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All About Border Terriers

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border terrier with a red collar leash and silver tag out in the garden

Border Terriers are high-spirited dogs that enjoy spending time with their family. Though a member of the terrier group, Borders are unique in many ways. Learn more about this breed’s history, personality, care-taking needs, and what it’s like to live with one.

About the Breed

The typical Border Terrier temperament is an easily likable one. These dogs are happy-go-lucky and excited to seize the day ahead of them. They prefer to spend their time with family and friends, so this is not a breed that can be left alone all day. Though they may be a little too rowdy for extremely young children, Border Terriers can be a great choice for families with kids of a slightly older age.

Unlike other terrier breeds, which don’t always get along great with other dogs, Border Terriers don’t mind the company of another canine. They can also learn to live with a cat in the house, particularly if they are raised together, but a Border should never be trusted around small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs—after all, these dogs were bred to chase small game.

Soon after meeting a Border Terrier, you will undoubtedly notice that these pups have a large amount of energy. To keep them happy, exercised, and entertained (and out of trouble), you must provide your Border with plenty of exercise daily. If you prefer a dog that is more of a couch potato than a track star, then this is not the breed for you.

Breed History

The Border Terrier breed originated in the 18th century around the Cheviot Hills region, near the border of England and Scotland. This breed was designed to be the perfect fox-hunting dog. Farmers needed a sturdy yet small dog that had incredible stamina and was able to work independently. Though they were mainly used for fox hunting, these dogs also helped hunt rodents, badgers, and otters.

While Border Terriers were popular in their native land, they hardly gained any attention in other regions. Many fans of the Border breed preferred that these dogs flew under the radar. Their low demand guarded them from unsafe breeding conditions some other dogs have faced and lessened the likelihood of intentional physique changes.

This breed did not make their way to the United States until the early 20th century. Today, this breed still does not remain a top terrier choice in the States, but in the United Kingdom, they have worked up to being one of the most popular breeds.

Fascinatingly enough, even though Borders are one of the oldest terrier breeds around, they remain virtually unchanged since the breed was first created and recognized.

border terrier asleep on a red and white blanket


Border Terriers are lively little dogs that have a sturdy build. They often have a scruffy-looking appearance and come in colors such as red, wheaten, grizzle and tan, or blue and tan. With a pup like this around, there will never be a dull moment.

Whenever your Border Terrier is outside, even in a fenced-in area, it’s critical that you keep a close eye on them. These dogs are little escape artists who see no issue with digging their way out of the yard. You will also need to keep an eye on your pup indoors as well, at least until they reach a more mature age.

Border Terriers are known for being avid chewers, but unlike other breeds that typically outgrow this habit, Borders are known to be heavy chewers for their entire lives. This means you’ll want to keep your shoes put away, and you’ll want to provide your pal with plenty of fun chewing toys. Before adopting your own Border Terrier, read up on some common dog-parent questions about this breed.

Before bringing a new pup into your house, you may want to consider first pet-proofing your home.

Are Border Terriers Hypoallergenic?

Border Terriers are not a hypoallergenic dog breed. Coming as unfortunate news to those with a dog allergy, but this may not be the breed for you.

What’s the Typical Border Terrier Lifespan?

The average life expectancy for a Border Terrier is around 12-15 years. That said, a dog’s lifespan can be affected by many factors, including their diet, living environment, and whether they have any preexisting health issues.

Why Does My Border Terrier Whine?

There are many reasons behind why a dog would whine, but by reading the rest of your dog’s body language and by paying attention to the situation, you can quickly learn what their whining means.

For instance, some dogs will stand by the door and whine—this typically signifies that they need to go outside. Others tend to whine a lot when they are in the kitchen or whenever you have food out. While this could just be your dog begging for a taste of your food, others use this verbal cue to let you know that they are hungry and ready for their meal.

If you are preoccupied, and your pup comes up to you and starts whining, this could signify that they want your attention. Many dogs also tend to whine (accompanied by a wagging tail and butt) whenever you return home or when there are visitors. This whine is simply them being excited and happy.

Lastly, dogs can also be prone to whining whenever they are put in an uncomfortable or stressful situation. This could include anything from visiting the veterinarian to experiencing a thunderstorm.

How Much Exercise Does a Border Terrier Need Daily?

A Border Terrier requires quite a bit of daily exercise, though you have many choices as to how they burn off that extra energy. A 30-minute walk twice a day is a great option, as are hikes or a game of fetch outside. However your pup receives their exercise, it is most important that they receive enough.

When Borders aren’t given enough chances to stretch their legs and get the zoomies out of their system, or if they become too bored, these dogs can become destructive and develop unwanted habits.

How Much Does a Border Terrier Weigh?

Border Terriers are a small dog breed that usually weighs between 11-15 pounds. When feeding your Border, you must measure each meal and give them the recommended amount—this breed is prone to obesity. This also means limiting the extra treats you sneak to your pal on the side. While a few won’t hurt, keeping the snacks to a minimum can also help keep your dog’s weight under control.

Although a Border Terrier is not the ideal match for all individuals or families, for the right person, these dogs can be the perfect companion.

border terrier at home in a green and gray coat

Border Terrier Grooming and Care

Border Terriers do not have an excessive list of grooming needs, but that’s not to say that their coat doesn’t require any special attention. These dogs should be brushed a few times a week to help reduce shedding and keep their coat healthy.

Many Border parents also choose to strip their dog’s coat, typically twice a year. This process involves removing the dead hair and undercoat, which helps reduce the amount of hair your dog will shed, plus it gives your dog a less scruffy look.

Around once a month, your dog’s nails will need to be trimmed. A professional groomer can do this during your dog’s appointment, or you can purchase a pair of dog nail trimmers and learn how to do this yourself.

On a weekly or biweekly basis, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick check of your dog’s ears. If they appear to be dirty, clean them out using a dog-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton balls—never use cotton swabs. If you notice that their ears have a bad odor or are appearing more red than usual, it’s essential that you immediately schedule them an appointment with their veterinarian, as this could be the sign of an ear infection.

At least a few times a week, it is recommended that you brush your pup’s pearly whites. Not only can this help prevent periodontal disease, but it may even help reduce stinky dog breath. Just don’t forget to use toothpaste that’s made specifically for dogs—your dog may love flavors like bacon or peanut butter.

Of course, all dogs also require a bath now and then. Depending upon how much time your pup spends outside and what they get into while they are outdoors, the frequency of baths can vary greatly. One of the best ways to tell when your pal requires a bath is to use your nose. Whenever that dog smell gets to be a little too much, you’ll know it’s time for a good wash.

When it comes to the overall caring needs for a Border Terrier, there are a few additional items required above and beyond grooming. All dogs need a nutritious and age-appropriate diet, plus they need to be fed the correct amount. If you have any questions concerning your dog’s meal plan, don’t hesitate to talk with your veterinarian about recommendations.

Of course, all Border Terriers also require plenty of daily exercise. Physical activities provide the perfect opportunity for your dog to burn off extra energy, keep their weight under control, and simultaneously workout out their mind with mental stimulation.

Sometimes shelters, humane societies, or rescues will have specially-abled dogs for adoption. Before taking up the responsibility of being the parent to one of these special pups, first read up on what to expect.

How to Train a Border Terrier Puppy

Training your Border Terrier is an implemental part of being a Border parent. Training should begin as early as possible, preferably the very day you bring your pal home. Thankfully, these dogs are intelligent and capable of learning an impressive amount of information.

While training your dog, it’s helpful to remain patient and to use positive reinforcement. These dogs do not respond well to raised voices or angry tones, so little progress will be made that way. It’ll also be essential to keep in mind that Border Terriers are still quite independent, so they may decide to follow their own agenda from time to time.

Going hand-in-hand with training is socialization, an equally as important part of properly raising a Border Terrier. Socialization involves introducing your four-legged friend to new environments and people. This should also begin at an early age and continue throughout your pup’s entire life. A well-socialized dog will be more apt to get along with other dogs and new people, while an unsocialized dog may be more likely to develop anxiety or aggression issues.

Common Health Issues

Border Terriers are a relatively healthy dog breed, but they are still susceptible to developing some health issues. According to our claims data,** the top five health conditions that affect this breed include:

  1. Digestive issues
  2. Polyuria and polydipsia (excessive water consumption and potty breaks)
  3. Vomiting
  4. Cancer
  5. Bladder issues

One of the best ways to monitor your pet’s overall health and to ensure they do not have any of the above health problems, it’s essential that you take them for annual appointments with their veterinarian. These regular check-ups are an ideal time for your pet to get updated on any necessary shots and for you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your dog’s well-being.

Will this be your pet’s first veterinary visit? Learn what to expect before, during, and after your visit.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-20
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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