Border Terrier

This breed evolved to work in the harsh weather conditions and over the difficult terrain of the Border Counties that lie between Scotland and England. Border Terriers have now become one of the most popular pet dogs throughout the world.


Small terriers capable of working with hounds have been bred in the Border Counties for over 200 years. The Lowther family bred Border Terriers in 1723, and Lord Lonsdale had a painting of the Cottesmore hounds with a brace of Border Terriers painted in 1693.

What constituted the breed is still in question: the now extinct Old Lyne and Reedwater Terriers with a touch of early Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont are contenders. It was a question of preference, and there were several breeds, all hard and workmanlike, which were working on the border. Two masters of different hunts, Dodd and Robson, whose families inter-married, were largely responsible for the development of the Border Terrier. The breed was eventually recognized by The Kennel Club in 1920 but its enthusiasts have maintained its hunting qualities.

Borders enjoy hunting and they are never happier than when they pick up a scent and follow it.


This dog combines docility with intelligence with humans but it is fiercely uncompromising when working. The Breed Standard confirms its working qualities above and below the ground. As pets, these terriers are affectionate but undemonstrative and good with children. They are fairly easy to train but are offended if shouted at.

must know

The Border is free of serious genetic anomalies but slight possibility of eye disorders is currently under investigation.


This small terrier gives the impression of compressed power and agility. The small folded ears and short muzzle are not unlike an otter's head. They have a weatherproof, thick, harsh coat with a close undercoat, and a thick protective skin. They can come in red, wheaten, grizzle and tan or blue and tan. Dogs should weigh 5.9-7kg (13-15.5lb); bitches 5.1-6.1kg (11.5—14lb). For height, calculate 2.5cm (1in) per 450g (1lb) in weight. They should not be allowed to get fat: both sexes should be capable of being spanned by both hands behind the shoulder.

Strangers 4/5

Will warn, initially suspicious but then friendly

Temperament 4/5

Laid back, affectionate

Exercise 5/5

Needs plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation

Grooming 1/5

Minimal: once a week

Other dogs 3/5

If not well socialized, some dogs can become over-dominant


A quiet, affectionate pet but a great escapologist, so gardens must be 100 per cent secure

General care

Fairly easy to rear. Border Terriers are not given to greediness but to keep them slim, do avoid sweet treats. Increase the protein in their diet if they are working. Exercise is vastly important: they need two or three walks a day with free miming. Games in a large garden are ideal to stimulate the brain. Hand stripping three times a year with grooming once or twice a week will keep the coat looking good.

This game little dog needs lots of exercise. It enjoys free running, lead walking and hunting for rats.

Gallery of Border Terrier