Border Terriers and Conformation

By Joyce Kirn

Although many Borders may not be seen out in public in daily life and are little known to the general public, a large proportion are shown in conformation shows. If you look at a judging program, you will be likely to find them well represented in the terrier ring. A random check of shows within one month came up with Borders as the 3rd most numerous terrier in the show ring! This may be because Borders have traditionally been owner-handled, and most exhibitors prefer it that way. Since more people can show them, more Borders are shown.

Although there is a knack to the grooming, it can be mastered fairly easily. Most breeders are happy to help. A worthy dog can earn its championship even with an inexperienced handler at the other end of the lead. Handling lessons are recommended, however — check your local all-breed kennel club.

This is not a flashy breed and therefore not as likely to do well at the group level, although there have been some notable exceptions. Borders are shown correctly on a loose lead. Traditionally, terrier handlers walk, rather than run, in the show ring.

The laid-back temperament of the Border Terrier is the reason many of us chose the breed in the first place, but this often does not make for a “showy” dog. The dog that does a competent, but not sparkling, job of presenting himself, and in reality exhibits a more typical attitude for a Border, sometimes is penalized. Most Borders are happy to be in the ring, because it means praise and treats!

According to the AKC Standard, the tail should be “Carried gaily when at the alert, but not over the back. When at ease, a Border may drop his stern.”

The BTCA is quite protective of this breed and has set grooming guidelines ???? which exhibitors are expected to follow. The use of chalk and excessive grooming are not acceptable. Dewclaws are usually left intact. Legs are not fluffed, and jackets are not clipped or scissored. We strive to project the image of a breed that is natural — what you see is what you get!