Handstripping can be just the right
technique for improving the health and
luster of the coats of many breeds.
Handstripping is intended to not just enhance the beauty of the dog, but o also improve its health. It is the
technique of removing excessive, dead,
dull hairs so they can be replaced with
healthy new ones.
While handstripping has always
been equated with trimming harsh-coated terriers, once the techniques
have been mastered, handstripping has
many applications. For the professional
pet stylist, handstripping can be an essential technique for not only keeping
harsh-coated terriers in “show” coat,
but also for providing specialized services that improve the health and luster
of the coats of many breeds.
By description, handstripping seems
like a simple technique. Yet anyone who
has ever maintained a harsh-coated terrier in optimum coat by handstripping
will quickly tell you that when “pulling
down” an entire coat by hand, the index finger and thumb quickly become
injured and calloused—hence, the innovation of tools and products to improve the speed, ease and comfort of
the handstripping process.
Today’s innovations have brought
forth a wide variety of stripping knives,
brushes, combs, chalks, etc., but regardless of the method or tool, they’re
all designed with the same purpose—
the removal of hair by pulling it out.
It has been said that “the learning scale to
master the art of handstripping is the same
for everyone.” The wisdom of this state-
ment lies in the understanding that hand-
stripping is as much a “feel” for the condi-
tion, texture and flow of the coat as
it is a technique. While the technique
can be taught rather quickly, getting
the “feel for coats” and how they re-
grow comes with time. With this in mind,
this article will endeavor to illustrate the
technique; however, it is worth restating
that developing a feel for individual coats
and how they grow back in can only be
gained through practice and experience.
Thoroughly brush the coat in the direction you wish it to lie. Be sure the hair is
completely separated to avoid pulling
large clumps of hair from one small area.
Hair pulled in clumps will grow back in
clumps, making the coat appear rough
Note: Choose a brush that will best suit the
individual coat type. On harsh-coated breeds
(i.e., terriers), a palm brush will ideally prepare
the body coat for stripping, while a pin brush is
ideal for furnishings.
Tighten the dog’s skin by stretching it in
the opposite direction that the hair will be
pulled. This will help to avoid scraping or
cutting loose skin, and causes the hair to
lift up so it is easier to grip and pull.
On the downward motion, grasp the
longest hairs and pull down and in the direction you wish the new hair to regrow.
Use a rowing motion—do not bend the
hand or wrist.
Note: If using a stripping knife, the blade of
the knife simply replaces the index finger.
Application of a small amount of chalk on your
fingers, the blade of the knife and/or the dog’s
coat will absorb excess oil in the coat and
on your fingers, thereby facilitating a better
grip on the hair.
Lift and separate the hair to be stripped
by pushing it forward and up with the
thumb. Stretch the dog’s skin in the opposite direction the hair will be pulled.
Now on the backward motion with the
index finger coming toward your body
and with the grain of the coat, grasp the
tip of the longest hairs between your
index finger and thumb and pull them
out at an oblique (slanting) angle as in
a rowing motion. Pull the hair in the direction you wish it to regrow, making
certain that you do not bend or twist
Note: Bending or twisting of the wrist could
cause breakage of the coat. If the coat is broken or cut while pulling, it will tend to soften
and lose color. •
Pamela Lauritzen has been a leader and pioneer in the pet styling industry for over 30
years. She is a judge, a lecturer, an author and
a trade show manager. She was selected by her
peers to be the first certifier in the industry.
Lauritzen is president of the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists, and she continues to develop pet styling techniques that
improve the speed, quality and productivity
of the stylist. She will offer a more comprehensive demonstration of her handstripping technique at this year's Atlanta Pet
Fair & Conference being held March 8-11
at the Georgia International Convention
Center. To register for The Handstripping
Clinic seminar or for more information,
BY PAMELA LAURITZEN