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Border Terriers - What You Need to Know

Members of the Southern Border Terrier Club, as you would expect, are all Border Terrier enthusiasts. Border Terriers are a wonderful breed, who enrich many lives with their fun, activity, affection and companionship.  However, they are not the right breed for everyone and do not fit every lifestyle or home.  Much of what makes Border Terriers special to some, their independence, intelligence and terrier spirit, may also be what others consider as drawbacks.

Essentially a Working Terrier

To understand the characteristics of Border Terriers it is important to understand what they were originally bred to do.  ‘Essentially a working terrier’ they were bred to work to fox, with the ability to follow a horse across the Borders landscape and be ready to go to ground when needed.

As a terrier with a terrier’s instinct, living with small pets, such as hamsters, rabbits or guinea pigs can prove difficult.  It is a Border’s instinct to chase them and if caught, to kill them.  For a Border to live with such animals takes effective and ongoing training from an early age.  Even with training Borders should not be totally trusted so many knowledgeable Border Terrier owners would advise against Borders living with these small pets.  The same is true for wild animals which might be encountered on walks. A Border Terrier’s natural impulse is to chase and possibly kill anything they consider prey.

Border Terriers can and do live with cats if brought up with them and with ongoing training and vigilance. However, cats who are not part of their family, especially those coming into their territory, could be considered as prey, chased and, if caught, possibly killed.

Border Terriers should not be quarrelsome, but to ensure they mix well with other dogs they require good socialisation and training from an early age and throughout their life.

Combining Activity With Gameness

Border Terriers were originally bred to follow a horse and are therefore full of energy.  They require plenty of walks and even after a generous walk you may find your Border Terrier still has loads of energy.  Ideally, if you are looking to have a Border Terrier your home should have a garden.  The garden will need to be well fenced as Border Terriers can be escapologists, looking to escape through the smallest holes in fences and hedges or over low gates and fences.


Border Terriers are an intelligent breed but, they have an independent nature.  Their intellect makes them keen learners, but their independence can make them slower to obey.  If they want to follow your commands they will do so with enthusiasm but faced with a more appealing distraction their enthusiasm and attention may be lost.

Border Terriers & Your Family

Border Terriers make wonderful family pets.  They are affectionate, fun, energetic and playful.  However, it is important that children are taught to respect them and not allowed to taunt or harass them especially when resting.  Babies and young children should never be left unsupervised with any dog.

Coat & Coat Care

The Border Terrier has a harsh, dense double coat and a thick skin. A soft undercoat for warmth and a thick, harsh outer coat to protect it from the elements.  Border Terriers do shed their coat. 


The harsh topcoat should be hand stripped around twice a year.  Hand stripping is something an owner can learn to do themselves.  If an owner prefers to use a groomer, we recommend that they find one with experience of hand stripping Border Terriers.  More information about hand stripping can be found on our grooming page.

The Health of the Breed

Information on health matters effecting Border Terriers can be found on The Bread Health Group Website.

The Breed Health Group have published the following information for Border Terrier Puppy buyers.

Finding More Information

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