Why Should You Adopt a Border Terrier?


There are many groups of dog breeds out there that are based on what particular breeds do best. For example, there are working breeds, which include dogs that are commonly bred for guard dog purposes. Another example of this is the herding breeds, which include dogs that are commonly bred to herd and protect livestock, such as any variant of the shepherd dog.

There are several groups out there, with some being focused on sports or agility and others being focused on simple companionship. One group of breeds that many people look over is the terrier group. As the name might suggest, the terrier group focuses primarily on terrier dogs. Historically, these are dogs that were specifically bred to hunt and kill vermin, as well as guard small homes and barns, these dogs balance out home life as a companion dog alongside the focus needed to be a diligent worker. One of the best examples of this breed is going to be the border terrier: one of the lesser known dogs in the terrier group.

With that being said, just because this particular terrier is lesser known doesn’t mean that you should neglect this dog breed over other terriers. In fact, these dogs are some of the best pest control pets that you could invest your money into.

What Is the History of the Border Terrier Breed?

As with many of the terrier breeds that were emerging from around the time the border terrier was coming around, this dog was bred almost exclusively to hunt rodents and vermin, while still protecting a small family home or a relatively small farm.

What makes the border terrier a bit special is that it is estimated to be one of the oldest terriers of Britain. These dogs were bred to keep up with not just small rodents, but foxes as well, and had the capability to keep up with a horse at times. They were purposefully kept small so that these dogs could burrow into a foxhole to continue chasing a fox that it was ordered to kill.

Unfortunately, the exacts on this breed’s origins are a bit unknown. The first scraps of evidence of this dog breed dates back to the 18th century, although it is not known who owned the dog or who developed the breed. During these times, it was referred to as the Coquetdale terrier or the Redesdale terrier, before it took on the name border terrier in 1870 after the Border Hunt. By the time this happened, this dog’s breed was widespread in the foxhunting communities. Unlike many other terriers out there, this dog has not changed much since it was first introduced and accepted formally as a breed. They tend to be much more popular in the United Kingdom than anywhere else, although interest in these dogs has been growing recently.

What Does the Border Terrier Look Like?

These terriers are quite easy to differentiate from other terriers in the group. While the body and stature are relatively similar to other terrier dogs, the head of the border terrier is often referred to as being an “otter head,” based on its appearance. These dogs also tend to have longer legs than other terriers, despite being the same size as them. Speaking of sizing, these dogs tend to reach 12 to 15 inches in height, and can weigh anywhere from 11 to 16 pounds. As with most other dogs out there, the male dogs are going to be taller and heavier than their female counterparts.

The dog’s fur is also something to take note of. It tends to be a relatively thin, wiry coat that protects the dog from dirt that would get into its fur when it would go chasing after foxes. However, the wiry nature of the fur makes it considerably easy to groom and clean. The colors of the dogs fur can range from a light tan, a deep grey and tan, wheaten, and even ruddy. 

How Does the Border Terrier Behave?

These dogs were originally bred to be fox hunters above all else, and their personality traits reflect this decision in breeding. Border terriers are intelligent, alert, and agile. They are energetic and lively, as it would take a considerable amount of energy to chase foxes all the way into their burrows and bring the kill back home again. Because of this, these terriers are happy to play around with children and toys alike, and they are surprisingly mild-mannered, making them wonderful for households with children.

These dogs are also somewhat mischievous at times, using their ability to squeeze through the smallest holes to their advantage at times, meaning that you should keep an eye on where your dog is if you have gates up. These dogs are not aggressive, but they do have a high tendency to bark.

These dogs are both smart and eager to please, meaning that they are very easy for even novice dog owners to train. As with all dogs, they still need to be socialized as puppies to ensure that they will be able to interact well with others as an adult. If you are worried about their energy output, it is often relieving to note that their energy will begin to mellow out as these dogs reach adulthood and begin to settle down into their routine ways of life. One thing you will need to keep in mind is that while this dog can often tolerate other dogs and cats, they should not be trusted around much smaller animals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and similar.

What Kind of Care Does the Border Terrier Need?

For a high-energy terrier, there is a fair amount of care required to keep the dog happy and entertained and not wanting to destroy your entire home and furniture set. First things first is outings and exercise. These dogs thrive on open land and expansive landscapes, although they are able to adapt to city life if needed. You should generally aim to get your dog outside for 20 to 40 minutes every day. If you are outside longer, you can make the activities less strenuous, and likewise, if you don’t have much time outside, you can make the activities more intensive.

Alternatively, what you do can be a fun way to spice up your dog’s life. Do keep in mind that if you have a yard, these dogs are naturally inclined to dig around in your yard due to their nature of being fox hunters. It will be important to discourage that behavior early on if you don’t want your yard to be entirely dug up.

As for caring for your dog’s coat, you won’t need to worry nearly as much about grooming as you do with other dogs. This is because their fur is not only naturally waterproof, but it also has a wiry texture. This makes it easier to clean out and reduces the chances of tangles and matting. You should aim to clean and comb your dog’s coat on a weekly basis to keep it looking clean and to keep your dog comfortable.

How Is the Border Terrier’s Health?

Last, but most certainly not least, you will want to make sure that you understand what to expect for your dog’s health. The border terrier is relatively robust, barring a few issues with its stature. Remember that all purebred dogs have an increased risk of developing hereditary illnesses, and that this is a future cost you need to account for when adopting a purebred dog, including the border terrier. Common health conditions include hip dysplasia, heart defects, malocclusions, seizures, patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, and cryptorchidism.

Additionally, due to the stature of these dogs, you will need to take your dog to get some health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. The first covers the hips of your dog and the second ensures that your dog can see properly.