A tan and black wiry haired small dog with wide open mouth sits on the grass looking up at the camera.

Border Terrier

15 September 2023

Let’s talk about… Border Terriers: what are they?

  • Border Terriers are small, energetic, and affectionate dogs that were originally bred for hunting foxes and other small game.
  • They originated in the border region between England and Scotland, hence the name "Border" Terrier.
  • They have a compact and sturdy build, with a wiry and dense double coat that comes in various colours, including red, grizzle and tan, or blue and tan.
  • Border Terriers have a natural affinity for digging. Their strong instincts and ability to burrow were useful for hunting prey underground.
  • Males typically stand at a height of 25-28 cm and weigh between 5-7 kg, while females are slightly smaller, standing at a height of 23-26 cm and weighing between 4-6 kg.
  • The average life expectancy of Border Terriers is around 12-15 years.
Border Terrier  Exercise Needs 4/5 Grooming Ease 4/5 Trainability 3/5

What is the temperament of Border Terriers like?

  • Border Terriers are known for their friendly and affectionate nature.
  • They are generally good with families, including children and other pets, and are known to form strong bonds with their owners.
  • They have a lively and spirited personality and are often described as intelligent and alert.
  • Border Terriers are energetic and enjoy being active. They have a high prey drive, which means they may be inclined to chase small animals.
  • Early socialisation and training are important to help them develop good manners and control their instincts.
  • Despite their small size, Border Terriers have a confident and fearless disposition.
Rafferty, the Border Terrier

How much exercise do Border Terriers need?

  • Border Terriers are active dogs that require a moderate amount of exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
  • They need approximately 1-2 hours of exercise every day. This can include walks, playtime in a secure area, and interactive games.
  • They enjoy exploring their surroundings and participating in activities that engage their hunting instincts.
  • It's important to note that puppies have different exercise needs compared to adult dogs.
  • While they are still growing, their bones and joints are developing, and excessive exercise can cause harm.
  • Puppies should have short play sessions throughout the day to prevent overexertion.
  • As a very general guideline, puppies should have about 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice a day.
  • Consult with your veterinarian for specific exercise recommendations based on your puppy's age and development.
  • Border Terriers also benefit from mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys, training sessions, and interactive play.
  • Engaging their minds is just as important as physical exercise for their overall well-being.
Rupert, the Border Terrier

Do Border Terriers need a lot of grooming?

  • Border Terriers have a wiry and dense double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition.
  • They have a soft, dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat that helps protect them from the elements.
  • While they do not shed heavily, their coat needs to be hand-stripped or professionally groomed two to three times a year to remove dead hair and maintain the proper texture.
  • Regular brushing is recommended to prevent matting and keep the coat looking tidy.
  • A slicker brush or a grooming tool specifically designed for terrier coats can be used.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Scout, the Border Terrier

Are Border Terriers easy to train?

  • Border Terriers are intelligent dogs with a desire to please their owners.
  • However, they also have a strong independent streak, which can make training a bit challenging at times.
  • With consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience, they can be trained effectively.
  • Early socialisation is crucial for Border Terriers to become well-rounded dogs.
  • Expose them to various people, animals, and environments from a young age to help them develop good social skills and reduce any tendencies toward shyness or aggression.
  • Positive reinforcement training methods, such as treats, praise, and rewards, work best for Border Terriers.
  • They respond well to motivation and enjoy engaging in activities that stimulate their minds.
  • Keep training sessions short, fun, and varied to prevent boredom.
Sid, the Border Terrier

What do Border Terriers eat?

  • A well-balanced and high-quality dog food that meets the nutritional needs of Border Terriers is essential.
  • Their diet should be appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.
  • Consult with your vet to determine the right type and amount of food for your Border Terrier.
  • Border Terrier puppies have specific dietary needs to support their growth and development. They should be fed a puppy-specific diet until they reach around 12 months of age.
  • Puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day until they are 6 months old when it should be reduced to twice daily.
  • At about 10-12 months, dependent on food brand, individual dog and vet recommendation, Border Terriers can transition to adult dog food.
  • It's important to provide them with balanced nutrition and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity.

Are Border Terriers healthy?

Border Terriers are generally a healthy breed, but like any dog, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some of the health concerns that may affect Border Terriers include:

Bones and Joints

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease - a hip condition that affects the blood supply to the head of the femur bone, leading to breakdown of the bone, pain and lameness.
  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be


  • SLEM (Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy) - also known as shaking puppy syndrome (work has been done to reduce the incidence of this condition in the breed)


  • Atopy - when the immune system overreacts to an allergen and results in skin irritation.

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any concerns about the health of your dog or want to discuss further if a Border Terrier is right for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Border Terriers

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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