The Border Terrier

Border Terrier
The Border Terrier

Known for their spirited nature and boundless energy, they are the ultimate underdogs (pun intended) of the canine world. With a scruffy, rugged appearance and a heart full of courage, these little dynamos were initially bred to protect the English-Scottish border from those pesky foxes.

Today, they have burrowed their way into the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide. Don’t let their small stature fool you; these tenacious terriers are always up for an adventure, making them the perfect sidekick for families and outdoorsy folks.

And, who knows, their impressive digging skills might just come in handy when you’re trying to plant a new garden!

More About This Breed

Originating from the borderlands between England and Scotland, they have a rich history as hardworking, fearless farm dogs. Their compact size and boundless energy made them exceptional at guarding livestock and hunting foxes that threatened farmers’ livelihoods.

These tenacious little canines would eagerly chase after foxes and flush them out of their dens, all while exhibiting remarkable agility and stamina.

Nowadays, Border Terriers have transitioned from farm life to family life, charming their way into households with their friendly, adaptable nature. They still possess that unmistakable terrier spirit, making them keen watchdogs and lively playmates.

While they might not be chasing foxes anymore, their innate love for digging and exploring remains a source of entertainment (and sometimes a bit of mischief) in the modern world.

These scruffy charmers are affectionately known as “Borders” and boast a unique, otter-like appearance that sets them apart from other terrier breeds. They may be small, but their sturdy build and tireless energy make them ideal companions for outdoor enthusiasts or families with active lifestyles.

Borders are skilled in various dog sports, such as agility, earth dog trials, and obedience, so there’s no shortage of activities for these spirited canines.

Borders are also known for their intelligence and trainability but don’t be surprised if they occasionally display a stubborn streak. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training are essential for a well-rounded, well-behaved Border Terrier.

Although their rough, wiry coat doesn’t require excessive grooming, regular brushing and occasional hand-stripping will help keep your Border looking and feeling their best. As for shedding, these little guys are considered moderate shedders so some hair cleanup may be in order.

In summary, the Border Terrier is a plucky, lovable breed with a heart far larger than its size. They are always eager to join you on your next adventure, and their unwavering loyalty and companionship make them a true treasure in the dog world.


Border Terriers are an adaptable and hardy breed from the borderlands between England and Scotland, where they served as versatile farm dogs. They are small but sturdy, with a unique otter-like appearance and a rough, wiry coat that is weather-resistant and low-maintenance.

Borders are intelligent and trainable but can also be stubborn at times. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training are crucial for their development. These dogs are energetic and require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. They excel in various dog sports, such as agility, earth dog trials, and obedience.

Their keen watchdog instincts make them alert and protective, but their friendly nature makes them good family pets. Border Terriers are moderate shedders and require regular brushing and occasional hand-stripping to maintain their coats.

This breed is generally healthy, but potential owners should be aware of certain genetic health issues, such as hip dysplasia and allergies. Border Terriers have a high prey drive and may be prone to digging, so secure fencing and supervision are essential in outdoor spaces.

When properly socialised, they typically get along well with children and other pets, but their terrier instincts may lead them to chase smaller animals.


The Border Terrier’s origins can be traced back to the 18th century in the borderlands between England and Scotland. The breed was developed by farmers and shepherds who needed a versatile, hardy dog capable of protecting livestock from predators, such as foxes and badgers, and helping control vermin populations. As a result, the Border Terrier had to be agile enough to follow a fox into its den and tenacious enough to face the fierce badger.

The breed’s ancestors were likely a mix of various terriers, including Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, and possibly Lakeland Terriers. Farmers in the region selectively bred these dogs for their working abilities rather than their appearance, which resulted in the Border Terrier’s unique otter-like facial features and sturdy, compact body.

Border Terriers were also utilized by the Border Hunt, a group of fox hunters who required a dog that could keep up with the horses and hounds while still being able to pursue foxes into their dens. This combination of speed, agility, and courage made the Border Terrier an invaluable asset to the hunters.

The breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom in 1920 and by the American Kennel Club in 1930. Since then, the Border Terrier has grown in popularity as a working dog and a companion animal. Today, they continue to be used for their original purposes in some rural areas, but they are also cherished as family pets and excel in various dog sports and activities.


Border Terriers are small, sturdy dogs with a moderate build, contributing to their agility and endurance. Males typically stand between 13 to 16 inches (33 to 41 cm) at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, ranging from 11 to 14 inches (28 to 36 cm).

The breed’s weight can vary, but it usually falls within the range of 11.5 to 15.5 pounds (5.2 to 7 kg) for males and 9.5 to 13.5 pounds (4.3 to 6.1 kg) for females. Despite their small size, Border Terriers possess a surprising amount of strength and are built to withstand the rigours of working in rough terrain.

When assessing the size of a Border Terrier, it’s essential to consider the dog’s overall balance and proportion and its ability to move efficiently and perform its intended tasks. The breed standard emphasizes that Border Terriers should appear “workmanlike” and not be excessively heavy or overly delicate.


Border Terriers are known for their friendly, energetic, and intelligent personalities. They make excellent family pets due to their affectionate nature and a strong desire to bond with their human companions. These dogs are generally good with children, as they are patient and gentle, but they still have enough energy to engage in playtime and other activities.

These terriers are highly adaptable and thrive in various living situations, including apartments and homes with yards. However, they require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Their high energy levels and inquisitiveness make them excellent companions for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, jogging, or long walks.

Border Terriers are also known for their strong prey drive and determination, which can make them tenacious hunters. They were initially bred to help farmers control the population of foxes and other vermin, so they may be prone to chasing smaller animals like squirrels or rabbits. This instinct can be managed with consistent training and proper socialization from a young age.

Although they are generally friendly towards people, Border Terriers can be reserved or cautious around strangers. Early socialization and exposure to different people, environments, and situations will help them become well-rounded and confident dogs. They are generally good with other dogs but may not be the best choice for homes with small pets due to their hunting instincts. Overall, the Border Terrier’s spirited and loving nature makes it an endearing and loyal companion for families and individuals alike.


Border Terriers are generally healthy but may be prone to certain health issues like other breeds. Some of the common health concerns include:

Hip dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and joint pain. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Allergies: These terriers may suffer from skin or food allergies, which can cause itching, redness, or gastrointestinal issues. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Patellar luxation: This condition occurs when the dog’s kneecap slips out of place, causing discomfort or pain. It can be managed with proper weight control, exercise, and in some cases, surgery.

Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (CECS): Also known as “Spike’s Disease,” this neurological disorder causes muscle cramping and coordination problems. The condition is manageable with medication and a specialized diet.


Regular grooming is essential for Border Terriers, as their wiry double coat requires brushing and occasional hand-stripping to remove dead hair and maintain a healthy appearance. They shed moderately, so frequent grooming can help minimize loose hair in the home.

Trim their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth and potential injury. Check and clean their ears routinely to avoid infections, and brush their teeth frequently to maintain good oral health.


Border Terriers require a balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs. Their daily food intake depends on age, size, activity level, and metabolism. Generally, adult Border Terriers should be fed 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry dog food, divided into two meals per day. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet and portion size for your specific dog.

Monitor your Border Terrier’s weight closely to avoid obesity, which can contribute to health problems. Always provide fresh water and avoid giving table scraps or excessive treats, which can lead to an unbalanced diet and weight gain.

Coat Color and Grooming

Border Terriers have a dense, wiry double coat that protects from harsh weather and rough terrain. The outer coat is harsh and water-resistant, while the undercoat is soft and insulating. Their coat comes in a variety of colours, including:

  1. Red
  2. Grizzle and tan
  3. Blue and tan
  4. Wheaten

Regular grooming is essential for maintaining a healthy coat. Brush your Border Terrier’s coat at least once a week to remove dead hair and prevent matting. Hand-stripping, a technique used to remove dead hair from the coat by hand, should be done every 4-6 months to keep the coat in optimal condition. You may have this done by a professional groomer or learn to do it yourself.

Bathing should be done only as needed to prevent stripping the coat of its natural oils. Always use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo to avoid irritation.

Remember to trim their nails regularly, clean their ears to prevent infections, and brush their teeth frequently to maintain good oral health.

Children and Other Pets

Border Terriers are a friendly and adaptable breed, making them great companions for families with children. They are known for their patience and tolerance, especially with young children. However, teaching your children how to approach and interact with dogs safely and respectfully is essential. Always supervise interactions between dogs and children to ensure the safety of both parties.

Border Terriers can get along well with other pets, particularly when raised with them from a young age. Their strong hunting instincts may cause them to chase smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or birds. So, close supervision and proper introductions are essential when introducing new pets to the household.

As with any dog, monitoring interactions between your Border Terrier and other animals is crucial, ensuring that all parties remain safe and comfortable in their shared environment.

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