Grooming Your Airedale

If you have a specific question that is not covered below, please feel free to contact one of our volunteers for that information.

On a weekly basis your dog should have his/her coat brushed, teeth brushed (use canine toothpaste), and ears checked. Remember though, too many baths can dry out their skin! If you live close enough to ARADV we will gladly show you how to groom; however, many local Airedale clubs usually run both stripping and grooming classes at least once a year for a nominal fee. We will help you locate a club in your area if needed.

Clipping Instructions For Your Pet Airedale

by Joey Fineran

Basic Rules:

  • Always clip in the direction the hair grows.
  • Never use a hot blade on your dog! Check the temperature of the blade by laying it against your cheek every now and then. When it starts to feel uncomfortably warm to your cheek, lay your clipper down and do something else for a while (like trimming nails, scissor cutting between the pads of the feet, etc.) until the blade is cool again – or change blades and do something that requires a different number blade if you don’t have another of the same size (or you can buy Clipper Cool)
  • When you first start to learn to clip it may feel like a very awkward operation. Practice makes perfect, but again: make sure the blade is not too hot for the dog! It can burn their skin.
  • Your clipping should be smooth (you should not see any clipper marks).
  • You have optimum control of your scissors if you use your thumb and your ring finger.

Body (#8 1/2 blade):

  • Start at the top of the neck and clip down the back to the base of the tail, letting the blade lay flat on the body (don’t try to hold it up off the body, unless you are coming to a blending area)
  • Clip down the sides of the body (this can be tricky at first) with a sweeping motion over the ribs – but let up before you go under the body so the hair gets smoothly blended to the longer hair on the underside of the brisket.
  • Clip the entire tail.
  • Clip the flat (back) of the fanny and down the back legs to just about the point of the hock.
  • Clip the sides of the neck, down the shoulders to the elbow, letting up just enough not to have an indentation at the joint.
  • The front is a little tricky, too. The hair grows up and in from the top of the leg to the breastbone and up and out to the shoulder. Try to follow the direction of the hair. You should not indent under the body from the front but you should also not be able to see any hair in front from the side view.
  • Making sure your blade is COOL; clip the throat area, starting at the point under the back edge of the mouth. There is a cowlick just above the throat which can cause a nasty hot spot if you get too close with the blade.

Head and Neck (#10 & #40 blade, scissors, forceps, cotton balls):

  • Clip the head, starting just above the eyebrows, back to the neck.
  • Drawn an imaginary line from the back corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth, and clip back from there, following the direction of the hair.
  • Along the side of the throat, where the hair meets the side of the neck, the hair grows upwards. Be careful. Clip all of the throat area, but be careful around that cowlick.
  • Clip the ears. Cradle the ear in your fingers, holding it in place with your thumb. Be careful to clip from the center of the ear toward the edge, or you may catch the ridge of the ear in the teeth of the blade (that would cause a blood bath!).
  • The inside of the ear should be as close as possible (no hair!) so use your #40 blade, or scissor all of the hairs away (let your dog lie down for this, if he will).
  • Using your scissors, trim the outside edge of the ear so it’s fringe-free.
  • Using your ear forceps, pul the hair from inside the ear canal.
  • Clean the ear out with cotton balls and ear cleaner.

Belly (#10 blade):

  • Still using the #10, clip the under belly, starting from the belly button (just behind the end of the rib cage) clipping back. You have to get under the dog and lift one leg at a time to reach it all. The belly, “privates,” and top of the inside of the legs should be clean.
  • Stand behind the dog and lift one leg at a time to clean the “top of the arch” blending to the hair of its “furnishings” (which start maybe three inches above his hock on the inside of the leg).
  • Trim the BACK of the tail a little closer with the #10 blade.

Nails and Feet (combs, scissors):

  • Trim the nails (be careful not to trim too close – the quick of the nail will bleed and it is painful for the dog!)
  • Scissor the hair from between the pads of the feet and the outside edge of each pad (remove ALL of the hair).

Finishing (#4 blade, scissors, combs, shampoo, hair dryer):

  • Looking at the pictures included, trim with scissors accordingly.
  • Comb the face, chest, and legs thoroughly using a wide-tooth comb.
  • Bathe, rinse well, and blow-dry, blowing with your hair dryer where you are brushing or combing. All hair should be dry before you start your scissor work!
  • It helps to comb the hair out perpendicular to the legs and the scissor the hair in a neat line. In areas you are blending, you draw imaginary lines from the shortest to the longest points and make the hair fit within the line.
  • Scissor the under-chest to follow the contour of the body, starting at with nothing at the belly button to cutting to about an inch below where the elbow is located.
  • Scissor the front legs to appear absolutely straight like a cylinder (no feet!).
  • Cut around the outside of the feet so they are neat and appear to be just the bottom of the cylinder.
  • Follow the contours of the rear legs and blend the hair on the hips (this is where a #4 blade comes in handy, but even then it requires scissoring). Airedales do not wear pantaloons!
  • The head takes years of practice, but here is a guide. An Airedale’s head should look like a brick. Accomplish this by combing the hair out to the side (perpendicular to the head) and straightening the line. You’d want to be able to see his eyes when you are looking at him straight on. That, of course, means that he will be able to see, which is important.
  • Comb the eyebrows and whiskers forward.
  • Scissor away excess hair between the eyebrows at the stop, creating a “V” shape.
  • Scissor the eyebrows diagonally from the center to the outside corner of the eye. Eyebrows should be relatively short and triangular and blend into the short hair of the head.
  • Again, combing the hair perpendicularly, trim the excess hair from the top of the muzzle. The top line of the head should be straight and flat (like a brick!), but not hairless!
  • Using your thinning shears blend the line from the corner of the mouth to the eye. Then and shape the beard to a long, lean look (with your thinning shears).
  • When you are done, do a once-over on the body, neck, and head with the clippers, using appropriate blades (it’s not necessary to redo under the belly and inside of the ears).
  • There are always tufts of hair that need to be trimmed off after a bath. This will give you a “finished” look.


  • Grooming table with arm and noose
  • Good clippers (Oster A-5, for instance) with the following blades: #10, #8 1/2, #4, and #40
  • Good barber scissors
  • Thinning shears
  • Ear forceps
  • Cotton balls
  • Ear cleaner
  • Nail clippers
  • Palm brush
  • Clipper wash
  • Shampoo
  • Hair Dryer
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Quick-Stop/Styptic Stick (in case you cut the nails too short and they bleed)
  • Old towels to dry off your “puppy”

Tips, Tricks, and Hints:

  • The head should be a rectangle from any angle.
  • If you have a clipper holder, be sure to use it every time you put your clippers down. If you don’t have a clipper holder, put your clippers on the floor every time you put them down. You do not want to drop your clippers and they cannot fall off of the floor! They are very sensitive and expensive to repair/replace.
  • If you dog does not like the nail clippers, try using a Dremel tool. However, be very careful it doesn’t get too hot. With either method, take off a little at a time and never take more than the tip of the nail at a time. In a week, you can go back and take a little more off.