Border Terrier

Why get a Border Terrier?

Are you looking for a canine companion who is both laid back and fun?

Then the Border Terrier might well be perfect for you. Not only do they 'border' on the impossibly cute these little terriers are relatively low maintenance and perfect for a first-time dog.

These dogs are very adaptable and can happily live in an apartment if given frequent opportunities for play and exercise.

The Border Terrier's athleticism and intelligence means that it has been a valued working dog for a good couple of centuries. But these qualities also contribute to its deserved popularity as a pet

So if you want an amiable little friend who is always eager to please then look no further than the Border Terrier.

Border Terrier

Physical Attributes

Height: Small
Male 10-12 inches (25-30cm)
Female slightly shorter

Border Terrier - Weight
Male: 13-16 Ibs (6 kgs-7kgs)
Female: 11-14 lbs (5kg-6.5kg)

Border Terrier - Colors
Colors: red, wheaten, grizzle and tan or blue and tan
Border Terrier - Breed Group
Breed Group:


Lifestyle Guidance:




Border Terrier - first dog

Very Good

Border Terrier - small pets
Good with Small Pets


Border Terrier - apartment
Apartment Living

Very Suitable

Background and History

The Border Terrier has the honor of reaching its hundredth year of official status as a breed last year in 2020.  It was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in England in 1920.  The American Kennel club soon followed in 1932. 

Although its history seems to far back a lot further than that.  This breed was being referenced as far back in the 17th century.  But they have been given a variety of other names including The Redesdale Terrier, The Reedwater Terrier and the Coquetdale Terrier.

Border Terriers were favored during foxhunts as they were swift enough for the chase but could also dig and pursue a fox into the ground. This means they would have been often rubbing shoulders with their Terrier cousins, The Fox Terrier. Like this other Terrier they proved fast enough to keep pace with the hunt but at the same time could be called upon to dig out any foxes that had gone to ground. The breed gained its name from its association with the Border Hunt where it was a regular feature alongside the Foxhounds.

A sign of its popularity its widespread presence in the borders between England and Scotland. It was found present in Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland.  These areas lie in the far north of England near the borders with Scotland.   

Character and Temperament 

These dogs are very hardy and endure any form of pain or discomfort stoically.  They are also seen as one of the most trainable and compliant of the Terrier breeds. They are also generally less inclined to yap than most other terriers. 

These dogs are definitely at the relaxed end of the Terrier Group whose breeds are often lovable and fun but quite frenetic and intense. This makes them a good family dog as they are excellent with children.

Border Terriers are popular consistently remaining in the top 100 most popular breeds according to the AKC registration data [1].  In the United Kingdom this breed fares even better and is amongst the 10 most popular breeds.

Their perennial popularity may be in part to their adaptability.  They are suitable for apartments or houses.  They can adapt more readily to change than is generally the case with most other breeds of dogs.  Added to this is their reputation for being friendly with other dogs. They make excellent family dogs but are also suited for those who live alone.

Due to their relatively relaxed and compliant natures in the context of the Terrier Group, these dogs are also a good choice for first-time dog owners. Their amiability and eagerness to please make them trainable and very pleasant canine companions both inside and outside the house. They are also suitable for apartment living as long as they gain sufficient exercise and interactive play.

But the Terrier instinct remains very strong. This means that the Border Terrier is always eager to explore and will soon find itself distracted by an inviting scent out on a walk. Owners should also be careful to secure their outdoor areas as these dogs have been known to be accomplished escapologists.

In keeping with its Terrier heritage these ‘earth-workers’ enjoy digging up gardens. So be aware that any precious plants in your garden or yard might need additional protection from their propensity to dig.

For the different stages in a puppy and adult dog’s development please click here.


As with all Terriers recall training must be prioritized to curb the explorative and inquisitive zeal of Border Terriers off the leash as they follow inquisitive scents on a walk. They are also notorious for chasing any smaller animals that they may encounter. This means that recall training is likely to the biggest challenge and should be prioritized.

The Border Terrier is always eager to please and is one of the most biddable of all Terriers. They are gregarious with other dogs and easy-going and adaptable in respect of smaller pets. But it is still important to socialize this little Terrier as earl as possible

Click here for an outline of the benefits of training. Click here for information on socializing a puppy and here for socializing an adult dog.


This active and energetic little dog was bred for running with the hunting hounds as well as dispatching rodents. Thus the Border Terrier is an active dog who should have one good walk a day of around an hour each day. In addition this little dynamo should enjoy interactive play and/or the opportunity to explore in a safe, enclosed space.

The Border Terrier - bordering on the impossibly cute
The Border Terrier – bordering on the impossibly cute


The Border Terrier has a short and sturdy muzzle set within a distinguished ‘otter-shaped’ head. They also have high set v-shaped drop ears and a short, stumpy tail.

This breed tends to stand at between 10 and 12 inches (25-30cm). The females are generally only slightly smaller than the males.

The Border Terrier male typically weighs around 13-16 lbs (6kg-7kg) with the female slightly lighter between 11- 14lbs (5kgs-6.5kgs).

Coat and Grooming

They also have a dense coat with a thick protective coat.  Like the Fox Terrier and the Airedale Terrier there is little shedding.  These dogs should be brushed daily and the ‘plucking’ of shed hairs should be included in the regular grooming routine. This is a particular priority in times of hot weather along with other steps to keep them cool.

But grooming and shaping is still a regular requirement. The Border Terrier should have its coat clipped and ‘shaped around three times a year.

Lifespan and Health

This is a healthy breed of dog with a lifespan of between 12-15 years. As a consequence they do not have any notorious breed-specific health issues. Some of the breed occasionally suffer from epilepsy and patella luxation (temporary dislocation of the knee caps). Another infrequent problem relates to eye conditions such as cataracts.


The Border Terrier Club of America

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