Breed Group: Terrier
Temperament and Behavior
Border Terriers are friendly and calmer than most other terriers, but they are still a dynamo that needs a chance to vent their energy. Fitting into many situations, they are ready to join an older child’s games or sit in your lap. But they react quickly to teasing, and are possessive of their food and toys so are not recommended for homes with small children. Fence security is a must for them; they are clever escape artists. Fencing must be buried to thwart their digging and any small gaps must be filled. Well socialized dogs enjoy meeting new people, otherwise, they can be timid. Border Terriers are less scrappy with other dogs than most Terriers, but they have strong instincts to chase small fleeing creatures. Do not trust them with smaller pets. Usually getting along with their own family’s cat will not be a problem. However, they should not be trusted with someone else’s cat. They often sound an alarm too frequently; be quick to stop them. Their barking can be a nuance if you work all day and have neighbors close by. With their friendliness, they make a better watchdog than a guard dog.
Physical CharacteristicsSmall dogs, they are typically 11 to 16 inches at the withers and weigh between 11 and 16 pounds. Coat colors are red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten. They have a wiry coat that protects them against cold, damp weather. They handle hot and cold temperatures equally well. With weekly grooming they shed little; failure to groom them results in profuse shedding.
Trainer's NotesEarly obedience training is important. They have a mind of their own and can be quite stubborn, though they are more willing to please you than many other Terriers. Many excel at the highest levels of obedience and agility competition. But, you must show them, through absolute consistency, you mean what you say. Attentive, especially when food is used, they are quick learners. But feed in moderation as they become pudgy if over indulged. Repetitious training only bores them. Socialize them well. Getting young puppies accustomed to loud noises and city situations will avoid timidity. Border Terriers have many good qualities, but they were not bred to be a pet. They are best for owners with intermediate skills or a dedicated first-time owner with a trainer’s help. Dogs not part of a family are not happy. An unhappy terrier digs, barks, and chews destructively. They are not for people who are gone all day or who only want a dog some of the time.
HealthBorder Terriers have only a handful of health issues including Heart Murmurs, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Undescended Testicles, Luxating Patellas, and malocclusions, or poor jaw alignment which rarely causes a significant problem. The life expectancy for a Border Terrier is 12 to 15 years.
PopularityThe AKC ranks the Border Terrier 81st in popularity. There are usually less than 1,000 Border Terriers registered with the AKC in any one year.
Breed HistoryPerhaps the oldest of Britain’s terriers, they were originally bred in the Cheviot Hills area near the border between England and Scotland to help farmers drive predatory foxes from their dens and kill them. Even though they are quite small, their legs are long enough and they have enough stamina to keep up with a horse. The bold little Border Terrier has also been used to hunt marten, otter, and badger.
Additional InformationGrateful that their breed is not among the most popular, Border Terrier fanciers believe this helps keep their beloved dog natural and unspoiled. But, because their numbers are so small, buyers must be prepared to wait for a puppy. James Herriot, Veterinarian and author of “All Creatures Great and Small” owned a Border Terrier named “Bodie”. The National (US) Breed Association is the Border Terrier Club of America