A working terrier with an alert, agile, and courageous disposition teamed with an affectionate, even-tempered demeanor is all that sums up the Border terrier. Developed near the Scotland-England border, these terriers are easily distinguishable from their rough-coated wiry coat fitting into their body tightly like a jacket. Another physical trait worth mentioning is their rounded head and face, making them bear close resemblance with an otter. The v-shaped prominently thick ears and brown eyes with an intelligent expression further enhance their alertness. Their traditional usage pertained to hunting foxes, though they have emerged as great family dogs.
|Other Names||BT, Redesdale Terrier, Coquetdale Terrier, Ullswater terrier|
|Coat||Undercoat: Short, dense Topcoat: Wiry and broken, fitted closely|
|Color||Black and red; black and tan; blue and tan; grizzle; grizzle and tan; red; red grizzle; red wheaten; wheaten; black grizzle; blue grizzle; red grizzle and tan|
|Weight||Male: 13-15.5 pounds; Female: 11.5 – 14 pounds|
|Litter Size||4-6 puppies|
|Personality||Even-tempered, intelligent, affectionate, alert, fearless, obedient|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Climate Compatibility||Adjusts to different climatic conditions|
|Do they shed||Minimally|
|Are they Hypoallergenic||Yes|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/Information||Kennel Club, FCI, AKC|
The Border terrier developed during the 18th century, though there has been a long and eventful history regarding its development. The hill fox was a tremendous menace to the farmers since it preyed upon sheep. To address this concern, farmers were on the lookout for terrier breeds. They needed dogs with long legs to run at top speed with other foxhounds and hunters mounted on horseback to chase the foxes.
At the same time, they even required the terriers to have a small build to dig into the fox’s den underground and bring them out from their hiding places. The agile and swift terriers they developed for the purpose went on to become the Border terrier’s ancestors. Another boon of the said terriers was the weather-resistant coat that safeguarded them from mist and rain, helping the dogs pass through rough terrain.
The Border terrier bearing most of the traits of their ancestors existed as early as 1754 or perhaps earlier than that, as evident from the paintings of Arthur Wentworth. He depicted a portrait of two Border terriers in one of his works.
The other names associated with this breed include the Ullswater terrier, Coquetdale terrier, and Reedwater terrier, places in Northern England where these dogs thrived. However, of all the places, the Border terrier’s presence was the most prominent in North East England’s Northumberland, where he worked as an efficient foxhunter with his fellow hounds. His name also results from the Border Hunt, a foxhound pack of the United Kingdom with whom he hunted.
Its popularity eventually spread from its native land. The Kennel Club (UK) recognized it in 1920 after rejecting an appeal for its official acknowledgment in 1914. The American Kennel Club gave it recognition in 1930, with the first registered Border terrier in the United States of America being Netherbyers Ricky. The Border Terrier Club of America was formed in 1949 to better this breed. As per the 2021 records, it ranks 91st in AKC’s Most Popular Dogs list of the 197 breeds.
The job they did in the past makes the Border terrier courageous, agile, and active, bubbling with energy most of the time. But their working lineage does not come in the way of their gentle temperament. Besides carrying the image of fierce working dogs, the present-day breed emerges as affectionate family pets getting along fabulously well with kids of the family, alongside other members. Yet kids below six years of age might find it tough to cope with the breed’s rambunctiousness, requiring parental supervision while interacting with these dogs.
The versatile dogs they are Border terriers would transform into a perfect companion dogs when cuddling with their masters on the sofa. In contrast, they would transform into active dogs during a walk or on a hiking spree, all set for a fabulous adventure.
They are noisy enough to bark at the slightest noise they hear, making them good watchdogs. However, the Border terrier does not fulfill the criteria of an efficient guard dog because of its over-friendliness.
They worked alongside hounds in the past, so Border terriers do get along well with other dogs and cats. However, keeping them with smaller pets like gerbils, hamsters, and rabbits is unrecommended. This is because Border terrier could put their working lineage into action and start chasing them.
Like most working dogs, the Border terrier is high on energy, needing increased daily exercise. One 30-minute or two 15-minute walks along with sufficient playtime both indoors and outdoors is what your Border terrier needs each day. Because of their agility, they would do well in canine events like earthdog, lure coursing, agility, flyball, and tracking.
When taking them out, never forget the leash since they have an instinct to chase smaller pets. Similarly, they have a history of digging into the holes of foxes in the past. The BTs might keep up to their tradition and indulge in the same activity when alone in the garden. So backyard fencing extending underground for about 18 inches is a mandate.
A well-trained BT would be a great jogging or hiking partner going up to 5-8 miles.
They have a double coat, hard and wiry outside, soft and fluffy inside. So, these dogs shed minimally, barring the shedding season that witnesses intense hair fall. During the non-shedding period brushing them once or twice a week would help retain the shine and texture of the coat. However, during the shedding season, which mainly occurs twice a year, you should brush its coat daily. Moreover, you would also have to spend about 30-minutes stripping the dead hair manually or using a stripping tool. If you find stripping difficult, you can seek a professional groomer’s assistance.
The outer coat acts as a shield against dirt or dust, and bathing the BT too much could hamper the coat’s ability. So, bathe your Border terrier only when it gets messy, using a good quality vet-approved shampoo made for rough coats. Else, a rub down with a towel and brush would be okay. Dental problems are pretty common in Border terriers; you would have to brush their teeth at least thrice a week to avoid them.
As per a survey conducted by the Kennel Club (UK), they have an average lifespan of 14 years, thus deemed healthy breeds. Yet, some of the common problems they suffer from include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, seizures, juvenile cataracts, heart ailment, Perthes disease, and Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome.
The Border terrier was bred in a manner where he was his own master and had to think about his survival strategies. The breed lives with this trait up to the present times, which aggravates if he is not trained well. His independent-mindedness could make training a challenge, but the Border terrier loves to please his master. So, if you are firm and tactful and have a lot of praises in the form of pats and treats for your dog, training wouldn’t be that challenging.
Socialization: The BTs, unlike most other terrier breeds, display immense friendliness with strangers, which is a boon but sometimes a bane too. So, besides encouraging them to be friendly with all those they and you know, you should also make them aware of individuals that might pose a threat. For this, acquaint them with different people and situations since their puppy days so that they may differentiate a danger from a pleasant situation.
Obedience: Command training, mainly the basic ones like ‘No’ and ‘Stay,’ is essential right from the start. This might eventually help them get over some undesirable traits like chasing.
They are escape artists because of their past job of squeezing through narrow outlets to get hold of foxes. So, besides providing them obedience training, you should give your BT company so that he doesn’t think of escaping. Chasing or running behind a Border terrier who is on the go could make matters worse. He wouldn’t respond, and nor would he stop. Instead, run the other way, and in all probabilities, your Border terrier would run towards you out of curiosity. Perhaps, then you could get hold of him.
The active, energy terriers require high-quality dry dog food, either store-bought or homemade. They are highly prone to suffering from joint problems, so giving them foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids would help combat arthritis or joint problem. When buying commercially-manufactured food, go for brands like Nulo Adult and Taste of the Wild.