Basic Equipment  / Brushes Combs Gloves /  Trimming Knives / Leads / Beds

The above shows some of the trimming/grooming equipment we have collected over the years.  We don't use all of it all of the time but we have found that some are much more useful and used more regularly than others. I have split this article into two parts one for the novice Airedale owner/non-show person and the other for those pet owners/show wannabees who want to progress and learn more and perhaps do their own hand trimming. 


Although fairly expensive a grooming table definitely has its advantages although if your 'other half'  is a DIY fanatic  you could ask them to make you a table from wood which will do the job just as well as long as it is level and robust.  Using a table makes it easier to brush your puppy as he is under control.  The grooming arm has a noose which controls the dog but of course an Airedale is an Airedale so he might decide to jump off - that is why you must not leave your dog unattended on the table at any time. The table in the photo has wheels but you don't really need these.  This particular type of table is used mainly by show going folk who need to take a lot of equipment into the show centre and this table converts into a handy trolley. 

Grooming/trolley table with arm Size 23” x 33”

Two types of nooses for the grooming bar.  One is all material with a metal slip clip and the other is plastic with sponge protector and black plastic slip clip.

Brushes, Combs and Gloves

The basic equipment  is quite simple - you need a terrier pad and a bristle brush. Two types of terrier pads are shown, one has closer pins and the other has wider spaced pins.  A good quality bristle brush. The red terrier pad can be used all over the body as can the bristle brush.  The wider toothed pinpad is better for the beard and leg hair. Some pinpads can be bought at retailers as can bristle brushes the wider spaced pinpad is generally picked up at shows (mainly club shows).

Two types of terrier pad with a bristle brush.

You need a wide toothed comb and a narrow toothed comb either individual combs or combined combs.  The photo shows a combined comb. The wide tooth end is used for the beard and leg hair and the narrow tooth for the jacket.


Although not essential a grooming glove could be useful. Three types are shown:

The white/yellow glove has one side made from plastic to remove loose hair and the other side has coarse yellow material to put a shine on the coat.

The red glove is made completely from rubber and removes loose hair.

The blue glove is made of sheepskin and puts a high gloss on the coat.

The following two items are something that, though not essential to the basic kit, are very handy to have.

Mars Coat Kings© are an excellent grooming tool relatively new to the market. They help rake dead hair out of the coat and also helps in achieving a flat coat.  It is excellent for a pet trim but needs careful use when trying to achieve the high finish of a show coat,   You use the Coat King by dragging it through the coat in a steady pulling action following the direction the coat grows.  Available through retailers and the web.

Scissors are also very useful.  You can use these to trim the hair from around the ears and underneath the ear flaps and also to trim their bottoms to keep t his area clean.  I would suggest novices buy round tipped scissors rather than pointed. Available mostly anywhere.

Of the above, the very basic equipment you will need is the Pinpad, comb and bristle brush.

The following equipment is for those who want to do their own hand trimming. 

Trimming Knives

Probably one of the most difficult areas to master - what is the best, what are the most comfortable to use, what ones do the best job, etc....  None, I am afraid, do the job on their own, you need plenty of the old fashioned elbow grease and time.  Although the latter will depend to what level of finish you want your Airedale's coat to be, tidy pet trim or show standard.  What you must remember and always be aware of is that you pull the coat from the root of the hair and not to cut it; so a sharp tool is not good and especially a sharp tool in novice hands. Knives come in different grades of teeth: very fine; fine, medium and course.

Description of the following knives:

1 and 2.         The first  two knives (white) are made by Mikki©  which when new are exceedingly sharp. Not recommended for newcomers.   However, I have blunted these down and with constant use are now very blunt.   Medium and fine toothed are pictured. The only problem I have with these is that if you drop them they break - hence the smaller one (but for me this is still relatively comfortable to use) and the longer one has been glued!. These are available in the UK and ono the web. There are other white knives with a blue band on the market called Doggyman which are made in Japan.  These are razor sharp so be careful if you opt for these. and you must make sure you blunt them before using.  

3.         The second knife is  very old and one I have had since first coming into the breed (1977).  These were made by Frank Bartlett of Nork Airedales who was an Airedale exhibitor we met when we first came into the breed and he had then been in the breed for many many years.  These were highly recommended for newcomers to the breed and to trimming. They were blunt and did not cut the coat and were safe in anyone's hands.  You had fine, medium and course.  You had to learn the basics properly as they would not let you cut any corners.  Unfortunately for those budding trimmers of today these are no longer available but if you can get secondhand ones jump at it.  

4.         This knife was given to me and I believe it was made in Russia.  It is a medium toothed knife which works well all over the coat.  It is not sharp so does not cut the coat. As I was given this I am not sure how you go about getting one, but one well worth keeping an eye out for.

5.         The following three knives are all made by Mars©: coarse toothed, medium toothed and very fine toothed.  The coarse would be used on the jacket, the medium on the flat work and the fine for detailing. When new these are too sharp and need to be blunted. They can be purchased commercially and on the web. Make sure they are not too sharp before you use them.

6.         The following three knives are Macknifes©.  They can be purchased in the UK and on the web but they originate from the USA. Blue is very fine; yellow is fine to medium and orange is the most coarse and used to  rake the dead hair from the coat. In the main I use the yellow medium to fine knife and the blue for fine detailing.  They are comfortable to use and do an excellent job. They are not sharp.


7.         The first cream knife (sorry I do not have the name) I bought many years ago and it is one of my favourites.  This does everything and gives a really good finish to the flat coat. It is a medium toothed,  very blunt and comfortable to use. The handle is made from some sort of plastic but is very durable.  I have dropped it several times and it hasn't broke yet!

8.         The yellow knife is a McClellan© (I believe they originate from the USA) which is comfortable, easy to use with a curved plastic grip and blade.  The ones with yellow handles are medium toothed;  the finer toothed has a red handle.  These are available in the UK and on the web.

9.         The next knife was given to me by the Maestro of the terrier world, Mr Ernest Sharp, who was the UK's top handler for many decades.  It has a wooden handle (now covered in tape because one of the dogs got hold of it and chewed the handle!) and is some 40-50 years old.  It is ideal for doing the flat work and detail. 

10.       The last knife (white handle) is a Hauptner©.  It is very fine and when new very sharp .  You would use this for detailing and the flat work.  You must be very careful how you use this knife to ensure that you mostly pull the hair and not cut.  I find this knife works well for several trims but the cut hair will lighten and you will need to use a blunter knife for the next trims until the mahogany coat comes back.  If you continue to use this knife for every trim the coat will get lighter and lighter. It is available commercially and on the web.

11.    A useful aid to trimming and to assist the pulling of the hair rather than cutting is finger stool.   These come in all sizes and I use one on my index finger and one on my thumb. 

12.    Also used by some to assist in gripping hair is chalk.  Block chalk is available from pet suppliers.  You rub this in the area you are working on prior to trimming and this helps to get a grip on the hair.

As you can see there are lots and lots of different types of trimming knives on the market and it is a question of finding the right one for you.


Day to day Leads


1.         This is a leather handled chain lead attached to a check chain.   I find these far too heavy and clanky and never use them.  Note however that the check chain has large oblong links.  This type of check chain is better to use than the small round linked chain as this does not break the coat.

2.         The following is one of my favourite leads.  It is made from a strong canvas material with strong plastic clips that allow it to extend to twice its length and with a collar that is easily made smaller or larger.  The chain is not heavy or intrusive.

3.         This is another of my favourite leads and one I  use the most. It is in hunter colours; made from a nylon mixture in a rope format. Soft but strong. It has leather stop which prevents the noose getting too loose and the Airedale slipping the lead. It is of a good length without being too long.  I purchased these in the USA but similar types are available in the UK and I am sure on the web.

4.         The following is a run of the mill full leather lead which you can buy anywhere in any width and most lengths. Some are flat and some are rolled leather.  The rolled leather leads and especially the collars are better and more comfortable although usually more expensive.  I find these a bit stiff and as our dogs don't where collars permanently are not for us.  The reason my dogs don't where collars at home is that this leaves an indent in the coat which is very difficult to trim out and spoils the flow of the neckline into shoulders.

Show Leads

The following is a sample of show leads which I use for Airedales and Welsh terriers. 


1.         This type of lead is a very good design but beware poor workmanship.  I bought this lead at the Amsterdam All Winners Show and at the first show back in the UK it broke.  The links attaching the chain to the leather were not soldered and therefore could not take the strain of a dog bouncing up and down.  I bought two leads and both were the same.  Fortunately, Gus managed to solder new links on and now the leads are very strong.  I did try testing them before I bought them but there is nothing like an Airedale finding the weakest link!  Comes in brown, black and cream possibly other colours as well.

2.         If you have a powerful dog (especially a male who thinks he owns the ring and every other male should leave it!) this can be a good lead to give you more control.. This is a black check chain with very small links (you can also get gold and silver) with a small but strong clip on  the lead. The lead is made of a webbing cord.  I have had this lead for years and although I do not use it all the time it does help when you get a male who is feeling his feet and not paying attention and helps keep him under control.

3.         The following lead is made of all leather with a pivot connector which stops the lead twisting.  Although not one I use often it is suitable for Airedale bitches and Welsh.

4.         This lead is one of the most popular.  It is made from strong black nylon material which is very flexible and easily folds up into the hands if need be.  The collar is made of the same material and is connected to the lead by a chain which is well made and the connecting rings are soldered and strong.  The collar is made of the same material, is adjustable and we can use them on both the Airedales and the Welsh.  Comes in a variety of colours.

5.         This lead I find difficult to use.  It is made of a nice material, strong and flexible.  The collar is adjustable by a ring which is kept in place  by a  metal cuff.  Unfortunately I find that the metal cuff does not do the job properly and the ring moves up which makes a bigger noose from which the dog can escape and once a dog has learnt this trick he will try it with every lead!  Can be used on either Welsh or Airedales - but with caution. Comes in a variety of colours.

6.       I bought the following leads in Australia.  They are made out of parachute cord and are very strong.  Colours brown and black. I bought these mainly for the Welsh as although they will hold an Airedale I think they are too thin and would not be comfortable for the Airedale.

7.         This is another popular lead. Black (although comes in many colours) material with a noose that is controlled by a clip which slides up and down depending on how big you want the noose to be. Not one that I use often


There are many many many beds on the market conventional and otherwise and in many colours. From bean bags, to plastic ones, canvas etc.  I would just say the majority are not suitable for Airedales and even those that are would be chewable by Airedales! You will no doubt go through several types of beds and bedding before you find the one that is Airedale proof and when you do please let the rest of us know!

However there is one 'bed' that will see an Airedale throughout its life and  that is the 'crate' or 'indoor kennel'. These are a great aid in helping to get your puppy housetrained.  It is also a marvellous place to put your puppy out of harms way when you don't want him underfoot.  It is also good to be able to put him somewhere safe when visitors first arrive. He also knows that if he goes there under his own steam he will not be bothered and can have a nice quiet undisturbed nap .  The following crate is the smallest size you should buy.  Although big for a puppy he will soon grow into it.  Providing you don't use it as a punishment he will happily go into it and with a comfortable bed (e.g. something .washable like a Vetbed©, Snugrug©, or duvet, blankets etc) he will be very happy especially if he has a chew.   We leave the door open and our girl goes in and out at will and at night when she has had enough of TV she goes in, lays down and waits for her bedtime biscuits.

This crate is 23" wide x 27" high x 33" long.- when folded about 4" in depth. It has two doors 1 at the end and 1 at the side, which makes it versatile in its positioning.

I hope you find the above useful and gives you some ideas of what you need.  The items shown on this page are a reflection of my experience with different tools and equipment, other people might have different views. As the years have gne by there asre many many more tools and updated equipment far too many to post here. Do your research and ask for advice on the best and newest tools which asre not alway better than the old equipment relied on for many years.