Q. I have a Giant Schnauzer puppy. I read about grooming and they refer to “stripping the coat.” What is stripping?
A. Standing 23½ to 27½ inches tall at the shoulders, this stunningly handsome, intelligent and athletic canine is the largest member of the Schnauzer family and is groomed like his smaller counterparts, the Miniature and Standard Schnauzer. Although they share the name “schnauzer” – meaning “muzzle” in their homeland of Germany – the three are distinct breeds that have simply been bred to look similar.
The Giant Schnauzer’s back and body should be short, conforming closely to the contours of his powerful body, the legs and beard slightly longer and distinctive arched eyebrows adding to his sharp squared-away appearance. While purists insist that the only correct way to groom this dog is to hand-strip the coat, it’s common practice for groomers to use clippers to achieve the same neatly tailored look.
However, if you intend to show your dog, that would not be an option; he would need to be shown in a hand-stripped coat. The hard, wiry gleaming black or salt-and- pepper coat color is one of the outstanding characteristics of this breed so it is a major consideration in the show ring.
It can be difficult to find a groomer who hand-strips large-breed dogs like yours, but even if you don’t plan to show him but want his coat to retain its wiry texture and rich color, this would be your grooming method of choice.
Hand-stripping is the process of plucking the outer guard hairs once the coat is “blown” – the top coat pulled out using fingers or a stripping knife. Held between the thumb and forefinger, the knife is not used to cut but only to pull the hair out. It does not hurt the dog. When ready, the dead coat is easily removed. Using a gentle touch, the groomer maintains a steady rhythm and works the coat a few hairs at a time, keeping the wrist locked and pulling in the direction in which the coat grows. Sometimes chalk or rosin powder is used to help maintain a firmer grip.
When a terrier coat is overgrown and the dog starts resembling tumbleweed, it usually needs to be stripped right down to the undercoat layer, leaving the dog looking naked until its new outer coat grows in. If hand-stripped at regular intervals, the dog’s coat can be “rolled” so that only the longest top hair is pulled out while the new coat is growing in underneath, avoiding that “plucked chicken” look.
A hand-stripped dog won’t need to see the groomer as often as its clippered cousin. Most groomers like to see their hand-stripping customers every ten to twelve weeks, keeping them looking the way they should and making their job easier as well.
We like to see these dogs this every six to eight weeks. Whether your dog is clippered or hand-stripped, you will need to keep his coat brushed and free of mats and tangles between appointments. You can also maintain the coat’s smooth and shiny surface by regularly using a carding tool to get rid of undercoat fuzz.