Border Terrier

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The Border Terrier breed, a small and fearless dog, who loves to play, play, play. They have an intent, focused expression.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
Size:

Small

Maintenance Level:

Low

Shed Level:

Low

Temperament:
IndependentBoldBraveAffectionate
Coat Color:
WheatenBlue And TanGrizzle And TanRed

Best For

Border Terriers are best for pet parents who love nothing more than being active with their furry BFF. This breed does well in homes with older kids, but because of their high prey drive, it's better for them to be in a household without small pets like guinea pigs or hamsters.

Border Terrier Traits

What makes the Border Terrier a Border Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.

Border Terrier Temperament

If your to-do list is a mile long, and there is nothing you love more than a day spent checking things off it, then you’ve got a kindred spirit in the Border Terrier. If the Border Terrier had a theme song, it would be Flight of the Bumble Bees—they are busy, busy, busy, love to be on the go and have a strong work ethic. Their affectionate and happy-go-lucky personality is infectious, though they like their independence—which is what makes them a terrier after all!

These medium-height and active little dogs need plenty of engagement and interaction with their humans. A Border Terrier 101 rule is never to let your dog get bored (and maybe you can relate)! If they do, they’ll put their smart brains to use, typically in undesired behaviors. They may think it’s entertaining to dig up your lawn or terrorize the local wildlife, but unless you were planning on a backyard reno and are thankful to save on some demo costs, you may not feel the same.

Border Terriers are affectionate but aren’t overly needy. They love to be involved with what you’re doing but aren’t as much of a “Velcro breed” as some other dogs. They won’t enjoy being left alone in the backyard while everyone else is inside, but as long as they can see what you’re up to, they’ll watch and wait until something interesting happens to join in. These outgoing and confident dogs also enjoy meeting new people, so don’t be alarmed if you pick up some new friends while you’re out and about.

Border Terriers can live alongside other dogs very happily, especially if their pup pals are playful, too. They can live with cats but will need to be introduced carefully. Border Terriers are a great choice for families with older kids as they’re robust and energetic—in fact, you might find the kids are great at wearing your dog out as they speed around together!

While this breed was originally a working dog (dogs meant for guarding, pulling sleds or carts or catching vermin), they’re more often kept as family pets these days. They still love the opportunity to learn new skills and excel at anything like earthdog, flyball and anything else that combines physical and mental activity.

Border Terriers are playful and have a natural instinct to grab and shake whatever they’ve “caught.” When choosing toys, be sure to select tough and durable options that can stand up to the Border Terrier’s enthusiastic attention.

How to Care for a Border Terrier

A Border Terrier puppy looks like an adorable bundle of fluff, but these small dogs aren’t exactly low maintenance. This active breed needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them content. In return, you’ll be showered with affection from your warm-hearted and intelligent pup.

Border Terrier Health

Border Terriers are generally a healthy breed, with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. They can suffer from some health problems, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with any health issues, so you can keep your dog happy and healthy for as long as possible.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited and degenerative condition where the hip joint is malformed and causes lameness and pain. Reputable breeders will screen parent dogs, but if your Border Terrier is affected, there are a range of treatment options available, including therapy and surgery.
  • Luxating Patella: This affects many small breed dogs and happens when their kneecap (patella) slips away from the correct position and causes intermittent lameness. Ask your veterinarian for information if you think your dog is affected, as sometimes surgery is recommended.
  • Periodontal Disease: Dental disease is one of the most common health issues in all dog breeds, but the effects can be exaggerated in small breeds like Border Terriers. Getting into a routine of daily teeth brushing along with an annual dental exam will help keep your dog’s teeth clean and their gums healthy.
  • Heart Conditions: Border Terriers can suffer from heart conditions, including pulmonic stenosis (PS) and ventricular septum defects (VSD). Puppies should have a pediatric exam before they travel to their new homes, and your vet can advise on the best course of action if murmurs are detected.
  • Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM): Also known as “shaking puppy syndrome,” this is a hereditary but rare condition that causes uncontrollable shaking, usually of the hind legs. Reputable breeders should test parent dogs and provide a copy of the results, so you know your puppy will not inherit SLEM.
  • Gluten Sensitivity: Border Terriers can occasionally suffer from paroxysmal gluten-sensitive dyskinesia (PGSD), sometimes called canine epileptoid cramping syndrome. It can cause a range of symptoms, including involuntary movement, collapse and gastrointestinal discomfort. Your vet can help diagnose this, and moving to a gluten-free diet can resolve the symptoms.
  • Eye Problems: Border Terriers can suffer from eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and juvenile cataracts. Responsible breeders will screen for PRA and should provide results for parent dogs. It’s also thought that juvenile cataracts could be inherited, and some breeders may test for this condition, too.

Border Terrier History

This plucky little terrier hails from the border between England and Scotland. Their original purpose was to protect herds of sheep (and their lambs) from the local fox population. The mixed origins of the Border Terrier means they were known by a few different names including Ullswater Terrier, Reedwater Terrier and Coquetdale Terrier. These all referenced landmarks around the border country this breed calls home. By the 1800s, the breed became known as the Border Terrier thanks to its link to the Border Hunt based in Northumberland.

These brave dogs were famed for their “hard as nails” attitude, outgoing personalities and enthusiastic pursuit of their prey. These are traits the modern breed is still famed for today, although these days, the breed is more popular as a family pet than a working dog.

The Border Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930. Since then, they’ve built a loyal following of fans, with the Border Terrier Club of America being formed in 1949. However, the breed is still relatively rare in the USA.

If you’re wondering where to find a Border Terrier puppy, then the American Kennel Club’s list of reputable breeders is the best place to start. In terms of the average Border Terrier price, you should budget around $2,000. For that price, you should get a puppy from a registered and reputable breeder who carries out all the appropriate health and temperament checks. You may also find a Border Terrier at local rescue organizations or animal shelters, so it’s always worth contacting those if you’re considering rehoming an older Border Terrier dog.

FAQs

Do Border Terriers shed?

Yes. Border Terriers typically shed their coats twice a year (spring and fall). And during this time, hand stripping or a raking tool can be used daily to remove shedding hair. For the rest of the time, a quick brush once or twice a week will be enough to keep their coat in tip-top condition.

How long do Border Terriers live?

The Border Terrier lifespan is around 12 to 15 years.

Do Border Terriers bark a lot?

Border Terriers don’t generally bark a lot. While each puppy is an individual, this breed as a whole isn’t considered overly yappy or vocal. If your dog is left alone or bored, then they, like many other breeds, may start barking. The Border Terrier’s willing temperament means they can often be trained not to bark excessively.

Are Border Terriers good pets?

Absolutely, Border Terriers are good pets! They will thrive in a home with active pet parents who are committed to providing the level of exercise and enrichment that these smart little dogs need. They can live with cats, but as a terrier breed, they have a naturally high prey drive which pet parents always need to bear in mind.

What are the most popular Border Terrier names?

Some of the most popular Border Terrier names include Max, Lara, Scout, Baxter, Skip, Peanut and Quincy. Some pet parents like to choose a name that reflects their Border Terriers personality, appearance or their heritage. Popular options in that case include Lucky, Otter, Red, North, Fox and Reed. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Border Terrier mixes?

The most common Border Terrier mixes are:

  • Border Terrier-Jack Russell mix (Border Jack)
  • Border Terrier-Chihuahua mix (Chi Border Terrier)
  • Border Terrier-Poodle mix (Border Terrier Poodle)
  • Border Terrier-Schnauzer mix (Border Terrier Schnauzer)
  • Border Terrier-Pug mix (Border Pug)
  • Border Terrier-Yorkie mix (Border Yorkie)
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Top Takeaways

The plucky and happy-go-lucky Border Terrier is the perfect companion for active families who are always on the go. Pet parents need to take care that these energetic pups are kept on a leash or in a very securely fenced yard, as they love to run! Border Terriers have the perfect blend of a feisty-yet-affectionate spirit, which will leave you head-over-heels in love with your new best friend.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Jennifer Frione, DVM, of Lakeside Animal Hospital, and certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer, MBA, CTC, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CNWI, CSAT, owner of The Inquisitive Canine.

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