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 them warm and dry whilst doing the job they were intended to do. To maintain the texture and colour of a Border Terrier's coat they should be hand stripped.
You may read that a Border Terrier's coat does not moult. 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.
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.
Keeping The Coat 'Trim'
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.
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 being clipped, if not all over, being clipped in 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.
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.