Border Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Border Terrier was originally bred in the Cheviot Hills area near the border between England and Scotland to help farmers drive predatory foxes from their dens and kill them. This sturdy little fellow has long enough legs and enough stamina to keep up with a horse, even though he is quite small. The bold little Border Terrier has also been used to hunt marten, otter, and the fierce badger. Due to his winning personality, adaptability, and friendliness, the breed is highly esteemed as a companion dog today, yet he can still serve as a fine farm dog, helping to control vermin. The Border Terrier was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1920 and by the AKC in 1930.


The Border Terrier is a small, spunky terrier with a coarse, wiry double coat. He has an “otter” head, with a somewhat short muzzle, black nose, dark eyes, and small ears that fold forward into a “V” shape. Legs are long. The tail is relatively short and tapers from a thicker base to the tip. It is carried level with the back unless the dog is very excited. The Border Terrier comes in red, blue and tan, and grizzle and tan. White on the feet is not allowed, but small patches of white are permissible on the chest. The coat usually needs stripping twice a year. Most Border Terriers are slightly heavier than the AKC standard calls for.

Key Facts

  • Height: 10 to 12 in.
  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 13 to 15-1/2 lbs. (male); 11-1/2 to 14 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: Difficult to find
  • Talents: Hunting, tracking, watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


Sheds very lightly; needs weekly brushing and plucking of long hair every month or so. Border Terriers like to dig, and must be securely fenced in. Many owners use freestanding dog runs or additional reinforcement along the bottoms of their fences. Border Terriers may get themselves stuck in tight holes, though they can usually wriggle their way out. Not trustworthy with rats, hamsters, rabbits, or birds, but will generally get along with other dogs. If you have two Border Terriers, it is best to have a male and a female. This breed does not do well when left alone all day. If the puppy is raised with cats, family cats will not generally be a problem. The dog should not be trusted with other people’s cats. The Border Terrier is relatively insensitive to pain and shows few signs of illness, so the owner should watch this breed’s health carefully.


Alert and lively, but mild-mannered. Loves children. Wants to please, so is relatively easy to train. A hardy, scruffy little terrier and a bold hunter. Socialize well and get puppies used to loud noises and city situations while still young to avoid excessive timidity. Will bark, but is not aggressive. Might even go home with the burglar! Puppies are very active, but they mellow as adults.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Needs people a lot
  • Dominance: Low
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other dogs; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Average barker
  • Indoors: Moderately active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat: Wiry coat
  • Shedding: Very light
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: A good jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: A small yard is sufficient
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® Border Terrier Breed Standard

Border Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Border Terrier

Border Terrier Gifts