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Border Terrier

 Photo of Border Terrier
Photo: courtesy of Lisa Hudson

Border Terrier Books

Group: Terrier - Breed Standard


The Border Terrier became a distinct breed around the middle of the 19th century, deriving its name possibly from the Border Foxhounds, alongside whom it worked. Border Terriers were found on the borders of Northumberland, England and Roxburghshire in Scotland and were originally known as Coquetdale Terriers. They were used to bolt or kill and draw the fox. The first Border Terrier to be registered was in 1913 and the breed was recognized by The Kennel Club in 1920.


Weight: dogs: 6-7 kgs (13-15½ lbs); bitches: 5-6.5 kgs (11½ -14 lbs).

Unlike many other terriers, the Border Terrier is not trimmed or sculpted, but is kept more or less in his natural state. He has a harsh double coat, easily maintained by hand stripping out the old coat when it gets too long and is ready to come out. He is essentially a working terrier, has an otter-shaped head with dark eyes and a very appealing face. He is a small terrier, about 14-16lb in weight. There are 2 main colours, grizzle, which is mostly brown, and blue and tan, which is black on top and tan underneath.


Borders are friendly and loving, very active and always ready for a game. They enjoy almost anything you want to do with them and are usually easy to train. Once trained you can rely on them to be obedient and well-behaved. A Border Terrier is the ideal family pet, he will be a long-suffering playmate to children, explorer and keen ratcatcher to teenagers, showdog for anyone and loving companion to his owner, even a lapdog if required. He will also alert you to the presence of visitors and give them an enthusiastic welcome, but will not yap without good reason.

Breed Health

Border Terriers are very healthy little dogs and are not known to suffer from any hereditary diseases.

Breed Care

The coat consists of a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat, which is very effective in keeping the dog's skin dry. Coats vary quite a bit in texture and how much work it takes to keep them looking good. A weekly grooming with a stiff brush will remove a lot of dead hair, but your Border is going to need hand stripping about twice a year to keep him looking smart. This consists of pulling out the old dead topcoat by hand and trimming around the feet and delicate parts with round ended scissors. Underneath you will be surprised at the smart little dog that emerges. Anyone can do this once they have learnt how, but if you prefer, hand-stripping can be carried out by a professional dog groomer. He must be hand stripped and not clipped, as this will ruin his coat.


Border terriers are very lively and are always ready for action, being able to take any amount of exercise. However, if you are feeling like a quiet day, they will oblige and not demand attention or exercise. Care should be taken not to overfeed your Border, as they are inclined to be greedy and must not be allowed to become fat.


Early training is essential, especially getting your Border terrier used to cats. Do not forget that he is still a working terrier, and the killing instinct is very strong. However, he is generally easy to train and many Borders enjoy and are very successful in mini-agility. It is also a good idea to remember that Borders can be suicidally brave, and do not make a fuss when in pain, so any sign of his being off-colour should be taken seriously. See our books on training

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Last link added: 11 Mar, 2008