How to Groom a Border Terrier

This border terrier's fur needs grooming since the dead fur is puffing out.
Border Terrier image by OneToRemember from

The border terrier is a happy-go-lucky and affectionate medium-size terrier. The dog's topcoat is wiry, and the undercoat is dense. His double-coated fur lies close to the body and does not need cutting, according to the American Kennel Club standard for the breed. Instead of trimming your border terrier’s coat with clippers or scissors, it is better to strip your dog’s coat by pulling out the dead, shedding fur with your fingers and smoothing the fur with a stripping knife. Stripping your border terrier’s coat preserves the wiry topcoat’s natural waterproofing and preserves the thick undercoat. Using scissors or electric clippers on your border terrier will change his fur texture because the topcoat will be removed, exposing the soft undercoat. Clipping the wiry topcoat makes your dog’s fur lose its resistance to water, according to the Border Terrier Club of America.

Step 1

Position your dog on the grooming table. Use a grooming brush to remove loose fur, debris and dirt from your dog’s coat, following the fur direction. Remove any caked-on dirt with warm water and a soft towel. Brushing your dog’s coat before stripping helps you to see the fur's orientation more clearly.

Step 2

Stand behind or beside your dog. Using your left hand, take hold of both the fur and the skin at his left shoulder, holding it firmly without hurting your dog. Starting at the shoulder area, pinch a few hairs between your index finger and thumb. Pull out the fur in the direction it grows with a quick tug. Continue stripping your dog’s fur across his shoulders and down the length of his back inch-by-inch, moving your left hand along his back to hold the skin. Fluff up the fur with your thumb as you move along his back to help lift the dead hairs. If you prefer to use your right hand for holding your dog’s skin and stripping with your left hand, begin at the right shoulder.

Step 3

Use the same method as you did in the previous step to strip both sides of your border terrier, following the fur growth. Methodically, move down his shoulders, and across his ribs and flank to the top of his front legs, until you reach his rump.

Step 4

Hold your dog’s front leg up with one hand while you strip his belly with the other hand. If your dog is not comfortable in this position, you can lay him on his side and then strip the belly area from between his front legs and across the bottom of his ribcage.

Step 5

Move to the front of your dog’s chest and neck. Begin stripping the fur from the front of his neck and down each side of his chest, following the contour of the fur. The neck fur at the top of a border terrier’s chest turns outward with a longer, center strip of fur. The chest fur also grows outward on each side.

Step 6

Begin stripping your dog’s tail at the base, moving toward the tip of his tail. Pull the loose hairs from the underside of his tail and the rump area. The tail and rump areas of your Border terrier are sensitive, so strip these areas gently, pulling smaller amounts of fur with each tug.

Step 7

Move to your dog’s head and begin stripping at the top of his head, between his ears. Pinch only the tips of the fur between your fingers, since the fur is short on the top of your dog’s head. Strip the fur across his skull and down his forehead and between his eyes, right up to the eye edges. Begin at the base of his skull and strip down the back of his neck to his withers. Move on to your dog’s cheeks, across his muzzle and downward to his mouth. Fluff the fur with your thumb to lift any extra eyebrow fur. Strip the fur around your border terrier’s beard and under his chin. This fur will remain longer here than the rest of your dog’s body fur. Gently strip the fur on each ear and around the edges of the ears.

Step 8

Strip your dog’s front legs, starting above his elbows and moving down to the paws. Strip the long fur on the back of his legs and down to the back of his paws. Begin at the top of your dog's hindquarters at his upper thigh and strip down his back legs to the paws.

Step 9

Hold the stripping knife parallel to your dog’s body and pull it through the fur you just hand-stripped. The stripping knife removes any excess loose fur and evens out the entire coat. Be careful not to cut any of the fur with the stripping knife. You want to only remove excess tufts.

Step 10

Trim your dog’s toenails with a toenail clipper designed for dogs. Trim only about 1 millimeter of the ends of your dog’s nails to prevent cutting into the nerves that grow inside the nails.


  • Try not to bathe your border terrier unless he is extremely dirty or he rolled in something nasty, like a dead animal. Bathing your dog with shampoo removes the oil from his coat, making its waterproof quality disappear.

  • Many dog groomers do not know how to strip a border terrier’s coat and will use clippers instead. If you decide to take your border terrier to a groomer, make sure you ask them if they know how to strip a border terrier.


  • You can tell when your border terrier’s coat needs stripping when it begins to part down the middle of his back and if you can pull out the fur easily.

Items You Will Need

  • Grooming table
  • Grooming brush
  • Soft towel
  • Warm water
  • Stripping knife
  • Nail clipper


About the Author

Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Border Terrier image by OneToRemember from