MacKnyfe Specialties

Use of Macknyfe Grooming Tools

By: C.J. McLaughlin III, President, Macknyfe Specialties, and Margery Good, Professional Handler
Copyright 1992 by Macknyfe Specialties. All rights reserved.

Macknyfe Strippers, Deetailers, and Muckrakers are used worldwide by top winning exhibitors and handlers of wire-coated breeds. The distinctive "fish tailed" handle reduces twisting of the tool in the hand during use, which reduces the formation of blisters and sore spots. The rounded corners of the blades and flats on the ends of all teeth reduce the chance of cuts and scrapes to the dog being groomed.

All of these tools are carefully treated to reduce sharpness of the blade, thereby reducing the amount of hair cut instead of stripped. In use, these tools should not cut the hair but grab it, in conjunction with the thumb, enabling the groomer to remove the hair easily from the animal.

And for further information, see The Handstripping vs. Clipping FAQ by Laurel Tofflemire of Terraholm Border Terriers.

How to Hold and Use

The tool should be grasped firmly with the thumb against the tapered surface of the blade (the grooves in the back of the blade are machining artifacts only and play no role in the use of the tool) with the "fish tail" resting firmly but comfortably against the heel of the hand.

In normal use, the blade should remain perpendicular relative to the animal's skin. As the coat is stripped, mucked, or carded, the blade should always remain in this relative position. The tool should NOT be rolled in use, but should be moved in a sweeping motion. If rolled, it will cut or break the hair, leaving unwanted bristles and thick, cut hair ends. The desired sweeping motion is properly achieved most easily using elbow motion only -- usually augmented by a swiveling (not rolling) wrist motion. We recommend that beginners develop proper technique with the elbow motion only.



Stripping is used to remove coat -- whether all to start a new coat, or some to shape an existing coat. Coat is always stripped in the same direction as the hair lays or points.

With the tool or index finger, brush the hair up with one motion and with the return motion, grasp the hair you want to remove between the thumb and the blade and pull it out.

You should pull only as much hair as the dog will tolerate without signs of distress. This will vary from part to part of the coat -- with throat, ears, and rear end being more sensitive than the back, legs, back of neck and head.

With this technique, you should pull only the longest hairs -- do not grab deeply into the coat -- and work the coat down by stages until the desired length and shape are achieved. Consult the grooming guide for your breed to determine proper coat lengths for various body areas.

Teeth on the tools can be used as "depth gauges" to achieve uniform length in the areas where various short lengths are required; e.g., the ears, head, throat, rear end. Simply place the tool teeth lightly against the skin through the coat, grasp any hair you can get between the blade and your thumb and remove it. To maintain coat this short, you should use this technique on these short areas at least weekly.

Remember: ALWAYS support the coat/skin with your free hand while stripping.


Mucking is used to remove dead or fine hair overlaying the show coat as well as to remove excess undercoat.

Support the coat/skin with your free hand. Place the tool and your thumb 1"-2" apart, onto the coat, slight pressure only, then pull the tool blade to your thumb with hand motion only. Hold the trapped hair lightly and pull. Live hair should slip through while fuzz and dead hair are removed.

This is a combined hand motion to pull the tool to the thumb and wrist-elbow motion to remove the dead hair and fuzz.


Carding is used to remove excess undercoat and to enable the show coat to lay smoothly.

Support the coat with your free hand if needed. Comb the coat with the tool, removing accumulated undercoat after each stroke with a quick wipe of the thumb. The "Fine" stripper works well for most of the body coat, while an "Extra Fine" may be required for short, uniform length areas.

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