Stripping and Strutting


The jitteriness and self-doubt came back the day I went to drop Gwynn off for his epically long haircut. 

“Maybe he’ll be fine with his hair just staying this long,” I suggested to my family.  They just shook their heads in disgust and asked me what time I needed to drop him off at the groomers.

“Well, what if I did it myself instead?” I offered.  They asked me what the address was to the groomers, they’d take him over there for me.  They collected all the scissors in the house into a pile and guarded them like a hyena guarding a carcass. 

It isn’t that I wasn’t happy with my final choice of groomer… it’s just the idea of Gwynn being cut down to an inch of hair that freaked me out a bit.  That, and leaving him somewhere.  I wasn’t blogging at the time that he got neutered, but this anxiety was almost as great as the anxiety leaving him at the vet’s office.  And they kept him for two nights, one before the surgery and one after… and surgery has the possibility of ending in a very bad way.  Whereas a bad haircut will just grow out.  Or so I kept telling myself.

When we got there, I’d resigned myself to finding out that he was a particularly not-nice-looking scrawny dog under all that fur (I’d love him anyways, of course), or that it would turn out that the fur was hiding just how obese he had secretly become.  But, having walked around for about 45 minutes in the sun, with the temperature reaching maybe even 20 degrees Celsius (that’s ‘almost too chilly for a t-shirt and jeans’ weather for those of you who can’t picture this temperature), Gwynn was seriously panting.  We hadn’t even done any fetch or running around.  He definitely needed a haircut. 

When we got there, the first thing the groomer said was, “I wanted to check something…”

She reached over to Gwynn, and with both hands, she started pulling out his hair all down his back.  And it came easily.  I brush this dog alot.  So this couldn’t possibly be a serious case of winter-coat coming out.  It was her testing and proving that he did in fact have a wire coat.  Underneath that wire coat was about 1 inch of silky fuzzy soft fur kind of like puppy fur.

A few examples of dogs with wire coats are Scottish terriers (ie scotty dogs), west highland terriers (ie westies), Brussels griffons, and border terriers.  It isn’t a silky soft coat – the term wire coat is really a reasonable description of the coat. You’ll notice that nowhere in those examples can you find Poodle, or Australian Shepherd.  That would be because Australian Shepherds have a fur coat that is medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat, and Poodles have a hair coat that is either curly or corded.  How Gwynn ended up with a wire coat is beyond me. 

We discussed it and decided to strip his coat instead of clipping it. 

When you’ve got a wire coated dog, the following information should be considered when deciding whether to cut or strip his coat (I got some of this explained to me by the groomer, and some of it I found on the sites I list further down the page):

  • The short coat underneath is more natural looking after stripping than a shave would produce
  • Shaving softens the hair, which causes it to mat much more easily once the dog has been shaved once … Stripping doesn’t change the hair, because it just pulls the hair out, allowing new wire hairs to come in.  Wire hairs are soft at the root and wiry at the end, but cutting them means that the soft part just keeps growing out.
  • Stripping doesn’t hurt the dog, if done properly (neither does shaving, so I suppose this one is neither an argument for or against stripping)
  • Plucking out the old hair stimulates the dogs’ skin and allows for new hairs to grow in.  The wire coat will come back, which is especially advantageous for people who like the wire coat on their dogs.
  • For dogs who have a particular breed look, stripping accomplishes that look easily and naturally, whereas shaving requires you to form that look.
  • Stripping is a considerably more time-consuming method.  If you’re doing it yourself, you can do it with your fingers or a stripping knife, and you don’t have to do it all at once (called rolling stripping), you can do it as hairs start to look scraggly. 
  • If you’re hiring a groomer to do the stripping, it costs a lot more… some sites said up to twice as much as a shave would cost.  Gwynn’s shaving+bath+ear cleaning+nail clipping would have cost about $65 CAD… his stripping+everything else+ a bit of shaving in sensitive regions was $100. 

Check out these sites for a bit more info about the process:

What did Gwynn get done?  He got most of his body, most of his rear legs, his tail and his head stripped.  She used the clippers on his stomach and on a large part of his legs because those areas are a lot more sensitive, and he wasn’t happy having his legs stripped.  She shaved his armpits and around his private bits, and cut down the hair between his toes.

Oh wait… you want to see pictures?  Well… ok.  Cue Music!

I do my little walk on the GRASS, yeah on the GRASS

I shake my little tail on the PA-ATH, on the PA-ATH!

Yup… I was being irrational and silly to think that he might actually not look cute anymore!  It is like the groomer took 10 months off his life (which is alot for a 14 month old dog!)… he looks like he hasn’t grown out his puppy fur yet, and it feels like puppy fur.

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15 Comments

  1. He looks amazing! That was a really wonderful choice and thank goodness the groomer knew what she was talking about. Are you going to try doing this yourself?

    • I think I’ll try to do his stripping myself next spring. it doesn’t seem too hard, just time consuming. I’m definitely glad I went to her, because she said that a lot of groomers don’t get trained in stripping anymore… I guess most places just teach their groomers to shave a dog to one length all-over and leave it at that. Another groomer might also not have pointed out that option to me, to make it easier for them to handle.

  2. He looks so great! Your groomer is obviously very exoperienced and you were right to trust her with Gwynn. He looks stunning, really, and I am sure he is so much happier now.

    I’ve never owned a dog that needs serious grooming but I am not surprised to learn how much is involved. If I do own a higher maintenance dog one day I would love to learn how to do some of this myself.

    I am so glad it all turned out so well! Good on you for being so brave and facing your fears.

    • My neighbour does her own grooming for her poodle. She keeps him a fairly basic short-all-over, but I could see how the cost would add up for a dog that needs a haircut every two months or so. Thankfully Gwynn’s hair doesn’t grow quite that fast, and I’ll probably let him grow out right through until next spring, so that he’s got some warmth for the winter.

  3. He looks so cute! Good call to get he haircut. Interesting about the stripping – I never knew that.

    • thanks! He’s definitely more comfortable with it short… it’ll be good for when the weather gets really warm.

  4. Gwynn, you look like a total hottie 🙂
    I know that fear of getting your dog back and having him/her look weird. I took my chow/collie mix to a new groomer when I was 8 months pregnant. They shaved her down to her SKIN. I just hope she never caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror!

    • Oh NO! That would be tough. Apparently the term ‘stripping’ is also used to describe ‘just shave the dog down to a short buzz’, so if I ever go to another groomer than this one, i’ll have to make sure to specify, to avoid getting him a haircut that short!
      I feel so bad for the dogs that get ridiculous looking haircuts… you know they know how silly they look… they know when you’re laughing at them vs with them. hopefully your pup’s hair grew back quickly and nicely after that incident!

  5. Wow—Gwynn looks like a different dog! The groomer did an amazing job! Gwynn’s coat looks nice and soft and it’s the perfect length for the summer. I especially love his fluffy tail. 🙂

    Oscar’s a low maintenance dog and doesn’t need much in terms of grooming besides an occasional bath, pedicure and quick brush.

  6. hahah Lexy, that cracked me up! Too sexy!

    growing up my husband and I both only had dogs with fur, so we didn’t really have to groom…now with allergies, we had to pick a “hypo-allergenic” type of dog, and they are all hair dogs. After we got over the fact most of those type are little ruff-ruffs…we found Ozo and have been happy. EXCEPT, we didn’t think about the time/effort, and mainly costs associated with having the dog clipped/groomed, etc.

    After we had him for about 7 months, he couldn’t see any longer and we weren’t about to tie hair in ribbon…so it took both my husband and I to hold him down while Bill tried using the trimmer and cutting certain areas. Our dog was so distressed, he ended up pooing on me. Runny yucky kind.

    We now just suck up the costs…but let it grow out and then snip around so he can see. We wait until last minute. It’s so expensive. he’s gotten a little better now that he’s older…except on walks he now brings back all those sticker/bur things stuck in his hair.

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com
    Lake Forest, CA USA

    Lexy- what part of Canada are you in…I’m thinking you’re the East Coast…because we’re hitting British Columbina (Victoria and Vancouver) the last week of June. I’m going to meet another blogger that week. Just thought I’d check w/you. I’m thnking you’re not in that region? If so, I’d love to meet ya!

    • The grooming aspect is definitely a downside (or at least, additional cost to consider) when you get a hypoallergenic dog. It definitely means you’ve got a whole extra cost to figure into your dog ownership, as well as trying to find someone to do the grooming (or do it yourself). My neighbour’s poodle is calm and relaxed as can be while she trims his hair on their front porch – but I guess he had lots of opportunity to get used to it, since he has to get it done every 6 weeks or so. I’m not sure i’ll ever get to the point where Gwynn can be entirely done by me, though I do plan to attempt to strip him next spring. It might take a few days though! And will hopefully not involve any poop, which would be distressing for both him and I! I trimmed his eyebrows a few times over the winter, whenever I realised that we couldn’t see any part of his eyes. He wasn’t all that upset by it,but it certainly didn’t look very tidy 🙂
      I’m in Ontario – definitely not anywhere near British Columbia unfortunately. I’ve heard it is gorgeous out there (i’ve only been as far as Alberta), hopefully your trip is amazing! If you hae the opportunity, get out in the mountains to do a hike or two – I went on the Alberta side, and it was stunning. I made it up to a glacier lake, and, in the middle of July, there was still snow on parts of the trail, and a big chunk of ice in the lake.

  7. Not what I was expecting based on the title, but as far as dog posts go this one is arfully good!

    • glad you weren’t too traumatised by finding a dog post at the end of that title!

  8. I am waaay behind reading, but Gwynn looks great! The groomer did a nice job and glad to read that it wasn’t too hard on you! 🙂

    • he is definitely loving the new cut… all that extra air-flow is keeping him nice and cool in the heat we’re finally getting this spring.

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