Pop quiz! Which of the following breeds involve hand stripping as part of their grooming regime (if the dog is to be shown)?
- Cairn Terrier
- Scottish Deerhound
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Parson Terrier
- Wirehaired Dachshund
To be clear, hand stripping is the process of removing dead hair out of a dog’s coat. It can be accomplished by using a stripping knife, or the purist’s way, using one’s fingers. In wiry coated dogs, hair becomes thicker and darker as it growing owing to the breed’s growth cycle. A wire hair reaches its “sell-by-date,” which is to say its maximum life span end at around 6 months when it starts to die off. At that point, the hair stays loosely anchored to its follicle until sheds on its own, or removed manually. The dead hair needs to be removed from the top coat by the root, and while it’s true that one could use clippers to do the job, clippers leave hair soft and dull because the rough end has been sheared off. Hand stripping removes the dead, dull hairs on the dog’s top coat so that the dense, soft undercoat is revealed and leaves a dog’s coat brightly colored and wiry textured, the latter offering better protection against the elements for a working dog. It also leaves room for a new top coat to grow in.
For anyone wondering, this is not the same as “rolling the coat.” The latter procedure is similar, but it involves routinely going through the whole coat and removing only the longest dead hair. In stripping, all dead hairs are removed from the coat so to leave the dog with the undercoat only.
As for the correct answer, it’s a trick question in that all the breeds listed include stripping in their grooming regiment, even the Scottish Deerhound which may surprise some readers. From the parent club’s website: “Next, strip out any long and/or light colored hair from the ears, leaving them black and velvety. This is done by gripping a few hairs at a time between thumb and forefinger and quickly pulling them out. If you have trouble gripping the hair, a block of grooming chalk may be rubbed over the ear before you begin to make the hair less slippery, but this should only be used when you will be bathing the dog afterwards as it will dull the coat and may cause itching if left in the coat. Another way to achieve the same result is to wear a surgical rubber glove on your stripping hand.”
While some maintain that the Scottish Deerhound is a natural breed that shouldn’t need stripping or sculpting, we human can’t seem to help ourselves. Is a wee bit of tidying justified when necessary?