Choosing a Border Terrier

The border terrier is an agile and lively dog that only wants to please. The wiry coat gives them an appearance of being scruffy, which is one of the many endearing features of this little ball of energy.

History and Origin

The border terrier was originally developed in the mid 1800s in the Cheviot Hills, an area bordered by England and Scotland. The border terrier was bred to help farmers drive the foxes from their dens and then kill them. In addition, the border terrier has been employed as a marten, otter and badger hunter and watchdog. Over time, the border terrier left his full time job of hunter and became more of a family pet. Today, the breed is primarily a companion but can still be effectively used to control vermin on the farm. Since the breed is easily trained, it has been successful in agility, obedience competitions and as a trick dog.

In 1930, the border terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the terrier group.

Appearance and Size

The border terrier is a small compact and agile little dog. The head has a characteristic "otter" appearance. The ears are small and lie a little on the side of the head drooping forward. The body is muscular and well balanced. The tail should be short and thick at the base and then tapers. The coat of the border terrier is wiry and can be red, blue and tan, wheaten or grizzle and tan. A little bit of white is acceptable.

The adult border terrier stands around 12 to 15 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 12 to 15 pounds.


The border terrier is a hardy terrier with an innate desire to hunt. He appears scruffy due to his wiry coat and loves to make his owner's happy. This terrier will bark when a stranger approaches but is not aggressive if properly trained. Similar to other terriers, the border terrier enjoys digging and must be kept in a fenced and secured area.

Home and Family Relations

The border terrier is a friendly, loyal, family-oriented dog that want please. When raised with cats and small children, the border terrier can do well but should be carefully supervised with other families children and pets. As a general rule, border terriers should never be trusted with hamsters, rabbits, birds, etc. and should never be allowed to roam free.


The border terrier is intelligent and easy to train. The breed loves to have something to do and will work very hard for his owners.

Special Concerns

The border terrier, as with other terriers, does not like to be left alone with nothing to do. They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. The border terrier should be brushed weekly.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The border terrier is a hardy little terrier that has few known diseases. Some may develop cryptorchidism, which is a retained testicle, deafness, skin diseases and cataracts.

Life Span

The average life span of the border terrier is approximately 13 to 15 years.