What is hand stripping?

Hand Stripping a West Highland Terrier

Every dog has different requirements when it comes to grooming, and different techniques will be more suited to some dogs than others. Experienced dog groomers will know what is best for your pup to help you care for their coat as needed. However, a common question from dog owners is what is hand stripping, and how does it differ from standard dog grooming?

Hand stripping is a grooming process to remove dead hair from a dog's coat by pulling loose hairs by hand. Instead of using the usual clippers to trim the hairs, your groomer may use a small knife-like tool or blade much akin to a lice comb for humans. They then combs the dog's coat to remove dead hair without cutting or harming the dog's coat or skin. The groomer will systematically move through your dog's fur to remove all dead hair without damaging the soft topcoat.

Does hand stripping hurt?

The process is harmless for your dog when done correctly, and the result leaves you with a nice shiny, healthy coat. It may be uncomfortable at first as it can be different from anything else they have experienced, including regular brushing at home.

Experienced groomers will allow you dog breaks and time to relax during hand stripping appointments, depending on the time it takes and the size and temperament of your dog. More than anything, the process is time and labour-intensive as it is done by hand carefully for maximum effect. While your dog won't be in pain, they may be more tired due to having this carried out.

Does my dog need hand stripping?

Typically dogs with wiry coats can benefit significantly from hand stripping instead of usual dog grooming methods. This allows the topcoat to remain intact while the wiry hairs are removed.

Not all dogs need this form of grooming. However, it can be beneficial to the following breeds:

  • Schnauzers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Wire-haired Pointers
  • Wire-haired Dachshunds
  • Border Terriers
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier

Why do these dogs need hand stripping?

Dogs that need stripping produce two types of hair: An undercoat with soft, thin fibres dense in volume and a longer topcoat and the hair fibres are thicker and wiry.

Instead of trimming the hairs, removing the soft undercoat hairs allows room for the new coat to grow in for the next growing cycle. Neglecting to remove this hair in time for the growing process will cause the hair to become thicker and darker and will negatively impact your dog's coat.

We all want our beloved pooches to be happy and healthy, and making sure they are being groomed correctly when required is a vital part of this.