Border Terrier: Care & Characteristics of the Dog Breed

Border terrier standing on grass

The border terrier is a little yet vivacious terrier dog breed with a short, wiry coat and a distinctive wide head with v-shaped ears that is native to the United Kingdom. In general, these dogs are loving and sociable. They may be noisy and obstinate, and they have a propensity to pursue and dig, much like other terriers.

Breed Overview


Height: 12 to 15 inches

Weight: 11.5 to 14 pounds (female), 13 to 15.5 pounds (male)

Coat: Short, wiry

Coat Color: Blue and tan, grizzle and tan, red, or wheaten; muzzle is usually darker

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Lively, bright, affectionate

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: United Kingdom

Characteristics of the Border Terrier

When properly trained and socialized, border terriers can be highly affectionate with their family and even get along well with young children. Although they might have a strong-willed tendency in their personalities, these dogs can be intelligent and only partially trainable. They also enjoy to play.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly  Medium
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Border Terrier

The Scottish-English border region is where the border terrier's forebears first appeared. The Dandie Dinmont and the Bedlington terrier, which are both from that region, are related to the breed.

Farmers in this area needed a dog in the 19th century that was athletic, bold, perceptive, and motivated to assist catch and discourage foxes that posed a threat to their sheep. The terriers needed long legs to keep up with the hunt, but they also needed tiny bodies so they could go inside foxes' dens and flush them out. The bigger foxhounds in the vicinity were unable to do this.

The breed was originally acknowledged by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom in 1920, and by the American Kennel Club in 1930. It remains a very popular dog breed in the United Kingdom and is a reasonably popular dog breed in the United States today.

Border Terrier Care

For their happiness and health, border terriers require a lot of playing and exercise. To be well-mannered dogs, they also need constant training and socializing. Although it becomes more difficult during their shedding season, their grooming is generally simple.


For a border terrier, aim for at least a half-hour to an hour of activity every day. They typically like running, hiking, brisk walks, and fetch. These athletic dogs also do well in like tracking, flyball, and agility. Both the physical exertion and good cerebral stimulation offered by these activities are superb.

When exercising, always keep your dog on a leash or in an enclosed space. Border terriers have a strong hunting drive and will start chasing their prey right away. Additionally, because these terriers are expert diggers, ensure sure any buried fencing reaches far enough underground so that it cannot be crossed.


Border terriers have a soft undercoat and a wiry outer coat, and they shed very little. Most of the time, a weekly brushing will be sufficient to remove any loose fur and disperse oils. However, these dogs frequently experience increased shedding times twice a year, generally in the spring and fall. You will have to physically remove the loose fur from the coat every day during this period using a rake or other specific stripping equipment.

Border terriers' inherent ability to resist dirt from their coat is actually hampered by bathing. Thus, only extremely seldom bathing may be necessary. If not, you can brush your dog after cleaning him with a moist cloth.

About once a month, examine your dog's nails to determine whether they require cutting. To ensure there is no dirt, debris, redness, inflammation, or other irregularities, check the animal's ears at least once every week. Aim to regularly clean your dog's teeth.


Border terriers are bright and eager to please. That makes them adept at learning obedience commands. But they also can be independent thinkers and stubborn about when they want to obey.

Start your border terrier's training as soon as you can because it's typically simpler to instill good behaviors in pups than to eradicate negative ones in adults. As soon as you can, start with a puppy obedience class. Always employ positive teaching techniques; punishing a dog severely might make it lose interest in learning. Being consistent with your instructions is also important.

Starting as early as feasible, expose your dog to a variety of people, pets, and situations. Particularly if they have had favorable experiences when they were young, these dogs are often flexible and receptive to meeting humans and even other dogs. They may not make good companions for other home pets, like as cats, due to their high hunting drive.

Common Health Problems

Border terriers are typically a healthy and hardy dog breed. But they are prone to some hereditary health conditions, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your border terrier a premium, nutritionally sound dog food, and have fresh water on hand at all times. Most owners give their animals two metered meals a day. Depending on your age, amount of exercise, and other circumstances, the kind and quantity of your diet may change. To ensure you're giving your pet the right nutrients, talk this over with your veterinarian. To prevent overeating, don't forget to account for treats and any additional food in your dog's regular diet.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Border Terrier

To locate a border terrier in need of a home, get in touch with regional animal shelters and breed-specific rescue organizations. Expect to pay roughly $1,000 on average for a quality breeder puppy, however this might vary depending on the lineage and other aspects. Visit the following websites for further details on finding a border terrier:

  • Border Terrier Club of America
  • North American Border Terrier Rescue

Border Terrier Overview

  • Affectionate and friendly

  • Adaptable

  • Energetic and hardy

  • Can be strong-willed

  • Can have a high prey drive

  • Often prolific diggers

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do diligent research before deciding whether a border terrier is the right breed for you. Talk to vets, border terrier owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups.

If you're interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are border terriers good family dogs?

    Border terriers that are well trained and socialized can make excellent family dogs. As a breed, they are generally affectionate and good with kids.

  • Are border terriers aggressive?

    Border terriers typically aren’t aggressive and only have a moderate protective nature. But they can view small animals, including household pets, as prey.

  • Are border terriers good apartment dogs?

    Border terriers tend to be adaptable to different living situations, including apartments. But if they live in a small space, it's essential that they get out for enough exercise each day.


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