Tarahill Cairn Terriers &
Wags to Wishes K9 Training 

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Grooming a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers have a special double coat. The coat is insulating, and water shedding and dirt repellent.  An ungroomed cairn has long, shaggy coat that 'drops' if grabbed.  This was a useful quality for working terriers that may face unhappy quarry, but most cairns today don't need that shaggy look and are easiest to care for if kept groomed. Regular grooming helps prevent skin irritation and matting.

Grooming can be by stripping or clipping. This is a personal choice unless your dog will be shown in conformation. If you plan to show your dog, do not clip the coat.  Clipping the coat will change the coat quality, softening it, lightening the colour and reducing the water / dirt shedding characteristics of the coat.  Clipped coats may require more frequent bathing. (Regular bathing is not necessary for most Cairns with a stripped coat. A good brushing will remove any dirt even after a digging episode!) Clipping leaves the dead hairs in place - eventually these will fall out. You may find there is less shedding with a stripped coat - although of course, the process of stripping results in lots of hair around! I recommend outdoor stripping when possible.

Stripping is a process of pulling out the old, dead hairs from the coat to allow new hairs to grow in.  As the old hair is 'dead', stripping does not hurt the dog. Stripping can be done periodically with a full strip done several times a year, or can be done regularly, every couple or weeks to yield a nice layered coat. If your dog will be shown in conformation, regular stripping is necessary. Whether you strip periodically or regularly, or even take your dog to someone else to be stripped, here are some tips.

1. Good tools make the job much easier.  You will need a good quality dog comb and brush at a minimum. If you plan to do it yourself you will need other tools. Talk to an experienced Cairn breeder for advice on what to get. Most general pet stores carry only basic tools - you are better off getting quality grooming tools from a specialty vendor on line or at dog shows. These cost more but are less damaging to the coat and more comfortable to use.
2. Make the grooming table a FANTASTIC place to be. Feeding your young puppy his meals on the table can start the process of building good associations with the table (Don't turn your back on a Cairn on a table! Jumping off the table can result in serious injury.) Practice gentle brushing on the table, rewarding your dog for standing still. Even if you never groom your own dog, this is a great thing to do. It can make the process of grooming easier on your dog, not to speak of the groomer if you dog is happy to stand quietly on the table.
3. If you have never done stripping before - get an experienced breeder to teach you how to do it

I don't consider myself an"expert" groomer - I am still working to get better at keeping my dogs in show coat, but I do hand strip my own dogs and can help if you are new to cairns.

Resources
  • http://www.cairnterrierclub.ca/care.html
  • http://web3.foxinternet.net/cwhall/articles/grooming.htm