How to Finger-Strip Groom a Dog

Your fingers make a useful grooming tool.
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Some breeds have two coats, a wiry outer one over a soft undercoat. When your dog sheds the top coat, much of the fur stays put, leading to an exceedingly scruffy-looking dog. In the spring, this loose, dead hair adds unneeded warmth. Your fingers are one of the most effective tools for removing dead hair. Hand-stripping might be time-consuming, but your pet will appreciate the attention, and he’ll look tidier. For some breeds, it’s essential.

Step 1

Have your dog stand in front of you. Ask him to lie down when you need easy access to his belly. Because finger-stripping takes a while, sit on a stool or have your dog stand on a convenient piece of furniture, such as the sofa.

Step 2

Comb through your dog’s coat to remove any developing tangles.

Step 3

Work your fingers through his coat and pinch a small bunch of hairs. Use your free hand to hold down his skin.

Step 4

Pull the hair in the direction it grows. The dead hair will come out, the growing won’t. You can normally pull pretty hard without hurting your dog -- the dead hair isn’t attached to any nerve endings. Work over your dog in any order you like, preferably starting where he most likes being petted. Don’t forget his tail and legs.

Step 5

Continue until you have covered his entire coat, being careful in sensitive areas. Because stripping is hard on your fingers and his patience, consider breaking the job up and doing it over several days.


  • In the spring, if you have a garden and appreciate wildlife, place the dead hair outside. Local birds will use it to line their nests.

  • If you find finger-stripping tiring, a stripping knife may help. Despite the name, it's not mean to cut the hair, just enable you to get a better grip, making the process faster and smoother.

  • Chalk or dog-safe baby powder lightly dusted through the dog’s coat assists with grip. Brush out the residue once you’ve finished.

  • At times, you might pull at live, rooted hairs along with the dead ones, although the live ones won’t come out. If your dog flinches at any point, it’s probably because you are pulling live hairs too vigorously. Try again using a gentler pull. If you have a hypersensitive dog or you’re using this technique on another animal, such as a cat or a rabbit, try using your index finger and middle finger rather than finger and thumb. It’s impossible to get a hard grip if you do this, which prevents you accidentally pulling too hard.

Items You Will Need

  • Metal comb
  • Chalk