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What Is Hand Stripping in Dog Grooming? Pros, Cons & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

Professional groomer handstripping a West Highland Terrier

What Is Hand Stripping in Dog Grooming? Pros, Cons & FAQ

The practice of hand stripping is relatively unknown to most pet owners. Due to its decline in popularity, most groomers do not offer this service. If you do find a groomer that provides it, you may find hand stripping to be a lot more expensive than clipping. Hand stripping is a dog grooming technique that is used to remove dead hair from the coat and promote new growth.

So, what is hand stripping? And is it worth it? Find out more below!

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How Does It Work?

The process can be performed with either a stripping tool or stone, or with bare fingers, and it is typically carried out on breeds with wire coats.

When hand stripping, the person doing the grooming will start at the base of the neck and work their way down your dog’s back, sides, and legs. The objective is to remove as much dead hair as possible while being careful not to damage the live hair or sensitive skin underneath. This process can be time-consuming, but it is worth it in the long run to ensure the health of your dog’s coat. In order to strip the coat correctly, you will need to use the correct tools, on the correct breed of dog, with the correct technique!

What Is the Difference Between Stripping and Clipping a Dog?

When it comes to grooming your dog, you may be wondering what the difference is between stripping and clipping their fur. Stripping is a process of removing dead hair from the undercoat of your dog, while clipping is a way of trimming their fur to the desired length.

So, why would you want to strip or clip your dog’s fur? Well, stripping is often done in order to help regulate your dog’s body temperature. This is because the undercoat of your dog helps insulate them from both hot and cold weather. Clipping, on the other hand, is typically done for aesthetic reasons. Some people prefer to keep their dog’s fur short and clipped for easier maintenance. Ultimately, the decision of whether to strip or clip your dog’s fur comes down to both personal preference and your willingness to invest time and money in your dog’s coat and skin health.

dog grooming
Image Credit: Glikiri, Shutterstock

What Tools Are Used in Hand Stripping?

The tools that are used in hand stripping are a stripping knife or stone, a comb, and a brush. The stripping knife or stone is used to loosen the dead hair from the coat and make it easier to remove. The comb is used to remove the loose hair from the coat, and the brush is used to smooth out the coat and remove any remaining loose hair.

What Breeds Can Benefit the Most From Hand Stripping Instead of Clipping?

While there are many benefits to clipping a dog’s coat, there are some breeds that can benefit more from hand stripping. Breeds that have coarse, wiry coats are typically the best candidates for hand stripping.

If you’re unsure if hand stripping is right for your dog, consult with your groomer or veterinarian.

dog grooming
Image Credit: Aleksandr Tarlõkov, Pixabay

Advantages of Hand Stripping

As we have seen, because of their breed genetics, some dogs do not shed their hair in the usual way. Because these dogs do not shed their undercoat like most other dogs, they need to have their coats hand-stripped. If the undercoat is never removed, this can create multiple problems for the dog. Hand stripping removes these trapped dead hairs from your dog’s coat to promote new growth and the benefits of hand stripping include a healthier coat, less shedding, and a better appearance.

Hair Growth in Wiry Coats

Hair growth in wiry coats goes through four stages: anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen. The anagen phase is the growth phase, during which the hair follicle grows, and the hair shaft lengthens. The catagen phase is a transitional phase in which the hair follicle shrinks. The telogen phase is the resting phase, during which the hair follicle does not grow or produce new hair. The exogen phase is the shedding phase, during which the old hair shaft fully detaches from the hair follicle and new hair begins to grow.

In the exogen phase, the dog’s hair can be hand stripped without causing the dog any harm or distress, as the hair roots have detached from the skin that holds them in place.

brushing white dog's fur
Image Credit: Chewy

Disadvantages of Hand Stripping

There are a number of factors that may make hand stripping less appealing. The first and most obvious is the lack of time. Hand stripping takes a considerable amount of time, and many dog owners simply don’t have the hours required to do it properly.

Another factor is the cost. If you don’t have the time or patience to hand-strip yourself, calling in professional help is your only option. Hand stripping can be expensive, especially if you need to have it done regularly. Some dog owners may not be able to afford the ongoing costs.

Finally, some dogs simply don’t tolerate hand stripping well. It can be uncomfortable for them, they may not have the temperament to keep still, and they may not respond well to the process. If your dog doesn’t seem to be enjoying it, it’s probably best to leave it to the professionals.

However, as we have seen, clipping is not a good grooming solution for wire-haired dogs, and nothing can truly replace the benefits of hand-stripping for your best friend.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Makes Hand Stripping the Best Grooming Method for Wire-Haired Dogs?

The goal of hand stripping is to target the older hairs in their exogen phase of growth. It is easy to pull out these older hairs, allowing new, stronger hairs to grow in their place. By doing this, your dog’s coat will be more full-bodied, and shinier, and their color will be more vibrant. The method is preferred over clipping or scissor cutting since they simply cut off old dull hairs rather than removing them.

This prevents fresh, new hairs from growing through. Because the dog’s skin can’t breathe properly, this method can lead to skin conditions, which ultimately affect the texture, color, and overall appearance of the dog’s coat. If you don’t remove the hair and simply cut it short, the skin can actually grow over the hair-clogged pores.

In the most severe cases, you might not be able to hand strip in the future if you clip your wire-haired dog’s coat. The overall kinder method of grooming your pet is hand stripping. By hand-stripping your dog instead of clipping them down, you can address all of these problems.

What Are the Risks Involved With Hand Stripping? Does Hand Stripping Hurt Dogs?

When it comes to grooming your dog, you may be tempted to try hand stripping, and while there is no doubt it can be an effective way to remove dead hair and promote new growth, there are some risks involved when giving it a go at home.

One of the biggest dangers of hand stripping is that you could accidentally injure your dog. If you use a sharp tool to strip away the coat, you can easily break the skin if you’re not careful. In addition, the process can be painful for your dog if not done correctly.

Why Can Hand Stripping Be So Expensive?

The process is very hands-on, as mentioned previously. Dog groomers don’t have a machine that they can use to speed up this task. When you book your pooch in for a hand stripping, the groomer is literally raking over every hair on your dog’s body and removing the undercoat, section by section. This technique takes much more labor and skill than their other services.

Grooming a little dog in a hair salon for dogs. Beautiful white poodle
Image Credit: GuruXOX, Shutterstock

What Tools Can I Use to Hand Strip at Home?

When it comes to hand stripping your dog, you want to make sure you are using the best tools available. The Furminator is a type of hand-stripping tool that can be used at home. It helps to remove dead and loose hair from your dog’s coat, leaving it looking shiny and healthy. The Furminator also stimulates the growth of new hair follicles, which can help to thicken your dog’s coat.

Tips for Hand Stripping

pet owner brushing his dog's fur
Image Credit: dimid_86, Shutterstock

If you are going to give hand stripping a try yourself at home, here are our tips to make the process go better. There is no pain involved in the process of hand stripping if it is executed correctly, and many dogs enjoy it when it is properly performed.

Hand stripping can be made easier and more effective by employing the following methods:
  • Follow the growth direction of the hair.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the skin.
  • Only pluck the longer hairs, usually measuring between 2 and 5 centimeters.
  • Adding more grip with fingercots or chalk powder is a good idea. Hand stripping is much easier when chalk powder is applied to the coat first! Chalk powder absorbs sebum from the coat and helps you grip the hair better.
  • Only remove a few hairs at a time, working in a steady rhythm.
  • Stripping knives should not be used excessively—only use them to ease the hair pulling, not to cut or shred the individual hairs.

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In conclusion, hand stripping is a dog grooming technique that is used to remove dead hair from the coat in order to promote new growth. The process is done with your fingers or by using a stripping knife or stone to gently remove the hair. It is important to be careful when performing this technique so as not to damage the coat or cause discomfort to the dog.

This process can be time-consuming and requires some patience, but it will result in a healthy coat and a happy dog.

Featured Image Credit: Fishermanittiologico, Shutterstock

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