The Border Terrier has been referred to as “The Little Big Dog”, or a “sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Although very brave and courageous, he has a very vulnerable soul and is sensitive. He wants to please his owners and doesn’t like it at all when he is handled harshly.

What makes a Border a Border and where are his roots?

The Border Terrier is simply a wonderful dog, no more and no less. According to the standard, he is a working dog. Among the canines, however, he is the best companion and friend you can think of, but nevertheless, you must not disregard the typical terrier characteristics. 

The Border Terrier is not a dog for everyone, and before choosing a Border Terrier, you should have thoroughly researched the breed. If you know what you are getting into with this little guy, you’ll have an absolute friend for many years. But if you want a dog because he looks so cute, don’t take into account his hunting instinct from the start and condemn him to be a couch potato, you’d be better off with another dog because it won’t be a joy for either of you – master and dog -, but rather frustration. 

The Border Terrier needs a lot of exercise, such as long walks or participation in dog sports like agility, fly ball, obedience, or anything else.

He is peaceful, lovable, fond of children, non-aggressive, intelligent, brave, courageous, agile and loves to move.

With all of today’s canine beauty, the Border Terrier is a master of understatement. He looks almost ordinary and people unfamiliar with the breed often mistake him for a mongrel. 

He is fairly low maintenance, weekly brushing and trimming two to three times a year is sufficient.


The Border Terrier is a spirited and smart dog who is bold, brave, and courageous. He is quick to learn and has the ability to think for himself. The Border Terrier’s temperament is distinct from that of other terrier breeds. Some terriers who hunt alone can be highly aggressive. Since the Border Terrier walked peacefully with the Foxhounds in the pack, he was not allowed to be aggressive. 

He is characterized by his even temperament, amiable nature, obedience, and eagerness to learn. Some people miss their Border’s boisterous terrier nature. 

If you take a close look at the Border, you will see in him the lovable, hard-working little fellow in his mostly brown coat, cheeky little face, who loves his friends and his environment above all else. He is friendly to everyone, two or four-legged, as long as there are no four-legged friends to hunt with.

At home, the Border even gets along with the house tiger, especially if the latter was there before him. However, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or other small animals are better kept away from him. 


The Border Terrier should be trimmed about twice a year. Unlike other breeds, he does not shed his hair. Trimming involves plucking out the dead top coat by hand. If done properly, it does not hurt the dog, on the contrary, he is glad to get rid of the itchy hair. 

The working Borders use natural trimming by scrubbing the dead hair on trees and fences.

Back to nature can also be the motto for some owners, i.e. do nothing to the coat, only weekly brushing. As lovely as he is, he transforms into something altogether different, and such a Border Terrier is no longer recognizable, looking more like a scruffy street dog.

A Border Terrier should not be clipped, although this may seem easier. Clipping damages the color and texture of the coat, as it does not remove the dead hair, but only shortens it. Some trimmers resort to clipping, so it is important to ask beforehand if they are experienced in trimming a Border Terrier.


The Border Terrier is considered a robust, healthy breed. Good food, sufficient exercise and sport, regular trimming and routine annual visits to the veterinarian for vaccinations and precautionary worming treatment are prerequisites for this healthy domestic friend. He has a life expectancy of about 15 years. 

Having said that, he may have inherited problems such as hip dysplasia (HD), heart disease, cramping (CECS) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

Because our Border had inherited HD, we looked into it further and were astounded to find that the breed that still does not need to be x-rayed today because HD does not occur in it. Only 19 percent of 1,327 x-rayed Border Terriers were good and 4 percent had HD, while the rest were satisfactory. 

So some may now say “only” 4% had HD. Yes, if you consider that in the Pug more than 60% have HD, 4% is little. But one should also see the other figure of 77%, which was not very good either, and the 4% can still worsen if one does not pay attention to the fact that Border Terriers are also x-rayed and that dogs affected by HD are not put together with dogs without HD or with dogs with low HD and the now still relatively low percentage escalates.

Why is the Border not a dog for everyone?

The Border Terrier is not for people who want a “casual” dog. If a Border Terrier is not part of his family, he is not happy. Locked in the kennel all day makes him a yapper, and when he yelps, it is heard throughout the neighborhood. He has an extra loud yelp because he needs to be heard even when he is in a foxhole. 

If left behind on the fenced property, he will look for an opportunity, whether digging, jumping or climbing to get out. He will always find a way. No fence is too high or slope too deep for the Border Terrier. He does not avoid cars, but on the contrary, he goes towards them, usually being overlooked and run over because of his size.

Borders were bred to be hunting dogs, and the older they get, the braver they become, and the more likely they are to flee, especially when there are two of them. Nothing is too far for him because they were bred to travel long distances with the Foxhounds. 

They were bred to think for themselves, which can be a particularly nice but also frustrating trait, because their radius is very large, and that means waiting a long time. If you tell him “stay”, he will do so until he thinks he has waited enough. Too hard tackling and reprimanding is not for a Border Terrier. He is a delicate little flower, which means he is very sensitive. He always wants to please his human.

Active Borders want to be constantly challenged. Even after hours of exercise, they do not just lie down at home and be quiet. They are like bouncing balls, jumping up and down, over and over, barking whenever the doorbell rings, and every visitor is greeted enthusiastically. 

There is no simple hello, and then off to the basket. Some Borders ambush the visitor with kisses. Keeping all four feet on the ground is a constant struggle that many owners eventually give up on. If you want a dog that won’t jump up on you, don’t choose a Border Terrier.

Border Terriers have a powerful bite. They were bred to kill foxes and small predators. Even puppies can chew something up and break it in the process, and there are hardly any toys that are “Border” safe. Blankets, pillows and carpets are not always safe from them.

In general, the Border gets along well with other dogs and even the family cat, especially if the cat was there first. They will, however, pursue and many even kill a stray cat, or a cat that invades their territory. Guinea pigs or other small furry animals in the house are not safe from them.

Border Terriers run away when off-leash. Even the best trained, most obedient Border Terrier will chase a cat, squirrel or other huntable. And the older they get, the more they take advantage of the opportunity to hunt. More Border Terriers are run over by cars than die of disease or old age.

A Border Terrier is a dog for active people. Properly used and understood, he conveys only joy, which he always makes his owner feel! Once a Border Terrier, always a Border Terrier!