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A Beginner's Guide to Hand Stripping in Dog Grooming: What You Need to Know.

Updated: Jan 14

Are you a dog owner or aspiring groomer looking to take your grooming skills to the next level? Hand stripping might be just the technique you need to learn. In this beginner's guide, we will walk you through a beginner's guide to hand stripping in dog grooming.

Hand stripping is a method of removing dead hair from the coat by hand, rather than using clippers or scissors. It is commonly used on wire-haired breeds like the Scottish Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier to maintain their unique coat texture and colour.

In this article, we will cover the benefits of hand stripping and why it is essential for certain breeds. We will also guide you through the step-by-step process of hand stripping, including tools you'll need and techniques to master. Additionally, we'll provide tips for proper aftercare to keep your dog's coat in prime condition.

By the end of this guide, you'll have a complete understanding of hand stripping and be equipped with the knowledge to give your dog a professional-quality grooming. Let's get started!

If you ever watch Crufts and admire the beautiful elegant breeds, such as the English or Irish Setter they should never be clipped all over their body, or it will encourage the hair to curl into a mass and destroy the wonderful sleek, silky appearance of the coat.

The required natural looking coat, such as that of the Border Terrier would be ruined by clipping because the softer undercoat takes over from the more coarser topcoat. It is essential to strip out this type of coat by hand twice a year. If he doesn't he will start to feel hot, uncomfortable and itchy. It is much better if the dog is hand stripped every six to eight weeks. This way, there is less hair loss and the dog remains smart.

The benefits of hand stripping

There are several benefits to hand stripping for both the dog and the groomer. Firstly, hand stripping helps to maintain the texture and color of wire-haired coats. The process of plucking dead hair allows new hair to grow in its place, which helps to preserve the breed's characteristic coat appearance.

Hand stripping also allows groomers to remove dead hair at the root, resulting in a longer-lasting groom. Unlike clipping or scissoring, which only trims the hair at the surface, hand stripping ensures a thorough removal of dead hair, leaving the coat looking clean and tidy. Additionally, hand stripping can be a bonding experience between the dog and the groomer. The process requires the groomer to spend more time with the dog, which can help build trust and strengthen the grooming relationship.

Beginners guide to hand stripping tools and equipment

Before you start hand stripping, it's important to have the right tools and equipment. Here are some essential items you'll need: 1. Stripping knives: These specialised tools come in various sizes and shapes to cater to different coat types and lengths. It's important to choose a stripping knife that is appropriate for your dog's breed and coat condition. Usually a blue handle knife is for the body and the red handle is for the head area. 2. Thinning shears: Thinning shears are used to blend in the hand-stripped areas with the rest of the coat. They help create a seamless transition between the stripped and unstripped areas. 3. Grooming table: A sturdy grooming table with a non-slip surface is essential to keep your dog safe and secure during the hand stripping process. It should be at a comfortable height for you to work on the dog without straining your back. 4. Grooming loop: A grooming loop is used to secure the dog to the grooming table, ensuring their safety and preventing them from jumping off during the grooming session. 5. Slicker brush: A slicker brush is useful for brushing out the coat before and after hand stripping. It helps remove loose hair and tangles, making the hand stripping process more effective.

Preparing the dog for hand stripping

Before you begin hand stripping, it's important to prepare the dog's coat and skin. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Brush out the coat: Start by using a slicker brush to remove any tangles and mats from the coat. This will make the hand stripping process easier and more effective.

2. Bathe the dog: Give the dog a thorough bath using a high-quality dog shampoo. This will help remove any dirt or debris from the coat, making it easier to hand strip.

3. Dry the coat: After bathing, make sure to dry the dog's coat completely before starting the hand stripping process. A high-velocity dryer can help speed up the drying process.

Step-by-step guide to hand stripping

1. Lift a small section at a time, grasp a small amount of hair between the thumb and finger, and extract the loose hairs from each part with a quick, jerking movement.

2. Be sure only to take a few hairs out at a time, as pulling large clumps will cause pain and distress.

3. Always follow the direction in which the hair grows.

4. Keep the skin taut as the hair is stripped out.

a beginners guide to hand stripping dog
Allows follow the direction in which the hair grows

To make it easier, many people find using a dog stripping tool such as a thinning knife, rather than the finger and thumb a better option. The knife used is a blunt one rather than a blade that could cut the coat. It is advisable to use a serrated-edged knife.

Note: the knife and hair need to be pulled straight back and not flipped at the wrist

Hand stripped breeds will need attention to their coats from the age of three months, when the coat begins to stand off in a fizz. This fluff can be removed easily by hand, using the finger and thumb. Underneath the fizz there will be a new hair, which will look tidy and which will last the pup until he is about seven months old. When the long hairs starts to form a natural parting and fall into clumps, it is ready for dog hair stripping.

Tips for a successful hand stripping session

Hand stripping can be a challenging technique to master, but with practice and the right approach, you can achieve great results. Here are some tips to help you have a successful hand stripping session:

1. Take breaks: Hand stripping can be tiring for both you and your dog. Take short breaks during the grooming session to give both of you a chance to rest and recharge.

2. Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats and praise throughout the hand stripping process. This will help keep them calm and cooperative.

3. Be patient: Hand stripping takes time and practice. Don't rush the process and be patient with yourself and your dog. Over time, you will become more skilled and efficient.

4. Seek professional guidance: If you're new to hand stripping, it can be helpful to seek guidance from a professional groomer. They can provide valuable tips and techniques to improve your hand stripping skills.

Hand stripping vs. other grooming methods

Hand stripping is just one of many grooming methods available, and it's important to understand the differences between them. Here's a comparison of hand stripping with other grooming methods:

- Clipping: Clipping involves using electric clippers to trim the coat to a desired length. It is quick and efficient but may not be suitable for all breeds, especially wire-haired breeds that require hand stripping for coat maintenance. - Scissoring: Scissoring involves using grooming shears to trim the coat to a desired shape. It requires skill and precision but may not be as effective as hand stripping for removing dead hair and maintaining coat texture. - Furmination: Furmination is a grooming technique that uses a specialised tool to remove loose hair from the coat. While it can be effective for reducing shedding, it is not a substitute for hand stripping when it comes to maintaining the unique characteristics of wire-haired breeds. Nor is it good in an uneducated hand.

Hand stripping dogs coat.
Hand Stripped Breeds will Need Stripping from3 months.

Common mistakes to avoid in hand stripping

When hand stripping, it's important to be aware of common mistakes that can affect the quality of the groom. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

1. Over-plucking: Plucking too much hair at once can cause discomfort and even pain to the dog. Work in small sections and pluck only the dead hair, leaving the healthy hair intact.

2. Improper technique: It's important to learn the correct hand stripping technique for your dog's breed. Each breed may require a slightly different approach, so do your research and seek guidance if needed.

3. Neglecting aftercare: After hand stripping, it's important to provide proper aftercare to keep the coat in prime condition. This includes regular brushing, bathing, and conditioning to maintain the coat's texture and colour.

4. Not seeking professional help when needed: If you're unsure about hand stripping or encounter any difficulties, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A professional groomer can provide guidance and ensure a successful hand stripping session.

Adult Strips

In the adult dog, where hand stripping is required, this is best done at natural shedding time. Before stripping the coat, the dog should be thoroughly brushed, and combed with a fine tooth comb. Start the stripping of dog hair from the head and work downwards, being careful not to strip out the soft undercoat. After hand stripping the dog, the knife can be run through the coat to remove the loose undercoat.

Hand Strip Breeds Fox Terrier

Airedale Terrier

Cairn Terrier Schnauzer Scottish Terrier Irish Wolfhound Airedale Terrier Dandie Dinmont Terrier German Wire haired Pointer Wire haired Dachshund

Some dogs hate being hand stripped, especially on their tails. They can get distressed enough to misbehave or even snap. The dog is hand stripped to retain its natural coat, but how important is this? Certainly not enough to stress the dog unduly. If a dog is stressed because of hand stripping, it is best not to do it. Often parts of the dog, such as the back, can be hand stripped while the tail is blended in with thinners or scissors, and maybe even clippers!


Hand stripping is a valuable technique for maintaining the unique coat texture and color of wire-haired breeds. By following the step-by-step guide and using the right tools, you can achieve professional-quality results at home.

Remember to be patient, practice regularly, and seek guidance when needed. With time and dedication, you'll become a skilled hand stripper and provide your dog with the grooming they deserve. So go ahead, take your grooming skills to the next level with hand stripping!

For products on hand stripping, please click this link.

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