A Breed History

The Border Terrier has its origins dating back to the early 1800’s to the region between Scotland and England and was bred to work on both sides of the border. One would assume the name Border Terrier was purely geographic. No one knows for sure.

Most breed historians describe the Border Terrier as a sturdy longer-legged terrier

Records of the early breed were sparse to almost non-existent. As a working terrier, the early Border Terrier’s value was based on its ability to go after and bolt fox, and be a source of vermin control for the farmers of the region. Working was the flavor of the day, with record keeping and breed history being more of an afterthought to the farmers making a living in this rugged country.

Most breed historians describe the Border Terrier as a sturdy longer-legged terrier capable of covering great distances and possessing the ability to follow behind the pack hounds.

Bringing up the rear on a fox hunt requires desirable social attributes of a dog able to get along with others. The Border Terrier ran behind and in close proximity to the horses and hounds while some of the other terriers rode in the farmer’s saddlebag. Once the Border Terrier arrived at the scene of a grounded fox it would be asked to “go to ground”. The Border without hesitation would promptly get to work and head into the fox den and dispatch the fox, either killing it or bolting it from its underground hideaway. Often, the Border would not leave the fox and it would have to be dug out of the ground, sometimes taking days. The Border Terrier’s bark is distinctive so that it can be heard underground.

The Border also has many other well equipped features that make it such an outstanding working terrier. They have a double coat, a velvet soft under coat and a hard straight outer wire jacket that protects them from the elements. They do not have seasonal shedding, but their coat does die year round and can break off. Border Terriers should be groomed by hand stripping.

Border Terriers also have very flexible spines so they can turn around in tight spaces. They also have large teeth for such a small dog. Border Terriers are described as “plucky” and “game.” They are often referred to as being a large dog in a small dog body. Despite their reported easy-to-live-with temperament, they are also known for their intense desire to suddenly bolt after something that may interest them. As a result, the number one killer of Border Terriers is the automobile.

In the US today, the Border Terrier remains relatively uncommon and is often mistaken for a terrier mix. Thanks to a tremendous commitment by Border Terrier owners and breeders, this breed is truly cared for and protected. Border Terriers are generally considered a very healthy breed; however, on occasion they do have health problems ranging from hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, eye, heart, and thyroid problems. Proper genetic screening and careful breeding continues to keep this breed among one of the healthiest.