Grooming for shows or to keep your dogs coat in a natural harsh texture.
Hand stripping a dogs coat is not a difficult process to learn but it is a method of grooming that takes time and patience for both you and your dog. By hand stripping you are removing the dead top coat when it is ready. Stripping the coat is the preferred method for grooming Terriers for the show ring and also to preserve the texture and color of their coat. Using electric clippers on a Terrier coat will soften the coat and also change the color so if you wish to keep your dogs coat weather resistent then you will want to hand strip their coat versus clipping it.
First you will need to have a grooming table, grooming arm, and noose. It is simply easier to do hand stripping on a grooming table with your dog standing though some dogs may want to lay down. Used grooming tables , and grooming arms are not hard to find and they will be half the cost of a brand new table. Purchasing a new grooming table and grooming arm can be done on the Internet. If you live in the Northwest we suggest purchasing these items through Three C's and arranging to pick up your items at one of the many AKC shows here in the Northwest as this will save you shipping charges. These purchases can be looked at as an investment in your dog since professional groomers will charge approximately $50.00 per hour to hand strip your dog. It will take anywhere from two to four hours to hand strip a terrier depending on it's size and length of coat.
There are several tools that will aid in the process of hand stripping such as ear powder, pumice stones, or stripping knives. I am not a fan of stripping knives which actually are not a knife as they look more like a short toothed comb. The stripping knife will often cut and break the hair, especially if it is not ready to be pulled out.
So how do you know that your dogs coat is ready to be stripped? With a young dog or puppy they will grow what is called a veil. It is a layer of hair that sticks out above the other hair. Depending on the dog that veil will be ready to be stripped out at approximately 4-5 months of age. On an adult dog the hair will grow long, up to four inches in length. At this length the top coat is basically dead and ready to be pulled off to expose the soft undercoat beneath the long top coat. Once this top coat is removed the dog will grow more wiry hair that will grow through the undercoat.
With a young dog make the grooming sessions short and do only part of the coat one day and then another part of the coat the next day. Young dogs can be wiggly and giving them treats and making the sessions fun and short will help to ensure good behavior on the grooming table in the future.
First gently comb your dogs coat thoroughly as when the coat is long and dead it will tend to lay in clumps. Once you have combed the coat you can pick out one area to start stripping and brush the hair backwards in that area. Put one hand on your dog in front of the area you plant to start stripping as this will keep the hide from moving as you pull the hairs out. Then dust your thumb and index finger on your other hand with ear powder and grab no more than 6 hairs at a time. Grab the hairs near the base and pull the hairs out in the direction that the hair grows. If you are standing behind the dog then you will be pulling the hair out towards you. Dip or dust your thumb and index finger into the ear powder each time you pull some hairs. The ear powder helps to grip the hair and it makes it much easier to pull out. Pulling the hair by this method does not hurt the dog. Your dog will feel much better when all the dead hair has been stripped away.
Pull the longest hairs on the back of the legs from the elbow to the lower joint of the foot. Safety tipped scissors can be used to tidy the stray hairs on the more sensitive areas of your dog such as the tummy and the inside of the legs. Scissors can also be used to neaten the feet and them a nice rounded appearance around the outside edge of the foot.
For the dogs head pull small amounts of hair at a time. Remove all the dead hair from the top of the skull down between the eyes. Remove the long hairs on the side of the cheeks from the corner of the eye back towards the neck. In order to shape the eyebrows and beard you may want to consult a photo or head study of a show dog and keep in mind the Parson standard states the Parson is to have only a hint of eyebrow and beard if natural to the coat.
It will be approximately four to six weeks before your dog grows a new coat of wiry hair and this coat should last several months. You can choose to do what is called rolling the coat by grooming your dog on a weekly basis and pulling only the longest hairs out of the coat at each grooming session. A small piece of black grill stone can be used on the dogs coat once a week and by brushing the grill stone across the dogs coat it will only remove the dead hairs from their coat.
**Black Grill Stone can be purchased at Home Depot or a cooking store for less than five dollars. The grill stone can be cut into pieces that will fit nicely into your hand. See the photo below.