Understanding the Hand Stripped Coat

Many clients with wire coated breeds choose to keep the dogs lovely rich color and course texture by having the coat hand stripped.

Each breed requires a different coat care plan and grooming regiment. Understanding the rules for each breed is paramount to keeping the coat in great condition.

Soft coats should not be hand stripped, as the process is much too uncomfortable for a dog with a soft coat. Dogs who have been previously clipped are not good candidates for stripping, as clipping has altered the natural coat texture.

Some pet owners who have had their dog clipped and realize the color of the dog has been ruined, then decide it is better to strip the coat, will be disappointed to learn that I will not perform the service.

If you choose to strip the coat, you need to start the process while the dog is a puppy, and plan to continue stripping throughout the dogs life.

Not all dogs will accept the process, if the dog does not like to be brushed and groomed, we can discuss the alternatives.

Some breeds do best with having the coat worked on every 6 months, while others need work every 3 or 4 days. For many people, this is much too time consuming, and they resort to having the dog clipped down. Once a coat is clipped or trimmed, the likelihood that I will hand strip it afterwards is highly unlikely. Hand stripping should begin as a puppy, and continue on throughout the dogs life. If you decide to clip it, plan to always clip it.

Clients who invest the time and effort into the correct coat care for their dogs are greatly rewarded with a beautifully coated dog.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see is the misunderstanding of the process. If the dog requires work once a week, you cannot do it every 10 days. If the coat is best done every 6 months, you cannot neglect all of his other grooming needs in the interim, such as brushing, raking out undercoat, nails, etc…

Irish Terriers and Border Terriers who are being shown can have their coats rolled once per week, pets can be stripped every 6 weeks, or pulled down every 6 months.

Wire Fox Terriers, Airdales, Lakeland Terriers, & Welsh Terriers who are being shown could have the coat rolled every 4-7 days or be section stripped. Pets can have their coats rolled every one to two weeks, or stripped down every 6 months. But be aware, if you choose the 6 month option, the dog will not look it’s best the day it is groomed. It will look good 8 weeks later. The dog will need to come in 2 weeks after the strip down for defuzzing, and 6 weeks later to look great. Show dogs look best section stripped 8 weeks before the shows. If you plan to show the dog all of the time, plan to roll the coat every 4 days.

Dogs being hand stripped are not washed that day, they should be washed a week before or a week after the stripping.

Rolled coats on Miniature Schnauzers need to be done once a week. Section stripping is available, but the dog will look silly, and bald for a while. Section stripping is best reserved for the serious show dog enthusiast.

These images show what to expect with section stripping.

Cairn Terriers and West Highland White Terriers can be rolled once a month to keep pet dogs in nice condition, show dogs need to have their coats picked over regularly, along with carding out the undercoat at least once a week.

Clients need to learn to maintain the dogs coat at home. Regular undercoat removal is really important, and easy to do.

Some of the tools that you will need at home are a stripping knife for carding the coat, a stripping stone, powder to give you grip on the hair, and rubber fingertip covers. For some breeds, if you are showing your dog, the stone may be omitted.

Make a consultation appointment with Suzanne to come up with the best plan to meet your goals, whether you plan to show your dog, or you just want a correct coat on your dog, she will guide you towards your goals.

Hand stripping is charged by the hour. My fees are $80. per hour, the time needed may vary from one appointment to the next. The more work that you learn to do at home, the less you will need to pay me for my time. It is not rocket science, just time consuming.

Below are some videos to give you an understanding of the process. The information on timing intervals for work on the coat in each video relates to the breed in the video, but the techniques are similar for all wire coated dogs.


This is staged stripping, usually reserved for the show dog.

Cairn Terrier Heads