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 until 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 flat is to not “excite” the coat. A highly static and flyaway 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 All Purpose Shampoo diluted at a 10:1 ratio is 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, deodourise 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 flowery, artificial 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.
When washing faces use Plush Puppy Let’s Face It is what the dog showing world has needed for way too long. Another one of the famous Plush Puppy products that with the latest of technology and the highest amounts of naturally sourced ingredients has developed a product that is a must! This is a hypoallergenic sulfate free low foaming shampoo designed for faces. Its no tear formula with the highest quality Blue Cypress Extracts, Panthenol with Pro Vitamin B and SugaNate. These special ingredients clean, sooth, adds moisture, aids healing and anti-inflammatory benefits. A small golf ball sized amounts directly to the face and eye area allows you to thoroughly clean without causing irritation. Can be used in and around ears also with the same benefits. Its low foaming design allows easy of rinsing yet complete cleaning.
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 30cms/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 finesse 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. Plush Puppy Stuk Up is a cement strength styling product that is non-aerosol using only the highest quality resins. A light spray approx. 25cm away from the area and allow a second to dry then repeat as needed. Great at creating a strong long lasting hold. The product is water soluble which allows easy washing out.
I will share a good tip for the legs also. Use Plush Puppy Reviva Coat which is a great moisturiser to use without overly softening the coat. Hard to find 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. Plush Puppy Volumising Spray is a ‘Ready To Use’ for quicker, easier and fuller coat results. Perfect either before blow drying or used to ‘fluff’ up the coat at the show. A light even spray, brush in until dry or use a dryer. Produced for easy use and scientifically balanced for all coat types. This is a hair thickener to add volume - not a hair stiffener and not easily detectable as it leaves the coat with a natural fuller look and feel.
Not to forget for show day, that final flourish 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 definitely not too little. Plush Puppy OMG is a revolutionary grooming spray that lives up to its name. OMG is the perfect product for this coat type when used correctly. A light spray of OMG and brushing in allows this product to refresh the coat leaving it feeling wonderful, it separates the coat and leaves the most amazing finish. Using at an approximate mixture of 1 part OMG to 30-40 parts water using this break down from the OMG Concentrate. The stronger the mix the stronger there effects. Using OMG can be a one off at shows or during the drying process after bathing. An amazing product for regular brushing also as it hydrates the coat and reduces stress and coat loss. OMG, as its active ingredients smooth the cuticle and protect the coat for this coat type, that you still wish to retain the texture, at a higher breakdown will still allow you to brush the dog and refresh to coat without over softening. OMG never builds up, never goes stringy. A product that took years to develop using the latest technology for maximum effects. A true necessity for the tool kit.
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 fine picture with his keen expression, quick movement, and his on the tip-toe of expectation at any movement. His confident dignity, friendly, courageous and intelligent temperament make such an eye catching entry, is it any wonder that so many of the high profile handlers choose Airedales as the dog of choice on the end of their leash?
Make way for the King of Terriers!
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