How to Handstrip a Cairn Terrier

Updated April 17, 2017

When the cold weather is over, your cairn terrier's fur can look pretty shaggy. Cairn terriers have two coats of fur. Although upon initial inspection the two coats do not look different, once the terrier is hand stripped, there is a noticeable difference in both the texture and look of the fur. Instead of opting to clip or brush your cairn terrier's top coat, hand strip the fur. Hand stripping is healthy not only for coat growth but for the skin as well.

Place the dog on a flat, wide surface. Hold the dog steady by placing your hand at the hindquarters or near the shoulders.

Brush the dog. Before hand stripping the dog, you must brush the coat thoroughly. With the dog brush, begin brushing at the head and work your way down to the tail. This eliminates loose hair.

Fluff the dog with the comb. Comb the dog hair up in the opposite direction that the hair grows. Fluff small areas of the hair as you begin pulling out the top coat.

Start with the snout, under the thighs and back of the paws. Brush the dog. Fluff the areas of hair you are hand stripping. Grasp a few hairs, lock your wrist and pull the hair in the direction of the hair growth. Do not leave any hair behind in these areas.

A month later, hand strip the next portion of the dog. Get rid of the hair on the back, sides of the face, legs and top of the back paws. Brush the areas with the dog brush. Comb the hair up and pull it out.

Three to four weeks later, eliminate the hair on the underside, chest and side of the chest on the dog. Hand strip the dog in the same fashion as before.

Blend the hair in. After the last portion of the dog is hand stripped, blend all areas in. Brush the dog and comb all the hair up. Pull longer hairs out to blend in the hair.


The hand stripping method is an ideal method for a variety of dogs that have an undercoat and a topcoat. Dip your fingertips in chalk powder before hand stripping. The chalk helps you get a better grip on the hair. Hand stripping knives are available at most pet stores.


Do not pull the hair hard enough to hurt the dog. Do not strip the dog's hair all at once. This can lead to a "plucked" look.

Things You'll Need

  • Table or flat surface
  • Wire dog brush
  • Metal-pronged dog comb
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About the Author

A.N. Pike has been a professional writer since 2006. She has worked for the "McKinney Courier-Gazette" and her campus newspaper, now freelancing for various clients. Pike earned her associate's degree in mass communications and journalism from Collin College.