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Aug 27

Grooming Your Terrier

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier

Because of their great variety, it’s difficult to state grooming tips that apply equally to all terrier breeds. But two broad categories are most common. The long, silky hair of the Yorkie who has no undercoat, for example, requires one technique. The dense undercoat of a Westie implies another.

For those with long, soft coats like the Yorkshire or Skye Terrier regular brushing is a must. Clipping the coat to a length that will keep it off the ground when walking will help, too, but it’s not recommended for show dogs. Stripping and plucking is used instead though pet owners might want the same look.

With a stripping knife held down with the thumb, work the tool over the coat to get out dead hairs and return sheen and smoothness to the coat. Take care not to twist the tool taking live hair, too. Move in the direction of hair growth.

Plucking requires taking dead hair between the thumb and fingers and giving a quick, firm tug. Hold the skin down to prevent discomfort. Select only hairs that are well developed. Young growth is firmly implanted. Left on their own, the older hairs would simply shed out.

Clipping works well for Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Airedales, Lakelands and similar breeds.

To clip, use a #7 Oster blade down the back, starting at the head and moving toward the tail. Then do the chest, elbows and outer thighs. Here again, move in the direction of hair growth, not against the grain. For Miniature Schnauzers, continue inside the thigh. A #10 blade works well for trimming ears, the muzzle and the crown. Eyebrows can be trimmed with a pair of rounded-end scissors.

A pair of thinning shears can make short work of that wiry, coarse coat so common on the above-mentioned terriers. Combined with a good comb, you can work your way over the dense areas rapidly. Use the rounded-end scissors again to work your way around the ears, inside and out.

A wire-toothed comb will help stimulate skin, remove dead skin cells and undo tangles. Work slowly in parts that resist, then give a firm stroke to areas that cooperate. To remove really stubborn mats, use extreme caution and clip the mat away by holding it out from the skin and working the scissors in between the skin and mat. For those close to the skin, snip a small portion at a time and work the hair out gradually.

Whenever possible, perform the procedure on a table or platform. A sturdy kitchen table, well covered, is one possibility. Even a section of plywood over the bathtub, covered with a non-stick rubber mat, can help. Dog grooming tables are available for purchase.

The idea is to use a solid raised surface so you get plenty of light and can walk around to see the dog from different angles. Professional setups typically have a halter attached to the platform to prevent movement. With high-energy terriers, which is all of them, that can be a big help.

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