Temperament: Affectionate, Happy, Plucky
- Height: 12-15 inches
- Weight: 13-15.5 pounds (male), 11.5-14 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
- Group: Terrier Group
Admirers of the upbeat and agile Border Terrier cherish their breed’s reputation as a tough, no-frills working terrier. These plucky, happy, and affectionate dogs are popular pets in town and country. The wiry coat is an easy keeper.
He is an active terrier of medium bone, strongly put together, suggesting endurance and agility, but rather narrow in shoulder, body and quarter. The body is covered with a somewhat broken though close-fitting and intensely wiry jacket. The characteristic “otter” head with its keen eye, combined with a body poise which is “at the alert,” gives a look of fearless and implacable determination characteristic of the breed. Since the Border Terrier is a working terrier of a size to go to ground and able, within reason, to follow a horse, his conformation should be such that he be ideally built to do his job. No deviations from this ideal conformation should be permitted, which would impair his usefulness in running his quarry to earth and in bolting it therefrom. For this work he must be alert, active and agile, and capable of squeezing through narrow apertures and rapidly traversing any kind of terrain. His head, “like that of an otter,” is distinctive, and his temperament ideally exemplifies that of a terrier.
About the Border Terrier
Border Terriers, standing from 11 to 16 inches at the shoulder, are easy to recognise among other small terriers by their unique head shape—the breed has an “otter head,” as fanciers say. Another distinguishing trait is that they are longer in leg than other small terriers. The wire coat can be grizzle and tan, blue and tan, wheaten, or red.
Borders are described as “hard as nails” when working, but at home they’re good-tempered, affectionate, and trainable. Borders love exploring outdoors and make fine childhood playmates. Bred to be country dogs, Borders adapt well to city life—as long as they get plenty of exercise. Borders tend to get along with other dogs, but their hunting instincts can be aroused when cats or squirrels cross their path.
NUTRITION The Border Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
GROOMING The Border Terrier has a double coat: a hard, wiry outer coat over a soft, fluffy undercoat. Like most double-coated breeds, the Border sheds seasonally. Most of the time, a quick brushing every week or two is enough to keep the coat in good shape. During shedding season, owners can expect to spend a half-hour or so every day stripping out the dead hair, either with their hands or with a rake or stripping tool. The outer coat repels dirt, but bathing compromises this ability. Usually a dirty Border Terrier can be cleaned up with a towel and a brush. As with all breeds, the BT’s nails should be trimmed regularly.
EXERCISE Borders are active dogs and need plenty of exercise daily. A brisk half-hour walk or play session with his owner and a ball or flying disc should be enough to keep a Border healthy and happy. Because of their instinct to chase small animals, a Border Terrier must always be walked on a leash, and play sessions must take place inside a fenced-in yard or other secure area. Terriers are diggers, so ideally any backyard fencing will extend underground for at least 18 inches. BTs enjoy participating in tracking, lure coursing, agility, and earthdog, as well as canine sports such as fly-ball.
TRAINING Early socialisation and puppy training classes are a must for Border Terriers. The breed’s parent club notes: “A Border was bred to think for himself, which can be both his most endearing and most frustrating quality. Told to stay, he will oblige for what he considers enough time, then slip off about his own business. Confronted, he will act sorry, since he really likes to please. Punish him harshly, and you will break his spirit. If you want a dog that is unfailingly obedient, don’t get a Border Terrier.” Remember that Borders cannot resist a chase and should only be off leash in securely fenced areas.
HEALTH Early socialisation and puppy training classes are a must for Border Terriers. The breed’s parent club notes: “A Border was bred to think for himself, which can be both his most endearing and most frustrating quality. Told to stay, he will oblige for what he considers enough time, then slip off about his own business. Confronted, he will act sorry, since he really likes to please. Punish him harshly, and you will break his spirit. If you want a dog that is unfailingly obedient, don’t get a Border Terrier.” Remember that Borders cannot resist a chase and should only be off leash in securely fenced areas.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam