Border Terrier Dog: Characteristics, Origin, Lifespan

The Border Terrier dog is a small breed of rough-coated dog in the terrier group. It was bred as a fox and vermin hunter. It shares ancestry with the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Bedlington Terrier.

The Border Terrier dog breed was originated from the border region of Scotland and England. It was bred to have long enough legs to keep up with the horses and other foxhounds, which traveled with them, and small enough bodies to crawl in the burrows of foxes and chase them out so the hunters had a blank shot. The foxhounds that traveled with them were not small enough to do the Border Terrier’s job.

It was officially recognized by The Kennel Club in Great Britain in 1920, and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930.

The Border Terrier dog ranked 81st in number of registrations by the AKC in 2006, while it ranked 10th in the United Kingdom. And the breed ranked 8th in number of registrations by the UK Kennel Club in 2008.[1]

The Border Terrier dogs were originally used for hunting in packs as they were exceptionally good at catching rabbits and any small animal. But now, the breed is commonly seen as family pets.

Border Terrier Dog Characteristics

The Border Terrier dogs are smaller in size and are very beautiful. They have harsh and dense coat, with close undercoat. They are easily identifiable by their otter-shaped heads. They have a broad skull and moderately short muzzle, and strong teeth.

They have V-shaped ears which are on the sides of the head and fall towards the cheeks. Common colors of the coat are blue-and-tan, grizzle-and-tan, wheaten or red. Whiskers are few and short. The tail is naturally moderately short, thick at the base and tapering.

The Border Terrier dogs are smaller in size. Average body height is between 14 and 16 inches at the withers for males, and between 11 and 14 inches for the females. Average live body weight of the mature dog is between 5.9 and 7.1 kg for males, and between 5.1 and 6.4 for the females.

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The Border Terrier dogs are very good-tempered, affectionate, obedient and easily trained. They are highly intelligent and quickly learn the cues that signal you are going outside for a walk or to the office, when it’s mealtime, and what you like and don’t like them to chew.

The Border Terrier dogs are generally not affectionate with other small animals. They are fearless and relentless, when it comes to going after prey (even if you don’t keep them as hunting dogs).

Like many other dog breeds, the Border Terrier dogs also need early socialization (exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences when they are young). Early socialization helps ensure that your Border Terrier puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.


Average lifespan of the Border Terrier dog is between 12 and 15 years.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Border Terrier dogs are smaller in size and pretty active. So, their diet should be formulated for a smaller sized breed with average exercise needs. You can also consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.


Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising the Border Terrier dogs. They are family dogs and should live indoors with their people, not tied out in the backyard. Although, they do enjoy having access to a yard. Just ensure that the fence is high and secure, because they are expert escape artists.

They will enjoy at least a half hour of exercise daily, such as a walk on leash, off-leash play in a fenced area, or a good game of fetch.

The Border Terrier dogs are prone to weight gain and boredom, without enough exercise. And boredom can lead to destructive behavior and lots of barking.


The Border Terrier dogs are generally very strong and healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, heart defects, malocclusions, cryptorchidism, hypothyroidism and patellar luxation. Always keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameBorder Terrier
Other NamesNone
Breed SizeSmall
HeightBetween 14 and 16 inches at the withers for males, and between 11 and 14 inches for the females
WeightBetween 5.9 and 7.1 kg for males, and between 5.1 and 6.4 for the females
Good as petsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorBlue-and-tan, grizzle-and-tan, wheaten or red
LifespanBetween 12 and 15 years
Good for childrenYes
Country of OriginBorder region of Scotland and England

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