I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but I have a crush on Border Terriers. I love the way they look, their temperament and how much fun they are to groom.
The American Kennel Club breed standard says that this breed should have “a short and dense undercoat covered with a very wiry and somewhat broken topcoat which should lie closely.” By stripping this coat a few times a year, the dog retains its vibrant color and wiry coat.
This guy came in for his first visit with us recently. His owner typically strips him himself twice a year, but decided to let us take the job off his hands this spring.
Fig 1) We started with a bath using a texturizing shampoo, and then a light conditioner to replace the oils we washed off. Stripping a dirty coat is easier, but we bathe first to help prevent any possible problems with product getting into all those freshly opened follicles.
Fig 2) After he was well dried, brushed and combed, we used a deshedding tool all over his body, head and legs to remove lots and lots of dead undercoat.
Fig 3) Once no more undercoat was coming out, we switched to using a stripping knife. By gently grasping the skin and making a “roll,” you can easily see the longest guard hairs as they will pop right up. Those are the ones you want to pull.
Fig 4) I wear finger cots to give my fingers added grip (You can find packages of them at pharmacies in the section where they keep Band-Aids.) These come in especially handy when pulling coat on legs and undercarriage and working on the face and ears. You can also use chalk or ear powder to make the hair less slippery while you work.
Since this dog only gets stripped twice a year, the long hair was all “blown,” or dead. At this point in the hair growth cycle, the root ball has shriveled up and the hair is just waiting to fall out. Our job is to help that happen! By removing the dead hair from the follicles, a fresh new coat is encouraged to grow in.
We used a clipper to tidy up sanitary areas and paw pads and scissors to round his feet.
Working with two people, from start to finish, this dog was bathed, dried and stripped in an hour and a half. His owner was particularly pleased that we were able to shape his face up; that is an area he struggles to groom well.
If hand-stripping is a skill that you would like to learn, offering pet strips on some of the easier terriers is a great way to get started. With a few inexpensive tools and a little time, you can help maintain the lovely, crisp texture that these breeds are intended to have. ✂️