The Dirt on Recirculating Bathing Systems
Yorkie Ears on Westie Type Heads

Terriers in a SNAP!


We all get terrier type dogs that come in the shop that “should” get stripped, but either they have never been stripped, or the owner doesn’t want to pay for stripping, or the groomer doesn’t know HOW to strip or doesn’t have TIME to strip.

There is a technique using snapon combs, that will mimic a handstripped look, keeping the pets looking natural and saving you time and energy.

The candidates for this technique are not always purebreds. However, they can be. Cairns, Westies, Scotties, Border Terriers, and of course, Norwich, Norfolk, and any mix that has a hard coat texture is a perfect candidate for this technique, and if the owner is wanting a more natural look they will appreciate your efforts.


I begin by bathing the pet and making sure I use a texturing shampoo, like EZ Groom’s Structure. On terrier type coat I use a spray on conditioner while drying the coat, rather than a rinse out, and I like Ruff Coat by Show Seasons the best of any I have tried on this type of coat. It is important on this harsh coat that drying be done properly as well. It MUST be dried flat against the body rather than fluffed out from the body.


Once the pup is prepped, you have to decide what length comb is going to work the best on the dog you are working on. That length will be long enough to lay flat, but short enough to look as if there was a hair cut given to the dog. I decide which comb I am going to use by running the comb through the coat without turning the clipper on. That way I can gauge how much hair is coming off and adjust before actually cutting any hair.

I tend to gravitate toward my Laube Speed Feed for this type of coat more often than anything else, but you can use a Wahl Stainless steel snap on or a plastic com by any of the other manufacturers, depending on your preference and your equipment availability.


The biggest thing to remember is to always follow the direction the hair is growing on the dog’s body. Even if you find that the hair is changing direction, you have to adjust your clipper to follow the new line. If you cross the direction of the hair’s natural growth you will get gaps and lines that are hard to erase and it will diminish the natural appearance of the groom.


Under the neck, I switch to a shorter snap on length, and trim the area from under the jawline to the breastbone, shorter, following the lay of the coat, and only trimming the area that is between the cowlicks. You will see the area to be clipped when you tip the head back slightly. Generally it is a U shaped area similar to that on a poodle.


The ears on the puppies featured were plucked slightly on the outside to keep color and only scissored along the edges to make the shape more defined. If the ears are to be tipped, I only trim the inside of the ears short, using a longer blade on the outside or plucking them when possible. This makes the ear appear more natural.

By using thinning shears to shape the legs, underline and head, blending the neckline into the body, you will keep a natural appearance and reduce lines.



These techniques work tremendously well on schnauzers that have a harsh coat are are sensitive to clipping as well. You can virtually eliminate clipper irritation by using snap on combs, as the blade never touches the dog’s skin.

Follow up with a light  hand carding the coat and you will have a halthy coat that appears as if you hand stripped it in a short time and you will have a happy dog and owner. 

My apprenctice Ashley did most of the grooming on this page. Thanks to the owners of the pups for allowing us to use their pets photos.



You have answered a question that I was going to put to the Groomers' Forum, specifically what shampoo to use on a hard coat. Thanks so much for the article.

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