Country of Origin – UK – Scotland / England
- Male – 13 to 15.5 lbs (5.9 to 7.0 kg)
- Female – 11.5 to 14 lbs (5.2 to 6.4 kg)
- Males – 13 to 16 in (33 to 41 cm) – (at shoulders)
- Females – 11 to 14 in (28 to 36 cm) – (at shoulders)
- Double Coat
- Soft Undercoat
- Wiry Weather
- Dirt Resistant
- Close Lying
- No Curl or Wave
- Grizzle and Tan
- Blue and Tan
Life Span – 14 years (average)
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 Agilty 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 originated in the border country between England and Scotland, and may be one of the oldest kinds of terriers in Great Britain. Purely a working terrier, the Border was bred to protect the stock of their owners. They had sufficient length of leg to follow a horse, but were small enough to follow a fox to ground. Borders on the farm in the 18th century also had to find their own food, so they had to be good hunters to survive.
Right Breed for You?
While he is as hard as nails in the field, the Border Terrier is good tempered and affectionate in the home. He learns quickly and responds well to obedience training, but must be kept engaged and well-exercised, as he’s an active dog. The Border’s weather resistant coat requires occasional brushing and hand stripping approximately twice per year.
If you are considering purchasing a Border Terrier puppy, learn more here.
- Terrier Group; AKC recognized in 1930.
- Ranging in size from 11½ to 15½ pounds.
- Fox hunter.
The Border Terrier is a small, rough-coated breed of dog of the terrier group. Originally bred as fox and vermin hunters, Border Terriers share ancestry with Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Patterdale terriers and Bedlington Terriers.
Though the breed is much older, the Border Terrier was officially recognized by The Kennel Club in Great Britain in 1920, and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930. The border terrier was bred to have long enough legs to keep up with the horses and other foxhounds, which traveled with them, and small enough bodies to crawl in the burrows of foxes and chase them out so the hunters had a blank shot. The foxhounds that traveled with them were not small enough to do the Border terrier’s job.
In 2006, the Border Terrier ranked 81st in number of registrations by the AKC, while it ranked 10th in the United Kingdom.
In 2008, the Border Terrier ranked 8th in number of registrations by the UK Kennel Club.
Identifiable by their otter-shaped heads, Border Terriers have a broad skull and short (although many are fairly long), strong muzzle with a scissors bite. The V-shaped ears are on the sides of the head and fall towards the cheeks. Common coat colors are grizzle-and-tan, blue-and-tan, red, or wheaten. Whiskers are few and short. The tail is naturally moderately short, thick at the base and tapering.
Narrow-bodied and well-proportioned, males stand 13 to 16 in (33 to 41 cm) at the shoulder, and weigh 13 to 15.5 lb (5.9 to 7.0 kg); females 11 to 14 in (28 to 36 cm) and 11.5 to 14 pounds (5.2 to 6.4 kg). They are very versatile in families and as family pets
The Border Terrier has a double coat consisting of a short, dense, soft undercoat and harsh, wiry weather and dirt resistant, close-lying outer coat with no curl or wave. This coat usually requires hand-stripping twice a year to remove dead hair. It then takes about eight weeks for the top coat to come back in. For some dogs, weekly brushing will suffice. Most Border Terriers are seen groomed with short hair but longer hair can sometimes be preferred.
Though sometimes stubborn and strong willed, border terriers are, on the whole very even tempered, and are friendly and rarely aggressive. They are very good with children, but may chase cats and any other small pets.
Borders do well in task-oriented activities and have a surprising ability to jump high and run fast given the size of their legs. The breed has excelled in agility training, but they are quicker to learn jumps and see-saws than weaving poles. They take training for tasks very well, but appear less trainable if being taught mere tricks. The border in recent years has been bred to harbor a more subtle character so are more adaptable to apartment living if properly exercised.
They are intelligent and eager to please, but they retain the capacity for independent thinking and initiative that were bred into them for working rats and fox underground. Their love of people and even temperament make them fine therapy dogs, especially for children and the elderly, and they are occasionally used to aid the blind or deaf. From a young age they should be trained on command.
Borders can adapt to different environments and situations well, and are able to deal with temporary change well. They will get along well with cats that they have been raised with, but may chase other cats and small animals such as mice, birds, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and guinea pigs.
Borders love to sit and watch what is going on. Walks with Borders will often involve them sitting and lying in the grass to observe the environment around them.
Borders are a generally hardy breed, though there are certain genetic health problems associated with them, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Perthes disease
- Various heart defects
- Juvenile cataracts
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)
A UK Kennel Club survey puts their median lifespan at 14 years.
Indigestion resulting from eating a toy can cause the appearance of illness. Typical symptoms include lethargy, unwillingness to play, a generally ‘unhappy’ appearance, lack of reaction to affection, and inability or unwillingness to sleep. These symptoms are generally very noticeable, however, they are also present just prior to Border Terrier bitches being on heat.
Border Terriers have earned more American Kennel Club (AKC) Earthdog titles than any other terrier. An AKC earthdog test is not true hunting, but an artificial, non-competitive, exercise in which terriers enter 9 in (23 cm) wide smooth wooden tunnels, buried under-ground, with one or more turns in order to bark or scratch at caged rats that are safely housed behind wooden bars.
The tests are conducted to determine that instinctive traits are preserved and developed, as the breed originators intended for the dogs to their work. While earthdog tests are not a close approximation of hunting, they are popular in the U.S. and in some European countries because even over-large Kennel Club breeds can negotiate the tunnels with ease, dogs can come to no harm while working, and no digging is required.
Since Border Terriers are “essentially working terriers”, many Border Terrier owners consider it important to test and develop their dogs’ instinct. These tests also provide great satisfaction for the dogs. The American Working Terrier Association (AWTA) does conduct “trials”; where the dogs instincts are tested, and then judged to determine a “Best of Breed” Earthdog. These trials are also run similar as described below.
The Border Terrier originates in, and takes its name from, the Scottish borders. Their original purpose was to bolt foxes which had gone to ground. They were also used to kill rodents, but they have been used to hunt otters and badgers too.
The first Kennel Club Border Terrier ever registered was The Moss Trooper, a dog sired by Jacob Robson’s Chip in 1912 and registered in the Kennel Club’s Any Other Variety listing in 1913. The Border Terrier was rejected for formal Kennel Club recognition in 1914, but won its slot in 1920, with the first standard being written by Jacob Robson and John Dodd. Jasper Dodd was made first President of the Club.
Famous Border Terriers
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- Bert, David Walliams & Lara Stones dog
- Binka & Nugget, Daniel Radcliffe’s pet dogs.
- Indie in 64 Dalesman Drive
- Chomp in 102 Dalmatians
- Hercules in Toi et Moi (You and Me) – French film
- Hubble in Good Boy!
- Lady Eccles in Coronation Street as Blanche Hunt’s inheritance gift from her friend; belongs to her son-in-law Ken Barlow after her death in 2010
- Maggie, Andy Murray and Kim Sears’ dog who has her own Twitter account with 16,000 followers as at March 2013.
- Monty and Rommel in Monarch of the Glen
- Nancy in Unfabulous as Addie’s pet dog
- Peanut as Baxter in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (mixed breed)
- Pepper as Pinkybones in Another Happy Day
- Peter Weyland’s dog in Prometheus (2012 film)
- Puffy in There’s Something About Mary
- Puffy’s female offspring Raleigh, Clay Aiken’s pet dog
- Scamp in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody; Maddie’s scruffy dog who falls in love with London Tipton’s dog, Ivana
- Seymour in Futurama episode Jurassic Bark
- Shep Proudfoot, Greg Laswell’s pet dog
- Sorry in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World; Dodge’s dog
- Tansy as Toto from Return To Oz (1985 film)
- Toots in Lassie
- Tucker in Ehrman House
- Oscar as Scotty the Dog in Ruby Sparks (2012 film)
- Brillo in Misfits as a street puppy eaten by new zombie Curtis