Border Terrier

  • Overview

    Border Terriers are known for their otter-like face. Their quizzical expressions and facial whiskers give them a friendly appearance to match their sweet personalities. Border Terriers are a scruffy, no-nonsense terrier. They stand about 11 or 12 inches tall and don’t weigh more than 15 pounds.

    Border Terriers have a wiry, straight and slightly broken outer coat that covers a short, dense under coat that fits closely and covers a loose hide that protects these little terriers from the teeth of their larger prey.

    Their coats are red, blue and tan, grizzle and tan or wheaten (without any dark markings). Most Border Terriers have darker facial markings around their muzzles or whiskers around their face.

    The Border Terrier has plenty of endurance and personality. They make plucky, amusing companions for owners who are willing to put up with some humorous behavior.

    View Grooming Diagram for border terrier
  • Personality

    Border Terriers are playful by nature. Their mischievous antics and crafty, fast-moving habits may make it seem like he’s causing trouble purposely to annoy you, but really, he’s just curious. Border Terriers were bred to drive foxes and other small game out of their habitats, so they’re naturally exploratory, relentless and hard-working. Their bark is meant to be heard from 10 feet underground, which means that you’ll hear it, and your neighbors will hear it too. Training your Border Terrier to practice polite indoor manners will be your first, and challenging, task. Even though Border Terriers do love to bark, they are not aggressive or effective watch dogs. In fact, they can be startled by loud noises or chaotic situations, so socializing your young dog is important to develop a strong temperament.

    Vigorous daily exercise, plenty of toys that are acceptable for chewing and lots of active play will help keep your Border Terrier amused and in shape. Once Border Terriers are trained, they are obedient and mild-mannered, especially indoors. They are respectful of their owners and responsive to training. Border Terriers are generally relaxed and affectionate indoors, especially if they’ve received plenty of exercise during the day. Border Terriers make excellent companions for children because they are quick-witted, active and eager to be entertained.

  • Coat Care

    Border Terriers can be clipped to keep their coats tidy, but it will strip the texture, making the coat softer, lighter and not weather resistant. If you plan to show or work with your terrier, this might not be the best option. Weekly brushing will help keep the naturally scruffy coat looking trim and tidy. Use a bristle brush to brush the Border Terrier’s body and a fine-toothed metal comb to brush out his whiskers and face. Stripping the Border Terrier about four times a year will help remove dead hairs. You can strip them at home with a shedding blade or stripping knife. Stripping the coat will help reduce the amount of hair that your Border sheds around the house.

    If you do not want to strip or clip your Border Terrier’s coat, they’ll be more than happy to maintain their rough-and-ready appearance, but you will need to brush them daily to remove dead hair. Their coat repels dirt, so they do not need to be bathed often, but make sure to wash out their ears weekly.

Brushing

No aspect of home dog grooming requires as much time and regular devotion as brushing. Routine brushing keeps your pet’s hair clean and tangle-free, while keeping his skin healthy by stimulating blood flow, removing dead hair and distributing natural oils.

Brushing your wire-coated dog is a weekly activity. Their coats are a combination of a short, soft undercoat and a longer wiry, dense outer coat, which has a tendency to mat and tangle if it is not brushed. Use a slicker brush to remove tangles and matting. Gently massage a liquid detangler or baby oil into stubborn tangles. Use a bristle brush to remove dead hair. Don't forget to brush and comb the tail, too! The coat should be fresh smelling with no loose or shedding hair.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with wire coats generally require regular hair clipping. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of clippers and trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use clippers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Always leave at least a half-inch of fur to protect the dog from the elements. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Clip with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

Some owners choose to hand strip the dead hair from their wire-coated dogs' coats. Use a stripping knife or a shedding blade to remove dead hair and shape the dog's coat. Pluck loose, dead hairs by hand or with a tweezers.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.