Let's talk Border Terriers

Intelligent and spirited, the Border Terrier is one tough cookie when it comes to work, and affectionate and loyal when with their human families. While originally country dogs, the Border Terrier adapts well to urban living - provided they get lots of exercise. If you have a garden, even better. But remember, the Border Terrier’s escape talent would make Houdini jealous, so keep them occupied. Outside the garden, the Border Terrier should be kept on a lead. After all, these dogs were bred to keep pace with horses during hunts.

Official name: Border Terrier

Other names: 

Origins: United Kingdom

Black and white portrait of Border Terrier sitting
 Drooling tendencies

Very low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living? 
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)* High Family Pet?* 

 Compatibility with other pets Medium
Can stay alone?* Very low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Border Terrier
Male
30 - 38 cm Height
6 - 7 kg Weight
Female
30 - 38 cm Height
5 - 6 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  from 12 years

Border Terrier puppy walking across grass to camera

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Get to know the Border Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

Looking for buried treasure? Have no fear, the Border Terrier is here! Originating in the Cheviot Hills along the border between England and Scotland, Border Terriers are hardy, fearless, energetic – and really good at digging. Not surprising considering they were specifically developed to flush out foxes. In fact, the Border Terrier’s “otter” shaped head, long legs, and narrow shoulders were quite literally made for keeping up with horses while being able to squeeze into tight spaces in pursuit of prey.

All of this might seem to suggest the breed was destined for hard work; however, the loving, loyal Border Terrier is most content when around people and adapts very well to home life. There are just a few things to consider…

On the easier side of owning a Border Terrier: their short, wiry coat, which comes in grizzle, tan, wheaten or red, doesn’t require much grooming outside of the seasonal shed. On the less easy side: Border Terriers are highly independent and can be tricky to train. This in combination with a strong prey drive can result in your Border Terrier’s decision to take off in pursuit of a non-canine animal – and your commands might fall behind in the race.

As with most breeds, Border Terriers fare best when given early training and socialisation. Active families ready to invest in plenty of play time, safe walks on the lead, and a secure, fenced garden will find the Border Terrier a wonderful and rewarding pet.

Border Terrier running across dry land

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2 facts about Border Terriers

1. Can you dig it?

If you have ever been around a Border Terrier, you have certainly witnessed their penchant for burrowing. Centuries of fox hunting have made the Border Terrier an expert in digging down deep in search of prey, and they have the awards to show it. Border Terriers regularly come out on top in earth dog trials – events designed to test canine digging ability.

2. Didn’t I see you in…?

If you’re a Border Terrier owner, don’t be surprised if people stop to ask your pup this question. The Border Terrier has quite the filmography, having landed roles in big and small screen productions including There’s Something About Mary, Anchorman, Return to Oz, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Though often cast as the, ehem, mutt, it’s clear the camera loves these adorable canines.

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History of the breed

Possibly one of the oldest terriers in Great Britain, the Border Terrier finds its origins in the border country between Scotland and England. In a region of hills and an often-harsh climate, herders and farmers needed a solution for protecting livestock from their crafty arch nemesis – the fox.

Enter the fearless, hard-working Border Terrier. With legs long enough to keep up with horses, a body narrow and flexible to slip into fox burrows, and a weather-resistant coat, the Border Terrier could soon be found throughout the region – where it largely remained. Because, while the breed enjoyed huge popularity in the border country, the Border Terrier was fairly unknown elsewhere. Aside from frequent appearances at agricultural shows in Northumberland, the Border Terrier stayed off of dog enthusiasts’ radar until the early 20th century.

1920 saw the breed recognised by the British Kennel Club, and in 1930, the first Border Terrier was officially registered with the American Kennel Club. While they still enjoy a rather low profile compared to other terriers, the Border Terrier continues to be deeply appreciated by those in the know.

Black and white portrait of a standing Border Terrier

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Border Terriers

1. Head

A fairly broad, flat head, small, v-shaped ears, and short, full muzzle.

2. Eyes

Eyes are intelligent, dark and wide set.

3. Body

Deep, narrow body with moderately sprung ribs.

4. Coat

Wiry topcoat with dense, short undercoat.

5. Tail

High-set tail, medium length, thick at base then tapering.

close-up side profile of a Border Terrier looking to the sky

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Border Terrier
Border Terrier stood holding a paw up on grass

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Caring for your Border Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

While the Border Terrier’s double coat generally stays in good shape with a quick brush every week or so, the breed does experience seasonal shedding that requires a good thirty-minute stripping session to remove dead hair. Clip nails and clean ears and teeth regularly. Border Terriers seem to have inexhaustible energy and thrive on at least a half an hour’s up-tempo walk – always on a lead - and lots of play. Because Border Terriers come with a built-in digging feature, make sure your garden fence is at least 18 inches deep so your pooch doesn’t start burrowing his way to the next country. While Border Terriers do well with early training and socialisation, it’s important to remember that they can have a mind of their own. This independence, paired with a strong prey drive, means your Border Terrier will listen up to a certain point; but if the urge to chase kicks in, it will be hard to stop them.

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All about Border Terriers

While not yappy per se, Border Terriers will bark to alert you to something suspicious. They can also resort to barking if left too long on their own, though we don’t recommend leaving any dog alone for extended periods of time.

For their safety, a Border Terrier should only be let off the lead when inside the home or in a securely fenced-off area. Their strong prey drive means that, should a rabbit - or the neighbor’s cat - come within sight, they will likely break into a chase.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/