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Grooming Your Border Terrier

A Border Terrier's coat should be harsh and dense; with close undercoat. They should have a double coat, consisting of a harsh top coat and a softer undercoat which together should keep a Border warm and dry when doing the job it was intended to do.

You may read that a Border Terrier's coat does not moult. This is not the case. They do lose hair. They lose more when they are getting nearer needing stripping and less when they have been stripped or are in new coat. Regular brushing will help with this by removing lose top and under coat but they will still lose coat between brushes.

It is a good idea to develop a maintenance routine for your Border. This need not be a big task and can be made an enjoyable activity for you and your dog. Start with a regular brushing to remove loose hairs and to help to keep the coat clean. At the same time check other areas, bottoms for example where a little extra cleaning may be required. This includes ensuring male dogs are kept clean underneath. A damp clean cloth or baby wipes can be used to keep such areas hygienic. Check ears, eyes, and teeth for cleanliness. Many people include cleaning teeth in this routine. Nails should be checked too to see if they require clipping. It is best to clip nails little and often. Alternatively, it is also possible to keep nails short by filing. You may also wish to keep the outline of your dog tidy, removing long hairs from chests, bellies, legs, feet and tails. Doing this will make the next full strip easier and will help in keeping your dog clean. Written down this sounds a long list, however, it need not take many minutes and will help to keep your Border clean, healthy and happy.

Generally, Borders do not require bathing. Daily maintenance and regular stripping keep the dog clean meaning that bathing is not necessary. Bathing can remove the coat's natural oils and affect the coat's texture and waterproofing. However, dogs do like to cover themselves in stuff we don't really want to bring into our homes! If the offending substance can not be brushed or wiped off it is best to rinse the effected area in warm water rather shampooing the whole dog. If bathing the whole dog is needed use a canine shampoo ideally one specially made for wiry coats.

A Borders coat is unlike a human's hair, and some other breeds such as poodles, in that it does not grow continuously. Each hair will grow to a certain length then will die and be pushed out by a new hair growing. This is why your Border will moult or lose hair. Eventually, the majority of your dog's coat will reach this stage. You will notice the overall length of the coat and that it is starting to part. Your daily brushing will also be removing much more hair. If you carefully pull a few of the top harsh hairs with finger and thumb you will find that they are easily removed. Your Border is then ready for a full strip. This will need doing a couple of times a year.

Photo of Border Terrier before stripping         Photo of Border Terrier after stripping Before - Ready for stripping                                                      After - Looking smart, clean and tidy

Your breeder should be able to help you learn how to hand strip your Border or will be able to put you in touch with someone who can guide you through the process or do it for you. It is a job that most owners can learn to do for themselves and requires no more equipment than your finger and thumb, a comb and a pair of scissors. Many people will tell you that hand stripping is a job done whilst relaxing in the evening watching the television.

If you prefer to get someone else to strip your dog for you ensure that you find someone who is experienced with hand stripping Borders. Many Border owners have stories of dogs taken for hand stripping if not being clipped all over clipped in the areas, such as under the neck, where it is easier and quicker to clip than hand strip. Clipping will change your Border's coat making it softer and less waterproof. The only parts of a Border's coat that should be cut are on the feet (between the pads and around the nails) and on the belly, where the coat is naturally sparse and soft and where there is no undercoat. No area with harsh dense double coat should be cut. This includes under the neck, on the chest, bottom, tail, legs and on top of the feet.

Photo of Border Terrier with clipped coat

This dog has had its body coat clipped. You can see that its coat is no longer harsh and wiry and has lost its colour.

If your dog's coat has been clipped it may be possible to recover the situation but it will take time and hard work. It will be more difficult the more times the coat has been clipped. It may require several strips to get the coat growing properly again.

If you do wish to have your Border stripped for you it is best to find a fellow Border Terrier owner who offers this service. The list of people below, all Border Terrier owners, will be able to help you find someone in your area.

The list of members below will also be happy to offer any advice, guidance or information that you may need about stripping your Border yourself.

Jane Roberts - Northumberland, 01442 862415
Erik Donnelly - Reading , 07803 725553
Anara Hibberd - Langley Burrell, 01249 448883
Linda Vintcent - Henley, 07884 265562, 01491642903
Elspeth Jackson - Dorchester, 07885 309263, 01258 837698
Wendy Mooney - Guildford, 01483 235299
Robin Ramus - Godalming, 07548645047
Claire Spencer - Monmouth, 07837 493117

Hand Stripping Your Border Terrier

What Will I Need?

The most important piece of equipment you will need to hand strip are your fingers and thumbs! A comb, a brush and a pair of scissors will also be needed. A grooming table can be useful but is not necessary. Choose somewhere comfortable for you and your dog to do your grooming taking into account that a non slip surface is a help.

Photo of necessary grooming equipment
All my grooming equipment

Getting Started

Hand striping your Border Terrier will take practice and patience from both you and your dog. Make it an enjoyable experience giving lots of praise and treats and take regular breaks. It is not necessary to complete the full strip in one go. Do as much at a time as is comfortable for you and the dog. Some areas are easier than others to do. Try not to do all the harder areas together. If you or your dog are not enjoying a particular area being done go on to another or take a break and come back to it later.

Start stripping behind the head and move down the neck and on to the back. Using your finger and thumb gently pull a few hairs in the direction of the coat. The hairs should come out easily without any discomfort to the dog. Comb the hair as you strip so that is untangled and it is easy to take hold of a few hairs at a time. There are aids to stripping available such as stripping combs, knives and stones. These are mainly designed to improve your grip on the hair. Use these carefully, as they may be sharp and can cut the coat or if used incorrectly the skin.

Photo showing dog being stripped on back on the neck          Photo showing dog being stripped down the back

Go on to strip the sides of the body, the chest and legs. Concentrate first on the body coat leaving both the head and tail until the body is stripped.

Flank (Waist)

To make removing hair from this area easier for you and more comfortable for your dog hold the loose skin with one hand whilst pulling the hair with the other. This will help prevent the skin being pulled as you remove the long hairs.

Photo showing stripping of the wheel arches


Often this is the dog's least favourite area to have stripped. Take your time and be patient with your dog. Only remove a few hairs at a time. Remove long hairs leaving the area neat and tidy and easy to keep clean.

Photo showing bottom before stripping         Photo showing bottom after stripping
Before                                                               After

Under Body

You may choose to use scissors on the scant hair on the tender areas of the tummy but do not use them on the harsher coat on the chest which can be stripped. Also, use scissors around both male and female genitals which are easier to keep clean if kept tidy.


Strip the down the thighs and down on to the back legs towards the feet. Strip hair from both the front and back of the fore legs.

Photo of stripping down to the legs

Photo showing legs and feet before and after stripping
After and before leg and foot


Using scissors remove hair from around the pads of the feet and around the nails. Use the scissors flat against the pads not point in to the foot. Do not cut the coat on the top of the feet.

Photo showing under feet before stripping     Photo showing trimming of feet     Photo of under feet after stripping
Before                                                                                                                                  After Photo showing back feet before and after stripping
Before and after


Carefully shape the tail, taking special care on the top of the tail and around the white band of hair on the tail. It is not necessary to completely strip the tail, balance it with the newly stripped body shaping it to taper to the end. The end of the tail should come to a point not to a blunt end. Taking too much coat on the tail may leave it looking thin. A good guide is that it is often said that the shape of a borders tail should resemble that of a carrot.

Keep the tail tidy between strips by removing long dead hairs from under the tail and hairs at the tip so that it tapers to a point.

Photo showing tail before stripping          Photo showing tail after stripping
Before                                                               After


Take time to do your dog's head to get it how you like it. Some like to completely strip out the head others to leave more coat. Remember that the coat around the muzzle will take longer to re-grow than the rest of the coat.

Photo showing head before stripping          Photo showing head after stripping
Before                                                               After


Hair inside the ears should be removed as well as long hairs on the top side of the ear.

Photo showing ear before stripping          Photo showing ear after stripping
Before                                                               After

Photo showing the inside ear before stripping          Photo showing the inside ear after stripping
Before                                                               After

Clipping Nails

The key to low stress nail clipping is getting your dog used to having its feet handled and clipped. Ideally this should start at an early age. Handle your dog's feet regularly touching, stroking and manipulating them giving praise and treats when you do so that the dog gets used to having its feet held.

When you are ready to clip the nail lift the foot and gently press on it to spread the foot and expose the nail. Clip from underneath just under the curve of the nail. The quick is the part of the nail which contains the blood vessel and nerve. You should avoid cutting this when trimming nails. If you look closely at the underside of the nail you will be able to see the quick. If in doubt clip a little further towards the tip of the nail. If you do catch the quick do not panic, it will bleed but should soon stop. There are products such as styptic pencils which will help to stop the bleeding.

Diagram of the dew claw                          Photo of a dew claw
                                                                                                                               The dew claw

When clipping nails do not to neglect the dew claws. The dew claw is the extra claw farther up on the leg. Some dogs may have had these removed as puppies.

Clip your dog's nails frequently so that the quick is encouraged to recede up the nail and away from the tip making clipping easier.

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