How to hand strip a dog
Groomers are often faced with a situation where they are running a business and need to satisfy and provide for customer requests, but also have personal and ethical considerations trying to find the best solution for their clients, their dogs and for the business.
The business of hand stripping a dog has many voices on either side of the fence. For some, it is an absolute necessity and others are up in arms saying it is animal abuse. So what is hand stripping, what is it good for and should you get it done to your dog?
What is hand stripping?
It is the technique where we pull out the guard hair by its follicle, removing the entire hair and allowing it to re-grow bright and new.
Dogs with wiry coats have a top coat that is wiry and an undercoat that is softer near the base. Once the hair of the topcoat reaches their maximum length they will start dying. They will remain loosely anchored in the hair follicle until they are manually removed or shed naturally
Stripping a coat should ideally be done with dead hair that is ready to come out. A good rule of thumb is every six months if you are going to do the entire coat in one go. A coat that is not ready to be stripped will be a lot harder to do and may hurt.
Rolling and stripping
Stripping removes all the guard hairs in one session and is done every 3-6 months. Rolling the coat is stripping routinely, every week only removing the hairs that are loose and ready to go or working in sections. In my opinion, it is the best to wait until you see that the coat is ready to blow.
Breeds that are stripped
Parson Russel Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Why do we hand strip a dog?
When we shave a coat, we technically damage the guard hair, making it grow back softer and weaker. When we hand strip, we maintain the wiry texture of a dog’s coat. The only place in today’s society where it is of utmost importance to maintain the dog’s wiry coat texture is in dog shows where dogs get judged on their coats.
In my salon, I will always recommend to my clients that unless their dog is doing professional show rings, not to bother with hand stripping. This is for a number of reasons:
- It is a time-consuming practice for the groomer. In the time you spend to strip one dog, you could have groomed two to three other dogs. You will also be more tired as it is a very intensive practice. Time=money so I would want to charge at least double the price of a normal groom.
- It costs more money to the client so by shaving their dog they cut down on grooming cost.
- It is more humane to shave and be done with it. The dog spends less time away from home, do not have to stand for two hours to be stripped and the skin pores do not get opened up leaving a chance for bacteria to enter or other skin conditions and rashes to develop.
- Not all dogs are suitable candidates that will stand still and endure a bit of discomfort. You cannot hand strip a dog that is aggressive as it will get stressed out being muzzled and pulled at for that long period of time.
Even if a dog falls within the breeds that can be hand stripped, not every dog is able to get stripped. Male dogs that have been neutered has a change in their hormones that affect their coat and my recommendation is to rather shave them.
Dogs that have been shaved before having their guard hair damaged and the re-growth will never be the same.
I will only consider taking on a client for hand stripping if that dog has been stripped ever since it has been a pup and the client understands that it will cost more and that they cannot ever shave their dog.
There are various tools for sale that you can use to help you.
Hold the hair between the knife and your thumb. Be very careful as a sharp stripping knife can cut the hair instead of pulling it out.
These are little condoms or gloves that just covers your fingertips
If the hair is very oily and you cannot get a good grip you may use chalk. If you do not have chalk at hand a sprinkle of baby powder will also do the trick
I prefer to use my fingers. It allows you to be in tune with what you are doing and there is no risk of cutting the hair.
- You use your thumb and index finger
- Take only a few guard hairs at a time
- pull them straight out using a firm but gentle motion
- do not move your wrist, the movement should come from your elbow
- always pull in the direction of the hair growth
- hold the skin in the front taunt to minimize discomfort
- if the face and ears need shaping you use a clipper and mostly blade 10
- do not bathe the dog in the same day that you have stripped