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Hand Stripping vs Clipping : Which Is Right for Your Dog's Coat?

Updated: 2 days ago

Are you unsure whether hand stripping or clipping is the right grooming method for your dog's coat?

You're not alone. When it comes to maintaining a dog's coat, it's essential to choose the right technique to ensure their coat remains healthy and beautiful. In this article, we will explore the differences between hand stripping and clipping, helping you make an informed decision which is right for your dog's coat.

a man hand stripping a pet.
It is not difficult to learn hand stripping.

Hand stripping involves removing dead or loose guard hairs from the dog's coat by hand. It is commonly used for breeds with wiry or coarse fur like Terriers or Spaniels. On the other hand, clipping involves using dog grooming clippers to clip the coat to a desired length. This method is often preferred by groomers, because it is easier and faster.

We will delve into the benefits and drawbacks of both methods, helping you understand which technique is best suited for your dog's coat. By the end, you'll have the knowledge you need to make the right choice and keep your dog looking their best. So, let's get started!

Understanding the different between hand stripping vs clipping

Before we dive into the details of hand stripping and clipping, it's important to understand the different coat types that dogs can have. There are various coat types, including wiry, coarse, soft, and dense.

Different breeds have different coat textures, and each requires specific grooming techniques to maintain their coat's health and appearance.

Breeds with wiry or coarse fur, such as Terriers or Spaniels, are typically the best candidates for hand stripping. This technique involves removing dead or guard hairs from the dog's coat by hand. On the other hand, breeds with soft or dense fur, such as Poodles or Cockapoo's are better suited for clipping. Clipping involves using dog grooming clippers to clip the coat to a desired length.

Pros and cons of hand stripping

Hand stripping offers several benefits for dogs with wiry or coarse fur. Hand stripping is normally done before bathing, and by removing dead hair manually, hand stripping allows new, healthy hair to grow and promotes a natural appearance. Additionally, hand stripping can help prevent matting and tangling of the fur, which can lead to discomfort and skin issues.

a woman hand stripping a terrier
Grasp a little hair at a time between your finger and thumb and pull.

However, hand stripping does have some drawbacks. It can be a time-consuming process, requiring patience and skill. It may also be uncomfortable for some dogs, as the process involves pulling out dead hair from the roots. It's essential to ensure that your dog is comfortable and relaxed during hand stripping to avoid any unnecessary stress or pain.

Pros and cons of clipping

Clipping, on the other hand, offers its own set of advantages. One of the main benefits is that it's a much quicker grooming method compared to hand stripping. Clipping can also help manage the length of the coat more easily, allowing you to achieve a specific look or style. Additionally, clipping is generally less uncomfortable for dogs, as it does not involve pulling hair from the roots.

However, clipping may not be suitable for all coat types. For dogs with wiry or coarse coat, such as the Border Terrier, clipping will ruin the coat. For this breed it is essential to strip out this type of coat by hand twice a year, otherwise the dog develops a shapeless appearance.

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 all of the tie rather than just twice a year.

How to hand strip a dog's coat

If you've decided that hand stripping is the right grooming method for your dog, here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Ensure your dog is calm and relaxed before beginning the hand stripping process.

2. Use your fingers or a stripping knife to gently remove dead or loose hair from the coat, working in the direction of hair growth.

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

4. Take breaks if needed and reward your dog with treats or praise for their patience during the grooming session. Be sure only to take a few hairs out at a time, as pulling large clumps will cause pain and distress.

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

6. Regularly check your dog's coat for any signs of matting or tangling and address them promptly.

7. Always keep the skin taut as the hair is stripped our

Remember, hand stripping can be a time-consuming process, so it's important to set aside enough time and be patient with your dog throughout the grooming session.

How to clip a dog's coat

If you've determined that clipping is the best grooming method for your dog, here are some steps to help you achieve a neat and well-maintained coat:

1. Start by selecting the appropriate clipper blade length based on the desired length of your dog's fur.

2. Ensure the clippers are clean and well-maintained to provide a smooth and even cut.

3. Begin clipping in the direction of hair growth, moving the clippers gently and steadily over your dog's coat.

4. Take care around sensitive areas such as the face, ears, and paws, using caution to avoid any accidents.

5. Regularly check the length of the fur and make any necessary adjustments to achieve the desired look.

A groomer clipping a terrier coat.
A lack of good training, means dogs are clipped and stripped.

It's important to note that different breeds may require specific clipper techniques or blade lengths. To discover what blade lengths you require for your breed, go to Essential Guide To Clipper Blades

Consulting with a professional groomer or researching breed-specific grooming tips can help ensure you achieve the best results.

Factors to consider when choosing between hand stripping and clipping

When deciding between hand stripping and clipping, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, you need to assess the dog's coat type and determine which technique is more suitable. If your dog has wiry or coarse coat, hand stripping is likely the better choice. If your dog has soft or dense fur, clipping may be more appropriate.

Secondly, consider your dog's temperament and comfort level. Some dogs may not tolerate the hand stripping process well and may be more at ease with clipping. It's important to prioritise the dog's well-being and choose a grooming method that they are comfortable with.

Lastly, think about your own grooming skills and availability. Hand stripping requires more time, patience, and skill compared to clipping. If you are confident in your ability to hand strip or are willing to learn, it can be a rewarding grooming technique. However, if you prefer a quicker and easier grooming method, clipping may be the better option for you.

Always remember: Hand-stripped breeds will need attention to their coats from about the age of three months, when the coat begins to stand off in a frizz or halo. This fluff can be removed fairly easily by hand, using finger and thumb. For more techniques go to A beginners Guide To Hand Stripping

Frequently asked questions about hand stripping and clipping

1. Is hand stripping painful for dogs?

Hand stripping can be slightly uncomfortable for dogs, as it involves pulling out dead hair from the roots. However, when done correctly and with proper care, it should not cause significant pain or distress to the dog.

2. Can any breed be hand stripped?

While hand stripping is commonly used for breeds with wiry or coarse fur, not all dogs are suitable candidates. Some breeds have coats that are better maintained through other grooming methods such as clipping or brushing.

3. How often should I hand strip or clip my dog's coat?

The frequency of hand stripping or clipping will depend on your dog's specific coat type and how quickly their hair grows. Consulting with a professional groomer or veterinarian can help determine the appropriate grooming schedule for your dog.

4. Can I hand strip or clip my dog's coat at home?

Hand stripping and clipping can both be done at home, but it's important to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools. If you're unsure or inexperienced, it's recommended to seek the assistance of a professional groomer.


Choosing between hand stripping and clipping can be a challenging decision when it comes to grooming a dog's coat. Understanding the dog's specific coat type, considering their comfort and temperament, and assessing your own grooming skills are all important factors to take into account.

By making an informed decision and using the proper techniques, you can ensure your dog's coat remains healthy and beautiful. Whether you opt for hand stripping or clipping, regular grooming sessions will keep your dog's coat looking their best.

Remember, if you're uncertain about any aspect of grooming, it's always best to consult with a professional groomer or veterinarian who can provide personalised advice and guidance. Happy grooming!

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