Border Terrier Dog History, Health And Care

Introduction Of Border Terrier Dog

The Border Terrier is one of the oldest and smallest of the working terrier breeds that originated in Great Britain. Earlier names for this breed include the Reedwater Terrier, Ullswater Terrier and Coquetdale Terrier. They are well-known for their scruffy face and beard and their friendly, welcoming disposition. They are active, agile and sturdy little dogs, said to be “hard as nails” and “as game as they come.” This breed thrives on human companionship and does well around children. However, they should not be in homes with other small animals such as birds, hamsters or mice, and they always will be inclined to chase cats. Border Terriers are friendly to everyone, including strangers, but will sound an alarm when something new or unfamiliar appears in their home territory.

Border Terriers average between 11 and 16 inches in height and usually weigh between 11 and 16 pounds, with males being taller and heavier than females. One of their unique characteristics is their harsh, dense coat which is resistant to weather of all types, wiry to the touch, soft on the underside and naturally repels dirt. This is a positive attribute, since Border Terriers typically love to dig.

Border Terrier Dog Breed Quick Facts

Affection Level4/5
Apartment Friendly5/5
Barking Tendencies4/5
Cat Friendly3/5
Child Friendly4/5
Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need2/5
Grooming Needs3/5
Health Issues2/5

Border Terrier – Appearance & Grooming


Border Terriers are small dogs with a classically terrier-like appearance. They have short, wiry hair that comes in red, blue, tan or grizzle and tan. The head of the Border Terrier is described as otter shaped. They have small, sparkling eyes that are always looking for mischief. They have short, dark colored muzzles, black noses and small, folded ears that are “V’ in shape. Border Terriers’ tails are short and tapered, and are carried level with the back, unless the dog gets excited, in which case he carries it high and proud.

Size and Weight

Border Terriers stand around 10 or 11 inches at the shoulder. The AKC standard calls for weights of 13-15.5 pounds for males and 11.5-14 pounds for females, however most dogs of this breed weigh more than that, show dogs included. The tapering proportions of the body is of higher importance in the show ring than the weight of the dog.

Coat and Color

Border Terriers sport weather resistant, wiry double coats. The undercoat is dense and the topcoat is wiry. They have thick, loose fitting skin that developed over the years to protect the dog from bites in the foxhunting field. The Border Terrier can be red, blue and tan, grizzle and tan, or wheaten – just a fancy name for pale yellow or fawn shades. Some will have a small patch of white on the chest. White anywhere else on the body is not accepted.

Grooming Needs

Border Terriers’ coats require some brushing and stripping. Weekly brushing will keep the coat neat and free of tangles and stripping (pulling dead hair out by the root) is required two times a year. Stripping can be done by hand or with a stripping tool, and a groomer or breeder can teach the technique. Full stripping takes only about 30 minutes. Some owners clip the coats of their companion dogs, but this makes the coat soft and less weather resistant. Show dogs should never be clipped. Baths should be given on an as-needed basis. Over bathing a Border Terrier can change the texture and weather resistance of the coat.

Nails should be clipped monthly and teeth and ears should be cleaned weekly to promote good health.

Border Terrier – History and Health


The Border Terrier was developed in Great Britain, where it originally was bred to hunt and kill the powerful hill foxes that threatened the stock of farmers along the borders of Scotland and England. They had to be active, stout and tireless to perform this task. Their legs had to be long enough to keep up with horses and the accompanying foxhounds, while at the same time they needed to be low enough to the ground so that they could follow and corner foxes, even flushing them from their dens. It is thought that the Border Terrier, Bedlington Terrier and Dandie Dinmont share common ancestors. The breed’s popularity surged after it was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club as a distinct breed, and following formation of the British Border Terrier Club, in 1920. True terrier fanciers feared that recognition of Border Terriers as show dogs might “prettify” and soften the breed, but that has not proven true. The breed was well-established long before it became a show dog in the 1920s and retains is rough-and-tumbled looks and sound working character to this day. Border Terriers were first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1930 and are part of its Terrier Group. The Border Terrier Club of America was founded in 1949.


Border Terriers have an average life expectancy of 13 to 16 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS), heart problems, hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.

Border Terrier – Temperament & Personality


A sturdy dog with roots as hard farm workers, Border Terriers aren’t as high strung as other terrier breeds. Their individual personalities can vary from confident and outgoing, to shy and timid, but all Border Terriers are curious by nature and will want to be included in all family activities. Their playful nature makes them great dogs for families with children.

Activity Requirements

Border Terriers can live happily in just about any environment be it an apartment, a house with lots of children, or a farm. They don’t need an excessive amount of exercise, but should be allowed to walk several times a day and be allowed to run in a yard or park a few times a week. Yards should be fenced because Border Terriers will chase birds, squirrels and cats. Farmers like Border Terriers because they are very reliable ratters and keep foxes at bay.

They enjoy challenges and new tasks, so they need lots of mental activity as well. Challenging toys or hide-and-seek games are right up the Border Terrier’s alley.


Border Terriers are easier to train than their terrier counterparts. They can be stubborn but will focus intently on the task at hand, as long as the reward involves a treat. Harsh discipline should be avoided with this breed, as they will become unresponsive to training. Consistency, confident leadership and lots of positive reinforcement are the best formula for training a Border.

This breed was designed by farmers and herders in the borderlands Scotland and England to hunt rodents and keep small predators at bay, and they made a reputation for themselves as being efficient ratters and fearless fox chasers. Modern Border Terriers still enjoy the hunt, so activities that involve “hunting” for toys and treats in the backyard will keep them happily entertained. They excel in agility courses and enjoy taking on new challenges.

Personality Traits

Borders are terriers, so Borders bark at just about everything. When they are left alone for long periods of time without enough exercise or activities to keep them busy, their high pitched bark can drive neighbors crazy. Another terrier trait they share with their brethren is the tendency for aggression towards dogs of the same sex. They usually get along just fine with dogs of the opposite sex, but early socialization to be open to new situations can stop same-sex aggression from becoming a problem.

Digging can also be a problem with this breed and if left unsupervised they can tear up a flowerbed in record time. They have also been known to dig under fences in search of new adventures.

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