Border Terrier

Table of Contents

The Border Terrier, originating from the border region between England and Scotland, is a small, lively, and affable breed known for its tenacity and robustness. Historically, these dogs were bred to assist in fox hunts, using their agile bodies to chase foxes out of their burrows. Their wiry and dense double coat, which comes in shades of red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten, not only gives them a distinctive rugged appearance but also protects them from harsh weather conditions.

With a keen sense of smell and an innate curiosity, the Border Terrier is always eager to explore its surroundings. Their amiable disposition makes them great family pets, and they get along well with children and other animals. However, their hunting instincts can sometimes kick in, so it’s advisable to exercise caution around smaller pets. Despite their small size, they are energetic and require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Their intelligence and eagerness to please also make them relatively easy to train, though they can be stubborn at times. Overall, with the right training and socialization, the Border Terrier can be a loyal, fun-loving companion for families and individuals alike.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Border Terrier is best suited for active families or individuals who appreciate outdoor activities, given the breed’s energetic nature. Their friendly and adaptable disposition makes them excellent companions for both urban and rural living, as long as they get their daily dose of exercise. The breed’s patient and playful demeanor also makes them particularly great for households with children. Additionally, their sociable nature means they often get along well with other dogs, especially if they’re introduced from a young age. However, potential owners should be aware of the Border Terrier’s innate hunting instincts, which might not make them the best fit for homes with very small pets, like hamsters or birds. They’re also a good match for individuals looking for a trainable and alert dog that doesn’t require excessive grooming.

Border Terriers Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Border Terrier, a robust and tenacious breed, boasts a wiry and dense double coat that comes in hues of red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten. Originating from the borderlands of England and Scotland, they were initially bred for fox hunting, giving them an agile build and keen senses. Their rugged appearance belies a friendly and affable nature, making them popular family pets. While their intelligence and eagerness to please facilitate training, their inherent hunting instincts and occasional stubbornness require consistent guidance. Their energetic disposition demands regular exercise, and their sociable temperament often sees them getting along with children and other dogs. Here are the qualities you can expect when raising a Border Terrier on a scale of 1 star (low) to 5 star (high).


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Characteristics

Your Affenpinscher dog may be small in size (maybe you can relate), but they make up for it in confidence (again, relatable). With their bright eyes, smooshy faces, alert gaze and a wiry, bristling coat, these brachycephalic dogs may make “Star Wars” fans do a double-take, as these small pups really do resemble Ewoks. Their wiry coats range from black to beige, but they also come in ruddy browns and salt-and-pepper blends.

1. Ears
Their V-shaped ears are of medium size, set on the sides of their head, and drop forward close to their cheeks.
2. Eyes
They possess expressive, dark hazel eyes that are set apart and exude an intelligent and alert expression.
3. Nose
 The Border Terrier has a black nose that stands out against its facial fur.
4. Height
Male: 9-11.5 inches
Female: 9-11.5 inches
5. Coat 
One of the defining features of the Border Terrier is its dense, wiry, and weather-resistant double coat. This provides them with protection against the elements and rough undergrowth. The undercoat is short and dense, while the outer coat is harsh to touch and lies closely against their body.
6. Coat Color
The coat colors can vary, with the most common shades being red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten.
7. Tail
Their moderately short tail is thicker at the base and tapers to a point. It’s carried gaily but never curled over the back.
8. Size
Border Terriers are small dogs, with adult males typically weighing between 13-15.5 pounds and females weighing around 11.5-14 pounds. They stand about 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder.
9. Legs and Feet
Border Terriers have straight legs with compact, well-padded feet that provide them with good grip and stability.
10. Neck
Their neck is of moderate length, muscular, and blends seamlessly into their shoulders, enabling them to have an agile and swift movement, especially when chasing prey.

Border Terriers Temperament

The Border Terrier, despite its historical role as a feisty fox hunter, boasts a temperament that’s affectionate, intelligent, and often surprisingly gentle. They are known for their spirited and energetic nature, always eager for an adventure or a new challenge. Their inquisitive demeanor often leads them to be alert and observant, qualities that, paired with their loyalty, also make them excellent watchdogs.

They bond deeply with their families, often developing a particularly close relationship with children, with whom they are patient and playful. However, it’s important to remember their innate hunting instincts; while they typically get along with dogs and larger pets, smaller animals might be seen as prey, which calls for supervised interactions.

Training is generally a pleasant experience, given their intelligent and eager-to-please nature. However, they do have a streak of independence, which might occasionally manifest as stubbornness. Early socialization is key to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded adults.

Despite their small size, they are not just lap dogs; they crave mental and physical stimulation. Without it, they can become bored and potentially destructive. A content Border Terrier is one that’s been given ample playtime, interaction, and opportunities to exercise its keen senses.

How to Care for a Border Terriers

Caring for a Border Terrier requires understanding its unique needs stemming from its hunting lineage and vibrant personality. Here’s a guide to ensuring your Border Terrier lives a fulfilling and healthy life:

Grooming a Border Terrier isn’t just about keeping your dog looking its best; it’s also about ensuring its comfort and health. Here’s a detailed guide to grooming your Border Terrier:

  1. Coat Care:

    • Brushing: The Border Terrier’s wiry coat requires weekly brushing to remove loose hairs, prevent matting, and distribute natural skin oils. A slicker brush or a pin brush works best for this purpose.
    • Hand-Stripping: Unlike other breeds, Border Terriers benefit from hand-stripping rather than regular haircuts. This process involves removing the old outer coat by hand to allow new growth to come in. Hand-stripping maintains the coat’s natural color and texture. It’s typically done twice a year, often in spring and fall.
    • Bathing: Due to their wiry coat, Border Terriers do not need frequent baths. In fact, overbathing can strip the coat of its natural oils, making it more susceptible to skin issues. Bathing every 2-3 months or when exceptionally dirty is sufficient. Always use dog-specific shampoos.
  2. Ear Care:

    • Check their ears weekly for any sign of redness, bad odor, or wax build-up which can be indicators of an infection.
    • Clean them gently with a dog-specific ear cleaner and a soft cotton ball. Avoid using Q-tips as they can push debris further into the ear canal.
  3. Nail Trimming:

    • Border Terriers’ nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks. Regular walks on concrete can naturally keep the nails short. However, if you hear them clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim.
    • Use dog-specific nail clippers, and be cautious not to cut into the quick, which is the blood vessel inside the nail.
  4. Dental Care:

    • Brush your Border Terrier’s teeth several times a week to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease.
    • Use dog-specific toothpaste, as human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs. Dental chews and toys can also help maintain dental health.
  5. Eye Care:

    • Check their eyes regularly for any redness, cloudiness, or excessive tear production.
    • Wipe away any discharge with a soft, damp cloth. Make sure to use different sections of the cloth for each eye to prevent potential cross-contamination.
  6. Paw Care:

    • Examine their paws regularly for any injuries, cracks, or foreign objects, especially after walks.
    • In colder climates, salt and chemical ice melters can irritate their pads, so ensure you clean their feet after walks during winter.

A well-groomed Border Terrier not only looks great but is also more comfortable and healthier. Regular grooming sessions also provide an opportunity to check for signs of health problems, ensuring that issues are caught and addressed early.

The Border Terrier, known for its lively spirit and sharp intelligence, makes for an eager-to-please pupil. However, their independent nature and history as a working breed can sometimes pose challenges in training. Here’s a guide to effectively training your Border Terrier:

  1. Start Early:

    • Begin training your Border Terrier as soon as you bring them home. Early socialization with different people, animals, sounds, and environments is crucial. This ensures they grow up to be well-adjusted adults.
  2. Positive Reinforcement:

    • Always employ positive reinforcement techniques. Border Terriers respond best to rewards, praise, and play. Harsh methods or punishments can make them stubborn and less willing to cooperate.
    • Use treats strategically. A well-timed treat can reinforce good behavior. However, be mindful of the quantity to avoid overfeeding.
  3. Consistency is Key:

    • Be consistent with commands and expectations. If you allow a behavior one day and punish it the next, it confuses the dog and makes training harder.
    • Ensure all family members are on the same page concerning commands and rules.
  4. Obedience Training:

    • Basic commands like sit, stay, come, heel, and down should be introduced early. They not only instill discipline but also ensure the dog’s safety in various situations.
  5. Distraction Training:

    • Border Terriers, being originally bred to chase, can be easily distracted by moving objects or scents. Work on training commands in progressively more distracting environments to ensure they listen even when there’s something tempting nearby.
  6. Leash Training:

    • Given their chasing instinct, leash training is essential. Start in a controlled environment like your backyard before venturing into public spaces.
  7. Avoid Repetition:

    • Change up training sessions to keep them engaging. If a Border Terrier finds the routine monotonous, they might lose interest.
  8. Address Unwanted Behaviors:

    • If your Border Terrier picks up unwanted behaviors, like digging or excessive barking, address them immediately. Understand the root cause of the behavior – it could be boredom, anxiety, or territorial instincts – and address it accordingly.
  9. Enroll in a Class:

    • Puppy classes or basic obedience classes can be beneficial, especially for first-time dog owners. It’s also a great way for your Border Terrier to socialize.
  10. Stay Patient:

  • Remember, every dog learns at its own pace. Stay patient and celebrate the small victories along the way.

Incorporating training as a part of daily life and making it fun will help you and your Border Terrier build a strong bond. With time and consistent effort, you’ll have a well-trained companion ready to accompany you in all of life’s adventures.

The Border Terrier, a robust and energetic breed, requires a balanced diet to fuel its active lifestyle. Just like humans, dogs need a mix of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for overall health. Here’s a guide to ensure you’re feeding your Border Terrier the right way:

  1. High-Quality Protein:

    • Protein is the foundation of any dog’s diet. Ensure the food you choose lists a good source of animal protein (like chicken, beef, lamb, or fish) as the first ingredient.
    • Protein supports muscle growth and maintenance. For Border Terriers, who are inherently active, this becomes even more crucial.
  2. Healthy Fats:

    • Fats provide the most concentrated source of energy. Look for dog foods that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These not only supply energy but also keep the skin and coat healthy.
    • Sources of good fats include fish oil, flaxseed, and chicken fat.
  3. Carbohydrates:

    • While dogs don’t need carbohydrates in large quantities, they do provide a source of quick energy. Opt for dog foods that use complex carbs like sweet potatoes, peas, or brown rice.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals:

    • These are essential for various bodily functions, from bone health to metabolism regulation. Ensure the dog food contains a variety of fruits and vegetables. They are natural sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
  5. Avoid Fillers and Additives:

    • Steer clear of foods that list fillers like corn gluten meal, wheat, and soy. These don’t offer much nutritional value and might even trigger allergies in some dogs.
    • Also, avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Natural is always the best way to go.
  6. Water:

    • Don’t underestimate the importance of fresh water. Always ensure your Border Terrier has access to clean drinking water. Hydration plays a significant role in digestion and nutrient absorption.
  7. Special Requirements:

    • Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have varying nutritional needs. Make sure you’re feeding life stage-appropriate food. For instance, puppies require more protein and fat for growth, while seniors might need fewer calories to avoid weight gain.
  8. Monitor Weight:

    • Border Terriers are active but can gain weight if overfed. Regularly monitor their weight and adjust portion sizes as necessary. Overweight dogs can face a host of health issues.
  9. Treats:

    • While treats are an excellent way to reward and train, they should be given in moderation. Ensure treats don’t account for more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
  10. Consult Your Veterinarian:

  • Always consult with your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet. They can provide recommendations based on your dog’s specific health needs and conditions.

Remember, a balanced diet is the key to a healthy, happy dog. With proper nutrition, your Border Terrier will be better equipped to enjoy its active lifestyle to the fullest.

Border Terriers, originating from the border region between England and Scotland, were bred for fox hunting. This history gives them a natural drive for activity, making exercise an integral part of their daily routine. These lively terriers brim with energy, and if you’re considering adopting one or already have, here’s what you need to know about their exercise needs:

  1. Daily Walks:

    • At the very core, a Border Terrier requires at least one brisk walk daily. This helps them burn off energy and explore their surroundings, tapping into their natural curiosity. A 30-minute to an hour-long walk is generally sufficient for most.
  2. Playtime:

    • These terriers are playful and enjoy games that stimulate both their body and mind. Fetch, tug-of-war, and even hide-and-seek are great choices. Remember, a tired Border Terrier is a happy one!
  3. Mental Stimulation:

    • Beyond physical activity, they need mental challenges. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and training sessions can keep their sharp minds occupied. A mentally engaged dog is less likely to indulge in destructive behaviors.
  4. Safe Off-Leash Areas:

    • Border Terriers love to run. If you have access to a securely fenced yard or a dog park, give them some off-leash time. It allows them to sprint, explore, and socialize with other dogs. However, always monitor them, given their hunting instincts; they might chase after small animals.
  5. Training Sessions:

    • Incorporate short, frequent training sessions into their routine. This not only helps in obedience but also provides them with a mental workout. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with this breed.
  6. Digging:

    • Don’t be surprised if your Border Terrier loves to dig. It’s in their nature. Instead of discouraging this entirely, consider designating a specific spot in your yard where it’s okay for them to dig.
  7. Socialization:

    • While not strictly exercise, socializing with other dogs provides mental stimulation and some physical activity. Regularly visiting dog parks or arranging playdates can be beneficial.
  8. Avoid Overexertion:

    • While they are energetic, it’s essential to ensure they aren’t overexerted, especially in hot weather. Always provide ample water during and after exercise, and avoid midday outdoor activities during summer months.
  9. Stay Consistent:

    • Border Terriers thrive on routine. Try to keep their exercise schedule consistent. A sudden drop in activity can lead to boredom and potentially problematic behaviors.

Incorporating a mix of the above activities ensures your Border Terrier stays fit, mentally sharp, and happy. Regular exercise also strengthens your bond with them, making for a harmonious household. Remember, a well-exercised Border Terrier is not just physically healthy but also mentally content.

The Border Terrier, with its boundless energy and innate curiosity, requires an environment that caters to both its physical and mental needs. Originating from the rugged borderlands between England and Scotland, they were bred to be hardy and adaptable. However, when considering the best environment for this breed, several factors come into play:

  1. Safe Outdoor Space:

    • A home with a securely fenced yard is ideal for a Border Terrier. This gives them the freedom to explore, play, and indulge in their natural digging instincts without wandering off. However, due to their tenacious nature and history of hunting, the fence should be high and secure enough to prevent escape attempts, especially when they spot small animals.
  2. Interactive Indoor Space:

    • While outdoor play is crucial, having interactive toys indoors can help keep them mentally stimulated. Puzzle toys, chew toys, and even interactive play sessions inside the house can be beneficial, especially during inclement weather.
  3. Access to Nature:

    • Given their history, Border Terriers thrive in environments where they have access to nature. Proximity to parks, trails, or open fields where they can safely run and sniff around is beneficial.
  4. Moderate Climate:

    • Border Terriers have a dense double coat that protects them from the cold and damp conditions of their native lands. They can handle cooler temperatures, but extremely hot climates can be a challenge. In hotter regions, ensure the indoor space is cool and exercise them during the cooler parts of the day.
  5. Social Surroundings:

    • Border Terriers are sociable and enjoy the company of both humans and other dogs. A setting where they have regular interaction with family members and occasional playdates with other dogs can contribute positively to their well-being.
  6. Training Spaces:

    • As intelligent dogs that respond well to training, having a dedicated space or access to training areas can be beneficial. It doesn’t necessarily have to be vast but should be free from distractions.
  7. Avoid Overly Noisy Environments:

    • While they’re adaptable, Border Terriers might be stressed in consistently loud settings. A peaceful environment, away from constant heavy traffic or loud noises, is more suitable.
  8. Routine & Structure:

    • Border Terriers, like many breeds, thrive in a structured environment. Consistent feeding times, playtimes, and training sessions help them understand their routine and reduce anxiety.

In essence, the ideal environment for a Border Terrier is one where they can balance their energetic bursts with moments of relaxation, have spaces to explore and play, and feel safe and loved. Providing such a setting ensures you have a happy, healthy, and content Border Terrier companion.

Border Terriers Health

The Border Terrier, known for its spirited nature and scruffy charm, generally enjoys good health. However, like all breeds, they have specific health considerations that potential and current owners should be aware of. With regular vet check-ups and proper care, these hardy dogs can live a full and active life.

  1. Life Expectancy:

    • Typically, Border Terriers have a lifespan of 12-15 years. With regular health check-ups and a well-balanced lifestyle, many even live beyond their expected years.
  2. Hip Dysplasia:

    • While not as common as in larger breeds, Border Terriers can suffer from hip dysplasia. It’s a hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit into the hip socket properly. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage this condition.
  3. Heart Conditions:

    • Some Border Terriers can develop heart issues like pulmonic stenosis. It’s essential to have regular veterinary check-ups to detect any heart irregularities early on.
  4. Allergies:

    • These terriers are prone to allergies, both food and environmental. Symptoms may include itching, redness, or digestive issues. Identifying and removing the allergen source is crucial. Sometimes, hypoallergenic diets or antihistamines might be prescribed.
  5. Eye Conditions:

    • Certain eye issues like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and cataracts can affect the breed. Regular eye checks can help detect these conditions early, ensuring timely treatment or management.
  6. Perthes Disease:

    • This is a condition where the blood supply to the femur is reduced, causing the head of the femur to become necrotic. It can lead to arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. Surgical intervention is often the chosen route for treatment.
  7. Seizures:

    • Some Border Terriers may experience seizures. The cause might be unknown, or they could be linked to a health issue. It’s crucial to consult a vet immediately if your dog experiences a seizure.
  8. Dental Health:

    • Dental issues are common among many dog breeds. Regular brushing, dental check-ups, and a proper diet can ensure your Border Terrier’s teeth remain healthy.
  9. Regular Check-ups:

    • As with any breed, regular veterinary check-ups are essential. They help in early detection of potential issues and ensure that your Border Terrier remains in optimal health.
  10. Genetic Testing:

  • Before getting a Border Terrier, especially if from a breeder, it’s advisable to check for any genetic testing done. This gives insights into potential hereditary health issues the dog might face.

In conclusion, while the Border Terrier is generally a healthy breed, being informed and proactive about potential health issues is key. Regular vet visits, a balanced diet, consistent exercise, and attentive care will ensure your furry companion remains by your side, wagging its tail, for many years to come.

Border Terrier Breed Comparison and Consideration

When you’re thinking of welcoming a dog into your home, it’s not just about picking a breed but understanding how that breed meshes with your lifestyle, especially when weighed against other options. The Border Terrier, with its amiable personality and resilient build, surely stands out, but how does it fare when compared to other breeds?

1. Border Terrier vs. Jack Russell Terrier:

  • Size & Build: Both are small but sturdy. However, the Border Terrier has a slightly more elongated body and less square appearance than the Jack Russell.

  • Temperament: While both breeds possess that typical terrier tenacity, Jack Russells are a tad more energetic and can be more aggressive. Border Terriers, on the other hand, are often described as good-natured and affectionate.

  • Exercise Needs: Jack Russells have a bit more energy to burn and may require longer play sessions compared to the Border Terrier.

2. Border Terrier vs. Yorkshire Terrier:

  • Size & Build: The Yorkshire Terrier is notably smaller with a fine, silky coat, contrasting with the Border Terrier’s wiry, dense coat.

  • Temperament: Yorkies can be more vocal and may have a stronger ‘small dog syndrome,’ being feistier. In contrast, Border Terriers are comparatively calmer but still spirited.

  • Grooming: Yorkshire Terriers need regular grooming sessions to maintain their long hair, while Border Terriers have a more manageable coat.

3. Border Terrier vs. Cairn Terrier:

  • Size & Build: Both are close in size, but the Cairn Terrier is a bit stockier.

  • Temperament: Cairn Terriers can be a bit more independent and stubborn than Border Terriers, but both breeds are known for their intelligence.

  • Exercise Needs: Their exercise needs are pretty comparable, with both breeds needing regular play sessions and walks.

Considerations Before Choosing a Border Terrier:

  1. Space: Do you have enough room in your home or a yard for play? While they’re adaptable, they do love a good romp outside.

  2. Time: Border Terriers thrive on human interaction. Are you able to provide enough attention and playtime?

  3. Other Pets: With their high prey drive, consider the animals you already have at home. While they’re generally sociable with other dogs, they might chase smaller pets.

  4. Maintenance: Their coat is relatively low-maintenance, but they do require regular grooming and the occasional trim.

  5. Family Dynamics: They are generally great with families and bond well with children. However, like with all breeds, early socialization is key.

In wrapping up, while the Border Terrier is an exceptional breed with numerous admirable qualities, it’s imperative to weigh them against other breeds and align them with your individual needs and lifestyle. A well-informed choice will ensure a harmonious relationship with your new furry companion.


While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Border Terriers have a dense, wiry coat that doesn’t shed excessively. Regular grooming can further reduce the minimal shedding.

Absolutely! Border Terriers are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, making them great companions for children. However, as with any breed, it’s essential to supervise interactions between young kids and dogs.

Yes, they can adapt to apartment living provided they get adequate exercise. It’s essential to ensure they have enough physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom-related behaviors.

While they can be a bit feisty with dogs of the same gender, especially if not socialized early, Border Terriers generally do well with other pets. They might have a high prey drive, so care should be taken when introducing them to smaller animals like rabbits or rodents.

Yes, their affectionate nature and manageable size make them suitable for first-time dog owners. However, potential owners should be prepared for their energy levels and ensure they can provide adequate exercise and stimulation.

Originating from the border region between England and Scotland, the Border Terrier was primarily used for hunting foxes. Their nimble bodies were perfect for chasing prey even in rugged terrains. Over time, their pleasant disposition also made them popular as companion animals.

Thanks to their dense, wiry coat, Border Terriers can handle colder climates quite well. However, during extreme cold spells, it’s always a good idea to limit their outdoor time or consider a doggy sweater for added warmth.

Top Takeaways

The Border Terrier, a breed with a rich history rooted in the border regions of England and Scotland, is a versatile companion cherished for both its hunting prowess and delightful temperament. These dogs, with their wiry coat and robust constitution, are not only well-suited for rugged terrains and colder climates but are also relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.

However, potential pet parents should be prepared for their spirited energy levels. They require consistent training, ample exercise, and mental stimulation to keep them content. Above all, their affectionate nature, combined with their alert and intelligent demeanor, makes them an ideal companion for both the countryside and urban settings. When considering a Border Terrier, it’s crucial to recognize and meet their needs, ensuring a harmonious and long-lasting bond.

Top Border Terriers Names

These are the top Border Terriers  names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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