An Introduction to Hand Stripping

What is Hand Stripping?

Hand stripping is a grooming process that involves removing dead hairs from the coat by hand instead of clipping to keep the coat tidy and healthy. Usually completed twice a year in spring and autumn, it speeds up the natural process of growth and shedding.

True hand stripping is precisely that – the groomer plucks the outer guard hairs from the coat entirely by hand when the coat is blown. It is common practise however to use tools such as stripping knives and stones to help with the process.

What Dog Breeds Can be Hand Stripped?

Dogs with wiry coats tend to need hand stripping to groom to breed standard. This includes most of the Terrier group. Other breeds that require hand stripping include:

  • Schnauzers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Irish Wolf Hounds
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Wire-haired Pointers
  • Wire-haired Dachshunds
  • Border Terriers

Quick Tips For Hand Stripping

There are a number of methods to employ to make the hand stripping process easier and more effective:

  • Pull in the direction of hair growth
  • Support the skin with gentle pressure
  • Pluck the longer hairs only, usually measuring approximately 2 – 5cm
  • Try finger cots or chalk power to add grip
  • Work with a steady rhythm, removing only a few hairs at a time
  • Do not be too heavy-handed when using a stripping knife – use it to assist with pulling the hair rather than cutting the hair
  • Hand stripping is not painful if completed properly, and many dogs actually enjoy it.

About wiry coat hair growth

There are 4 stages to wire hair growth,

  • Anagen Phase: This is when hair follicles move into the GROWTH PHASE.
  • Catagen Phase: This is the TRANSITION PHASE when hair stops growing and the outer root sheath attaches to the hair.
  • Telogen Phase: The RESTING PHASE when the hair is at a standstill and does not grow or shed.
  • Exogen Phase: The FALLOUT PHASE where the hair falls out and a new hair grows

Once the hair is in the Telogen Phase then the dog is ready to be hand stripped, this is as the root follicle detaches from the dermal papilla allowing the hair to be pulled without causing harm or distress to the dog.


Hand stripping targets the older hairs that are in the exogen phase of growth. These older dull hairs are easy to pull out and by doing so they leave room for new stronger hairs to grow through. This ensures that the coat will have a fuller, shinier texture and a more vibrant colour

It’s recommended instead of clipping or scissor cutting because rather than removing old hairs these methods simply cut the old dull hairs. In doing so fresh new hairs don’t have the room to grow through. More importantly, by clipping your wiry haired dog’s coat you can prevent the coat growing properly and it may not be possible to handstrip in future. 


There are a number of tools which are essential to maintain any wiry coated dog breed at home in between hand stripping appointments. These include: –


It’s important that you don’t bathe a wiry coat too often because it can cause the hair to dry out. When you bathe your dog, it’s important that you use a shampoo specifically formulated for wiry haired breeds due to the unique makeup of their coat. If your dog is dirty, it’s worth bathing and drying before grooming to make the job easier.

Wiry coat breeds also have different skin to many other breeds, which brings with it a host of separate care considerations, all of which should be taken care of with wiry breed shampoos. Houndsley shampoos are made from all natural ingredients, environmentally packaged and cruelty free, the perfect product for home grooming. 


It’s common for wiry dog coats to become tangled, especially around hard to reach areas such as the armpits. For this purpose it’s always worth having a detangling comb to hand. These special grooming tools help unmatt the fur. When using the comb be gentle and focus on the end of the hairs first, working your way down and closer to the skin. Matted hair can hurt a dog when pulled so take your time to cause as little stress as possible.


Although a wiry haired dog breed does not need the same day to day maintenance that many longer haired breeds require, it’s still important that you keep a regular brushing routine. For this we recommend a slicker brush. These are made up of thin wires that are angled away from the pet’s skin. They help dematt the fur and remove any debris or dead hairs that may be resting on the skin. For wiry breed dogs we recommend using a slicker brush with fine bristles.

Handstripping at The Pet Retreat

At The Pet Retreat, we understand how to care for all different coat types, including wiry coats. Our initial appointments allow us to access the needs of your dog and create the best grooming plan. We have a full range of Houndsley shampoo products available to make your home grooming experience as smooth as possible.

Book an appointment today with one of our grooming experts or check out our full range of grooming products.