While your border terrier wiry coat doesn't require much in the way of daily maintenance, he should have his coat stripped semi-annually. You can take him to the groomer or learn this procedure yourself. If you show your dog, stripping is a necessity. If you don't show, you have options.
Your border terrier's basic maintenance consists of a good weekly brushing and regular nail trimming. Start brushing his teeth in puppyhood so he gets used to the procedure early. Avoid bathing your border terrier unless he's quite dirty. His skin produces oils that protect his coat, which bathing removes. If you must bathe your dog, find a canine shampoo specially designed for terrier coats. If your dog gets wet from rain or snow, give him a good toweling off.
Also known as thinning, stripping your dog twice a year takes a couple of hours if you're experienced but longer if you're just getting the hang of it. The breed's double coat consists of a soft undercoat, which keeps the dog warm, covered by a tough, waterproof top coat. The top coat dies off, but doesn't actually shed, which is why hand stripping is necessary. A new top coat grows in roughly two months after the stripping.
The Border Terrier Club of America advises placing your dog on a nonslip surface at a comfortable height for hand-stripping his coat. Stand either at the back of your dog or at his front, whichever position is easier for you. Start by using one hand to grasp your dog's skin at his shoulder firmly. The area shouldn't move when you begin stripping the hair. Take your other hand, place a few hairs between your thumb and index finger, pulling them out quickly in the direction in which his coat grows. Continue stripping his coat evenly, keeping the skin from moving as you strip each area.
Rather than the twice-yearly stripping, you can conduct a twice monthly rolling. Every two weeks, use a stripping tool to remove sufficient amounts of the top coat so that the new coat constantly grows in. You can also roll by hand, taking out the longest hairs, but not an excessive amount in one area.
The BCTA doesn't recommend clipping this breed. While clipping shortens the hair, it doesn't get rid of dead hairs. The entire texture of the coat changes. Clipping the dog means his guard hairs and undercoat are the same length, so the coat loses its natural weather-proofing ability. The BTCA reports that restoring the coat of a clipped dog can mean two or three hand strippings and notes it is "very hard work."
If you aren't up to the task of hand-stripping, don't just assume any dog groomer will know what to do. You'll likely end up with a clipped dog. Find a groomer who knows the breed standard and how to perform hand-stripping. Contact state or regional breed clubs for recommendations.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.