Border Terrier

Border Terrier
One of the most popular terrier breeds, Border Terriers are small to medium-sized terriers with characteristic otter-like heads. Originally bred to help Foxhounds with hunting, these dogs are fast, love to dig and have a high prey drive.
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Border Terrier Key Facts:

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years

Weight: 5 – 7kg

Height: 28 – 30.5cm

Colours: Border Terriers have a harsh, dense coat that comes in a variety of colours including red; wheaten; grizzle and tan or blue and tan.

Size: Small

Kennel Club Group: Terriers


Family-friendly: 4/5

Exercise needs: 5/5

Easy to train: 3/5

Tolerates being alone: 1/5

Likes other pets: 2/5

Energy level: 4/5

Grooming needs: 3/5

Shedding: 3/5

History and Origins

Country of origin: English/Scottish borders

While the Border Terrier wasn’t recognised as a breed until the early 1900s, they had been a well-known and much-admired type of terrier working in the border regions since the 17th century. They developed as a hardy, workmanlike, friendly little dog who would go out with hounds - and both be fast and fit enough to be able to keep up but also to squeeze into small spaces to chase out a hiding fox. Their coat is dense and weatherproof plus they have fairly loose-fitting, thick skin to protect them from bites and injury.


The Border Terrier breed is an affectionate, fun-loving one. They are brave, adaptable and good with people, especially with children. Generally easy-going, they have an independent nature and like to make their own decisions. The Border loves to chase rabbits and squirrels but will live in harmony with other household pets, if socialised and introduced carefully. This dog is equally at home in town or country.

The Border Terrier would suit an active owner who loves the ‘big dog in a small body’ attitude of a terrier but who prefers a softer, less feisty - and more social - version.

Health and Common Issues

The Border Terrier is generally a very healthy dog. Although there are some breed-associated problems known to exist such as eye disorders and epilepsy, but these are relatively rare.

Exercise Needs

The Border Terrier dog breed is very active, bred to follow the hunt and with keen hunting instincts. They need a minimum of an hour's exercise on a daily basis, but will enjoy more. They may chase any small creature that takes their fancy regardless of the situation. This can lead them into trouble, but an owner who is aware of this and starts appropriate training at an early age will find they can be trained to a high standard.

Space Requirements

The Border Terrier can be happy as either an urban or a rural companion as long as they have plenty of exercise, but they enjoy countryside walks and exploring the sights and scents of the great outdoors so they do need to get time out in nature.

Nutrition and Feeding

Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.

Grooming Border Terriers

The short, dense coat of the Border Terrier means that grooming requirements are undemanding. Brushing will clean debris gathered during forays into the undergrowth from the coat and they may benefit from stripping occasionally.

Training Border Terriers

The Border Terrier is one of the easier Terriers to train as they are both clever and biddable and have a softer temperament than some of the others. They enjoy learning basic obedience and some have even found success in some of the dog sports such as mini agility and heelwork to music. They also love interactive enrichment toys and are surprisingly skilled at these.

Best Family Dog Breeds

The Border Terrier is one of the better terriers when it comes to living with children as they are active and robust, enjoy getting involved in family activities and outings, and have more patience then many. Even still, they are better with slightly older, sensible children.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with, respect each other and be safe together. Dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

Did You Know?

  • As the Border Terrier was bred to run with the hounds, they are longer legged than many of the other terrier breeds and are more social than most too!
  • This breed is known for being escape artists, so you’ll need to make sure you have a secure garden to prevent them getting out
  • Border Terriers are keen diggers; however, you can prevent ripped up flower beds by providing them with their own space to dig such as a sandbox
  • They’re usually not yappy but if bored, they may result to nuisance barking
  • Border Terriers shouldn’t be kept with small furries such as rabbits, guinea pigs, etc as they’re hunting instinct is too strong

Similar Breeds:

Jack Russell Terrier

Scottish Terrier

Cairn Terrier


Is this the right breed for you?

All dogs have their own, unique personality, but there are some instincts and behaviours hat they’re born with. Try our Dog Breed Selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle.

Thinking about getting a puppy?

Join Growing Pup for help from our Purina experts on how to find the right puppy & prepare for your new arrival. And when you find your new pup, tell us a bit more about them to get a discount off one of our puppy ranges and regular personalised puppy advice.

Join Growing pup

What to consider next


It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption. Click here for more information.

Finding a good breeder

If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed. Click here for more information.

Welcoming your dog home

Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information.