Border Terrier Guide

Terrier Dog Breeds

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The border terrier is of medium bone, slightly taller than long. Its long legs impart the speed, agility and endurance necessary to follow a horse over all sorts of terrain, whereas its fairly narrow body allows it to squeeze through narrow passages in pursuit of a fox. Its gait displays good length of stride. Its coat consists of a short, dense undercoat covered by a very wiry, straight, somewhat broken outer coat, which should conform to the body. Its hide is very thick and loose fitting, affording protection from the bites of its quarry. The border is known for its distinctive otter head, and its alert expression matches its alert demeanor.

One of the few terriers bred to run with the pack, the border is one of the most amiable and tractable of the group. It is inquisitive, busy, friendly and biddable. It does like to hunt and can be independent, ingredients that make for a dog that may tend to roam if given the chance. It is generally good with other dogs and cats, but not with rodents. It is very good with children and makes a good companion for people of all ages. It digs, and some bark. Some are talented escape artists.


FAMILY terrier

AREA OF ORIGIN border of Scotland and England


ORIGINAL FUNCTION fox bolting, ratting

TODAY'S FUNCTION earthdog trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 10-11 Weight: 13-15.5

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 10-11 Weight: 11.5-14


Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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The border likes activity and needs either a good walk on leash, a vigorous game session or an off-lead expedition in a safe area every day. It can live outdoors in temperate climates, but it does much better when allowed to divide its time between house and yard. Its harsh coat needs brushing weekly, plus stripping of dead hairs about four times yearly to maintain its clean outline.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: CHD, heart defects
• Suggested tests: hip, cardiac
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
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Perhaps the oldest of Britain's terriers, the border terrier originated around the Cheviot Hills forming the border country between Scotland and England. The dog originated to chase and dispatch the fox that were considered a nuisance to farmers. The smallest of the long-legged terriers, the border terrier had to be fast enough to keep up with a horse yet small enough to go in after the fox once it had gone to ground. The first evidence of these dogs dates from the 18th century. Its progenitors are unknown, although it is probably related to the Dandie Dinmont. The breed was once known as the Coquetdale terrier (among other names), but the name border terrier, taken from the Border Hunt, was adopted in 1870. By this time, the breed had risen from its utilitarian roots to take a valued place alongside the foxhounds in the gentry's elegant fox hunts. The Border Hunt had a long association with these game yet amiable terriers whose job it was to dispatch the fox. The first border terrier was shown in the 1870s. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1930. Less flashy than many other terriers, the border continued to be better appreciated by patrons of the hunt than of the show ring. In recent years, it has experienced a rise in popularity and is fast becoming a fairly popular pet and successful show dog.
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