Border Terriers have a double coat, consisting of a tough waterproof top coat and a soft undercoat for warmth. There are a few Borders which have either no or just a sparse undercoat. This is incorrect for the breed. There are also a few which grow a very long rather sparse top coat. These are often blue and tans. Border terriers need little grooming. They should be brushed every day for a few minutes. This will remove any dead hairs, and also loose undercoat. Brushing will remove any dry dirt on the coat.
A Border should never be bathed unless in a dire emergency, like rolling in a cowpat. Most ordinary dirt once it is dry will brush out. The top coat is waterproof and shampoo, even the mildest can remove the oil. Once the oil is removed, the coat will not be water resistant and will pick up dirt far more easily. Far better just to use luke warm water with no shampoo or detergent at all.
The directive for nail clipping is ‘little and often’. From the age of three weeks, puppies should have their nails clipped regularly. Just about a mm a time, taking great care not to cut into the blood vessel or nerve. This is painful to the puppy and once it has happened, the puppy will be reluctant to let you touch its paws again.
The amount of natural wear on the nails depends upon how much road walking the Border does, and also how much digging in the garden. Do not forget the dew claws, as they do not get any wear and tear. Whether the new puppy has the dewclaws or not, depends upon the breeder. Some remove them when the puppies are a few days old, others do not.
Eventually the top coat will stop growing and die and will need to be removed. The undercoat often grows at a different rate and the normal everyday brushing will remove it.
When the top coat is ready to strip the dog will develop a parting down the back, and if a few hairs are grabbed, they can easily be pulled out. Remember a Border Terrier is hand stripped. The best way to learn is to get an experienced Border Terrier person to show you how. There is also a very good DVD and video produced by AMPProductions, ‘Canine Coat Care. Border Terrier’, in it Kate Irving (Dandyhow) demonstrates how to strip a Border Terrier. Kate is one of the most experienced Border Terrier person in the country, and this video is really excellent. (AMP Productions website is www.caninecoatcare.com).
Never, Never clip a Border Terrier’s coat. This will leave the roots of the dead hairs behind and this will affect the growth of the new hairs. The result will be a horrible tangled soft mess. Do not use stripping knives which can cut the hairs, these will also leave the dead roots and part of the shaft of the hair behind, and some of the so-called rakes can actually cut the skin. With hand stripping it is often necessary to use scissors to trim round the nails, on the underbelly and in the case of a dog, around the scrotum and penis, as these parts are very sensitive.
The average dog grooming parlour has no idea how to hand strip a Border Terrier so don’t let your dog anywhere near one. There are a few dog groomers who do know how to strip a Border Terrier and several have their names on the Border Terrier World website, www.borderterrierworld.co.uk, some of these may allow you to watch them strip your dog.