The technique of hand stripping is often thought of as belonging to the realm of show dogs or pure breeds. There are times, however, when it is an excellent choice in grooming the terrier mix. There are some coats that "call out" for hand stripping rather than using clippers.
This is "Sophie". She is most likely a Westie/Chihuahua mix.
She has a profuse growth of coarse guard hairs and a dense undercoat of soft hair. Before finding me, the owner had her groomed professionally once. The dog was clipped close all over and the owner hated it. The owner was apprehensive about having the dog shaved and hoped that I could accomplish a grooming that would not make this cutie pie look bald and ugly.
One glance and I saw that hand stripping would be appropriate. My fingers were itching to start plucking out that bushy stuff! A few test pinches of the hair confirmed my impression that Sophie was a perfect candidate for hand stripping. Plucking the hair instead of clipping or cutting it allows the groomer to leave a more natural coat and appearance.
Tools: Latex gloves are a key tool, as they allow me to efficiently pluck hair with my fingers. I first tackled the neck and head, mostly plucking. This picture shows one half of the face and head finished (your right, dog's left) to show the detailing.
For the body, I chose my favorite stripping knife, the McClellan red knife. I've got a box full of knives, but most often prefer the McClellans. For carding out the undercoat, I used a Hindes comb, a staggered tooth fine comb that I recently rediscovered in my tool box. Final touches were done with small coarse blending shears. On tender areas, such as underbelly and under the tail, I almost always compromise and use blenders instead of plucking.
My dirty little secret: I opted to NOT wet bathe this dog. Why? Because sometimes the bathing and drying of a hand stripped coat fluffs it up too much and your work looks bad. I did not have the time to go back over the whole body, and the dog was not stained. Most of the dirt had come out in removing the excess hair. Instead of a bath, I dry cleaned using Chris Christensen Dry Breeze, a spray dry cleaner that leaves a crisp coat and delightful fragrance. I chuckled when Sophie's owner picked her up and said, "Oh, you smell SO GOOD!". I use the Dry Breeze with a double-sided bristle brush from Sally's Beauty. It has a stiff side and a soft side.
I know you are anxious to see the final result. Here she is! The whole process took a little over one hour.
And here is the hair, or most of the hair I removed from Ms. Sophie. The big pile on the right is topcoat, the smaller pile on the left is the soft undercoat I carded out. I usually collect the hair from a hand stripped pet and show it to the owner. It verifies that you have, indeed, hand stripped their pet, and it helps to justify the price.
This owner was so happy she tipped me $25.00. Winning!