Hand-Stripping the Cairn Terrier

Hand-stripping is a technique that can really set a groomer apart from the competition.

Sparky is a little over a year old and has been a client of mine since he was eight weeks old. His parents requested he be hand stripped. The technique of hand-stripping a terrier coat keeps the coat coarse and the color vibrant. I practice hand stripping, and I start the pet as a young puppy to get them used to the sensation of stripping out the coat. I also require my hand-stripped clients to come in every eight to 12 weeks. I may cheat and use thinning shears to assist in getting the appearance I want. 

To learn to hand strip, there are a few things you can do. Look online for classes or videos, attend conferences for classes or competitions or contact local breeders of strippable terriers. Not many pet groomers offer this service, so it could set you apart from the competition. Of course, you should charge more for hand-stripping, as it does take longer than clipping.  


Step 1: Clipping Nails
Cut the nails to the quick, and file if desired.  I do this before giving the dog a bath, so if the nail should happen to get trimmed too short and bleed, it won’t get on the clean coat.


Step 2: Slicker Brush-Through
Give the coat a quick brush through with a slicker brush.

Step 3: Hand Stripping
Using cholesterol and powder when hand stripping the coat can assist in making the hair easier to pull. Make sure to pull the hair in the direction the coat is growing and flat to the body. If pulled out incorrectly, the hair can grow out straight from the body, rather than lying flat. I recommend trying different stripping knives and tools to find what is comfortable and works best on the particular dogs you are hand stripping. Once you start stripping out the hair, it will become clear what hair should come out and what should stay.

Step 4: Bathing
Bathe the dog using a texturizing shampoo and no conditioner.



Step 5: Force Drying
Force dry the coat until 99 percent of the water is removed.

Step 6: Finish Drying
Brush the coat flat and wrap towels around the dog using large quilting pins to secure the towel in place. Then place the dog under a dryer. The towel will keep the coat flat while drying.

Step 7: Finish Stripping
Brush through the coat. At this point, I strip any hair I feel I missed before the bath.

Step 8: Trim Bottom of Feet
Trim the pads using a #30 blade, making sure not to cut into the hair on the sides of the foot.

Step 9: Clip Sanitary Areas
Clip the sanitary areas with a #10 blade—pet owners prefer these areas short.

Step 10: Clip Years
Clip the inside and outside top-third of the ears with a #10 blade. This can also be stripped out if the pet allows. 

Step 11: Finish Rear Feet & Legs
Pick up the rear foot and brush the hair down toward the pads, trimming any hair that hangs over the foot. Place the foot back on the table and round the foot. I use thinning shears to blend and shape the rear leg.

Step 12: Finish Front Feet & Legs
Repeat step 11 on the front legs.

Step 13: Finish Skirt
Blend and trim the skirt to the desired length.

Step 14: Finish Tail
Trim the tail into a carrot shape.




Step 15:  Finish Head
Use thinning shears to clear the eye corners—this hair can also be pulled out if the pet tolerates it. Edge the top-third of the ears with straight shears. Comb the hair over the eyes and thin a visor. The hair on the top of the head should not be longer than the clipped part of the ear.  Use thinning shears, and trim the cheek hair into the line coming down from the ear. Trim the jaw line and chin to complete the roundness of the head.



Professional groomer Anne Francis is a grooming competitor and speaker. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass.

Is there a breed or cut that you’d like to see featured in the Grooming Table? Send your suggestions to jboncy@petbusiness.com.

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