Tidying Your Border Terrier
|A Grooming Guide for Show Dogs and Pets|
Please note that in addition to this guide, Border Terriers enthusiasts should familiarize themselves
with the BTCA Statement on Presentation.
The Border Terrier Club of America, Inc. would like to make known its concern about and disapproval
of the use of ANY kind of artificial enhancement on Border Terriers. The use of chalks, dyes, mousses,
sprays, drugs, surgery or any procedure which alters mental or physical characteristics is prohibited
by AKC Rules and is contrary to the essence of the Border terrier. We would like to remind everyone
that the Border Terrier standard emphasizes that it is a natural, working breed and should be exhibited
as such. We appeal to all breeders, owners, handlers, fanciers and approved judges to uphold and
protect the integrity of the breed. Thank you for your support.
A Well Groomed Border Terrier
The Border Terrier Standard approved by the AKC has the following on coat.
A short dense undercoat
covered with a very wiry and somewhat broken top coat which should lie closely, but it must not show
any tendency to curl or wave. With such a coat a Border should be able to be exhibited
almost in his natural state, nothing more in the way of trimming being needed than a
tidying up of the head, neck and feet.
As the AKC Border Terrier Standard implies, people who have Borders as companions can
keep their dogs looking their best and preserving the water resistant nature of their coats using the
same methods as the people who exhibit them. The major task in grooming the Border is to pull out, or
strip its old coat when it has
blown, that is, when it has become
overgrown and dead. At this point the hair can be pulled without any discomfort to the
dog. The following is the general procedure; you will soon discover which particular
combination of methods and grooming positions work best for you and your Border.
First, place your Border on a non-slip surface at a convenient height and choose a grooming position.
Most people prefer to strip out the coat standing at the rear of the dog, off to one side, facing forward.
Some prefer to strip the coat standing in front, facing the dog. Some within either preference also
feel that stripping certain parts of the Border (for example, the rear legs) is best done
with the animal lying on its side.
If standing at the rear and side of the dog, with one hand grasp the dog's hide at the shoulder firmly
enough so that the hide will not move when you pull on the hair. With your other hand, trap a few hairs
between the thumb and index finger and pull the hairs out with a firm and quick motion
in the direction the coat grows (in this position, towards yourself).
Strip out the coat evenly, making sure to keep the hide from moving in each area you strip.
If you prefer standing in front, facing the dog, steady the animal with one hand and, as before, use the
thumb and index finger of your grooming hand to pull out the hairs in quick pulls
in the direction the coat grows (in this position, away from yourself).
A stripping knife is used simply to improve your grip on the hairs you are stripping out. It acts as an
extension of the fingers. Trap a small number of hairs between the thumb and the underside of the knife
and pull the hairs out, again, in a quick motion in the direction the coat grows
. Take care not to cut the coat with the stripping knife. If you see cut hairs, try holding
the blade of the knife more exactly parallel to the coat and closer to the animal's body (Photo 2).
No matter which position you work from, stripping motions should always be quick pulls
in the direction the coat grows.
|Stripping Particular Areas of the Coat|
1. Tail. According to the Standard the tail should be
moderately short, thick at the
base then tapering. Often its shape is likened to that of a carrot. To maintain this shape,
strip the tail in three sessions. Strip the basal third when you strip the body of the dog. In
1 to 2 weeks strip the middle third, and 1 to 2 weeks later strip the tail tip. For routine tidying
pull the long dead hairs on the underside of the tail and the long dead hairs at the tip. Be careful
to strip smaller amounts of hair when working on the tail and rectal areas, as these are
tender. (Photos 3 and 4)
2. Legs. Take all the dead hair off the legs,
including the feathery hair at the back of the legs, the point of the elbow and the front
3. Throat and Chest. Strip by the same methods as
you did the body, thumb and finger or thumb and stripping knife. (photos 5 and 6 show
the front before and after stripping).
4. Head. Strip the head in small amounts at a time,
grasping hairs near their tips. Consult a good Border Terrier head study, work patiently
and step back to check your work often. Keep in mind as you groom the head that the Border
does not carry the abundance of face furnishings found on many other terrier breeds.
Remove all the dead hair from the top of the skull down to between the eyes, and to
the eyes' outside edges, being sure not to leave any
eyebrows. Strip out the cheeks
evenly from the outside corner of the eye downward to the outside corner of the lips and
outward under the ears. Remove any tufts or single hairs standing up in front of the eyes.
Remove the dead hair in front of and inside the ears. Take the long dead hair off the outer
ears by hand, going carefully around the edges to give a neat appearance.
The AKC Border Terrier Standard notes.
A few short whiskers are natural to the breed.
When tidying your Border's whiskers, remove any excessively long straggly hairs carefully, a very
few at a time: Whiskers grow slowly so mistakes last a long time. At the lower
edge, a Border's whiskers follow the natural line of the jaw, rather than being triangular
or goatee-shaped. (see Head Study)
5. Underbody. Scissors may be used to trim the
scanty hair of the tender abdominal and inner back leg areas, to tidy the sensitive sheath
area of the dog and the vaginal area of the bitch, and to neaten the feet. Curved,
safety-tipped scissors are suggested.
Concluding Notes: Experienced Border Terrier
people can strip a dog completely in 1 to 2 hours. It may be easier for the novice to
strip the back and sides in one day and finish the rest of the coat no more than a day or
The new outer coat of the dog will usually take 6 to 8 weeks to develop. During its
growth period, regularly
rake the coat - that is, use the stripping knife as you
would a comb to remove overlooked hairs and loose undercoat. Once your Border's new outer
coat has grown in it may be possible to prolong its good looks and delay the next stripping
by a method called
rolling. This means selectively picking and pulling out the longest
hairs that refuse to lie smooth. This regular pulling initiates new coat layers by breaking
up the first coat into several lengths. It must be done carefully not to take too many hairs
in one spot. Not every dog's coat can be successfully rolled, and it is an art learned only
Use of clippers on the normal, healthy Border Terrier is
NOT recommended. When the dead coat is stripped, as described in this guide, each hair
comes off entirely. Clipping or scissoring removes only the outer length of a hair,
leaving the rest of it to shed out. Also, clipping leaves the guard hairs the same length
as the undercoat, rendering it useless as protection from the elements - in other words -
the coat will lose its weather resistant quality. Clipping also changes the look and
texture of the coat quite noticeably.
Some Borders have
easy care coats that seldom need stripping. Such coats roll
naturally, and weekly routine tidying keep them neat longer than usual. (Dogs with this
type of coat often have scant whiskers or other furnishings). A very few Borders may be
single coated - that is, they lack the undercoat which provides the protection from
cold and wet. Although easy to care for, a single coat is incorrect for a Border. Some
Borders have very silky, thin silvery hair on the top of their heads. This is very difficult
and painful to the dog to strip out. Much careful pulling may remove it, but it will return.
A terrier coat's natural protective oils are removed by
soap, so a Border should be bathed only when absolutely necessary. Use only a shampoo made
for dogs, if possible one formulated specifically for terrier coats. After the bath the
dog should be brushed daily to restore the natural oils to his coat.
Brush your Border at least weekly, pulling out any long
hairs you might have missed while grooming. Using this opportunity to examine your dog
thoroughly will help to keep your dog in good health as well as good coat.
The Border's nails should be trimmed regularly if they do
not stay short enough through walking on abrasive surfaces. Try not to trim so deep as to
cut the quick. Don't forget the dewclaws even if the rest are OK.
Clean teeth are important to health as well as appearance.
Examine the dog's teeth regularly and arrange for heavy tartar deposits to be removed by a
Vet or experienced groomer.
This Guide was prepared for and approved by the Board of Directors of the Border Terrier
Club of America, Inc.
© 1986, BTCA, Inc.
1. Fine comb
2. Natural bristle brush
3. Nail clippers
4. Stripping knife
5. Safety-tip scissors