Border Terrier: Health, Food, Exercise, Temperament and Breed information

Border Terriers are alert, good-natured dogs, originally bred to assist in fox hunts, driving foxes out of their hiding places and out into the open for the hounds to chase.

Border Terriers still have a powerful drive to hunt and dig, as well as the energy levels that enabled them to keep up with hunters on horseback. These traits can make it an aggravating pet for some owners; for others, border terriers are wonderful companions who play hard and love harder.


What is a Border Terrier?

  • The Border Terriers are small dogs with an alert gaze, a powerful drive to hunt and dig; the typical high terrier energy level and a good-natured personality. They are intelligent, loyal, fearless, loving and determined, and about as aggravating as any dog can be. The Border Terrier is not for everyone and before taking one home you should be fully committed to taking his antics in stride with an amused shake of your head.
  • These dogs can grow up to 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder and can weigh in anywhere between 11 to 15 pounds. They can live up to an age of 12 to 15 years.
  • Border Terriers need a securely fenced yard to keep them safe. Given a lack of supervision and enough time alone, they will dig under or climb over fences to go exploring. They’ll escape through holes in fences, through open gates and doors, or by any other means, they can find.
  • The drive to chase prey is another inherent trait of a Border Terrier’s personality. He’ll run right in front of a car in pursuit of a cat or a rabbit. A Border Terrier is more likely to die in an accident than of old age, so be prepared to protect him from himself. You may have a hard time adopting one of these if you have a busy lifestyle that keeps you out of your home for most of the time.
  • A 24” dog crate should be enough for a Border Terrier. Read the article: Choosing the Best Crate for your Dog

Food and Exercise for Border Terrier

Recommended daily amount: 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.   How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. Keep your Border Terrier in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time.   If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.   To keep your Border and the neighbors happy and your yard free of holes, give your Border at least half an hour per day of vigorous exercise. Besides keeping him entertained, exercise will help keep your Border trim — this small breed is prone to obesity.   With their needs for companionship and activity met, Borders are happy dogs who generally get along well with everyone from children to strangers. They’ll bark at noises, making them excellent watchdogs, but don’t expect them to be fierce guard dogs if an intruder enters your home.   The Border Terrier can make you laugh and cry and laugh some more. He approaches training with an independent spirit, but he wants to please. If you praise him for a job done well, he’ll quickly learn anything you can teach.

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Border Terrier grooming

The Border Terrier has a short, dense undercoat covered with a wiry topcoat. His skin is thick and loose — something that came in handy during his fox-hunting days, as it protects him from bites.   The Border Terrier coat can be red, blue and tan, grizzle and tan, or wheaten (pale yellow or fawn). Some have a small patch of white on the chest.   Weekly brushing and periodic stripping (every five to six months) of the rough terrier coat will keep your Border looking neat and tidy. Your grooming kit should include a fine comb, a natural bristle brush, and a stripping knife (unless you opt for having a professional groomer take care of stripping the coat).   Stripping involves plucking the dead hair by hand or removing it with a stripping knife or another stripping tool. It’s the kind of thing you can do while you and your Border are watching a 30-minute television show. Your Border’s breeder can show you how to strip the coat, or you can find a professional groomer who knows how to do it — not all do. You’ll find that by stripping the coat, you’ll have less Border hair decorating your clothing, furniture, and flooring.   For easier care, you can clipper the coat, but the texture and color will become softer and lighter and the coat won’t be weather resistant. If you don’t mind the scruffy look, you can just leave the coat as is, with no stripping or clipping, but the coat may shed more.   Border Terriers do not need to be bathed often — only when they’ve gotten into something gross and it’s really necessary. Their coat naturally repels dirt and, with weekly brushing and a wipe-down with a damp cloth when needed, it should stay fairly clean. When you do bathe him, use a shampoo made for the rough terrier coat to help maintain its texture. Brush your Border Terrier’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar

buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily is better. Trim his nails once or twice a month, as needed. If you can hear the nail clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short nails keep the feet in good condition, don’t get caught in the carpet and tear, and don’t scratch your legs when your Border Terrier enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.   Start grooming your Border when he’s a puppy to get him used to it. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and another handling when he’s an adult.
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Border Terrier Health Issues/Disorders

Hip Dysplasia

It is a condition in which the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. It can exist with or without clinical signs. Some dogs exhibit pain or lameness on one or both hind legs. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. Screening for hip dysplasia can be done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals(OFA). Dogs who have hip dysplasia shouldn’t be bred. If your dog shows signs of hip dysplasia, talk to your vet. Medication or surgery can help. Read the article: Best Orthopedic dog bed for hip dysplasia, arthritis and more

Heart Defects

Heart problems of various kinds can affect Border Terriers, the most common of which is pulmonic stenosis, a narrowing of the valve that separates the right chamber of the heart from the lungs. If your Border Terrier has a heart murmur, it may indicate that he has a heart condition that will need to be monitored and treated. Heart murmurs are caused by a disturbance in the blood flow through the chambers of the heart. They’re graded on their loudness, with one being very soft and six being very loud. If the disease is evident, as diagnosed through x-rays and an echocardiogram, the dog may require medication, a special diet, and a reduction in the amount of exercise he gets. The best way to avoid heart defects is to check that the breeder has not used dogs with heart defects in her breeding program.


It means the dog’s jaws don’t fit together correctly, are sometimes found in Border Terriers. There are three different types of incorrect bites. An overshot bite is when the upper jaw extends past the lower jaw. This causes difficulties in grasping; in more severe cases, the lower teeth can bite into the roof of the mouth, causing serious injuries. An undershot bite is when the lower jaw extends out past the upper jaw. Although it is standard in some breeds, it can cause difficulties in Border Terriers and may need to be corrected with surgery. The last type of incorrect bite is  wry mouth, a twisting of the mouth caused when one side grows more quickly than the other. It causes difficulties with eating and grasping. In some cases, puppies grow out of these incorrect bites, but if the bite hasn’t become normal by the time the puppy is 10 months old, it may need to be corrected surgically. If this is the case, wait until the puppy has finished growing. Corrective surgeries can include tooth extraction, crown height reductions, or the use of spacers. Dogs with incorrect bites, even if the bite is corrected surgically, should not be used for breeding.

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It can be caused by a number of factors and can occur at any time. Signs of a seizure include sudden trembling or shaking, sudden urination, stiffness, staring, slight muscle spasms, or a loss of consciousness. Seizures aren’t curable, but they can be successfully managed with medication.

Brief History of Border Terrier

The Border Terrier originated in northeast England, near the border with Scotland, during the 18th century. He’s a result of the never-ending battle between farmers and foxes. Borders were built to have a long, narrow, flexible body, the better to squeeze through narrow holes and flush foxes out of their hiding places, and legs long enough to follow the horses during a foxhunt.   Of course, they had the stamina to spare, a weather-resistant coat, and thick, loose skin that wasn’t easily pierced by the teeth of their foxy adversaries. Early evidence of the breed includes a 1754 painting by Arthur Wentworth of two Border Terriers.   While he was prized in England’s border country for his fearless and implacable nature, the Border Terrier was little known elsewhere. You would certainly have seen him at agricultural shows in Northumberland in the late 19th century, but on the whole dog, fanciers took little notice of him until the early 20th century. In 1920, he was recognized by England’s Kennel Club, and a breed club was formed.