Whether you are an owner or a groomer, knowing the time to have your dog in for a handstrip is hugely important because it can really help to maintain the coat condition, look after your dog’s skin health and also make the experience a pleasurable one for everyone involved. As an owner or a groomer, you may wonder what is the point in handstripping? It takes longer, is more expensive and clipping seems like a much easier option… Before you go down this route, there are reasons you should know.
Why handstrip – health reasons
So handstripping is not a skill that everyone has and certainly not many can do it to a high standard, but there are benefits to having your dog handstripped…
Coat texture and condition is maintained to thick it’s normal thick and wiry feel.
This protects the dog’s skin from their usual active lifestyle.
When a wire hair is clipped, the coat texture and colour can change, because hair follicles no longer grow in the same pattern. Less protein is given to the skin, and the skin will naturally produce more oil to protect it from the outside elements.
In wire coated dogs, this can lead to an increase in skin conditions.
The coat maintains the natural structure, which allows the dog to regulate their temperature a lot easier.
Hair cycle explained
The hair cycle is a highly complex procedure that actually takes years to complete if you are looking at an entire coat. However, when you isolate one hair cycle and link this to how often wire coated and some silky coated dogs experience this, it helps you plan when to actually book in your dogs for. For more information on this, check out our support package to see how we can best help get the most out of handstripping and improve your knowledge even further.
One simple hair cycle is split into four stages:
Stage 1, the hair has a fresh blood supply and the hair is growing more and more out of of the skin. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t like having this hair pulled out from me. At this stage, the hair is not ready.
Stage 2, the hair is continuing to grow, climbing to the biggest length that you’ll see but still has a blood supply to maintain the hair health and grow. Once again, the hair is not ready.
Stage 3, the hair has reached the maximum length it can grow to and it has lost the blood supply. It is now at the surface of the skin and is ready to moult or be handstripped.
Stage 4, the beginning of the next cycle is starting to happen and the hair is ready to fall out.
What does it look like when the hair is ready?
When the hair is pushed up, it is at a different length to the younger hair
When the harsh, wire hairs are grabbed, it will easily fall out within your fingers
The hair may start to naturally part in places
When the hair is at this point is different for different breeds, but you should start checking after two months and then every two weeks up to three months. By the time it gets to 12 to 14 weeks, the coat should really now be stripped, although there are variations from breed to breed, so knowing what to look for is essential. For more detail and even better insight, see our world-renowned expert advice in our support section.