Is your dog’s coat losing its natural texture and vibrant colours? Without doubt, hand stripping might be a solution. Not all dog breeds should be hand-stripped. If your sweetheart has a ruff or wiry coat, then this grooming technique is perfect for you. Hand stripping brings out the best in your pooch’s features. The result: a dog that is natural-looking as he or she was bred to be!
Let’s get started: how to hold a stripping knife
Before you can start hand stripping the top coat, it’s best to brush and comb the dog. Use carding tools to remove the dead undercoat or wool. Once this is done, you can start hand stripping. Hold the knife in your hand and try to do this in an angle of between 60° and 90° towards the skin. Definitely don’t hold it over 135°, because in this position you use the knife for cutting instead of pulling.
Here, we want to pull hairs from the coat, so the right holding position is really important. Not holding the knife in the correct way can result in breaking or cutting the hairs. Use your thumb as tweezers on the knife and make sure that you hold the stripping knife so you pull with the direction of the coat growth, never sideways or against the hair growth. Not sure where to get started? It’s best to start at the front of the dog and work your way to the backside.
Take the stripping knife in your dominant hand and make sure you see the front of the blade. To know which side is which, you should look where the shortest serrations are. This is the front side. Hand stripping consists of two steps: first you gently push the hair up and against the hair growth, next you pull at the hairs that are sticking out. Push the coat upwards with your thumb and close the hairs in by placing your thumb against the blade of the underside of the stripping knife. Now some hairs of the top coat are between your thumb and the blade. Then, pull the hairs away from the coat and in the direction of the coat growth. While doing so, it is really important to hold the skin tightly with your free hand, so you only pull at the hairs at not the skin. Though it is important to take your time while hand stripping, the pulling itself should be done in a quick motion and with only a few hairs at once. Repeat this process until the desired length is reached.
To avoid joint problems, always keep your wrist in a straight position and don’t turn it downwards while hand stripping. If you want to avoid shoulder problems, it is important to pull with just your forearm and to keep your upper arm still. There is a difference in holding the knife for detailing or for example stripping the jacket. Depending on the size of the area you’re stripping, you should either use your full thumb or the tip. If you want to hand strip your dog’s jacket, you have to put your full thumb on the full length of the knife. For small or sensitive areas, it’s better to use only the tip of your thumb on the top of the knife. This way, you get to work with more precision. An even better way is using different sizes of stripping knives. Learn more about the benefits in our previous blog post.
Am I doing it right?
If you are new to grooming or aren’t sure if you’re doing it right, you can perform a self-test. When you have pulled a few hairs, sprinkle them on an A4 piece of white or other contrasting colour paper. This way, you can investigate the pulled hairs. If they have the full length and contain no broken or short parts, kudos to you, because this means your technique and stripping knife are good!
Are you not sure how much pressure to exert with your thumb or how much hairs to pull at the same time? Don’t worry. Experience comes with practice and most importantly, time. Whether you have a small or big dog, you need to take the time to gently hand strip your dog. Never do hand stripping when you have little time. It can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful for the dog if you strip too many hairs at once. To learn more about hand stripping and the right technique, we recommend you to watch our YouTube video with the famous Rony De Munter here.
Why we’re such a big fan of stripping knives
If The Sentinel hand stripping knives were the Holy Bible, this would definitely make us the preachers! Stripping knives are a great added value and an indispensable tool for groomers who want to make their work easier and faster, while not being hard on their fingers. Hand stripping with your fingers can cause CTS (Carpal tunnel syndrome) or other repetitive motion injuries. At Transgroom, we are over the moon because we’re the exclusive distributor of The Sentinel, an indispensable brand for professionals and dog owners who strive for perfection when grooming their beloved four-legged friend’s coat. Has this tickled your fancy? Check out our extensive range of stripping knives here.