Borders are not a high maintenance breed but they do need more grooming than some books on choosing a dog indicate. The bare necessities are clipping nails, checking and cleaning teeth, and keeping the anal and genital areas free of hair to be sanitary. Generally, Borders do not require frequent bathing. Toweling off when wet and dirty followed by slicker brushing when dry usually suffices. Bathing also tends to soften the harsh coat that is naturally dirt repellant. If a Border gets dusty, a rubdown with a damp towel works well. Borders do not normally have strong odor. If you are concerned about doggy odor, then perhaps a dog is not the right pet for you. Most Borders elect a sun bath on a fairly regular basis which seems to help keep them sweet smelling.

grooming with stripping knife

Although the Border does not lose quantities of hair seasonally like many breeds, there is a certain amount of hair shed. How you choose to care for the coat will determine how much hair you find around the house. A Border’s coat will not shed out completely without help. The Border is usually hand stripped twice a year. Most Borders are maintained this way. This involves pulling out the dead outer hair by hand, or with the help of a stripping tool, leaving the dog in his underwear, his soft undercoat. The new coat grows in in 8 to 10 weeks. Done correctly, this does not inflict pain as the dead hairs pull out easily. A Border being shown in conformation must be hand stripped since this gives the dog a wiry new jacket. Some Borders are kept in good coat all the time through a process known as rolling. Twice a month the coat is neatened by hand or with a stripping tool, removing enough of the outer coat to keep a new coat coming in all the time. Expert help is not necessary for these simple procedures, but to be successful and to insure the comfort of the dog, training is helpful. Your breeder should be able to guide you and there are instructions available in written and video form.

Un groomed Border Terrier

You may prefer the natural look, doing nothing to a Border’s coat except brushing it. The length, texture, and thickness of the dog’s coat will determine the appearance. With this cocoa-mat look, the Border can be mistaken for a scruffy, mixed breed!

As old hair dies off, the dog will shed more but new hair will come in only where the old coat has come out, which is often where he has rubbed it off. A slicker brush can help remove the dead hair. Since the heavier mixed old and new coat tends to collect odors, baths become more of a necessity. Most owners prefer to strip the dog twice a year rather than have the Border try to self-strip along the edges of furniture.

A few pet owners opt to have their Borders clipped. Clipping is not a recommended method of grooming since it does not remove the dead hair but merely shortens it. If you take a Border to a groomer it will probably be clipped. A Border who has been clipped will lose the texture and color of his natural protective coat. This can make a drastic change in the appearance of the dog which you may not like. Before you choose this method it is wise to discuss it with an experienced Border person and your breeder. The coats of some Borders who have been clipped can be restored in two or three hand strippings but it is very hard work. For their comfort, some older Borders are maintained by clipping.

For more detailed information on grooming, see our Grooming Guide for Show Dogs & Pets.