Border Terrier

Written by: Jamie
Updated: January 9, 2021

The Border Terrier was the second most popular breed of 2019. Check out the in-depth below guide and find out why they’re so popular!

Border terrier on a green grass lawn

Border Terrier Characteristics:
12-15 inches
Border Terrier Weight: Male 6-7 kilos, female 5-6 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Take a look at the positive and negative Border Terrier traits below:


  • Low shedder, easy to groom
  • Suitable for apartment living
  • Hypoallergenic, ideal for allergy sufferers
  • Intelligent and easy to train


  • Strong prey drive
  • Stubborn streak
  • Loves to bark and dig holes
  • Prone to weight gain


Border Terriers are deeply popular in their native England. In 2011, this breed accounted for 25% of all Terrier breed registrations with the Kennel Club!

They’re in competition with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for the most popular dog breed. However, in 2019, the Staffie beat the Border terrier for the top spot by just 101 registrations.

Small in size, this breed is suitable for apartment living. They’re also adaptable to different home environments, another reason that makes them so popular.

Activity needs must be met if this dog is being kept in a flat. Otherwise, destructive behaviors will occur and could quickly form into habits.

Border terrier on a green grass lawn

The Border Terrier personality often follows the typical Terrier temperament. Despite this, they are known to be friendlier. This distinguishes them from other Terriers. Although the breed isn’t aggressive they will defend themselves if necessary and won’t back down if challenged.

These canines make excellent pets and suit active owners and families. They hold a great deal of stamina but are still working dogs. For this reason, mental stimulation needs to be included in their exercise routine. Dog sports, treat puzzles, interactive games, and hide and seek are all ways to mentally stimulate a dog.

If you would like a Border Terrier make sure you check your local rehoming center first. As the second most popular breed of 2019, the chances of finding this pooch at a shelter is high. If you prefer a puppy make sure you are purchasing from a reputable breeder. Ensure both parents have been tested for any breed-related diseases.


Border Terriers originate from England, close to the Cheviot Hills, near the Scottish border. They were bred to hunt foxes, vermin and other small animals that would terrorize farmers. Huntsmen would also use the Border Terrier to kill foxes as a sport. Other names for this breed include the Coquetdale Terrier and the Reedwater Terrier.

Dating back to the 18th century, the Border Terrier shares a genetic background with the Dandie Dinmont and Bedlington Terrier. Their official name ‘Border Terrier’ was given to them in the 18th century. It is believed they were renamed after the Border Hunt that took place in Northumberland.

Border Terriers have some of the shortest legs in the Terrier family, and could easily fit into the dens of foxes. Yet despite the Border Terrier size, they could still keep up with huntsmen on horseback. Their coat is waterproof and was developed to protect them from the rough terrain and cold weather of the North of England.

After first being rejected for Kennel Club registration in 1914, the breed was eventually accepted in 1920. However, the first Border Terrier named The Moss Trooper registered with the KC in 1913. The first ever Border Terrier breed standards were produced by John Dodd and Jacob Robson.

Recommended: Learn all about the West Highland Terrier.


Border Terrier Temperament:

Border Terriers display all the typical signs of a terrier dog. They love to dig, bark and they certainly won’t back down from a fight. With that being said, this breed is rather sociable, friendly, and loving which helps balance their behavior. These pets love receiving their owner praise and this is the main reason as to why they’re so easy to train.

Affectionate, obedient, well-behaved, and cheerful, the Scottish Border Terrier is a pleasure to be around. Whilst they may dabble in cheeky behavior here and there, with consistent training, this shouldn’t form into bad habits. Occasionally, the Border Terrier personality may show a stubborn streak, so any potential owner will need patience.

Border Terrier isolated on white

Are Border Terriers Good With Strangers?

Yes, this breed behaves well around strangers. Border Terriers will alert their owners to any newcomers at the door but won’t react defensively or with aggression. This breed is people-orientated and will be friendly towards humans they don’t know.

Are Border Terriers Good With Children?

Yes, Border Terriers are great with children. They’re small and won’t accidentally injure small kids. They also have the stamina to play day in day out! These canines may be a little boisterous for children under 5 and won’t tolerate disrespectful behaviors.

Are Border Terriers Ok With Other Dogs?

Border Terriers are more sociable with dogs than other Terrier breeds as they would often work in packs alongside Foxhounds. Whilst they won’t initiate aggression they will certainly retaliate in defense. The breed can live alongside other dogs. Only introduce a cat to a Border Terrier puppy as they won’t be too accepting once they enter adulthood.


An hour’s worth of exercise should be given to the Border Terrier dog each day. However, on some occasions, this breed may want a little longer. Be careful not to allow a Border Terrier puppy to overexert themselves. This can lead to health issues in the future.

Border Terrier With Training Harness On The Beach

Due to their high prey drive, these dogs shouldn’t be allowed off-leash unless they have perfected their recall skills. Enclosed open spaces would be the best and safest option. Retractable leads are great for allowing your dog that little bit of extra freedom. It’s also ideal for practicing recall.

Recommended: Read our comprehensive guide about the Beagle breed next.


Find out the breed related health issues of the Border Terrier below:

  • Shaking Puppy Syndrome- Also known as Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy this condition causes tremors, seizures, and muscle spasms that can start from birth. Issues can arise with walking, coordination, and balance.
  • Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome- This health issue causes difficulty in walking, tremors, muscle, and intestinal cramps, and movement disorder in the head, limbs, and neck.
  • Canine Gallbladder Mucocoele- Thick mucus accumulates in the gallbladder causing it to become enlarged. It is mostly seen in middle-aged to older dogs.
  • Luxating Patellas- Also known as ‘trick knee’ this condition causes the kneecap to move out of place before quickly relocating back into position.

Intelligence & Training

Border Terriers are known to be intelligent. They’re also much easier to train than other Terrier breeds but that doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing! Occasionally, these dogs like to have a mind of their own and when they feel like this, avoid a training session.

Like the rest in the Terrier family, respect training is of the utmost importance. If a Terrier doesn’t respect you, they certainly won’t listen to any commands you dish. House rules are the best way to establish this. Any bad behavior must be met with discipline, but this shouldn’t be harsh. Harsh methods won’t work on this pooch or any Terrier.

Obedience training should begin as soon as your authority has been asserted. Dogs can start training from 8 weeks of age so aim to start some form of training as soon as possible. This could be housebreaking, house rules, respect or obedience.

Some owners may benefit from attending puppy classes. Border Terrier puppies will be able to learn new commands whilst socializing at the same time. If you are inexperienced or would prefer some 1-1 help, seek a trainer that is experienced with Terrier behaviors.

Recommended: Our guide to the Rhodesian Ridgeback is out!


Border Terriers are a rough-coated breed that don’t shed much. They’re hypoallergenic making them ideal for those who suffer from allergies. Give them a thorough brush weekly or a light brush daily to remove any dead hairs stuck within the coat.

Bristle brushes, slicker brushes, and steel combs are the best tools to use on the Border Terriers coat. Hand stripping is a grooming method that helps keep the coat healthy and neat. A stripping knife will be needed and this process should take place twice a year. If preferred, contact a professional groomer experienced in this field.

Close-up of a border terrier on a green grass lawn

The breed should be bathed every 8-12 weeks. Frequent brushing will help reduce the need for a bath. As a rough-coated canine, the waterproof coat repels dirt. They can be blow-dried or air-dried but not outdoors. The Border Terrier will quickly become dirty all over again by rolling through the mud!

Don’t forget the other general grooming methods. Nails will need trimming every couple of weeks. Ears must be cleaned weekly. If debris builds, ear infections will develop. Dental hygiene is also important so brush their teeth three times a week. Introduce grooming to a dog from an early age. This will prevent their fear of the unknown.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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