Border Terrier

Border Terrier

Group: Terrier Group

Origin: Great Britain

Height: 11 to 16 inches at the shoulder.

Weight: From 11½-15½ lb (5-7 kg).

Border Terrier
Can Ch. Heythrop Tracer
Photo: Lakewood

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Breed Profile

The Border Terrier shares its ancestry with that of the Bedlington Terrier and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and is one of several working terrier breeds to come from the borders of England and Scotland. The breed was developed by farmers and shepherds who used the Terriers to hunt fox, otter and vermin for centuries. The Border’s most important characteristics are still those necessary for the performance of his work. His job is to follow his quarry and “go to ground”. He must either go underground to chase out the fox (“bolt”) or remain with the fox and bark. By barking, the dog is indicating where the fox is located.

The Border Terrier was officially recognized by the Kennel Club (U.K.) in 1920 but history shows that the breed was in existence in the 19th century. In the last few years, the Border has become one of the most popular Terrier breeds registered with the Kennel Club. According to the Border Terrier Club (U.K.), as of 2003, the Border Terrier was listed as the 10th most popular breed in the United Kingdom.

The Border Terrier is good-tempered, affectionate, obedient and easily trained. He is noted for being active and agile. His body posture is “at the alert” and he is determined and fearless. Being a high energy breed, the Border Terrier needs plenty of exercise and enjoys such activities as flyball, agility, tracking, earthdog tests and obedience competitions.

Borders generally get along well with other dogs as well as cats if introduced at a young age. Caution is advised, however, around other small animals such as gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, birds and neighbourhood cats, as they may be viewed as vermin because of the Borders strong hunting instinct.

In colour the Border Terrier may be red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheaten. All colours usually have a ring of coarse silver based hair about a third of the way from the base of the tail. Most Borders have dark ears and muzzles.

Health Issues

The Border Terrier breed is generally healthy; however, like all breeds, genetic problems do occasionally occur. These include:

Other health concerns include heart defects, allergies, bite malocclusion and undescended testicles. Due to selective breeding by conscientious breeders, the incidences of these conditions are limited.

Border Terriers have also been known to have problems with anasthesia because they may be slow to induce. If anasthesia is required for your Border Terrier, you should discuss this matter with your Veterinarian.

If you are considering the adoption of a Border Terrier puppy puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Border Terrier, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screenings for:

  • Annual Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist until at least 8 years of age.
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Congenital Cardiac Database
  • Listed as Optional: Pediatric Cardiac Pilot Study

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

Border Terriers are not considered high-maintenance but they do need regular grooming. The Border Terrier has a double coat with a wiry top coat and a soft, downy undercoat. Like all double-coated breeds, Border Terriers do shed but this can be minimized through proper grooming. Thorough brushing should be done weekly and the coat should be stripped twice a year, by hand or with the help of a stripping tool.


Training Resources

The Border Terrier is eager to please and this usually helps in basic training. The best training method is to always use positive reinforcement, be patient and consistent.

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • The Border Terrier in Brief — A booklet from The Border Terrier Club of America (BTCA)
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.


*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

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