Border Terrier

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Border Terrier

12-16 lb
13-15 years
AKC Terrier
Best Suited For
Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
Calm, friendly, curious, independent
Comparable Breeds
Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier
13-16 inches
Border Terrier Basics

Cute and scruffy, the Border Terrier has made its way from the fields and farms into the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. This energetic breed is easy going, making it a great family pet. The smallest of the long-legged terriers, the Border Terrier is calm and friendly around the house but is also curious, independent and loves to dig. Some famous Border Terriers include Puffy from “There’s Something About Mary” and Baxter in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”

Always looking like it is interested in or up to something, the Border Terrier’s small black nose and intelligent looking eyes can sometimes get it into trouble. But for the most part, these dogs are simply too cute for its own good. Read on to find out more about this breed.

The smallest of the long-legged terriers, the Border Terrier is calm and friendly around the house but is also curious, independent and loves to dig.


In 18th century England and Scotland, the Border Terrier was bred to catch mice and rats in farmers’ barns. It didn’t take long to discover that these feisty little dogs could also flush out foxes and the breed could keep up with a running horse. As well, the Border Terrier had to often catch its own food in order to survive, which made it even more tenacious.


Border Terriers share ancestry with Dandie Dinmont Terriers and Bedlington Terriers.

The Border Terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1930.

Food / Diet

Border Terriers can eat a raw/homemade diet or a high-quality dog food. Make sure that whatever food you go with, it contains high-quality ingredients such as meat, rice and vegetables, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements.

This energetic breed is easy going, making it a great family pet.


You’ll find that it is fairly easy to train the smart and able Border Terrier. An important note to remember is not to inadvertently teach this dog an unacceptable behavior, as Border Terriers have long memories. Once it is taught something is okay to do, it’s challenging to try to reverse the behavior. But on the positive side, if a Border Terrier is given love and attention for performing a command correctly, it will do it again and again.

One of these reasons you see a lot of Border Terriers on TV and in the movies is because of its willingness to learn. This breed seems to really take to obedience training. This also means that the Border Terrier can be trained to work with disabled people.

The Border Terrier likes to chew, reducing even the toughest of toys to piles of fluff with no effort. When training, set boundaries as to what is acceptable for chewing and what is not. It is a good idea to invest in chew toys that are geared toward safe, heavy duty chewing.

Thanks to the irresistible combination of lovable, affectionate, and easygoing, the Border Terrier fits into just about any family or living environment. With the right training, you’ll be able to mold a perfect, well-behaved dog.


Male Border Terriers weigh 13 to 16 pounds, while females weigh 12 to 15 pounds.

Temperament / Behavior

This dog may be small is size, but the Border Terrier’s personality is quite large. Boasting a high intellect and good disposition, the Border Terrier gets along with everyone, including other dogs and animals. In fact, many people choose to get more than one Border Terrier so that they can entertain each other. If you have smaller animals in the house, you must introduce your Border Terrier into the mix early so its hunting instincts don’t take over.

Children and Border Terriers get along great. Because there’s not an aggressive bone in this dog’s body, the Border Terrier will happily play with and entertain kids for hours. This dog could be the ideal babysitter! And even though it is lively, the Border Terrier is anything but overbearing.

When the day is done and it’s time to relax, your Border Terrier will be content to relax with you on the couch or floor. This breed is motivated by the love and attention of its family.

Common Health Problems

The Border Terrier is quite resilient. It can suffer from a few conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy (an eye condition that will eventually lead to blindness) and hip dysplasia. But even if your dog suffers from these aliments, a Border Terrier will continue to live comfortably and happily.

On the more serious side, the Border Terrier can suffer from heart defects and canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (a disease that targets neurological and muscular systems and results in seizure like activity).

Be on the lookout for any health conditions, as Border Terriers have a high tolerance for discomfort and often don’t show symptoms until the condition progresses.

Life Expectancy

Border Terriers have a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years.

Exercise Requirements

Even a small dog like the Border Terrier needs exercise. An active breed, the Border Terrier likes to run, play fetch, and spend time with other dogs or its owners. To help cut down on chewing and digging, give your dog lots of toys to play with on its own, especially if you are leaving it for extended periods of time.

The park or yard gives your Border Terrier ample opportunity and pace to get its much-needed exercise. A daily walk is recommended, but not essential.

This dog may be small is size, but the Border Terrier’s personality is quite large.


The American Kennel Club says this about the breed: “Alert, active and agile, the Border Terrier is willing to squeeze through narrow holes and sprint across any terrain to capture his quarry: the fox. This persistence made him an excellent working terrier back in England, and allows him to succeed in Earthdog, Obedience and Agility trials today. Known for his “otter” head and game attitude, the Border is medium-sized with a wiry coat that may be red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten with a dark muzzle.”


The Border Terrier’s unique coat is varied – some dogs have two coats while others only have single ones. The dogs with double coats have a soft underside with the classic wiry, slightly uneven hair on top. Border Terriers with a single coat have wiry, rough hair. Usually, the hair is smooth across the dog’s body.

Border Terriers are great for people who may have allergies as it sheds little. Whether your dog has one coat or two, you should brush your dog’s coat twice a week.


As puppies, Border Terriers will start out active with a mellowness that develops with time and maturity. As well, be sure to socialize your puppy or else it may become timid in public.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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