Grooming a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier

Grooming a Cairn Terrier is an important part of maintaining his health. Dogs that are groomed on a regular basis are less likely to have skin irritations and other problems.

Tools You Will Need

There are several items that you will need to have on hand before you begin grooming your Cairn Terrier.

  • Coat conditioner
  • Cotton balls
  • Double sided dental tool
  • Ear cleaner solution
  • Nail clippers
  • Paper towel
  • Pin brush
  • Scissors
  • Stripping knife

Grooming a Cairn Terrier on Schedule

You can actually keep your dog in excellent shape by following a grooming schedule. This will ensure that you handle mats and tangles while they are still small and don't end up with an overwhelming amount of grooming to do all in one day.

If you begin grooming your dog when he is a puppy, it will be easier to do it later on. He will be used to the process and less likely to struggle.

Weekly Grooming

Once a week you should check your dog thoroughly for skin irritations and other problems that may come up.

  1. Clip your dog's nails to a short length. If you haven't clipped them in a long time and they are very long, you should only clip the tips to avoid cutting the quick.
  2. Spray coat conditioner all over your Cairn's coat and brush it in. Using the pin brush, move against the grain of the hair and then brush the hair down in the direction of the grain. The hair of the head should be brushed forward.
  3. Brush your dog's teeth at this time as well.

Bi-Weekly Grooming Chores

It is important that you do a thorough grooming twice a month.

  1. Use a stripping knife and your fingers to remove the long hairs from the coat and thin out the hair on the neck.
  2. Strip off any extra hair around the feet, and use scissors to trim the hair between the foot pads and toes.
  3. Trim the hair all the way around the foot.
  4. Carefully trim the hair off the top of the ear, and then trim any long hair to create a sharp outline.
  5. With the help of an assistant, very carefully trim the hair around the anus, sheath of the penis or vulva. This is an important factor in keeping these areas clean and bacteria free. These areas are very prone to matting as well.
  6. Trim the hair on the inner legs where they connect with the body. This area mats easily and is a sensitive area to groom.
  7. Spray your dog with coat conditioner and brush it out with the pin brush.
  8. Clean the inside of the ears with the cleaner and cotton balls.

Once a Month

Once a month, take the double sided dental tool and scrape the tartar and plaque from your pet's teeth. Dip the tool in alcohol to disinfect it as you are using it.Draining the anal glands is no fun, but it is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and comfortable. The anal sacs are on either side of the anus, and they fill will a fluid that has a nasty odor. You may even see your dog drag himself along a carpet or the ground if his anal glands are bothering him.

In order to drain the glands you will need to lift the tail with one hand. Hold a paper towel over the anus and use your finger and thumb to squeeze in toward the anus. This will release the fluid, sometimes with a bit of force, so be ready with the paper towel. You may then want to wipe your dog down with a baby wipe to handle any bacteria or lingering smell.

If your dog is older or has had problems with impacted glands in the past, you may need to empty the glands more often.

Removing Mats

Although with some other breeds of dogs you may remove mats by cutting them even with the body, you should not do this when grooming a Cairn Terrier. You can end up nicking the skin or making a bald spot on your dog.

The best way to remove mats on a Cairn Terrier is to carefully slide scissors between the body of the dog and the mat. Make short snips up toward the main portion of the mat. This is slow work, but you should eventually be able to get the entire mat out without leaving a bare spot or cutting your dog's skin. Just be sure you always keep the points of the scissors away from the dog.


Before you gebegin your grooming project, you may want to view a slideshow of Cairn Terriers to get an idea of how a groomed Cairn should look.

Grooming a Cairn Terrier