The game little Cairn, starting his fame named as one of the group of Sky Terriers and progressing to Cairn Terrier of Skye, subsequently shortened to Cairn Terrier, is a no nonsense working terrier holding true to his roots of good workability.
His job of seeking out small mammals in rocky cairns typifies him as a good hardy helpmate amid the rugged landscape and I love the quote from the AKC narrative that states, "Preserve the best in it's best old working type". Surely that's what all breeds should strive for but this breed description states it outright - Bravo!
To survive and have good workability, this terrier must have a good harsh outer coat and a soft close undercoat. The coat should be water resistant i.e. weatherproof. The standard specifies the word harsh a couple of times and in the AKC standard lists as faults - open coats, blousy coats, too short or dead coats and lack of undercoat or head furnishings.
Thus it is imperative that one has a correct coat as indeed coat is stated as "very important" in the ANKC/FCI standard.
The ANKC/FCI standard does not mention anything to do with trimming or tidying but the AKC standard is specific in allowing ears, tail, feet and general outline to be tidied and that the coat must be clean & brushed.
Now I have seen the old school exhibitors who don't subscribe to bathing or fripperies and those of the other persuasion that endorse grooming to the hilt. There is a happy compromise in all of this and to meet the letter of the law in the standard.
As one must adhere to a harsh coat and no dead coat as requested, bathing is in fact a great start to achieve the correct outcome as long as one knows how and what to do.
I am an advocate of bath/oil/dry routines for all show dogs. You do not soften a coat by regular bathing as long as one doesn't have froth and bubbles up to the ceiling and uses a well diluted shampoo to suit. The regular bathing allows you to rid the coat of that specified unwanted dead hair and oiling puts back the natural oil goodness that coats require. We never use a conditioner on a harsh coated breed as it softens and flattens.
So, start with Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo which is a good shine shampoo or use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo if the dog has less hair or bodily substance than one would like. I prefer this breed to be bathed with the All Purpose and the head which has to have "plenty" of furnishings, to be done with the Body Building shampoo. Dilute All Purpose at 10:1 i.e. 10 parts water to one part shampoo and the Body Building Shampoo at 5:1. The coat should not be full of bubbles and froth as we want a low foaming effect for less static and softening to the main body of the coat hence the direction for a 10:1 dilution. In fact if you are bathing every week then dilute even further to around 15:1 to a barely foaming application. Keep the Body Building shampoo at 5:1 because we want that head to be full.
After all, the Cairn has a shorter and wider head than any other terrier so let's show it!
Now rinse off all shampoo thoroughly and add a mix of 1 tspn Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil to 1 lt/1 qt warm water and saturate the dog with this mix and LEAVE IN. Do not rinse. This wonderful blend of Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula Oil gives a fabulous reinforcement to the healthy vigour of the skin and coat with natural sheen. It also puts back any removal of natural oils and allows you to continue on a weekly bath/oil/blow dry routine and thus present that requirement of a clean coat.
I do suggest some blow drying - even just to remove the dead hair which is also a no no. No brushing or combing will ever rid the coat of ALL the dead hair as does a good bath and a blow dry. Watch that dead hair fly. I use a turbo style cool dryer such as an Oldfield but there are many brands about wherever in the world you live. As long as the dog is about to be blown off the table by the jet of air it is likely the right dryer to use!
By doing this weekly bath/oil/blow dry regime you will not get that moth eaten, undercoat dumping that is so usual in double coated breeds. The weekly dead hair removal allows the new hair to continually regenerate. You need to have that dog out in the ring constantly as after all, who would want to miss out on our weekly activity? This is the best way to ensure continuity in the ring and for those who chase a point score.
For those who like to tidy and preen their dog, then a judicious tidying of the ears, tail, feet and general outline is recommended. Keep it as natural as possible with an eye to bringing out the best in your dog.
Once the coat is tidied and dry, you need now to have a texture, harsh coat check. I know there are those who bath days ahead allowing the coat to reharden before the show but for those who like pristine presentation and like to bath the night before, then there is a simple answer. Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Terriers is a must have. This will instantly harden and whilst I prescribe just a light dusting on the edge of the brush and flicked through the coat for perfection, there are those who like a really rock hard coat so just add a touch more. This can when used more heavily, give you a wire hard coat. All of this is achieved in a blink. Just a flick of the wrist with that brush and the Powder Puff Terrier and all is solved. The Powder Puff Terrier can also be used as a cleaning dry shampoo if in a hurry to refresh and clean. Has a wonderful mandarin and ginger fragrance.
If you are anti powders and I do emphasise that you brush the powder well into the coat and with such a small amount it ought not to be discernible, then use straight after the bath and applying when the coat is half dry, Plush Puppy Ruffy Tuffy Coat Spray. This is a softer feel to the coat and you again use just how much or little you like. For an out of coat situation then use the Ruffy Tuffy during the blow dry and then add a sprinkle/flick of the Powder Puff Terrier when dry.
Don't forget on show day to flick a good bit of the Powder Puff Terrier through those head furnishings and legs. They do state the legs must be harsh coated!
You can also before blow drying, if the head is not sufficiently well furnished, add a small amount of Plush Puppy Puffy Dog which is a strong hold mousse to the root area of the hair and blow dry up with a Plush Puppy Pin Brush till almost dry and finish with a Plush Puppy Anti Stat Brush which is an oval cushioned half nylon/half bristle brush.
I like that rugged bitsy look to the head when finished so am not adverse to rubbing a bit of Plush Puppy Sit N Stay between my fingers till the wet sticky feeling crosses over to a dry tacky feel and applying it to the root area of the hair around the head and pulling up with my fingers to the tips creating that tossed about style.
A good spray of Plush Puppy Odour Muncher for that added freshness to the dog as judges do use their nose as well as their eyes when they judge, will deodorise and leave a pleasant non offensive soft fragrance.
Now this fearless and active little terrier is ready for action in the show ring. He is a cheeky little individual full of gameness and assertiveness. He will work till he drops and get about that ring in full free flowing stride. No nonsense here is there?
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