The Border Terrier:One of Britain’s Oldest


The Border Terrier is an affectionate, spirited dog lacking the dominance and aggression of other Terrier breeds, but is still a dynamo needing to vent its energy.

The Border Terrier is a great family pet as long as it is involved in extra-curricular activities such as agility training or an Earthdog club. Extensively socialized Border Terriers are bouncy and kissy with strangers. Unsocialized, they are timid. This breed plays rough, is quick to react to teasing, and is possessive of their food and toys. Subsequently, they are not recommended for homes with small children.

Although Border Terriers are less scrappy towards strange dogs than many other Terrier breeds, they can be difficult to contain once they initiate or accept a challenge to a fight. If planning to have two, it is best to have a male and a female. As for other pets, Border Terriers have strong instincts to chase and seize small creatures. So, they cannot be trusted with hamsters, rabbits, rats, or birds. If raising the dog with a cat, the family cat is not a problem. However, the dog should not be trusted with other people’s cats.

Border Terriers are quick to bark at every new sight or sound. They are not the right pet for an owner who works all day and has close neighbors. More a watchdog than a guardian, although they bark, they are not aggressive.

Fence security is a must as they are clever escape artists who go over or under fences. The fence height required for a Border Terrier is surprising, as is the need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to stop digging.

Border Terrier topcoats are short and lay close to the body, and their undercoat is very wiry. Their coats shed little or no hair when groomed consistently and are good for allergy sufferers. The coarse coat and dense undercoat help protect them against the cold and damp. They tolerate both hot and cold climates equally as well. The wiry coat needs weekly brushings and a twice a year professional grooming to keep from turning the dogs into little bushes that shed profusely.

Border Terrier height range between 11 and 16 inches, and average weight is between 11 and 16 pounds. They are a healthy breed with a life expectancy is 12 to 15 years.

Early obedience is suggested. They have a mind of their own and can be quite stubborn, although they are more willing to work with their owners than many other Terriers. Generally willing to please, many Border Terriers excel at the highest levels of obedience and agility competition. But, when they decide to be stubborn, it can be frustrating. They require a trainer with a sense of humor as well as a variety of activities to keep them interested.

Unusually attentive, Border Terriers are quick learners. Since they learn quickly, they do not require repetitive training. This will only bore them and make them easily distracted. Very sensitive to harsh correction, the Border Terrier responds best to motivational obedience training, especially if rewarded with treats for good behavior. But use food in moderation. These dogs live for food and can become pudgy if indulged. Socialize Border Terriers well, getting puppies accustomed to loud noises and city situations while they are still young to avoid excessive timidity.

The Border Terrier was 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. They make a great companion dog for the dedicated owner, but are not for people who want a dog only some of the time.