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 above, and pull sharply as shown on the DVD below[1]. Many people simply pluck the hair with their thumb and fingers like plucking a chicken! However, a serrated edged knife does assist in gripping the hair. It is important that the knife is dull and not sharp or it will cut the hair, rather than just assisting you just to grip it by holding your thumb on the flat of the blade.

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 6-weeks grooming planA 6-weeks grooming plan

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

Six Weeks Grooming Plan

The timing of the show coat 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.

Saddle AreaSaddle 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 - (a) body coat, (b) back neck and tail, (c) shoulders, hindquarters and top head(skull), and lastly, (d) cheeks and throat.

Weeks 1, 2 and 3

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.

Stripping the saddle area.Stripping the saddle area.

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 you intend to show your terrier.

The second area to be stripped.The second area to be stripped.

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.

Week 4

The second area to be stripped is the back of the neck, all of the tail and anus/genital area.

Week 5

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

The third area to be stripped.The third area to be stripped.

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.

Week 6

The cheeks and throat are left until last as below:

Stripping the cheeks and throat.Stripping the cheeks and throat.

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

The fourth or final area to be stripped.The fourth or final area to be stripped.

It is important to strip to the corner of the mouth, leaving 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. Your dog is now ready for the next stage, fine trimming and shaping.

Demonstrating the beard line.Demonstrating the beard line.

References and Further Reading

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