Grooming a Cairn Terrier (not for Show Dogs)
This article is not for show dog owners, of couse. I wanted to be sure that if you are solely a Cairn Terrier pet owner, that you didn't make the same mistakes I did. I bought a number of grooming books specifically for Cairn Terriers and a multitude of grooming supplies. Then I discovered that it was all unnecessary and the books I read were targeting show dog owners.
Their grooming and stripping techniques were way too complicated and in my opinion unnecessarily put the dog through far too much.
Here are the facts for grooming a pet Cairn Terrier if you just want to keep their coat healthy and looking nice.
- Unlike some dogs, Cairn Terriers should not be bathed often. A maximum of 3 times a year, if possible. Only bath them when necessary. Use a well recommended shampoo for hard coats. I'll tell you what I use later on in this article.
- Do not trim your Cairn's fur with grooming or trimming shears. Their hair needs to be stripped instead. Don't let that scare you. I found an easy way and so far it has worked quite well for me. Molly and Jack wouldn't win any show dog awards in the ring, but they look just fine to us and their skin thus far is healthy.
- Keep your Cairn Terrier's toenails trimmed if they are not active. We had trouble with this one because Cairns are known to dislike the nail trimming challenge. So we take them to a vet or groomer to only have their nails trimmed. We hope that in time they will become accustomed to it so we can do it ourselves. Since they are both very active dogs and we take them daily on off-leash excursions, it wears down their toenails, so we don't have to have their nails trimmed every month.
- Check your Cairn's ears and make sure they stay clean and free of excess hair. Remove any excess wax or dirt with a gentle ear cleansing solution on a cotton ball.
While stripping my Cairns, I put them on a grooming table with a tether that wraps around their neck when I want them to be still. I use a Grooming Table from MIDWEST. It works perfectly for grooming both of my Cairn Terriers.
Caution: Make sure that you never leave your Cairn Terrier unattended on a grooming table especially if they are tethered. In the spring, summer and fall, we keep the grooming table outside on the back deck which is shaded.
I try to make the grooming process is a time of fun and something they look forward to. I simply tap the top of the grooming table and they come running. They know it's going to be fun. They get treats periodically throughout the grooming process. They never really know when the treats are coming, so they are attentive. These kind of treats they only get when they are being groomed so they don't get accustomed to them and know what's coming.
Another method I use during the 6 months of the year they need mosquito, flea and tick protection is to take this opportunity to give them their monthly dose of Heartgard and Frontline.
Heartgard protects them from mosquito larva which could seriously injure or kill them and it comes in treat-like bars to make it look appealing like a treat. Molly and Jack love them.
Frontline protects them from ticks and fleas and it is very easy to apply. We have three adult house cats, so with five animals in the house, tick and flea protection all around is a must. :) One this I must stress is to not buy a cheap brand for flea and tick protection. I made this mistake too many times with other dogs I've owned and finally learned that I saved money and stress on the pets if I simply use Frontline.
Another money saving tip about Frontline is that you can usually get the best prices if you buy it online. Vet offices and pet shops are going to charge you more. Right now 1-800-PetMeds has the best Frontline value I've found right now.
Mars Coat King -- Favorite Cairn Terrier Stripping Tool
My favorite stripping tool is the Mars Coat King. I would be lost without this little grooming tool. I have other stripping knives, smoothing stones, brushes, combs, etc., but not one of those tools can compare to the value of a Mars Coat King. I have two sizes but I could have easily been able to use only one had I known that Jack's coat was going to be far thicker than Molly's. They are expensive, but like I said they are invaluable. They are priced on average of $40 and the fewer amounts of knives in the tool, the more you'll pay.
Since we had Molly first and she doesn't have much undercoat, the Mars Coat King with 16 blades is what we used for her. Along came Happy Jack a year later, who has a much thicker undercoat. I bought the 10 blade Mars Coat King stripping knife (few knives that are spaced further apart) for Jack. I found that this new Mars Coat King worked fine on Molly too. But the one we were using on her wasn't working well enough on Jack because of his thicker undercoat.
With this handy little stripping tool, all you really need to do is brush them with it and the loose, dead or excess hair just comes right out. Getting in around smaller areas like the head and face can be more challenging but its a wonderful little grooming tool I couldn't live without. Don't let the knives scare you. You cannot accidentally cut them or yourself with this tool.
During the winter months, we keep the grooming table in the basement. Sometimes though a quick comb through is a must, so I found that putting an old towel on the washer in the laundry room and putting them on it to do some quick grooming (less than 2 minutes) is fast and easy. Caution: Again never leave your Cairn unattended on a grooming table.
The more you work with them, the easier it will become. When Molly was a puppy, I brushed her every day. She didn't need it, but I did it anyway. She loves the attention, and she knows she's getting pretty. When Jack came along, he wasn't quite as easy because I failed to work with him as much. But he saw that the process didn't hurt Molly and that she loved it. He is getting easier to work with all the time.
Filed under Grooming Cairn Terriers
Hi, I have a Molly to, who is 23 weeks. Can you tell me when her long puppy coat will begin to die and beready for striping.
Posted by: Dawn Winn | March 5, 2007 01:00 PM
Great information! I have a 9 mo. female coming to Florida from Minnesota in a couple weeks. Going to give the stripping a go before I resort to a groomer. How should I handle grooming her face, stomach and around her little girl area? I had Cairns in the past and always cut them down and I am determined to do it the right way! I have three children and so I will be scheduling grooming dates for early Saturday mornings. Thank you!
Posted by: Georgeanna Schilling | February 19, 2008 01:21 PM
Hi--just got a 6 month Cairn puppy (Jack) and in reading your article on--stripping not for show dogs--
How often do you use the Mars Coat King stripping tool and what do you use daily to brush your dogs?
I also have a Schnauzer who is 7 years old who I take to get groomed but if possible and it is not a major chore I really want to keep Jack looking good and being healthy myself
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Posted by: Dixie | March 9, 2009 05:34 PM
What type of tool do I use to remove very tight mats around my Cairn's legs? Brand?
Posted by: Deborah Rogers | June 23, 2009 06:09 PM