Fox Terrier Club

of Maryland

Grooming Wire Fox Terriers

How to Groom a Wire Fox Terrier

Hand stripping a Wire Fox Terrier is the method of grooming the dog for a show where the hair is NEVER cut.  It is somewhat time consuming and is practiced by few outside of the showing community.  If you have just purchased a Wire Fox Terrier IT IS worth your time learning how to hand strip your dog.  The true beauty of their coat will NEVER been seen if your Wire Fox Terrier's coat is cut.

Hand stripped Wire Fox Terriers have the coarse, thick wire hair that is very luxurious thick and beautiful.  Very few pet owners take the time and effort to do this.  However, the difference in the appearance of the dog is amazing.

Hand stripping involves  pulling the hair out, not cutting it.  This can be done on BROKEN HAIRED DOGS ONLY!  DO NOT TRY THIS ON A SMOOTH FOX TERRIER!  It is a process that will take about 1 to 2  hours of effort every 3 to 4 weeks to keep a dog in an attractive state, not a show state.  Dogs that are going to be shown require quite a bit more effort.  If you are going through the effort to create the wire coat, NEVER cut the hair.  Even 1 hair cut can destroy years of work.

When the hair is cut, the hair continues to grow from the root and it gets finer, softer, greyish and color and curly.  Fox Terriers who have had their hair cut over the years have a soft curly coat that is fine, not wire like, and it will lose its color. 

All that is needed to learn to strip is your fingers and a grooming table to hold the dog still.  Later you will want to buy a quality stripping knife or two.  If you are going to buy a stripping knife, do you self a favor and buy a Pearson knife  There are other good brands but many are junk and will end up cutting the hair of your Wire Fox Terrier, exactly what you are trying to avoid.

The following is a very basic description of the process and is not meant to instruct for showing a dog.

I try to maintain a "rolling" coat.  This is were the coat has long hairs, medium length hairs and short hairs.  The goal is to remove only the long hairs so that the short become medium and the medium becomes long.  This way you are only pulling out a small fraction of the hairs at any one time.  It requires more sessions with your Wire Fox Terrier, but each grooming session is shorter.

Wire Fox Terriers are one of the most difficult dogs to strip due to the amount of blending of short to long regions.  The top of the head, the ears and the front of the neck are trimmed very close.  The back has hair about 1 1/2 inches long. The tails hair is medium in length.

Pulling only a few hairs at a time is the best method to avoid discomfort to the dog and to avoid removing too much hair.  However, a Fox Terrier will only stand for so much before he is bored.  He will start fussing during a long session.  Give yourself and the dog a break after about 1 hour. Try to make the grooming session pleasant as possible.  Fox Terriers DO NOT LIKE STANDING STILL, however, they do love attention.  

First NEVER "Strip Out" the furnishings! Furnishings take a long time to grow. So be very careful, and we take out only a very few hairs at a time, going over and over, the same area if necessary, until you have accomplished the correct line.
Second, ALWAYS pull the hair in the direction of growth. Some areas are very difficult to groom  since the hair from 2 directions comes together or it grows in a circle.  There are 2 circles on the rump and 2 on the neck under the ears.  To get the best look always follow this rule.

It helps to have a picture of a Fox Terrier properly groomed from different angles.  The goal is to "sculpt" you dog to make it look like the picture.  What us "right" for  one Wire Fox Terrier is not necessarily right for your Fox Terrier.  The goal is to make your dog look like the best show dog picture you can find!

The head of the Wire Fox Terrier should be box like when looked at from the front.  The beard and face should not be scooped out or "pooched".  The head should appear narrow with a long face with small eyes.

The front legs of a Wire Fox Terrier should be straight pillars with a straight line from the point of the shoulders to the toes.  Only pull a few hairs on the legs at one time, brush, stand back and decide what to pull next.

The only place you will use scissors is between the pads of the feet and around the bottom.  Some will even strip the area around the feet.  The idea is to have the appearance of small compact feet.

The rear legs of the WIre Fox Terrier are tricker to get the proper look the front are easy they are pillars, the back are full of angles and curves.

From the rear the legs should be straight and not bowed or cow hocked.  From the side it is difficult to describe.  Get a good picture and make YOUR Fox Terrier look like that.

The back of the legs and the rump are trimmed closely and it quickly blends into the longer furnishings.  Once again, look at pictures of good dogs and copy that look.

This takes practice.  Take your time and learn. 

If you give up there are professionals who will hand strip your Wire Fox Terrier.

The only one I know of is Sheena Garrett in Gettysburg, PA 717-337-3498.  If you know of any others in the Mid Atlantic area, please let me know so I can have them listed as well.