How-to: Hand Stripping and Dog Grooming for a Wire Haired Terrier

Hand stripping outside prevents mess.
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Wire haired terriers, including the Airedale, the wire fox terrier, the Scottie and several others, along with a few other breeds such as the Irish wolfhound and schnauzers, sport two separate coats: a soft undercoat and the eponymous wire coat. The wiry outer coat consists of long hairs only loosely anchored in the follicles. When clipped, the wire coat stays put, not regrowing, which leads to a softer but less colorful coat. To encourage a fresh, shiny new outer coat to grow, hand stripping is required, which means nothing more than pulling out the old hairs. Painful as this might sound, it shouldn’t hurt your dog, although some dogs don’t entirely enjoy the experience.

Step 1

Brush and comb your dog daily or every couple of days, observing the color and condition of his coat. When it blows -- i.e. when the outer coat starts to grow out -- you can commence hand stripping.

Step 2

Position your dog somewhere you can reach easily, such as a grooming table or sofa. Bending down to hand strip won’t do your back any favors -- this task can take some time.

Step 3

Ask your dog to sit or lie down. Pet him if he’s never been hand stripped before -- the experience might be slightly disconcerting to a dog the first time, so provide reassurance.

Step 4

Pinch a few of the longer hairs, the outer coat, between thumb and forefinger and pull gently in the direction the hair is growing. The hairs should come away easily -- this is nothing like plucking eyebrows. Repeat until you have covered his entire coat, or as much as you’re prepared to do that day.


  • A stripping knife makes this task a bit easier and faster as it helps you grip the hairs more easily.

  • Your dog will look somewhat scruffy after hand-stripping, but the new outer coat should grow back rapidly.

  • Hand stripping can be time consuming, testing the patience of both you and your pet, so consider spreading the task out over several days.

  • You’ll be pulling a lot of hair. To help with cleaning up afterward, which is especially time consuming on fabrics, protect your carpet or furniture with an old sheet.

  • Owners of wire-haired terriers don’t have to decide exclusively between clipping and stripping. You may prefer to have parts of your dog’s coat clipped, perhaps around the legs and face, and hand strip the rest when it blows.

Items You Will Need

  • Metal comb
  • Brush
  • Stripping knife