About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A First

I have been asked several times over the years if I did Hand Stripping.
I have always told prospective hand stripping customers 'no'.

I learned a little about hand stripping in grooming school.
We spent one whole day on it. :/

For years I never had a customer ask me about hand stripping a coat.
I hand stripped own TerrierX that had a great coat for hand stripping.
I hand stripped her up until she was 17, then the last few years of her life I just let the coat grow.
I felt that she was too old for all of that pulling.

A few of the reasons that I never offered this service is because my knowledge of hand stripping was very limited, it is very time consuming for an average pet groom, and I had no idea what to charge for a such a specialized service.

About six months ago, one of my long time customers, who had recently lost their elderly Wheaton, called to say that they had a new puppy.

 A very cute Walsh puppy.

They brought him in for his first grooming at 8 weeks.

He did really well, but I noticed that he tended to be a bit toothy.

Meaning, he showed signs of being touchy about parts of the grooming process, and didn't mind using his teeth to tell you so.

I suggested that his owners start brushing him, and handling his feet right away to get him used to being fooled with.

His owners were great and did just what I asked.

He came in again for another bath at 14  weeks.

He was really good for some parts of the grooming and a little nasty for other parts, mainly anything having to do with fooling with his legs.

He also liked going after the dryer hose.

For the next four or five weeks his owners brought him every Saturday for a brush out and bath so that I could work with him.

(6 months)

In the meantime, the owners had also gotten a trainer to work with their dog.

With each grooming he was getting better about being groomed.

The owners also put him in doggy daycare.

While in doggy daycare, someone told them that their new Welsh puppy should not be clipped and only hand stripped.

So, they talked it over with me.

I told them what I have always told anyone who has asked about hand stripping, but they were long time customers that I did not want to lose.

I told them about hand stripping. (I have learned more over the years, still not an expert) 
I explained the high cost of hand stripping.
The time involved.
The regular maintenance of the coat.

I also told them that I have groomed (clipped) several Welsh Terriers over the years.
A couple of them did lose a little of their crisp coloring from being clipped, but still looked very nice.
A few others kept their beautiful black jacket even after being clipped.

They took a week or two to decide if they wanted to try the hand stripping, or go for the pet clipping.

They decided on the hand stripping.
I was both excited and a little worried.
Whenever I had hand stripped my own dog, I had always only used my fingers.
I had never used a stripping knife, mainly because I am left handed, and for years could not find left handed stripping knives.

For some reason, about a year ago, I found left handed stripping knives at Hershey and decided to get them.
I am glad that I did, this Welshes coat is so thick.

So, I had a couple of weeks before the Welsh was do in.
I spent that time reading up, and watching a few videos on hand stripping.

I really didn't even think about taking pictures until it was too late.
I was so worried about doing a good job.

I did take one picture of the Welshes head right before I started stripping it.
Then I forgot to take more pictures during the process.

I hand stripped him in two sessions.
The first session I stripped his head and half of his body.
That was last week.
Today I finished him up.
Well, pretty much finished him up.
It is my opinion that you never really finish hand stripping a dog.
I think that they are just a constant 'work in progress'.

So, here he is after I finished with him today.

Don't be too hard on me.

I am not asking for a critique.

I knew that there are things I can improve on.

I am sure that a professional hand stripper would have a list of things to say.

But, the owners are not showing him, and for a pet hand stripping I think that I did okay.

I have to say, more power to those groomers out there that do this all of the time.

My fingers and wrist are so sore tonight.

Thankfully, I will only be doing this every six weeks to keep his coat maintained.

Oh.....he was really great about the grooming. :)

All of that working with him paid off.

Happy Grooming, MFF 


  1. Nice job! Greetings, Claudia.

  2. Awwww! He is so sweet, he looks like a beautiful stuff toy. Grooming is about maintaining both your dog’s physical health as well as her appearance. To do this you must begin training your dog to endure pet grooming while she is still a puppy. If you wait too long to begin the grooming sessions, your puppy may not be agreeable to it later on, especially when it comes to ear cleaning and nail clipping.

  3. I think he looks fantastic and what a great post! :) My fiance has a terrierX that I've started hand stripping also. He's 5 years old and has never been stripped but he has skin issues. I did some research on his skin issues and found out that some of the harsh coat breeds can develop skin issues from their follicles becoming clogged with hair as the undercoat keeps growing without the stripping to maintain it. Plus, he absolutely hates being brushed and since his coat has never been stripped it is so soft and downy that it mats very easy so I thought I would give it a try. I am still shocked that he's so much more tolerant of the stripping than brushing! He will climb right in my lap and just lay there while I strip away a section at a time. I don't remember where I first heard about hand stripping but it was before I started school and when I found out my school doesn't spend any time teaching hand stripping I did some research, watched some videos, and contacted a groomer about 2,000 miles away to ask questions and learn what I could from a distance. I've been using my hands or a piece of a pumice stone that I took from a pedicure kit lol. I don't like either though because the stone makes my fingers raw and my hands cramp without it. I'm planning on investing in some stripping knives because I think that may be easier, especially starting out. His skin issues have seemed to improve especially on his lower back which is where I first started stripping. I would love to offer some kind of pet stripping service when I start grooming professionally but I haven't decided on pricing yet and I am still so slow I think I need to practice more on my dog before I offer it as a service. But hey, if they are willing to pay I am willing to do it once I get better at it. Also I've been meaning to mention, I saw in an old post where you talked about Selsun Blue. I have another dog with dry, flaky, skin and I've been using Head and Shoulders and it seems to work great as well for her. Although, she does need to be bathed regularly (about every 3 weeks) to keep it under control. I hate the way Selsun Blue smells as well but Head and Shoulders isn't so bad and they even have some nice fragrances. I'm using a H&S green apple scented shampoo plus conditioner on her right now and it smells great! I know it may not work on every dog but it has worked great for mine so far. :) Keep up the great work!

  4. Hi Kasi,
    I went between using the stripping knives and my fingers. I liked using my fingers better. (just me) To help keep my fingers from getting too raw, I used the rubber finger tip covers (got them from Wal-Mart) In the office supply isle. The rubber helps grab the hair and protects your fingers.
    As for the Selsun Blue, I hate the smell of it also. It did help my mix, and I only use it on him occasionally now. I'll have to try the H&S green apple shampoo.
    Lisa, MFF

  5. Could you possibly do a post on how you achieve round feet? They're always so crisp looking. I would love to learn how you achieve them.

  6. Looks great! I think hand stripping doesn't need to be so intimidating. I am also a novice at it, but after researching and studying videos, I think for pets it really doesn't need to be so scary. You already know how to style to the breed standard, so setting the pattern with stripping instead of clipping is not so hard! I would never even begin to try the show stripping that they do though, lol. The week after week of stripping bald in different areas to create topline etc. say for a show Schnauzer, yikes! Now that intimidates me! :P
    You do a great job :)

    1. Hi Miriam,

      Time and price is what tends to scare most pet customers away from hand stripping. It is hard on my hands....that is what scares me away from offering it.

      Thanks for the compliment, and for reading my blog. :)

      Lisa, MFF

  7. Hi-I've been grooming for 12 years and have had my own shop for 6. I stumbled across your blog doing research to write my own. (haven't yet, I don't how you find the time!). I think your awesome and that little guy looks great. That's pretty much how I learned to handstrip-do research then hold your breath and go!!!
    Never had any complaints. None were show dogs, but some very cool terriers-a Norwich, a couple of borders and a lakeland. Most people are not interested in the price and the time, but once in awhile someone is, and it is so much better for the skin and coat. I've decided it is not one of my favorite things to do at this stage of my career, or maybe it was because all the dogs I had done were feisty little boogas. lol

    1. Thank you!
      It's not easy to find the time to write, but I do enjoy it. :)
      Lisa, MFF