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Border Terrier - Small Breed Dog Profile

Updated: Feb 21

Border Terrier little dogs

The Border Terrier: Little Dogs with a Remarkable History

The Border Terrier is a charming and spirited small breed dog with a rich history and many endearing characteristics.

Originating from the rugged border regions of England and Scotland, these little dogs were bred for a specific purpose, making it a true working dog.

In this article, we will explore the Border Terrier's origins, purpose, physical traits, personality, grooming and exercise requirements, age range, measurements, and health issues.


“If the border terrier were human, the elbows of his tweed jacket would be patched with leather, and he would spend his evenings reading hunting diaries in a smelly armchair. His appearance would be stocky, twinkly, whiskery and rural.” - Country Life


Origins of the Border Terrier

The Border Terrier's roots trace back to the border regions of England and Scotland, where they were developed for fox hunting.

The little dogs history can be dated to the 18th century when they were prized for their tenacity, agility, and ability to go to the ground in pursuit of foxes.

Purpose of the Border Terrier

Border Terriers were bred to be efficient fox hunters.

They were small enough to fit into the fox's den yet possessed the courage and determination to face these wily animals.

Their excellent hunting skills made them invaluable little dogs to farmers and hunters.

Physical Characteristics

The Border Terrier is known for their distinct appearance.

They are little dogs, with a well-proportioned body, erect ears, and expressive dark eyes.

Their wiry double coat comes in various colours, including grizzle, tan, red, or wheaten.

Their weather-resistant coat is perfect for the rugged terrains they were bred to navigate.

Personality Traits

This breed is renowned for its spirited and friendly personality.

The Border Terrier is known for their affectionate nature and loyalty.

They are also characterised by their intelligence, which makes them quick learners and problem solvers, an attribute that has endeared the little dogs to many dog owners.

Grooming Requirements

While their wiry coat may seem like it requires extensive grooming, the Border Terrier is relatively low-maintenance.

Regular brushing and occasional hand-stripping to remove dead hair are sufficient to keep the little dogs coat in excellent condition.

Exercise Requirements

These little dogs are active and enjoy daily exercise.

Regular walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are essential to keep the Border Terrier happy and healthy.

Their hunting instincts also make them adept at various dog sports.


The Border Terrier is known for their courage, determination, and strong prey drive.

The little dogs are also highly sociable, making them great companions for families and individuals.

Age Range and Measurements

The typical age range for a Border Terrier is 12 to 15 years.

They usually weigh between 11 to 15 pounds and stand around 10 inches tall at the shoulder, making them compact and portable little dogs.

Health Issues

The Border Terrier is generally a healthy dog, but like any breed, they are prone to specific health issues.

These may include hip dysplasia, heart problems, and particular allergies.

It's essential to have regular check-ups with a veterinarian to ensure their well-being.


“Border Terrier coats are thick and hardy to offer protection in the sometimes harsh climate of the border between Scotland and England. Border Terrier coats come in four colour varieties; dark, light, blue or tan.” - Petplan


Frequently Asked Questions What is the history of the Border Terrier?

The Border Terrier is a small, rough-coated terrier from the border region between Scotland and England.

They were bred to hunt foxes and other small animals, often working alongside horses and hounds.

They are related to other terrier breeds, such as the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Bedlington Terrier, and the Patterdale Terrier.

Border Terrier Little Dogs out dog walking

What was the original purpose of breeding them?

Border Terriers were bred to be working dogs that could chase and flush out foxes from their dens.

They had to be agile, hardy, and fearless little dogs, as well as able to fit into narrow spaces.

They also had to be loyal and obedient to their owners, who often used them for pest control and sport.

How can I groom a Border Terrier's wiry coat?

Border Terriers have a double coat that consists of a dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat.

The outer coat must be hand-stripped regularly to remove dead hair and maintain the natural texture and colour.

Hand-stripping involves plucking the loose hair by hand or with a unique tool.

This can be done by a professional groomer or by the owner if they have the skills and patience.

The undercoat can be brushed weekly to remove dirt and tangles.

The ears, eyes, teeth, and nails should also be checked and cleaned regularly.

What kind of exercise do they need?

Border Terriers are energetic and active dogs that need at least an hour of exercise daily.

They enjoy running, playing, chasing, and digging, so they need a secure outdoor space to explore and express their instincts.

They also need mental stimulation, such as games, puzzles, and training, to keep them happy and prevent boredom.

The Border Terrier is a sociable dog that likes to be around people and other little dogs, so they benefit from regular walks and outings where they can meet new friends.

What are their typical personality traits?

The Border Terrier is an intelligent, loving, cheeky, and independent dog with much character.

They are generally friendly and affectionate with their owners and family members.

Still, they can also be stubborn and vocal at times.

They are curious and adventurous dogs that investigate new things and places.

They are not naturally aggressive, but they can be assertive and territorial if other dogs or animals challenge them.

They are loyal and devoted little dogs that thrive on attention and interaction.

What are the most common health issues in the Border Terrier?

The Border Terrier is generally a healthy dog with a long lifespan of 12 years or more.

However, like all breeds, they are prone to health problems that may affect their quality of life.

Some of the most common health issues in the Border Terrier are:

Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)

This is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and cramps in the legs, abdomen, back, or neck.

The cause is unknown but may be related to gluten sensitivity or stress.

The symptoms vary in severity and frequency but can be managed with medication or diet changes.

Hip Dysplasia

This genetic condition affects the development of the hip joint, causing it to be loose or unstable.

This can lead to pain, stiffness, arthritis, and lameness in later life.

Environmental factors, such as diet, weight, and exercise, can influence the severity of hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia can be diagnosed by X-rays and treated with surgery or medication.


is a hormonal disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

This can affect the dog's metabolism, growth, development, and immune system.

The symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, skin problems, cold intolerance, and behavioural changes.

Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by blood tests and treated with hormone replacement therapy.

Skin Allergies

These are immune system reactions to certain substances that cause skin inflammation and irritation.

The triggers can be environmental (such as pollen, dust mites, or fleas) or dietary (such as wheat, corn, or soy).

The symptoms include itching, scratching, licking, biting, redness, swelling, hair loss, and infections.

Skin allergies can be diagnosed by skin tests or elimination diets and treated with medication or diet changes.

How long do they usually live?

Border Terriers have a relatively long lifespan compared to other dog breeds.

The average life expectancy of a Border Terrier is 12 to 15 years.

However, some may live longer or shorter depending on their health condition, lifestyle, genetics, and care.

To ensure a long and happy life for your Border Terrier, you should provide them with a balanced diet, regular exercise, routine veterinary check-ups, and lots of love and attention.

Final Thoughts

The Border Terrier is a remarkable small breed with a rich history, a charming personality, and a robust physique.

Whether you're looking for a loyal companion or a dog with a history rooted in hunting, the Border Terrier is an excellent choice.

Remember to provide them with the love, exercise, and care they deserve, and you'll have a devoted friend for many years.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins, we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

BOOK NOW via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.

Border Terrier little dogs Mary Puppins

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Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.


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