Hand Stripping is when the dead hair is pulled out so a new wire coat grows in, instead of cutting the hair with clippers. It does not hurt, they may not like it, but it is not painful when done properly. Wire hair is not attached like our own hair. Stripping maintains a proper wire coat, while clipping makes it soft and ruins the texture. If you decide to clip, it really helps to rake out dead coat and/or strip a little coat before using clippers. It is not as good as hand stripping, but does make for some new coat and a healthier over all coat. Keep the clip a little long, try to use a long enough blade that it does not dig into the undercoat level.
Each grown out wire hair has a hard wire point, then is semi hollow down to about the undercoat level, very soft at the base and only lightly anchored in the follicle, which is why they pull out so easy. Cutting the hair takes away the structure of the hair. Particularly when cut below the undercoat level, but even just the tip breaks the structure. If cut, the soft base stays in the follicle so a new wire tipped hair can not grow. The soft bottom will continue to grow awhile. If the dog is continually cut, the coat stays soft under coat and soft base hair from the old top coat. Often the wire coat is in one layer and pulling it leaves them in their "underwear" until a new coat wire comes though. The undercoat is soft and supposed to be. It may take 8 to 10 weeks before the new wire coat comes in and is long enough to cover the undercoat.
Expect to pay a lot more, at least double, what the clipping price would be if you want hand stripping. It is very labor intensive.
Rolling is having part of the coat come in new in layers, so that you can strip off the longest hair, and always have wire coat. This is done by pulling only about the longest third of the coat, leaving the rest for a week to two weeks, depending on the dog, and then repeating until there is always new coat coming in underneath. This can be started when they are grown out with a blown coat, or when a new coat is just past perfect. Not all dogs can be 'rolled'.
Handstripping to some is pulling the coat with only your fingers, but most commonly we use the term when we use a stripping knife too. Raking is using the stripping knife, a clipper blade or a piece of pumice stone to rake though or 'comb' the undercoat. This pulls a lot of dead undercoat out and also helps the new coat come in. We also do this when in the wire coat to take out some of the undercoat leaving the jacket even 'harder'.
The purist will say hand strip only. But if you use a stripping knife properly, it works as well as pulling the coat only with your fingers. Despite the name 'knife' it is never used to cut the hair, only to help grip it. Many times the knives are too sharp or the wrong motion is used and the hair is cut.Secretary's fingers, latex surgical gloves and ear powder (which has rosin in it) sprinkled on the coat all help grip the coat while pulling.
Pull out a few hairs with your thumb and side of your forefinger and watch how that looks when you hand strip. The knife is used only to replace your forefinger to make the pulling easier.
Wrap your fingers around the handle and leave the blade sticking out where your finger would have been and so your thumb will close in the middle of it in a pliers action. The grooves in the knife are facing away from your thumb. Pick up a layer of a few hairs at a time with your thumb and squeeze them against the knife blade. Pull them with a very sharp motion, with the grain of the hair, never backwards to the way the hair grows. Say middle of the back, you are pulling toward the dogs tail, not towards the head or up away from the body. Do not twist your wrist and pull in a circular motion. This will cut the hair and ruin your wrists. Instead lock your wrist and keep your arm straight to the elbow. Pull by moving your hand towards your body keeping the bending only your elbow and shoulder. There is another quite useful description on how to use the tools at the Macknyfe Website. Sometimes the knives when new are too sharp. Dull them by dragging them though dirt, use them to open boxes, or sanding them a little.
If you just do occasional hand stripping, the readily available in many pet supply catalogs McClellan's are a good choice. Yellow handle, Coarse and Red handle, Fine. If you just get one, buy the yellow handle. The red handle is also an good one to use as a 'rake'. They are also available from Robert McClellen himself, PO Box 254, Upland Ca. 91786 Pearson knives are another popular one with wood handles. 405.257.5832 The common ones found in most pet supply catalogs, Hauptner and the Magnet stripper, may not as good as the others listed, but many people are happy with them.
by Michele Clay Oak Hill, Florida
"If you'd like to make a puppy pen like the one I made for my puppies, here are the directions:
First, you need to decide if you want to make it out of 3/4" or 1/2" pipe. 3/4" is suitable for larger puppies. 1/2" is better for smaller puppies because it allows for a smaller space between the bars. Let's assume you're making your pen for small breed puppies.
Shopping List - You can get these items at Lowe's, Home Depot, Builder's Square, or any store like them. (10 or 11) 10' pvc pipes (20) corners or L's (32) crosses (8) T's (8) caps pvc pipe cutter tape measure pvc glue (optional) rubber mallet
Cutting the pipe: I cut an equal number of pipes 35" and 46 1/2" to make my pen; you can make yours any size you want. Remember the addition of the corners will add approx. 2" to the length and width of your pen. Let's say you're making yours just like mine, so it will be easier for me to tell you how to do it. For each layer, you will need two 35" pieces and two 46 1/2" pieces. You will also need to cut a number of little connection pieces, 1 7/8" long. These will be used to connect the fittings, where they appear to be connected to each other, rather than to your long pipes. You will need eight to attach the leg caps to the legs, and then sixteen for each layer.
Make one layer at a time. Put a cross at either end of a piece of pipe, making sure they will sit on the floor evenly. On the opposite side of the crosses, put the connection pieces, and then tap the corners on with your rubber mallet. It is very important to make all your connections snug. Put connection pieces on the bottoms of your crosses, and tap on your caps. Your first layer is done! Repeat the process (except the caps) and then attach the second layer to the top of the first layer by putting connections pieces in the top of the crosses on the first layer. This is the only slightly difficult part of the project because you might have to do some finageling to get it to fit perfectly. If you have cut your pipes the same size, tho, it will fit.
Keep doing this until you get to the top layer. You can make it as many layers as you need to, depending on the size of your puppies. Rather than using crosses, you will use Ts so the topline wil be even. The Ts will be pointing down, to connect with the tops of the crosses in the lower layer. You're done! Cover the bottom with newspaper and add puppies, food, water, a bed, and toys. They will love having all the space. If your pen gets dirty, just wipe it with a washcloth you've moistened and sprayed with Windex. You can also use a bleach solution, if you need to disinfect it. It will look like new again.