Hand stripping is the pulling out of the dead outer coat of the wired-haired dog breeds by hand, rather than cutting the hair with clippers. In addition, hand stripping maintains a proper wire coat, while clipping makes it soft and ruins the texture. Without the outer wire coat, the coat color will change and fade out.
Now you may be asking “Why would I want my dog’s hair pulled out? This sounds like some kind of doggie torture!” Hand stripping actually allows a new fresh wire coat to grow in. It does not hurt your dog and while some dogs may not like it, it is not painful when done properly by an experienced groomer. This is because on wire hair breeds the hair is not attached like our own hair. Sometimes dogs even enjoy the feeling.
Each individual wire hair has a hard wire point and is semi hollow down to about the undercoat level. It is very soft at the base and only lightly anchored in the follicle which is why hand stripping is not a bothersome process. Cutting the hair takes away the hard point and if the dog is continually cut, the coat stays super soft as the soft downy under coat and the soft base of the wire hair from the old top coat is all that is seen. This can leave them with a cottony’ coat and sometimes black hair turns to grayish blue or brown.
A few things to note about hand stripping. Often the wire coat is in one layer and pulling it leaves them in their “underwear” (the thinner, softer undercoat) until a new wire coat comes through. It may take 8 to 10 weeks before the new wire coat comes in and is long enough to cover the undercoat. A good groomer will “stage” the coat so that it will have many different layers and this undercoat will not be seen after the first stripping. The coat will be “rolled” so that it always looks new and basically the same if it is groomed regularly.
below is a list of the common breeds that are typically hand stripped.
German Wirehaired Pointer
Wire Fox Terrier
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon