Example image of a terrier top and under coat

Hand Stripping

Terriers are double coated. They have 2 types of hair that make up their coat; the dull colored softer undercoat, and the rich colored wire top coat. Hand stripping is removing the dead off the top coat by finger plucking or by a stripping knife. It's performed on a dirty coat because it's easier to grip the hair and remove it. When you remove the top coat with this method new hair will emerge from the hair follicle in it's place and will be thicker and have more vibrant color.

Only the upper portion of a terrier's top coat is actually colored and has the wire texture that terriers are known for. The lower portion of the top coat the hair is very thin and dull in color. A terrier needs to be hand stripped when you spread the coat out with your fingers and you see dull and soft under coat. If they aren't hand stripped at this time then the whole coat will change color and will become softer in texture. This is known as a blown coat.

The top coat and the under coat grow out of the same hair follicle. If you don't have your terrier hand stripped and carded the hair follicle will become clogged with fine hairs and oily sebum. This can lead to skin problems, such as the pimples or "acne" that is sometimes found on miniature schnauzers.

Does it Hurt?

The terrier coat was bred with this type of coat. If done correctly, it does NOT hurt. Some terriers may not care for certain parts to be done. If you are not showing the dog then there is no reason to pluck out sensitive areas they can be clipped or scissored.

Why not just clip the dog down?

When you clip off a terrier's coat you are taking all the color out and leaving the under coat, which is soft, thin, and dull. Every time you clip the dog down the coat will continue to get softer and softer. The only way to get a nice harsh coat is to continue to strip out the under coat and have top coat slowly back in its place. It takes a very long time to switch a soft coat back to the correct color and texture, but it can be done.

Different types of stripping

There are 3 types of stripping: "full strip," "staging," and "rolling."

Full stripping takes everything off and leaves the dog with just the undercoat fuzz, or bald with no hair (AKA "stripping to undies"). This will look really good at about 10-12 weeks but until then will be rather naked looking while the top coat grows out over the under coat if it was left.

Staging is when you are preparing for a presentation on a certain date, such as a dog show or grooming competition. Different parts of the dog are stripped by a schedule since each area can grow at a different rate and that each section needs to be different lengths to show of the structure of the dog.

Rolling the coat is when you have many layers in the coat. Each time they come in a layer of coat is removed so there is a shorter coat underneath so the pet doesn't walk out of the salon naked. This allows new top coat growth to gradually overtake the soft under coat.

For all our stripping clients we do all the stripping needed for your terrier over a few visits. This ensures that your terrier has breaks between stripping sessions of a few days to a week.

Border Terrier before hand strippingBorder Terrier after hand stripping; rolled coat example

Border Terrier in a blown, rolled coat

Jack Russell Terrier after hand stripping

Jack Russell Terrier

Border Terrier before hand strippingBorder Terrier after hand stripping; rolled coat example

Border Terrier in a blown, rolled coat

Benefits of stripping

  • Thick and harsh coats helps to repel dirt and water more reducing the need for baths.
  • Doesn't mat up like a soft coat would.
  • Hair grows slower so can go on some breeds 5-6 months between stripping once you have layers.


The cost of stripping and carding is much more than just getting a hair cut. Stripping is a very labor intensive and most groomers can't or won't do it. It's very much a specialty skill and will cost a lot more -at least double- the cost of a clipping price.


AKA "mucking out the coat" is where you remove the under coat with either grooming rakes or carding tools.


Regular dog shampoo and conditioner aren't appropriate on hand stripped dogs. Those types of products will soften the coat instead of harden it. We use and sell Pure Paws Terrier shampoo and conditioner, which is a dog show level product. We do carry blackening and goldening shampoo that you can use in conjunction with the terrier shampoo but you should always use the terrier conditioner. This special conditioner helps to fortify the hair shaft without making it soft by putting texture into to the top coat.

Cairn Terrier before hand strippingCairn Terrier after hand stripping

Cairn Terrier

Irish Terrier before hand strippingIrish Terrier after hand stripping

Irish Terrier

Irish Terrier before hand strippingIrish Terrier after hand stripping

Irish Terrier

We were surprised to walk into a beautifully decorated (classy doggy décor) reception area. The area did not smell like dogs. The receptionist remembered all that we had talked about on the phone the previous week. When we met the groomer, she was knowledgeable about the cut out dogs needed. We have one wired haired dog and he needs a special type of combing (which I wasn’t aware of from any other groomer who has taken care of him). She told us it would take several groomings to get him back to his original coat. We are were thrilled to know this can be done.

Thomas A.

Angie's List