The Border Terrier: A Loyal and Fearless Companion


The Border Terrier (the oldest of Britain’s terriers) is a small, rough-coated breed of dog that first appeared in the 18th century and has its roots around the Cheviot Hills forming the border country between Scotland and England.

They were originally bred as vermin hunters– chasing and dispatching foxes that were considered a nuisance to farmers before. These dogs share a common ancestry with the Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Patterdale terriers and Bedlington Terriers.

Although the said breed has been around for quite a length of time now, the Border Terrier was officially recognized in Great Britain by The Kennel Club in 1920, and in 1930 by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Traits and Behavior

Border Terriers have the temperament of a typical working dog. They are loyal and affectionate towards their family. They love to be constantly around their owners which often become a problem since they can get in the way. This breed should not be left alone for long hours because they tend to develop separation anxiety.


When properly socialized, this dog is good around children. They are playful, but they are not aware that they should be gentle around them. Being herding dogs, they tend to nip at the child as to herd them. However, this can be corrected with training.

This breed is protective and territorial which makes them great watch and guard dogs. However, socialization and training should be implemented to distinguish friends from intruders. If not trained properly, this dog can develop aggression.


This dominant dog is generally ok around other dogs. With socialization, they tolerate other dogs, if not ignore them. However, they are known to be aggressive around non-canine animals due to their natural hunting instinct. Training and socialization are important if this dog is to live with other non-canine pets.

Pet Care and Diseases

This high energy working dog needs vigorous activity every day to stay healthy. They need at least one hour of daily exercise. They are good jogging buddies, but they prefer to run around without a leash. If not sufficiently exercised, they tend to be aggressive, vocal and destructive.


The thick coat of the Border Terrier needs to be brushed at least 3 times a week. They don’t require professional grooming, but shaving is usually done during hot weather. They can suffer from some genetic diseases such as:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart defects
  • Malocclusions
  • Seizures
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cryptorchidism

It is advisable to have this dog checked at Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) to detect any health issues.


The Border Terrier is a small, medium-boned sturdy dog. The male dogs typically stand around 13 to 16 inches tall (33 to 41 cm) at the shoulders, and weigh about 13 to 15.5 pounds (5.9 to 7.0 kg). On the other hand, female dogs are about 11 to 14 inches tall (28 to 36 cm) and weigh approximately 11.5 to 14 pounds (5.2 to 6.4 kg).

Its coat consists of a short, dense undercoat covered by a very wiry, straight, somewhat broken outer coat, which should conform to the body. Common coat colors are grizzle-and-tan, blue-and-tan, red, or wheaten. Its hide is very thick and loose-fitting, affording protection from the bites of its quarry.


The border is known for its distinctive otter head, and its alert expression matches its alert demeanor. The muzzle is short and usually dark, with a slight, moderately broad stop. The nose is black. The teeth are strong with a scissors bite.

General Information

The estimated life expectancy for this breed is about 12-15 years. The average litter size is approximately 2-8 puppies or an average of 4-6. Other names include  Coquetdale Terrier or Reedwater Terrier.

Breed Club

Visit these dog club websites dedicated to Border Terriers. Click this link:

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