should be comfortable with putting the puppy into whatever environment they have. In particular you should question the groomer about how they handle puppies and what special considerations they will make. If you can, you should get references from some of their long time clients, Airedale specific if you can. Find out what their vaccination requirements are for dogs entering their facility.
Questions to ask: What is their experience grooming? Do they have the appropriate training, certifications, and licenses for grooming in their state? Do they have experience with Airedales and/or Terriers? Do they understand their personality differences? Can you take a full tour of their facility during working hours? Can they provide contact information for other Airedale owners, or at least other clients, for you to obtain references from? What do they charge for a typical Airedale trim? What additional charges might be incurred?
After you have the appropriate vaccinations, minimum of at least two if not three distemper/parvo and a Rabies, you should start taking your puppy to the groomer’s shop just for the exposure. Every two to four weeks, you can have the groomer trim/grind the puppy’s nails and brush them on the grooming table. The groomer should be gentle and handle the puppy with care. At bad experience at the groomers can carry with the dog for the rest of their life. The entire experience should be positive and as fun as possible for the puppy.
You probably will not need to trim/clip the puppy until they are 6 months old. Some owners like their dog to look like a puppy longer than others, it is up to you to make that decision. An adult Airedale will need to be trimmed about every 8 weeks, that is about 6 times per year. Some people like them trimmed slightly more or less often, every 6-10 weeks.
When you dog is groomed it should get a bath, brush, trim, nails, and ear cleaning. Airedales do not need their ear hair plucked, take a look, there isn’t much hair in there really. Trimming should include clipping of the head piece, neck, shoulders, and butt with a 10 blade and the jacket, hips, belly and tail with a 7 skip tooth which leaves more texture. The inside of the ear can be clipped with something like a 30-40 blade. The pads of the feet should be cleaned out (clippered) to prevent matting. The legs, feet, chest, and muzzle should be scissor trimmed with great blending in between the areas of clipping and scissoring. Please do not ask for anything other than a traditional Airedale breed trim, Airedales trimmed like Poodles look ridiculous.
We charge a base of $75 for an Airedale trim which is based on the condition and cooperation of the animal and includes everything listed above. This is average for our area. Prices in your area may be more or less, so you should call around to find the average yourself. Additions, which are not typically needed for most Airedales, might be medicated baths, two person nail trims, and extensive brush out or dematting at $40/hour etc. Price should NOT be your first consideration when choosing a groomer.
You do not need to express anal glands on an Airedale unless truly needed. We don’t ever need to do this on our Airedales. Unnecessary expression of anal glands can actually create a problem where none really ever existed. Some groomers do this as a standard practice, ask them not to, at least on your dog.
Typically, nails need to be trimmed/smoothed more often than the regular grooming appointments. We recommend purchasing a dog specific nail dremel to smooth the nails yourself as needed. Nails that are left longer can become fractured which can be painful, and will certainly scratch floors and your guests more easily. Airedales tend to not like their feet messed with, you can help desensitize them to this by playing with their feet often and in a fun manner when you are not actually cutting nails.
You should not bathe an Airedale any more than is necessary as it strips the coat of essential oils. Your groomer will bathe the dog every time they trim them. You should not need to give baths any more often than that except in exceptional cases. As a puppy, you may find that these exceptional cases happen slightly more often. If you take a puppy to the groomer for a bath, make sure they will be gentle, consider asking them not to use a pressurized wash down or high pressure dryer until the puppy is older. If a puppy steps in something yucky, do not give a full body bath, just wash the foot or area that is dirty. You should avoid giving any dog/puppy a bath more than once a month unless absolutely necessary or advised by your Veterinarian to do so. Airedales are not a stinky dog, bathing should really be kept to a minimum.
Most any shampoo/conditioner should be fine for your puppy. Do not use flea/tick shampoos. Read the label to see if the product is intended for a specific coat type or skin condition. Look for something that is generalized for most uses.
You should brush and comb the puppy on a regular basis at home. Probably once or twice a week is sufficient. If you brush too often you can damage the skin and coat. Before the first grooming the brushing/combing will probably be full body. After the puppy is on regular grooming appointments, the brushing/combing will probably only be necessary for the legs and muzzle area of the furnishings. You should use a spray bottle of water to mist the furnishings before brushing/combing as doing so on dry hair will cause breakage. On furnishings, use a pin brush to brush the fur against the direction of growth and then comb back in the right direction. Always brush in the direction of growth on any other area. You should pay particular attention to areas that tend to mat, the longer fur, “arm pits,” belly, and muzzle. Your Airedale should have little to no matting when it goes to the groomer even with very minimal brushing/combing.
You should brush the teeth on any dog once or twice weekly. Although Airedales do not generally have teeth problems, it is still a good habit that is beneficial to them later in life. You brush your own teeth right?
In all honesty, most professional all breed pet groomers will not groom your dog in as correct an Airedale trim as we would. We have Airedale owners who come to us from several hours away to have their dog groomed by us for that reason. We have seen otherwise good groomers shave the furnishings (leg and muzzle hair) off of Airedales, leave ginormous hips, shave the jacket too close, use Schnauzer and Poodle lines, and worse. We are Airedale breeders and we do our own show grooming. If you want a correct Airedale trim we will gladly groom your dog, but we realize that this may not be possible for those who live further away. If the only complaint you have about your groomer is the final trim, you probably have a decent groomer. Your priority should be how they handle the dogs, their experience, and the condition of their facility.
If you will be doing our own grooming you probably already have your equipment and your own schedule and techniques already in place. If you need assisance or advice with any of that please let us know.