What is handstripping?

As a member of various social media groups which specialise in “our” breed, the Parson Russell Terrier, I often see scruffy, fluffy dogs, which is supposedly a “cute sight”. To me this is neither workmanlike nor a cute look, but I then read that people don’t want to show their dogs and that scruffy will do. So let me explain a bit about handstripping and why I think every dog deserves appropriate coat maintenance.

Terriers are originally bred for working – underground and in the undergrowth. Those hunting instincts are genetically determined, regardless what the actual “job” of this terrier is (and I hope she/he has a job, otherwise they can easily become a bored nuisance), same with the whole outer appearance, specifically the coat.

Most terriers hardly shed, except the smooth coated ones. Those can resemble overripe Christmas trees, especially in Autumn and Spring when the weather changes.

The hair is made and meant to be “stuck” in the follicles, the hair growth cycle genetically altered to protect the dog from the environment and weather. This will then being naturally stripped while working.

If you have a pet or maybe live in a city with no such possibilities, then you (or your dog’s groomer) need to take over the job of the undergrowth. Remove the hair manually, strip the old hair out. It keeps your dog’s skin healthy and supports new hair growth.

My dogs very much enjoy their walks in the countryside and patrolling the farm. Rummaging through underground, looking for holes, controlling the barns – it’s terrier’s paradise – and I still strip dead hair regularly.

Little and often wins the race.