Border Terrier

Border Terrier looking forward

Quick Facts


13 to 15.5 pounds (male)

11.5 to 14 pounds (female)


12 to 15 inches at the shoulder

Average Lifespan:

12-15 years

Known For:

They are agile and affectionate, trainable and very curios. They can be very good childhood friends.


The Border Terrier, with its scruffy coat and spirited demeanor, is a testament to the joy and energy that small dogs can bring into our lives.Β 


Originating from the border region between England and Scotland, this breed has captured the hearts of many with its tenacity, intelligence, and undeniable charm. According to the American Kennel Club, the Border Terrier ranks among the top 100 popular breeds, a testament to its enduring appeal among pet enthusiasts[^1^].

History and Origin

The Border Terrier’s history is as rugged as its appearance. This breed was developed in the harsh terrains of the Cheviot Hills, which lie on the border between England and Scotland. Their primary role? To assist farmers in hunting foxes that threatened their livestock. These terriers needed to be agile enough to keep up with the horses and tenacious enough to drive the foxes out of their dens.


Over time, the Border Terrier’s reputation grew not just as a working dog but also as a show dog. By the early 20th century, they were being showcased in dog shows across Britain. The breed was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1920 and by the American Kennel Club in 1930.


While not as frequently spotlighted in popular culture as some other breeds, the Border Terrier has had its moments of fame. For instance, Baxter, the dog in the movie “Anchorman”, was a Border Terrier.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

The Border Terrier is a small, energetic dog with a distinctive “otter” head, which is a unique characteristic of this breed. They possess a broad skull, short muzzle, and dark, lively eyes that always seem to be filled with curiosity.


In terms of size, adult Border Terriers typically weigh between 11.5 to 15.5 pounds for males and 11.5 to 14 pounds for females. They stand about 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulders


Their double coat is dense and wiry, designed to protect them from the elements and the rough terrains they were bred to work in. While the coat might appear rough, it’s surprisingly soft to the touch. Common coat colors include red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten.


Despite their rough-and-ready appearance, there’s an undeniable elegance to the Border Terrier. Their agile bodies and keen expressions showcase a breed that’s always ready for the next adventure.

Personality and Temperament

The Border Terrier is a bundle of joy, energy, and intelligence. They are known for their affectionate nature and their insatiable curiosity. Always alert and eager to explore, they often approach life with a spirited and fearless attitude.


Despite their origins as hunting dogs, Border Terriers are notably good-natured. They are friendly with people and often get along well with children, making them excellent family pets. However, their hunting instincts can sometimes kick in, making them more prone to chasing after smaller animals. It’s not uncommon for a Border Terrier to be fascinated by squirrels, birds, or even the occasional cat.


One of the most endearing qualities of the Border Terrier is its loyalty. They form strong bonds with their families and are often described as “people-oriented.” They thrive on human interaction and often prefer to be where the action is, whether it’s a family gathering or a quiet evening on the couch.

Health and Lifespan

Border Terriers are generally robust and healthy dogs, often living between 12 to 15 years, with some even reaching the ripe old age of 17. Their hardy nature can be attributed to their origins as working dogs in the challenging terrains of the Cheviot Hills.


However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some potential concerns for Border Terriers include hip dysplasia, heart defects, and juvenile cataracts. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy diet can help mitigate these risks.


Another health concern specific to the breed is Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS), a condition that causes muscle spasms and cramps[^5^]. While it can be concerning to witness, the episodes are generally not harmful and do not cause the dog any pain.

Despite these potential health issues, with proper care, regular exercise, and a balanced diet, your Border Terrier is likely to lead a long, happy, and healthy life.

Care and Maintenance

Border Terrier grooming

Caring for a Border Terrier is a delightful and rewarding experience. Their wiry coat is relatively low-maintenance. A weekly brush will help remove loose hairs and keep their coat looking its best. They do not shed excessively, and their coat naturally repels dirt, which means they don’t need frequent baths.


Exercise is crucial for this energetic breed. Daily walks, play sessions, and the occasional opportunity to run in a secure area will keep them happy and healthy. Their intelligence also means they thrive on mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, training sessions, and interactive games can be a great way to engage their sharp minds.

Diet-wise, a balanced and nutritious meal is essential. It’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your individual dog, considering factors like age, weight, and activity level.

Training and Behavior

Border Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively straightforward to train. However, their independent nature and hunting instincts can sometimes make them a tad stubborn. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key when training this breed.


They excel in obedience and agility training, often standing out in dog sports due to their agility and enthusiasm. Early socialization is crucial for Border Terriers, especially given their hunting background. Introducing them to various people, pets, and environments during their puppy years can help ensure they grow up to be well-rounded adults.


While they are generally well-behaved, it’s essential to be aware of their propensity to dig and chase. A secure yard and close supervision during outdoor activities can prevent any unexpected escapades.

Border Terrier and Families

Border Terrier with people

Border Terriers are affectionate and thrive in family settings. Their friendly disposition and moderate size make them suitable for households with children. They are patient and often form close bonds with kids, enjoying playtime as much as cuddle sessions.


However, due to their hunting background, it’s always a good idea to supervise interactions between Border Terriers and very young children, ensuring that play remains gentle.


When it comes to other pets, while they can coexist peacefully with other dogs, their hunting instincts might make them chase smaller animals like cats, rabbits, or hamsters. Proper introductions and supervision can help manage these instincts.

Adopting a Border Terrier

If you’re considering bringing a Border Terrier into your home, you’re in for a treat! These dogs bring joy, energy, and affection in spades. When looking to adopt, consider checking breed-specific rescues or local shelters. Many Border Terriers are looking for their forever homes and would love to become a part of your family.


Before adopting, ensure you’re prepared for the responsibility. Consider factors like exercise needs, grooming, and potential health issues. Spend time with the dog before finalizing the adoption to ensure a good fit for both you and the pup.

Remember, adopting a dog is a long-term commitment. But with a Border Terrier, it’s a commitment filled with love, laughter, and countless memorable moments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the temperament of a Border Terrier?

Border Terriers are known for their energetic, friendly, and affectionate nature. They are great with families and tend to be good with other dogs and children, making them excellent companions.

How much exercise does a Border Terrier need?

They are active dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily walks and opportunities to run and play in a secure area are recommended.

Are Border Terriers easy to train?

Yes, they are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. However, their strong prey drive and independence might require consistent and positive training methods.

What are common health problems in Border Terriers?

Border Terriers are generally healthy but can be prone to hip dysplasia, heart defects, and Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS), a condition unique to the breed.

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