For Pet & Show
In the pictures above, from left to right -
Dog in the 'rough' - body stripped out, but furnishings not done - The finished article.
The Airedale has what we call a "Double Coat" by this we mean that he has a harsh 'wiry' top coat, and a warm woolly undercoat, which is slightly greasy, this keeps him warm, (and cool) and also 'waterproofs' him. When you brush him, part of this undercoat is removed each time, and this helps the topcoat to lie flat. If left to it's own devices, it grows to between 2-3" long, and then 'dies'. At this stage it is 'ripe' to strip out. If this is not done, he then looks like a very woolly teddy bear, and if not brushed each day, can become matted, and can look very unkempt. The Airedale does not 'shed' like smooth coated breeds. A plus when you are houseproud.
If you are not interested in showing your dog, he can be clipped, using electric clippers, rather like those at the hairdressers, but a larger version.
When the Airedale is clipped, only the top hair is removed, the roots are left behind, and does not get rid of the old hair, this causes a loss of the colour in the coat, although some dogs even after being clipped their entire lives still show the black coat and the dark tan, and also the texture is still harsh. But generally they end up with slate coloured coats, with very wishy washy looking furnishings.
If you are wanting to show your dog, then hand stripping is the way to go. The hair is literally pulled out by the roots, no it doesn't hurt the dog, as its usually dead hair, and comes out very easily. The stripping of the hair is not normally done with the fingers (although the old timers tell you that this is the only way to do it) you use a stripping knife. Now the name 'stripping knife' can be very misleading, as normally by 'knife' we mean something that cuts and generally incorporates a blade. It looks a bit like a very short comb, but many people would then just 'comb' the dog, and not get any hair out. The best way to describe it would be 'stripping utensil', but if you go into a Pet Shop and ask for a "Stripping Utensil" they would look at you as though you had gone crazy, so stripping knife it has and always will be.
Below are some types of stripping knives which are available at shops which specialise in Grooming Gear for dogs.
You will also need a comb, with fairly wide teeth, that doesnt take out too much of the furnishings. Plus a pin brush, I personally use one with bent tines, this seems to get through the coat a little better, without taking too much precious hair out at the same time.
Once you have assembled all the gear together, get yourself a sturdy table, at waist height, this seems to work for me, as I dont have to bend over too much. If possible get your dog used to the table before you start stripping him, then at least he wont be scared silly when you start to strip him.
FOR SHOWING YOU WOULD NEED TO START STRIPPING AT LEAST 8 WEEKS BEFORE SHOW DATE, TO GIVE THE COAT TIME TO GET TO THE REQUIRED LENGTH.
When you are ready to start stripping, I suggest you set yourself a time limit, of say 45 minutes at a time, at the end of the 45 minutes, let your dog get down from the table, and you go and have a cup of tea or fruit juice, as you wont be able to strip everything out in one go. No one can, unless they are Superman/woman!
O.K. now you are ready to begin, firstly brush the dog out completely, making sure they are no matts in the coat, I personally use a utensil called "Coat King" which will take out 99% of the undercoat which is loose, and it makes it far easier to strip out what is left.
But d o n t use this on the furnishings!!
Starting from just at the back of the head, you are going to strip right down the neck and on to the tip of the tail, in other words all the black part. To begin with take a little bit of the hair between your thumb and the stripping knife, and give a downwards pull, you may not take out very much to begin with, its all new to you, but as you go on, it gets much easier. It does help to pull the skin taut with your free hand, this helps somehow to get the hair out easier! Dont go from spot to spot, once you have taken out the hair down to the skin, use this as a starting point for your next pull. Do however take little bits at a time, if you try and pull too much out at once, you wont get anywhere. Dont forget the 45 minute rule, by this time you will both need a break. When you have stripped out all the way down the back, you then start on the sides, this you take out up to the tan on the chest. For this part I make my dogs lie on their sides, far easier on you and them My dogs go to sleep while I work on them. To do this, stand at the side of the table, and with the dog standing, put your arms round his legs (both front & back) and pick him up, and then GENTLY lie him on his side. He wont really appreciate this, as he is feeling vulnerable, and he has no control of what is happening. BUT REASSURE HIM, and talk to him, and tickle his tummy, he will soon relax. Then you will be able to do his sides.
I would suggest that after you have stripped out all the black parts, you call it a day, No one can do a whole dog in one day.
When you come to do the head, shoulders & rear end, it also pays to have them on their sides, or you will be standing on your head, unless of course you are ambidextrous, and can use both hands equally! The shoulders have dotted lines, where to strip out, so get to it. But dont go down into the furnishings, stop before you get to the join of shoulder to leg. Then do the opposite side.
When you have done those, its time for the head, this is not easy to explain in words, so have put a picture below, and the length of hair is explained by the shortness of the lines.
You take off the hair in a line from the outside corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth, ears are taken out at the same time, these are very tender parts to be stripped, so care is needed if you dont want your dog to be 'ear shy'. The throat is also taken out at this time, and this is by far the worst part to do. It usually takes me about three days to do this section, as you really need to be a contortionist. Plus the dog doesn't like you pulling on his neck all the time. Under the chin is also difficult to explain, under his chin if you run your fingers along there, you will feel where the two bones of the lower jaw meet, this is where the hair should be taken off to, and just leave a small goatee beard.
Rears are also difficult to explain how to do, there is also a picture about these. But if you take the tail, and put it down, you will need to strip out the width of the tail, on the rear end, then you have to blend in the hair on both sides so that it doesnt fluff out and look as though he has a bustle. Its easier to have a look at the picture, the hair length can also be seen by the line lengths.
After you have finished all the stripping, I would suggest that you wash the furnishings, BEFORE you brush them out, as wet hair doesnt break as easily as when its dry.
I personally wash them and then blow dry them, this fluffs them out beautifully, and you can ease out any tangles without losing too much in the way of precious hair.
During the growth time, you will need to brush the new coat every day, to stimulate it, and get it growing in quicker (!) After a few weeks, you will then need to rake the coat through with a very fine stripping knife, this gets rid of the yucky undercoat, and let the topcoat lie flat. You will also need to tidy up his furnishings, to keep them looking tidy, and try and blend in the leg hair into the shoulder hair. You will also need to do this with his head and also his rear end. It is virtually impossible to try and explain all this in words, if you have a picture of an Airedale groomed for the show ring, pin this up where you are grooming your dog, and keep looking at it, and at your dog, and try and see what else you would need to do. It also helps to have a mirror attached to the wall opposite where you have your grooming table, then you can see what you have done without dodging round the table the whole time.
Have a look at the photo below, and aim for something looking like it.
Please dont think that you can make your dog to look like a show dog the first time out, you cant. When you get to the show, have a look at the other dogs there, and then talk to the exhibitors, but please AFTER they have been in the ring, or you wont be very popular. No-one really has the time before they go into the ring, but anyone worth their salt will certainly help you afterwards.
If you are not interested in showing your dog, you can have him clipped with electric clippers. This can be done at home (if you have the equipment) or more usually at a grooming parlour. BUT before you take your dog to one, do make enquiries at whether they know how to groom an Airedale. Some will say they do, and then your dog comes out looking as though he has been done with a knife and fork, and also looking a bit like a Poodle, along with the pom on the end of his tail. Yes it has been done! If you see some Airedales that have been groomed well, ask the owner where they had the dog groomed, if you get the same answer each time, then that's the place to go.