Border Terrier Overview

Dog Breed:
Border Terrier
Breed Group:
Terrier group
Tenacious, affectionate, loving, energetic, sweet-natured
12-15 inches
Males=13-15.5 pounds; females=11.5-14 pounds
Life Span:
12-15 years
Coat Colors:
Blue and tan, grizzle, wheaten, red
Area of Origin:
Scotland and England
Best For:
Experienced owners
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Border Terriers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Border Terriers
Mixed Breeds:
Chi Border Terrier

Border Terrier Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Border Terrier

  • Tenacious yet sweet

  • Affectionate and loving

  • Highly intelligent and prey driven

The charming Border Terrier is a sweet-natured dog. Alert and curious, the Border Terrier is small of size but big of personality. A true earth dog, the Border loves nothing more than to accompany its owner on a hunt. The breed loves to dig and to use its voice and possesses vast reserves of energy that must be properly expended every day

A highly intelligent dog, the Border Terrier possesses the fierce tenaciousness that marks many members of its group: the terriers. The breed is deeply loving and affectionate with those it cherishes most and enjoys making new friends of both the canine and human sort. 

Border Terrier require regular daily exercise to remain physically and mentally content. The breed has a high prey drive and will attempt to escape to search for game if given any opportunity. To this end, this breed should not be allowed off lead and must be safely contained and supervised when outdoors. 

Border Terriers that are not properly exercised or left alone for lengthy periods of a day will become bored. When bored, the breed will invent its own fun. What the terrier chooses to do with its time is often something its owner wishes it wouldn’t. Border Terriers can be very destructive if not kept productively engaged. 

If exercised each day and fed an appropriate amount of food, excess weight is not a problem for this hearty, active breed. However, the Border Terrier loves food and will easily become obese if its owner allows the dog to free feed or allows the dog to become inactive. 

The Boston Terrier is a wonderful family companion, taking great pleasure in any adventure its family has in mind. The breed can adapt to life in an apartment; however, a home with a large, fenced yard in which to run and play is the ideal setting for this hardy, active terrier. 

Because the Border Terrier has a high prey drive and a tendency to roam, the breed is best suited to life with experienced dog owners. 

Border Terrier Breed History

  • Developed along the border between Scotland and England

  • Developed to be a fox hunting dog

  • Known for their weather resistant double coat


The Border Terrier is a breed that was developed in northern England along the border the country shares with Scotland. They first appeared on the scene in the 1700s when farmers in the area sought to create a dog that could keep the fox population in the region at bay. 

To assist the Border Terrier with fulfilling its job, breeders sought to create a dog with a lengthy and flexible body that could easily fit inside a fox hole to flush out quarry. In addition to this, the breed needed long legs to keep pace with the horses and hounds on a hunt. 

Since hunting took place rain or shine, the breed also required a thick pelt and weather resistant double coat to protect it from the elements. The pelt consists of particularly loose and dense skin that protects the dog from bites from unhappy foxes intent on getting away. 

One of the Border Terrier’s most cherished traits is its bold nature. The breed does not back down in the face of prey, a characteristic that served it well in the field. Outside England, the breed was virtually unknown until the late 1900s when the Kennel Club of England designated this hardy little dog an officially recognized breed. 

Border Terrier Size & Weight

  • Stand between 12” and 15”

  • Males weigh between 13 and 15.5 pounds

  • Females weigh from 11.5 to 14 pounds


The sturdy Border Terrier is a compact dog with muscular frame. Adult males and females range in height from 12 to 15 inches in total. In weight, the males typically outweigh the females, ringing in between 13 and 15.5 pounds. The females are slightly smaller with weights ranging from 11.5 to 14 pounds. 

Potential owners of the Border Terrier must be prepared for the commitment they must make to keeping the dog safely contained. A dog with immense prey drive and the ability to both jump and climb, a securely fenced yard and careful supervision are absolute necessities to keep this active, mischievous dog safe. 

Border Terrier Personality & Temperament

  • Lively and fun

  • Best suited to experienced owners

  • Affectionate and loving


The Border Terrier is a true terrier, yet this breed has a slightly softer nature than some of its cousins, displaying a nature that is sweet, gentle, and willing to please. The breed enjoys learning new skills, taking great delight in opportunities to train with its owner. 

Though Border Terriers can get along well with other animals, prey drive is very much a part of their makeup. As such, it is recommended that Border Terriers intended to live in multi pet homes be introduced on neutral ground. Border Terriers may be prone to chasing small animals such as birds, gerbils, hamsters, and even small dogs and cats. 

Border Terriers love people of all ages and are especially fond of children. However, they can be rough with young kids. Careful supervision of all interactions between the dog and children is an absolute must to ensure the safety of both parties. 

A breed renowned for its good nature, the Border Terrier is a natural born entertainer. The breed bonds deeply to its family and eagerly lavishes them with love and affection at every given opportunity. The Border Terrier can enjoy time on its own but prefers the company of its family

The Border Terrier can adapt well to apartment life so long as regular daily exercise is provided. However, it is preferable that this breed join a family with a house attached to a large fenced yard if possible. The breed is not particularly well-suited to novices due to its high prey drive and strong desire to roam. The Border Terrier is recommended for experienced dog owners

Because the Border Terrier has a thick double coat that is weatherproof, the breed can enjoy time outdoors in all weather conditions but should be housed indoors with its family. 

Border Terrier Health & Grooming

  • Low grooming requirements

  • Sheds moderately

  • Not much of a drooler


The Border Terrier is a dog that typically enjoys good health. However, as with all dog breeds, there are a few genetic conditions this friendly breed can be predisposed to developing. These include hip dysplasia, heart defects, malocclusions, seizures, patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, and cryptorchidism.

The Border Terrier’s thick double coat does not have to be a chore to groom. The coat is made up of two layers: a soft undercoat and a wiry top coat. It is this coat and the dog’s loose pelt that protect the dog against the attacks from foxes on hunts. 

Terrier purists prefer the Border Terrier’s coat be handstripped to preserve its natural wiry texture. This is done by using the fingers or a tool known as a stripping knife to gently remove the dead hair from the terrier’s coat. This is a very time consuming process, and very few groomers will take on this project unless the dog is to be shown. To keep the Border Terrier’s coat neat and tidy, clipping is perfectly acceptable and is far less maintenance for the owner. 

The Border Terrier’s coat should be brushed regularly. The breed does shed moderately, and brushing will help to keep shedding to an absolute minimum. Border Terriers left ungroomed and/or unbrushed shed more than their groomed and brushed counterparts. 

The breed only requires a bath when the dog rolls in something unpleasant or develops an odor. The dog’s teeth should be brushed daily to ensure optimal oral health. Nail trims should be done as often as needed, but typically, once per week is sufficient. 

The Border Terrier will easily gain weight if free fed or insufficiently exercised. The breed is not known to drool much. 

Border Terrier Training

  • Easy to train

  • Very intelligent

  • Positive reinforcement techniques are most effective


Border Terriers love to learn, taking great delight in opportunities to spend time with their owners in training exercises. A soft natured dog, the Border Terrier responds exceptionally well to treats and praise when learning new skills. 

Border Terriers are very sociable by nature and love to jump and express their enthusiasm through barking. For this reason, it is important to teach the Border Terrier proper canine manners. They are highly intelligent and quickly learn what is expected of them. In only 4-6 weeks, the Border Terrier can easily learn the basic obedience commands. 

Border Terriers are sensitive souls and do not respond well to harsh treatment or aversive training techniques. Positive reinforcement is the key to this dog’s learning. 

The Border Terrier can be quite mouthy; especially during its puppy years. To help the Border Terrier learn to use its mouth appropriately, experts recommend redirecting the dog’s mouth to a toy or bone when it attempts to bite, nip, or chew on a hand or other body part. In time, the dog will learn how to use its mouth in a socially correct manner. 

The Border Terrier has immense prey drive and will escape and roam if given any opportunity. When this occurs, the Border’s life may be in jeopardy as the breed will chase prey even if it means coming into contact with a moving vehicle. A secure containment system is a must for this breed

The Border Terrier can be a big barker. To keep happy relations with the neighbors, it is advised to teach this happy breed a “no bark” command. 

Border Terrier Exercise Requirements

  • Easy to train

  • Very intelligent

  • Positive reinforcement techniques are most effective


The Border Terrier is an active and energetic dog.  To keep this dog in good physical condition, it is recommended that the Border Terrier be exercised for a minimum of 60 minutes every day. These sessions can be broken up into shorter segments if necessary to help accommodate busy schedules. 

The Border Terrier cannot be trusted off leash due the breed’s high prey drive. A solid recall should be taught, but the dog should be carefully supervised at all times when outdoors since the breed is exceptionally good at escapism. 

The Border Terrier is a very playful breed, enjoying every opportunity it gets to have fun with its family. A dog breed that is both athletic and energetic, the Border Terrier excels at many pursuits including hiking, jogging, climbing, Rally, obedience, agility, and much, much more.

Border Terrier Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Adjust amounts to reflect the activity level of the dog


To ensure the Border Terrier’s nutritional needs are adequately met, it is an excellent idea to consult the advice of a veterinarian. Most Border Terriers do very well on a diet that is comprised of high-quality ingredients, and that is properly balanced to meet the needs according to the dog’s age, activity level, and health condition. 

Puppies should be fed an appropriate puppy food to support their growth and development. Adults should eat adult food that has been designed with their unique needs in mind. 

Determining the amount of food to feed a Border Terrier is not difficult. The bag of food will offer suggested serving sizes. Use these as a rough guideline, adjusting as needed to reflect the activity level of the dog. The dog’s weight and appetite will help with ascertaining the correct portion of food and the frequency with which meals should occur

You may also be interested in:

Border Terrier Rescue Groups

For more information about Border Terriers for adoption near you, we recommend the following comprehensive resource:

The Border Terrier Club of America