Border Terrier

Alert, Lively and Agile; Wonderful Family Pet

Border Terrier

Alert, Lively and Agile, These Little Dogs Are Wonderful Family Pets

As one of the most versatile family dogs out there, the Border Terrier is very intelligent and active. Since it can also be strong-willed or stubborn, your firm stance as the one in charge will largely control this tendency resulting in an even-tempered, calm, sweet pet that will rely on its own initiative – but will be obedient nonetheless.


Originating from the border country of the Cheviot Hills in England and Scotland, the Border Terrier is one of the oldest Terriers in Great Britain. Originally bred as purely a working Terrier, original owners, such as sportsmen, shepherds and farmers, worked hard to preserve the "working class" attributes of this dog. Border Terriers are distinguished by their tireless protection of stock against predators like the deadly fox, in any environment and any weather. Through the heroic efforts of the Border Terrier, farmers and shepherds were able to overcome great problems with stock fatalities by relying on the dog to drive the fox population out of its habitat and subsequently kill them. Small enough to penetrate their dens, but large enough to keep up with horses, these little dogs truly proved to be up to the task. In addition to hunting fox, Border Terriers also kept mice, rats, otters, martens, and even the very fierce badger controlled. Indeed, farmers would often not feed their dogs in hopes that they would fight even harder to find and kill fox and vermin, in that they had to hunt in order to survive. Although it's not known quite where the actual bloodline of the Border Terrier comes from, it's probably true that one of its ancestors is the Dandie Dinmont. One of its first names was the "Coquetdale Terrier," but it was rechristened the Border Terrier in honor of the Border Hunt, in 1870.

By the 1870s, the Border Terrier was not only notorious for protecting stock from the fox, but was also a grand companion to the gentry during fox hunts. Working alongside the foxhound, the Border Terrier's job was to kill the fox. Thus it was that the first Border Terrier was shown in the 1870s, with recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1930. Although still perhaps more valued for its ability to hunt than as a show dog, the Border Terrier has become quite popular as a pet and has evolved into quite a respected show dog as well.


Small but sturdy, the Border Terrier has a narrow body and shoulders, with a wide so-called "otter shaped" head. In adulthood, these dogs weigh between 11 and 15 pounds, and stand 11 to 16 inches at the shoulder. Ears are long and "dewlapped," generally resting on the cheeks. The dense, short, wiry coat can be a golden tan or brown, blue and tan, grizzle and tan, or red, sometimes with black markings and a small amount of white.


Alert, bold, and solid, the Border Terrier is nonetheless mild-mannered and very affectionate. If you choose to adopt one of these dogs to be part of your family, be prepared to put in some training time, even though these very intelligent little dogs are also very eager to please. As long as you put the time in while your pet is still in puppyhood to make sure he or she knows you are the “alpha dog” or leader of the pack, and as long as you train him or her to be obedient, you can largely control his or her independent nature. It's worth noting that historically, Border Terriers were meant to work alone but to be at the bidding of their masters, so your pet may retain somewhat of an independent streak even with training.

A natural hunter, you can socialize your Border Terrier to be nice to your cat and they may even become friends – but don't try to do the same thing with pets such as small rodents, birds, hamsters, rabbits, and so forth. If you get a Border Terrier as a pet, it's probably wise to dispense with having small pets like guinea pigs, etc., in order to avoid unwelcome tragedy.

With a few considerations and adjustments, your pet will be calm, mellow, and well-behaved around you and your family. The Border Terrier can become timid if not exposed to loud noises as puppies, and you should give your pet plenty of exercise, always. As he or she gets older, your already mellow and watchful pet will become even sweeter and more devoted to you. Border Terriers make excellent therapy and service dogs and can easily be trained to obey commands. In fact, the Border Terrier loves something to do, so it's more advisable to train your pet to obey commands that have a specific purpose ("open the door"), than to simply sit up, roll over, beg, play dead, and so forth.

Health Border Terriers are bred to be small and fit, and very hardy. In general, these little dogs live to be 15 years old or even older, although they can have a few health problems. Most notably, they can have hip dysplasia, Perthes disease, or something called canine epileptoid cramping syndrome, or CECS, which is an inherited disorder in the Border Terrier. Sometimes confused with canine epilepsy, symptoms can include dizziness, trembling, staggering, cramping with exaggerated stretching afterward, methodical and slow walking, muscle or intestinal cramping, or something called borborygmus, which is a gurgling or rumbling noise in the stomach caused by movements of gas and fluid in the intestinal tract. (Humans can also get this, benignly.) Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome can result in episodes that last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and dogs typically remain alert and responsive during these episodes. Dietary changes and/or drug intervention may help.Check with your vet if your pet seems distressed by these episodes or seems to be in pain, since medications may help.


Brush your pet's wiry coat every week and have it professionally groomed a few times a year, specifically to strip the dead hairs out of the coat and maintain a clean appearance. Bathe only if necessary. Border Terriers shed very little and often make good pets even for those with allergies, since they are nearly hypoallergenic.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Border Terrier.

Retrieved March 31, 2013.


Retrieved March 31, 2013.

Border Terrier.

Retrieved March 31, 2013.

Border Terrier.

Retrieved March 31, 2013.

Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome.

Retrieved March 31, 2013.

Questions people often ask about Border Terrier puppies

  • +Do Border Terriers need lots of exercise?

  • +Do Border Terriers Bark a lot?

  • +Can Border Terriers be left alone?

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