Border Terrier Dog Breed Information – All You Need to Know

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Border Terrier Dog Breed Information All You Need To KnowThe upbeat Border Terrier is beloved among breed enthusiasts and pet owners alike.  Shepherds of the past needed a dog that could defend their flocks against the wily fox. They needed a dog with legs long enough to give chase, but an animal small enough to dig into the fox’s burrow for a fight. 

These pups were the ancestors of today’s Border Terrier.  Originating near the Scottish-English border, and relatively unchanged in appearance,  these energetic workers have developed into loving household favorites around the world.

Border Terrier Appearance

Although there are numerous breeds of Terriers, Border Terriers are unique in appearance, making it easy to differentiate this breed from the others of the Terrier group. They have what enthusiasts call an “otter head”-similar in appearance to that of an otter-rounded and precocious. Border Terriers also have much longer legs than the average Terrier, which allowed them to pursue their quarry over ground at higher speeds.  They stand 11-16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh from 11-15 pounds.  Females are generally slightly smaller than males.

The Border Terrier’s coat is another trait that sets him apart from other breeds.   The wiry coat comes in a number of colors, including tan, blue, wheaten, and red. This unique coat protected them from weather and dirt as they assisted shepherds on the rugged countryside, and is very easy to care for.

Temperament & Personality

Although very tough and determined while working, Border Terriers are known as very affectionate family pets. While terriers are often considered feisty, Borders are the exception.  They have a reputation as wonderful companions for children, as they are very playful and love the outdoors.  Fortunately, their small size does not mean they are fragile in nature. 

Border Terriers enjoy roughhousing and tumbling with the best of them.  They are generally social and enjoy the company of other dogs, though they should be intentionally socialized on a regular basis from a young age.   They may have problems with smaller animals such as cats due to their Terrier nature and desire to give chase Their size makes them a portable companion for the family, and they enjoy being with their people in a variety of situations, as they are considered to be extremely adaptable dogs. They enjoy exploring with their people.

Caring for the Border Terrier

Although they need owners that are moderately active, Border Terriers are relatively low maintenance in their care requirements.  A hardy breed, they have few unique concerns and are suitable for owners of all experience levels.


Border Terriers can do well on either canned or dry dog food, providing it is high quality and appropriate for their age group.  Senior dogs should eat food designed for their age and so on. Treats can be enjoyed in moderation and can also be used as a training tool.  The intelligent Border may also enjoy treat puzzle toys to exercise both the body and mind.


Border Terriers are energetic working dogs and require daily exercise.  However, they can adapt to apartment and urban living when given the opportunity for regular physical activity.  Due to their prey drive, they are likely to chase any squirrels that cross their path, so it is important for these dogs to be on-leash or in a fenced in area while they are getting their exercise. Borders have been known to be escape artists, so it is important that the area be extremely secure.  For added safety, a Border should always wear a collar with the owner’s information and be microchipped.


Border Terriers are a highly trainable breed. In fact, they are often considered the most malleable of the stubborn terrier breeds.  However, they think for themselves, thus it is essential for training to begin early.  Puppy classes are an excellent idea for this breed. They are not steadfastly obedient, and must be disciplined with a firm but kind hand.

As aforementioned, Borders cannot resist a chase, often no matter the quarry.  Therefore, addressing this may be an important part of the training curriculum.


Border Terriers are considered among the healthiest of purebred breeds.  However, there is one major concern for owners to watch out for, and that is canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (CECS), which is often mistaken for epilepsy or other seizure disorders. There is no current genetic testing for this disease, but studies are underway to create one.  A group called the Border Terrier CECS is leading this research.

Otherwise, Border Terrier dogs are generally healthy.  Individuals should visit their veterinarian at least annually for an exam and updated vaccinations. Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention practices are important for all dogs.

Grooming is very easy for the Border Terrier.  Though the wiry coat has a down underlayer, it only requires a simple weekly brushing.  Bathing can be done every few weeks or as needed.

Similar Breeds

  • Jagdterrier: A versatile German dog, the name translates to “hunt terrier”-and that’s exactly what this breed does. Especially suited to underground work, the Jagdterrier is also used as a flushing dog for birds and varmints.
  • Norfolk Terrier: Among the smallest of the Terriers, these pups are cute and lovable pets. Bred to hunt in packs, they still retain many of the Terrier instincts while being a loyal (sometimes jealous) lap dog.
  • Norwich Terrier: Very similar in size and appearance to his close cousin the Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terriers differ in that they have erect ears rather than folded over ones. Cute, but bossy, they are known to be somewhat stubborn. They hold the title for the tiniest of Terriers.
  • Cairn Terrier: These dogs do best with close human contact. They are short legged and strong, with a wiry coat that has a downy layer underneath.  Of Scottish descent like the Border Terriers, they were used to root foxes from their burrows.
  • Russell Terrier: This compact dog has three coat types within the breed: smooth, broken, and rough, which require different levels of grooming. These dogs pack a lot of personality into a tiny rectangular body! They are very energetic and feisty.
  • Affen Border Terrier

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