Hand Stripping the Wire or Broken Coated Dog
BIS CH. McVan's Stamp
of Approval of Jovial
"Sammy" Owned by Dr. Vandra Huber McVan Scotties
Q I am the owner of a
wire coated breed. The grooming shop asked me if I
wanted her hand stripped or just cut. I said
"just cut" because I was too embarrassed to ask
my question, WHAT IS IT WHEN A DOG IS HAND STRIPPED?
The dead hair is pulled out,
instead of cutting the hair with clippers, so a new wire can coat grow
in. Q Ouch. Doesn't
pulling the hair hurt?
It does not hurt, they may not like it, but it is not
painful when done properly. Wire hair is not attached
like our own hair or breeds with other types of coats. Many of my
terriers like it.
Unlike some purists I do clip my dogs tender spots, like bellies,
instead of stripping,
even for show dogs.
Q Which, between
clipping and handstripping, will keep the coat wiry?
Stripping maintains a proper wire coat, while
clipping makes it soft and ruins the texture. It grows thicker and soft
and often the color will change.
Q My dog is just a
pet, should she be hand stripped like show dogs? Absolutely if
it important to you to maintain the proper breed look. It is very hard to
imitate that look on many wire coated
breeds if you clip them. However it will do no real harm for pets if
you do not care about that look.
Q I really think just a clip might
suffice for my pet. Is there a best way to clip a wire coat?
It really helps with wire
breeds in pet clips to 'rake' out dead coat and/or strip a
little coat before and after using the clippers. It is not as good as
hand stripping, but does help maintain a little of the texture..
the clip a little long, use a longer blade or ask your professional
petgroomer to use to use a long enough blade that it does
not dig into the undercoat level.
Q Why does clipping
the coat ruin the wiry texture? Each
individual wire hair has a hard wire point, then is semi
hollow down to about the undercoat level. It is very soft at
the base and only lightly anchored in the follicle which is why they pull out
Cutting the hair takes away
the structure of that hair. Particularly when cut below
the undercoat level, but even just cutting off the tip breaks the
cut, the soft base stays in the follicle so a new wire
tipped hair does not grow. The soft bottom will continue to grow awhile.
If the dog is continually cut, the coat stays as the soft downy under
coat and the soft base of the wire hair from the old top coat.
end up with a 'cottony' coat and sometimes black hair turns to grayish
blue or brown.
Q Will hand stripping
restore a coat's wire texture if my dog has been
yes, but it can be difficult. You often have to let them
grow out several months and strip them several times to
get the wire coat growing properly again. Sometimes after
only one clipping it comes back fine but do not count on
it. The damage can be permanent.
Q If clipped is there
any way to help keep the coat hard?
you must clip, hand strip a little before and use a
pumice stone after weekly to 'brush' them, this takes out
some of the cut dead coat to try to stimulate some new
hairs to grow. Raking out the undercoat first with a bladed rake like
the Mars Coat King also helps.
Q Are other
types of Coats handstripped?
coarse coated breeds like the Bouvier are also hand
stripped. Many other coats are maintained with stripping,
sometimes combined with using thinning shears, instead of
clipping the hair, from the 'saddle' on the afghan hound
to English Cocker Spaniel backs.
Q I do not think I can
do this myself. How do I find someone to have my
dog hand stripped?
the groomers in your area. Often if they do not do hand
stripping themselves, they will know of another groomer
who does. Be sure to tell the petgroomers that you want
your dog plucked or handstripped. Sometimes a groomer
will be willing to try handstripping for you and even a
beginners hand strip will be better for the coat over a
more perfect looking clip. ***Make
sure that they understand what you mean by "stripping".
It is also a term used for close shave downs !***
Or sometimes you can find a breeder or professional show
handler instead of a petgroomer in your area that will
to pay a lot more, at least double, what the clipping
price would be. It is very labor intensive.
Q Eek! You said my dog
would have a nice wire coat. I had my dog
handstripped and now she looks naked and is very soft.
How long will it
take to grow back?.
the wire coat is in one layer and pulling it leaves them
in their "underwear" until a new coat wire
comes though. The undercoat is soft and supposed to be.
It may take 8 to 10 weeks before the new wire coat comes
in and is long enough to cover the undercoat.
Q Do you have to strip
to the undercoat? Is there a way to have a nice wire
coat when the are freshly hand stripped?
you have to strip down to the undercoat, in particular
when they are pretty long. This is because all of the wire
coat is one length and ready to come out. But sometimes
the coat is in layers, either produced by 'rolling' the
coat or new coat coming in from natural shedding.
just always have another great wire coat under the faded dead hair
even if fully grown out. The before and after pictures below of a blue
and tan border terrier,
Terraholm What-it-Takes CDX, shows just such a coat:
Q OK..... What is
rolling a coat?
is having part of the coat come in new in layers so that
you can strip off the longest hair, and always have wire
coat. This is done by pulling only about the
longest third of the coat, leaving the rest for a week to
two weeks depending on the dog, and then repeating until
there is always new coat coming in underneath. This can
be started when they are grown out with a blown coat, or
when a new coat is just past perfect. Not all dogs
can be 'rolled'.
Q I hear handstripping
when they use a stripping knife and then someone
said they are different. Can you explain that?
to some is pulling the coat with only your fingers, but
most commonly we use the term when we use a stripping
Q What is a stripping
another term for stripping knife.
Q My groomer said she
would also 'rake' my dogs coat and I should do this at
home too. I was afraid to ask! What does that mean?
is using the stripping knife, a clipper blade, a bladed rake like the
Mars Coat King to rake though or 'comb' the undercoat.
This pulls a lot of dead undercoat out and also helps the
new coat come in. We also do this when in the wire coat
to take out some of the undercoat leaving the jacket even
Q Is Knife or 'hands
only' stripping better? The purist will say hand strip only. But if you use a
stripping knife properly, it works as well as pulling the
coat only with your fingers. Despite the name 'knife' it
is never used to cut the hair, only to help grip it. Many
times the knives are too sharp or the wrong motion is
used and the hair is cut.
Q If I hand strip
instead of using a knife what will help grip the hair?
fingers, latex surgical gloves and ear powder (which has
in it) sprinkled on the coat all help grip the coat while
Q I know this may be a
difficult request, but can anyone give me detailed
description of using a stripping knife on a dog?
How do I hold it, where does my thumb go? What is
the motion etc....I'm sure it's easier to learn from
watching...but I'd love any info.
out a few hairs with your thumb and side of your
forefinger and watch how that looks when you hand strip.
The knife is used only to replace your forefinger to make
the pulling easier.
So your wrap your fingers around the handle and leave the
blade sticking out where your finger would have been and
so your thumb will close in the middle of it in a pliers
action. The grooves in the knife are facing away from
up a layer of a few hairs at a time with your thumb and
squeeze them against the knife blade. Pull them with a
very sharp motion, with the grain of the hair, never
backwards to the way the hair grows. Say middle of the
back, you are pulling toward the dogs tail, not towards
the head or up away from the body. Do not twist
your wrist and pull in a circular motion. This will cut
the hair and ruin your wrists. Instead lock your wrist
and keep your arm straight to the elbow. Pull by moving
your hand towards your body keeping the bending only your
elbow and shoulder.
another quite useful description on how to use the tools
at the Macknyfe Website.
Q I think I am using
the right motion but my new knife seems to still cut
the hair. What am I doing wrong?
the knives when new are too sharp. Dull them by dragging
though dirt, use them to open boxes, or sanding them a
is a great little book that was originally a
series of articles in Terrier Type magazine,
"Grooming the Broken Haired Terrier" by
It is available from
Book Service, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-776-2665
While aimed at Wire Fox much of it is good for
any wire coated breed. Three of the more advanced
articles are posted at the Pearson knives site.
Best bet is to check the breeds section for your
club at AKC In the dropdown list click on the breed and on the results
page there will be a link to the official website for that breed
Many have grooming charts posted.
Be sure to
ask for left handed knives if you are a 'lefty'
Prices may be outdated:
that works well, and is available at your drug store, is
a file called the Dr. Scholl's Contour File.
If you just do occasional hand stripping, the readily
available in many pet supply catalogs McClellan's are a
good choice. Yellow handle, Coarse and Red handle, Fine,
run around $30 a set retail. The cheapest I have seen
then was in Omaha vaccine, around $20, if I remember
right, and they had them available separately. If you
just get one, buy the yellow handle. The red handle is
also an good one to use as a 'rake'. They are also
available from Robert McClellen himself, PO Box 254,
Upland Ca. 91786
The high end ones, Muckraker II, Bowsprite and my
favorite (that have no name), made for and available from
Bergit Cody run as much as $90 each but I have found to
be well worth the investment.
Muckraker and Muckraker II are from
Macknyfe specialties and seem to be the
choice of most Border terrier people: They are priced around $35.
knives are really personal preference, and one I love the
next person shall hate.
around knife, cuts grooming time in half for me and leaves more
coat when rolling, is the Bergit Coady
coarse knife. She now has them made with a wood handle.
When ordering I tell her it is the one that corresponds
to what was known as the old "blue handle".
This was from when they were all metal and wrapped with
bicycle handle tape. Last I checked they were about $90 with shipping.
She has a variety of knives made. Next I would like to
have her super coarse one for Cairns and Westie
legs. She does not have a web site.
Order by phone: Bergit
Coady Kabel's Phone
# is 818.767.3330
The common ones found in most pet supply catalogs,
Hauptner and the Magnet stripper,
I find to be not as good as the others listed, but many
people are happy with them.