Border Terriers

On the Hunt to Please

Border terriers are good observers. Bred centuries ago to spot foxes and rodents, the breed is content to sit back and watch the world around it, soaking in every detail.

Smart, affectionate and playful, the adaptable Border terrier is a good companion for life in the city or playing house in the suburbs. The breed’s sweet nature and easygoing attitude have made it an affable companion for all types of people.

Border terrier

The Border terrier was bred during the early 18th century to fulfill a need: a hunting dog fast enough to keep up with foxhounds but small enough to squeeze through narrow dens to help flush out prey.

Hence came a dog from the borders of England and Scotland, a friend to farmers who valued the breed’s stamina and fearlessness, a foe to foxes that were looking to raid a farmer’s livestock.

The Border terrier thrived on farm lands but did not become a popular household pet until the early 20th century. Initially rejected by Britain’s Kennel Club in 1914, the breed was accepted in 1920. The Border terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930, where it is currently ranked No. 86 out of 175 recognized breeds.

Although bred to be an outdoor hunter, the Border terrier is quite at home indoors curled up on the couch next to a family member. Intelligent and eager to please, the breed is mild tempered and affectionate — as such it is often trained to be a therapy dog to assist with children and the elderly.

While border terriers do well around children they may be inclined to chase after other small pets; although they can be raised with other pets, such as cats, it’s helpful if they are introduced at a young age.

The breed is task oriented and can be strong willed; routine training starting at a young age will benefit your Border terrier. The breed also performs very well at agility training, perhaps an attribute to its days as a field dog. The Border terrier is highly rated at the Earthdog trials, an AKC field exercise test in which terrier dogs run through buried tunnels to test and develop their natural hunting instinct.

Due to its temperament and quick learning skills, the Border terrier has made a name for itself in Hollywood, appearing in more than two dozen films and TV shows, including “102 Dalmatians,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Lassie,” and ”Return to Oz.”

Border terrier

Border terriers are a little scruffy around the edges, with an otter-shaped head, a short muzzle and a grizzled, furry face.

With a narrow body and long legs, Border terriers weigh on average between 11 and 16 pounds. The breed has a double coat that serves to protect it during harsh conditions. The dog’s undercoat is short, dense and soft while the outer coat is rough, wiry and weather resistant. Its unruly outer coat requires routine brushing and a bi-annual stripping to remove dead hair. Some Border terrier owners prefer to have their dog’s coat groomed in a shorter fashion year round for lower maintenance and comfort.

The breed’s coat can be grizzle and tan, blue and tan, red or wheaten.

While these medical conditions are known to occur in the breed your Border terrier will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

Border terrier
  • Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary malformation of the hip joint that is more commonly associated with large breed dogs. It can cause discomfort and lameness and result in arthritis. X-rays of the hips when dogs are young (under 2 years) can help identify if this problem is present will allow owners to identify a proper exercise, diet and treatment regimen if their dog is affected.
  • Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.
  • Legg-Perthes disease is a degenerative disorder of the hip joint caused by an interruption of the blood supply to femoral head of the hip joint. This causes degeneration of the bone and subsequent lameness from pain and arthritis of the hip joint.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is an adult-onset condition which typically occurs between ages 4 and 10. Symptoms include night blindness leading to total blindness between the ages of three and five.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.