Dog Grooming And Coat Care: What Is Hand Stripping?

Hand stripping is one of the various different techniques that can be used to groom a dog’s coat, and which is designed to manage coats of a certain type and to produce the desired appearance of the coat of some dog breeds.

Hand stripping contrasts with clipping and trimming the coat because as the term implies, it means working the coat by hand. This can be quite labour intensive, particularly for larger dogs, and it is quite an involved process.

If you’re not quite sure what hand stripping is or if this is the type of grooming method that would be appropriate for your own dog, this article will explain what it is, how it is performed, and what type of dogs might be hand stripped as part of grooming them.

Read on to learn all about hand stripping and how it works.

What is hand stripping?

Hand stripping is a way to remove loose, shed hair from a dog’s coat, removing all of the shed hair from root to tip rather than simply shearing or clipping the coat down as is the case when trimming or clipping the coat.

At its simplest, hand stripping simply means using one’s fingers to pluck loose and shed hair out of the coat, and in dog breeds that shed heavily and blow their coats twice a year, hand stripping can be an important part of keeping their shedding under control and clearing away loose hair.

Hand stripping is also a common method of keeping the coats of low shedding dog breeds neat and healthy, as it removes shed hair that becomes trapped and tangled in the remainder of the coat.

Hand stripping can also be performed with a special grooming tool called a stripping knife, and this isn’t strictly speaking a knife but more of a flat, blunt edged blade that helps to lift and catch loose hairs from the coat and remove them.

When a dog is hand stripped to produce a certain finish rather than simply to remove loose and shed hair, the top coat may be removed or thinned to leave the softer, more plush undercoat behind. The process involves pulling or plucking out loose hairs using fingers or the stripping knife, taking care not to tug on the skin or make the process uncomfortable for the dog.

What sort of dog coats are hand stripped?

Hand stripping is the most widely accepted or common professional grooming option for the breed standard for a number of dog breeds, and it is also performed on dogs of other breeds in some situations too.

Spaniels and terriers, particularly rough or wire coated terriers, are commonly hand stripped and there are a number of advantages to hand stripping rough or wire-haired dogs over clipping them. Clipping wiry or rough fur with grooming clippers can cause the very tips of the top coat’s hairs to lose their rough texture, which causes the coat to look dull and doesn’t show the dog’s colouring to its full effect.

Because hand stripping removes the full length of each hair rather than just shearing off the ends, this can be avoided.

Some of the most commonly hand stripped dog breeds include the Scottish terrier, Border terrier, and miniature Schnauzer.

Is hand stripping comfortable for the dog?

There is a reasonable amount of debate over hand stripping in terms of how it should be performed and how comfortable it is for the dogs themselves.

It cannot be denied that hand stripping that is incorrectly performed is painful and uncomfortable for dogs, but this should not be the case assuming that the process is performed with the proper care and attention, and by someone who understands how to do it.

Hand stripping is designed to work hairs out of the coat that have already been shed, and to remove hairs that are still rooted but loose enough to be pulled out with gentle pressure that won’t cause the dog discomfort.

However, trying to pluck out too much hair at a time, tugging too hard or otherwise being too speedy or rough when hand stripping can result in pulling out hairs that are not ready to be shed, and this hurts – just as it hurts us if we manage to pull out one of our own rooted hairs.

Additionally, hand stripping is widely used on dog breeds with low shedding coats. Coats of this type still shed hair, but most of this hair becomes tangled up in the rest of the coat rather than being dropped around the house. Hand stripping is used to work tangled and shed hairs out of the remainder of the coat and again, this must be undertaken with care to avoid pulling on the fur.

Just as you wouldn’t attempt to run a brush through your own hair if it was knotted, so too should you be careful when hand stripping to avoid tugging on the hair or pulling on knots and mats.

Hand stripping is most commonly performed by professional dog groomers, and if you wish to hand strip your own dog at home it is wise to learn how to do it properly under the eye of a professional until you are competent enough to perform a hand strip without distressing your dog.

If you own a young puppy of a breed that is commonly hand stripped and you are planning to have them hand stripped as adults, it is a good idea to get them used to the process and ensure that it is a good, comfortable experience for them while they are still young. This will help to ensure that they enjoy their grooming sessions and are easier to groom as adults.


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