Stripping and Trimming

Owning a dog is taking on a lot of responsibilities. Dog ownership does not begin and end in giving the pet enough food and water. Aside from providing the dog opportunities to exercise, regular grooming is necessary to promote hygiene, good health not to mention the appearance of the dog.

Stripping and trimming are two grooming procedures done on our furry friends. These are necessary to balance or shape the coat of the dog. Generally, smooth and short haired dog would require no trimming. Some owners though usually trim the eyebrows or the whiskers to make the dog look neat.

Trimming depends on the breed and of course on the decision of the pet owner. Some dogs that are heavy shedders are trimmed to lessen the amount of shedding that would “clutter” inside the house. Long haired dogs do not require trimming but they do need a lot of brushing. An owner may decide to trim the dog to do away with the tedious every day brushing. Trimming and stripping are usually done to enhance the appearance of show dogs.

Our canine friends have a slightly different hair from what we have. Generally, a dog’s hair would molt twice a year. Winter coats would need to be removed to give way for the lighter summer coats. In the wilds, dogs would rub their bodies against trees, bushes and outcroppings to remove the dead hair.

Present day dog owners and groomers “help” a domesticated dog to lose the old coat through stripping and trimming. Show dogs whose coat needs to be maintained in the best condition would need to be stripped. This process of removing the dead and weakly rooted hair is also known as rolling the coat. This procedure of puling out the dead or the dying hair can either be done by using the finger or using a tool called stripping knife. Stripping is a tedious and time consuming process, one that can often result in blistered fingers. It is quite hard to find a groomer ready to take on this task. Some groomers willing to do this task charges top dollar. However, stripping would result in a coat that has greater density, one that has a richer color and a harder texture. Show dogs would need the coat to be rolled every 7 to 10 days. For pets, a once a month stripping would probably be enough.

There is a misconception that stripping is only reserved for show dogs. Some owners believe that this process would hurt their beloved pets. By stripping, you are actually being kind to your dog. Clipping a dog is no doubt convenient. This procedure can be finished by an experienced groomer in a matter of minutes. But what most owners don’t realize is that by using a clipper the root of the primary hair that should have been pulled is left intact. This hinders a new coat from growing. The coat color pales and some would even turn to white.

Dog hair grows in several stages. At first the hair is healthy, thick, well pigmented and strongly rooted. This kind of hair readily sheds dirt and moisture. As the hair matures and reaches its life span, the follicle becomes less strong and healthy. The tip of the hair may appear healthy but the root is starting to thin and starts to lighten. This is the dying coat stage. This coat is ready to be stripped. A coat that is ready to be stripped can be easily pulled as the hair is falling out on its own. If the coat is clipped at this stage, the dead hair root will remain. On the other hand if the coat is stripped, the completely dead hair will be removed. As the hair is weakly rooted, pulling or stripping the hair will not cause the dog pain, unless stripping is done the wrong way. Dogs that are prepared for showing need to be stripped before they are trimmed according the specification of their breed.

Stripping will be painful and uncomfortable for the dog if the hair is pulled in the opposite direction from where the hair is growing. Never give your dog a bath before stripping. Damp hair would be difficult to strip. It would be very tiring for you and it would hurt the dog too.

Trimming and stripping facts

A Smooth and short coated dog like the Doberman pinscher does not require trimming or stripping. Airedale Terriers, Border terriers are wiry coated breed that needs to be stripped every 6 to 8 weeks. Long silky coated breeds like the Afghan hound, the Maltese and the Spaniels require trimming and stripping every 2 months.

How to teach the dog to accept being trimmed and stripped

A puppy must be introduced to the grooming ritual as soon as it was taken home. A few minutes a day will accustom the dog to the grooming procedures. This will prepare the pet to the clipping, trimming and stripping that has to be done as he gets older.

Start the stripping session by brushing the dog. For sure it is already used to this type of grooming

Dogs have trouble keeping still. You might want to keep the first stripping session for a few minutes and gradually increase the time as the dog is accustomed to the procedure.

A treat may help. Place a dab of peanut butter near the pet. This will distract the dog while you are plucking the hair.

Don’t let the dog off the grooming table if he misbehaves. If you do so, the dog will think that he only has to misbehave to escape from getting stripped.


Stripping is removing the dead hair from the coat of the dog. This procedure can be done through hand stripping or by using a stripping knife.

Make sure that the hair is ready to be stripped. Try pulling a few primary hairs. The hair should be pulled easily.

Hand stripping is a time consuming work but this is necessary for show dogs to prevent the coat from being soft and fluffy. Hand stripping though can cause blisters to form on the hands. This can be avoided by using latex finger cots. Ear powder sprinkled on the hair to be stripped will help you get a better grip on the hair. Use the thumb and the index finger of one hand to pinch the skin. With the finger of the other hand quickly pull the weakly and loosely rooted hair. Make sure that you are pulling the hair on the direction the hair is growing.

A trimming or stripping knife will accomplish the job faster. The stripping knife to be used should be very dull. If the knife is new you can sand it a bit or drag it through dirt. The idea is to help you get a better grip on the hair so that more hair can be pulled easily without cutting the hair.

Hold the handle of the stripping knife. Lay the dull blade of the knife against the hair. With your thumb, pick up a few strands of hair and flatten them against the blade. Pull with a sharp swift motion. Do not twist your wrist. The hair will be cut if you twist your wrist. The wrist should be rigid and movement should be on the arm and elbow which should be pulled towards your body.

Stripping is a tedious job. You can’t do it in one session. Also the dog would be restless from being in one place for so long. Take breaks. You as well as your dog need to rest.

If you strip one side of the body or the neck or the head, you need to finish stripping the other side on the same day. Never strip one side of the dog in one day and the other side the next day. You will have one lop sided dog if you do. A mirror in your grooming room will enable you to look at the finished product from different angles.

The part of the dog which you want to have the longest hair should be the first to be plucked. Usually this part is the dog’s body.


Trimming and stripping are similar. The objective is to attain a shapelier look for the dog. Trimming though is done after the stripped hair has grown. The trimming the hair the breed conformation will be achieved.

Comb the hair using a steel comb to be able to see which part needs trimming. Hold blade of the trimming knife with the index finger and the thumb while the rest of the finger swill hold the handle of the knife. Index finger should be at the top of the blade and the thumb should flatten the hair gains the blade.

Pull the hair in one swift movement. Do the same procedure until the part to be trimmed is finished.

If the hands will be used in trimming, use one hand to firmly hold the skin. The other hand will be used to pluck the dead hair.

Make sure that you are not pulling the hair contrary to the direction of the hair growth as this will hurt the dog.

To know if you are pulling the hair the right way, check the hair you have pulled. It should have hair follicles on it.

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