Irish Terriers have a double coat; a dense thick under coat, and a harsh outer coat. Coats vary in texture. According to the standard, the "broken coat" is the only correct coat. There are also smooth coats, flat coats, open coats, curly coats, wavy coats, soft coats, and pick out coats.
The preferred method of grooming an Irish Terrier is called stripping. "To strip" means plucking out the dead hair of the outer coat. It is not hard to learn, and isn't painful to the dog. It's done with the use of the forefinger and the thumb, or with a dull stripping knife. If you're a novice, I suggest FIRST learning to strip your dog only with your forefinger and thumb. There is an art to using a stripping knife. If it isn't used correctly, you may end up "cutting" the coat rather than stripping it.
Stripping should be done approximately 3 to 4 times a year (depending on the type of coat), starting at about 5 months of age. The coarser the coat, the easier it is to strip.
Many groomers will not strip a coat... because it's time consuming... and not cost effective for them. If you do find a groomer experienced at this, expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 or so, depending on your location.
Clipping (or clippering) a coat (which some pet homes choose to do) causes the loss of the red tips of the hair shaft, consequently diminishing the rich vibrant color. Clipping also causes the coat to lose its natural waterproofing quality, and to grow in somewhat softer.
A "show" stripping is done differently than a pet stripping, in that it's done in a period of stages. Below is a fairly simple grooming chart. In show condition, the Irish Terrier is not supposed to carry much hair on the head or the sides of the neck. They should have a bit more on the back of the neck, and more still on the back, sides, and quarters. Therefore, when we begin to strip them, we start with the back, sides, and quarters, and work our way forward... both physically, and in time.
At the time we strip the first stage, we also strip a SLIGHT hole at the base of the neck, where it joins the shoulder. If we leave more than 4 days between the stages, the separation (between the stages) shows up as a gold line across their red jacket.
It takes about 10 weeks to grow a prime coat....and you want the jacket to be about 14 weeks or older before you try to strip it again. You want it to be long enough to come out easily.
The trick to trimming the legs and face is to trim them every 3 weeks. By doing that often, you will rotate the hair and develop a multi-layer column of hair...short hair to give it color, medium length hair to give it support, and long hair to give it fullness. The rectum area and the bottom of the feet get scissored. The belly should be done with an electric clipper.
1 - Date X
2 - Date X + 4 days
3 - Date X + 8 days
4 - Date X + 12 days
5 - Date X + 16 days