Hand Stripping your Terrier

Hand StrippingHand Stripping

To hand strip your terrier, you grip a SMALL amount of hair between your thumb and forefinger as demonstrated, and pull sharply. This is demonstrated on our DVD below[1]. Many people simply pluck the hair with their thumb and fingers like plucking a chicken! However, a serrated edged knife can assist in gripping the hair.

It is important that your thumb is NOT positioned against the knife's edge, no matter how blunt it might be. This might not only might cut the hair instead of pulling it out by the roots, it may also cut into your thumb!

The best knife is one that is comfortable to hold in your hand. You will only hurt the dog by taking too much hair at a time, but never by pulling too sharply. This is because the hair is essentially loose and hand stripping is really an extension of the dog's natural moulting process.

A 4-stage grooming planA 4-stage grooming plan

It is best to strip the dog over a period of several weeks, according to how quickly the individual dog grows coat.

A 4-Stage Grooming Plan

The timing of the coat, particularly if you intend to exhibit,  varies from dog to dog and the age of the dog. A puppy will grow an excellent coat in three weeks. However, an adult usually takes eight to ten weeks. Summer coats generally grow slower than winter, and a bitch in season or in a false or true pregnancy, typically grows a lousy coat.

Diet also affects the coat of course, and there are many good diet supplements on the market which improve the texture of the coat. You must experiment with your individual dog.

Stage 1 -Saddle AreaStage 1 -Saddle Area

Stripping a dog for just a couple of hours a week also means each session is not too long for you or the dog! This graphic illustrates the 4 recommended sections:

  1. Body coat,
  2. Back neck and tail,
  3. Shoulders, hindquarters and top head(skull),
  4. Cheeks and throat.

Stage 1

Stripping the saddle area.Stripping the saddle area.

Commence at the withers and strip to the root of the tail and down the sides to the underline, following the saddle area in the 6-week programme above.

The saddle must be stripped almost completely bald as demonstrated. By the saddle, I mean that area from the centre back of the neck to the elbows and over the rump to the base of the tail. On an Airedale, this is the black area. If after the coat comes through, it still appears soft, it is quite a good idea to re-strip after three weeks, again bald, and even a third time if that is necessary to encourage the new coat to come through.

Stage 2

Stage 2 - Back Neck and TailStage 2 - Back Neck and Tail

During this period, it is not necessary to strip the head, neck, front, shoulders and tail unless you wish the dog to look neater. Whilst working the coats, my dogs look completely back to front and quite unnecessary to groom those areas which are done over and over whilst the dog is in the showring. However, if you like to see the dog tidy and have the time, it's up to you. Your dog's coat should also be brushed daily with a hard brush during this period to stimulate new growth.

The second area to be stripped is the back of the neck, all of the tail and anus/genital area.That means an area approximately the width of the dog's tail downwards, making certain all the hair around the scrotum or vulva is carefully and gently removed.

Stage 3 - Skull, Side neck, Shoulders and Bum.Stage 3 - Skull, Side neck, Shoulders and Bum.

Stage 3

Next we strip the outside shoulders and the top of the head and ears as shown:

If you sit on the table and laying the dog's head across your knee while stripping the head, this encourages the dog to relax while you work on those tricky little places around the ears and eyes.

The ears should be stripped inside and out, preferably without using scissors around their edges! Although it is tedious to hand strip the ears, the result is much better.

Stage 4

Stripping cheeks and throat.Stripping cheeks and throat.

Stage 4 - Cheeks and ThroatStage 4 - Cheeks and Throat

The cheeks and throat are left until last as below:

If you are exhibiting your dog, this area can be done within a day or two of the Show.

Stripping to the Beard Line

The beard line.The beard line.

The 'Beard Line' is just to the corner of the mouth. This leaves the beard in a more or less straight line from one corner of the mouth, underneath the jaw to the corner of the mouth on the opposite side. In other words, the beard on the bottom jaw is separate from the hair of the top jaw. During the trimming process this can be carefully tidied up.

References and Further Reading

[1] Jane Harvey, DVD "How to Groom an Airedale" Rangeaire Vision, Victoria 1985, 2004 ISBN 978-0-9804296-0-2


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