A very important part of caring for Border Terriers is taking care of their unique double coat. While caring for the Border Terrier's coat is not quite as work intensive as it is for other wiry terrier breeds, there is a bit of work involved, so if you are considering adopting a Border Terrier but are not quite sure if you're up to the task of caring for the coat, perhaps this is not the right breed for you. In this article, we'll take a look at what makes the Border Terrier's coat so unique and what kind of work is involved in keeping it looking its best.
The Border Terrier actually has two different coats: the wiry, longer overcoat and the soft, close undercoat. The combination of these two coats help make the Border Terrier virtually waterproof, which it needed to be in its original capacity as a hunting dog on the border of England and Scotland. The reason the coat needs special attention is that periodically the overcoat becomes overgrown and dead, at which time the coat needs to be stripped. It is important to note that the coat does need to be stripped and not clipped - when the coat is "blown," or has overgrown, the dead hair must be removed by its roots, but as it has died this doesn't cause any discomfort to the dog. If the coat is simply clipped, the dead roots still remain and can keep the new coat from growing in properly. A clipped coat can take upwards of six months to fully recover.
Stripping the coat is a long process and even experienced handlers and groomers can take as long as one to two hours to complete it. There are two methods of stripping, using your fingers or using and aid, such as a stripping knife. With the dog in a comfortable position, grasp a few hairs between the thumb and forefingers and pull with a firm and quick motion in the direction that the hair grows. A stripping knife essentially works as an extension of the fingers. This must be done all over the back and sides of the body, legs and head, and delicately on the tail and underbelly.
Not every Border Terrier will require intensive stripping sessions as some coats will "roll" naturally. Rolling is the name given for selectively picking and pulling the longest hairs from the coat. Other dogs will grow their overcoats back as quickly as six to eight weeks, but eight to twelve weeks is not uncommon. It is important to note that if you are thinking of showing your Border Terrier, he can not be shown immediately after a stripping session. In order for your dog to be in full coat by the time the show rolls around, you'll have to plan your stripping accordingly!
Finally, it is essential to include that Border Terriers produce their own natural oils that help keep their coats waterproof, so bathing should not be done except in matters of real need. If you do need to bathe your Border Terrier, at least use shampoo formulated for dogs and use one formulated for Border Terriers if you can. After the bath, the dog should be brushed daily, as this will help to redistribute the oils to the coat.