Border Terrier Temperament: handy-sized dog with plenty of personality

Have you found your way here to learn about the Border Terrier and what a Border Terrier is like in a family environment? Then you’ve sniffed out the right place!

Whether you already own a dog, have owned dogs before, or are considering becoming a dog parent, it’s beneficial to read about the breed you’re thinking of acquiring. It’s important to remember that any dog is an individual. They will always have their little quirks. But there are always aspects that can be breed specific.

Border Terriers are formidable little dogs with an energetic, outgoing, and curious temperament. The following blog will examine their impressive history as a ratter and fox hunter, their character, and whether the Border Terrier is just what you were looking for in a companion. So, without delay, let’s explore this little dog with a big personality in more detail.

Border Terrier
The breed standard refers to the head of the Border Terrier being shaped like that of an Otter.

History of the Border Terrier

The Border Terrier is part of the terrier group. Terriers have been bred to hunt rats, mice, and foxes from houses, castles, or farms. They also accompanied hunters and worked in tandem with bigger hunting dogs. The bigger English Foxhound was one of their famous companions. Shepherds and farmers also used the dog to keep foxes from life stock.

Border Terriers originated from the Anglo-Scottish border sometime during the 18th century. They were referred to as the Coquetdale or Redesdale Terrier, named after an area in Northumberland.

Hunters demanded a dog with long enough legs to follow a horse and deal with the wild Northumbrian countryside and compact enough to squeeze in narrow spaces to follow foxes. If you’d compare a Border Terrier to other Terrier dog breeds, you will quickly recognise the longer legs as a distinguishable feature. A fit for purpose dog!

Their thick and coarse double coat kept them warm and dry, especially in adverse northern weather conditions.

The Border Terrier also shares ancestry with the small Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Bedlington Terrier. Two other terrier breeds with awe-inspiring history.

The British Kennel Club recognised border terriers in 1920, and the first Border Terrier Club was formed the same year.

The UK Breed standard recognises different shades of grizzle and red in this breed. Wheaten and Blue & Tan are other colour shades.

The high numbers of new registrations show the ongoing love of the British people for the Border Terrier.

In Q2 2022, 992 Border Terriers have been registered with the UK Kennel Club.

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

2021 Total

Q1 2022

Q2 2022








Source: October 2022

What is it like to live with a Border Terrier?

It will fill you with delight!

The Border Terrier is a highly adaptable breed in modern life. They can live in the city or country or an apartment or house. However, it should be appropriately secured if you have a garden, as the Border is renowned for being a little escape artist. They were bred to follow foxes underground, and digging was a big part.

Border Terrier
The wiry, rough double coat of the Border Terrier kept them dry in the adverse weather patterns of Northumbria.

These little dogs are radiating energy. Border Terriers love being busy. They expect daily mental and physical stimulation as a right. Not having anything to do can lead to boredom and destructive behaviour. Border Terriers also tend to be a bit greedy. Obesity is a trap that the Border can easily fall into. They would never refuse a treat!

Border Terriers have a strong prey drive. Therefore, a squirrel, a cat, or a bird will typically be followed. Once on the hunt, it will be tough for you to keep up and impossible to catch up. For that reason, it’s recommended to keep the Border Terrier on the lead when walking outside or let them run free in fenced, secured areas only.

Despite their prey drive, Border Terriers are very sociable dogs. They often hunted with other dogs in tandem; hence they needed to be agreeable and not argumentative with other hunting companions. If they grew up with cats, they would usually treat them as buddies, so friendship is not impossible.

They adore human companionship and love being with you. If A Borders needs a fulfilled, they will be very well-behaved and easy to care for. The Border Terrier is quite biddable and will try to please you. Training is easy with positive re-enforcement techniques. Due to their intelligence, they can excel in agility and games. You will bond very deeply with your Border Terrier if you’re willing to put in the time.

They can display unexpected stubbornness as a terrier breed, but that should be easily overcome with the right mindset and consistency.

Despite their loving nature, they can have an independent streak too. As a working breed, they were bred to make their own decisions. Constant attention is not something that the Border Terrier craves. If the daily walks are tiring them sufficiently, they’re happy to just lazy around on the couch next to you or near a fireplace.

Children and Border Terriers get on splendidly. Not too big to be boisterous, and a happy, fun-loving nature pairs exceptionally well with children. Border Terriers will welcome any amusement.

If you decide to bring a Border Terrier into your family and your life, you’ll get a handy-sized, no non-sense and affectionate little dog with many positive personality traits. They love life and walks and are, in general, a very sociable breed. Well-trained and socialised, this dog will not make any trouble and fill your heart with joy.

Let’s now have a look at some common Border Terrier questions.

Are Border Terriers hypoallergenic?

Borders Terriers are considered a hypoallergenic dog breed. Their wiry-coated coat should be hand stripped a few times a year to maintain their low shedding qualities. That said, no dog is completely hypoallergenic as they will permanently shed dander or saliva to some extent.

A dog might not be a good choice for people suffering from severe allergies. To minimise allergic reactions, hoover regularly, clean the dog bed at least once a week, create doggy-free zones in the home, and reduce soft furnishings like carpets that can trap dead skin cells.

When is a Border Terrier full grown?

Border Terriers are considered fully grown at 12 months. Compared with other Terrier breeds, they’re pretty strongly built. In some cases, they can continue to fill out for another 2-3 months afterwards but shouldn’t grow in height. A full-grown male Border Terrier stands at 31cm at the withers, while a female would be around 28cm.

Border Terrier looking up
An energetic, fun-loving and outgoing character makes the Border Terrier a fantastic family dog.

Border Terrier Temperament in a nutshell

  • Considered one of the most cheerful and companionable breeds

  • The perfect family dog and great with children

  • Have an independent and a little stubborn streak

  • Require training to grow into a well-behaved and well-trained dog

  • The Border Terrier should be walked on the leash due to their strong prey drive.

Potential diseases in the Border Terrier breed

As a new owner, you should be prepared to pay medical expenses associated with the breed. Therefore, always opt for comprehensive insurance.

The Border Terrier is typically a long-lived breed with around 11-14 years of life span.

Hereditary diseases are genetically predisposed. For this reason, it’s essential always to choose a reputable breeder who has screened their dog’s DNA and knows from which family they come from. In addition, good pre-work and research can help minimise the risk of below upsetting conditions.

Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome: Also known as Spike’s disease, causes painful muscle cramps.


Primary Lens Luxation: Eye disorder that can affect terriers. Can be genetically tested for.

Corneal ulceration

Generalised sebaceous gland hyperplasia

Ectopic ureter


Many of these conditions can be treated if caught early. Still, it’s essential to work with a reliable veterinarian familiar with the Border Terrier to ensure your dog receives proper care.

Most diseases are inherited in a recessive manner. It means that the puppy must inherit the gene from both parents to become affected. If the mutation is only present in one parent, the puppy becomes a carrier. Hence, it is vital to choose a reputable breeder who has done genetic testing on their litters.

The more aware you are of these diseases, the higher the chances you can prolong your dog’s life if problems arise. Same as with your child, be mindful of all required vaccinations, risks and even risks outside your home. This blog post, for example, outlines all toxic spring plants that can be harmful to your dog.

Many dog owners underestimate the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. Avoid synthetic rubber play things like chew bones or tug o' war ropes from polyester; polyester collars could cause skin irritation and are not breathable like natural materials. Swap out those harmful materials with eco-friendly pet products from hemp here at Hooman’s Friend. Breathable, eco-friendly and sustainable!

Border Terrier fun facts

The U.S. Postal Office acquired a little stray dog in 1888, who rose to fame in the years that followed. The stray was a Border Terrier who his previous owner abandoned. “Owney” slept on mail bags day after day until some mail workers started taking him on their mail routes.

Not long after, “Owney” travelled miles across the country by train and steamer. During his adventurous lifetime, he travelled more than 140,000 miles. The U.S. postal office even issued a commemorative stamp in his honour in 2011. Today, you can visit the preserved body of “Owney” in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and read about his countless adventures.

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After reading our blog about the temperament of the Border Terrier, you’re probably in love with this versatile breed. This dog might be precisely what you’ve been looking for. As with most dogs, they will thrive with positive reinforcement training and develop into well-behaved and sociable dogs.

Border Terrier’s cheerful and companionable temperament makes them an outstanding family dog. Put in the time, provide them with lots of social interactions, and you will have a heart filled with love for many years.

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