Border Terrier


1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Border Terrier ?
4. Introduction
5. History
6. Appearance
7. Temperament
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
10. Health
11. Caring for a Border Terrier
12. Grooming
13. Exercise
14. Feeding
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Border Terrier

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #35 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Border Terrier breed is also commonly known by the names Redesdale Terrier (previously called), Coquetdale Terrier (previously called).
12 - 14 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Terrier Group
Males 33 - 40 cm
Females 28 - 36 cm at the withers
Males 6 - 7 kg
Females 5 - 6.5 kg
Health Tests Available
No Health Tests Currently Recommended
Average Price (More Info)
£628 for KC Registered
£461 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics

Looking for a Border Terrier ?

If you are looking to buy or adopt a Border Terrier, you can view our :

Border Terrier for sale section
Border Terrier for adoption section
Border Terrier for stud section.


Border Terriers were originally bred as working dogs and essentially that's what they still are today. The need to work is deeply ingrained in a Border Terrier's nature which means they are one of the most alert and quick dogs of their type around. With this said these little dogs adapt incredibly well into a home environment and quickly become valued members of the family. The one thing they do need, however, is to be kept busy mentally and physically otherwise boredom sets in which can lead to a Border Terrier getting up to quite a bit of mischief around the home.

These attractive little dogs have been around for a long time and as their name suggests they originate from the border between Scotland and England. They boast an interesting ancestry which they share with the Patterdale, Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. However, it was only in 1920 that they were officially recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed in their own right.


Originally bred as working dogs on the borders between Scotland and England, the Border Terrier used to be known as either a Redesdale Terrier or a Coquetdale Terrier. It was later in the eighteen hundreds that these little dogs became known as Border Terriers. Some people think they earned this name through their close association with a Northumberland hunt called the Border Hunt.

As previously mentioned, they share their ancestry with other breeds, namely the Dinmont Terrier, Bedlington Terrier and Patterdale Terrier. These little dogs were bred to be strong, robust little terriers that were capable of coping with the often bleak climate of the Borders. They were used local shepherds and farmers to keep the fox population under control. When foxhunting became a popular sport, Border Terriers were used to chase foxes out of their lairs when they ran to ground.

These little terriers were renowned for their stamina being capable of following the hunt over great distances and still having the energy to continue working when the need arose.  They are one of the UK's oldest native terriers with records of them dating back to the 18th Century. The dogs we see today are the same as the terriers that were bred back then with many enthusiasts believing them to be the "perfect" dog both in looks and nature, for the task they were bred to do in the borders between Scotland and England.


Height at the withers: Males 33 - 40 cm, Females 28 - 36 cm

Average Weight: Males 6 - 7 kg, Females 5 - 6.5 kg

The Border Terrier is perfectly built for the job they were bred to do. They are compact, sturdy and well put together terriers that boast an incredible amount of stamina. These little terriers boast very "otter-like" heads with a broadish skull and strong looking, short muzzle. Border Terriers typically have black noses although flesh or liver colours are acceptable as a breed standard too.

They have keen, alert eyes and a strong jaw line with a perfect bite. Their necks are well-proportioned in comparison to the rest of their bodies which are narrow and long with their ribcage being quite far back which are never too broad. They have rangy hindquarters and small feet with nicely formed, thick pads. Border Terriers are long in the leg as compared to other terriers which is one of their distinguishing physical traits. Their short tail is thicker at the base tapering off at the tip which these little dogs carry high.

Border Terriers have coarse, dense coats with a close undercoat and they have very thick skin. When it comes to acceptable colours, these are as follows:

  • Red
  • Wheaten
  • Grizzle and tan
  • Blue and tan


They are often described as being "energetic terriers known for their gameness" which is a very good way of describing these little dogs because they do need to be kept busy to be truly happy and well-balanced characters. Border Terriers retain their strong instinct to chase down prey and like nothing better than to be outdoors doing what they do best which is just that. With this said, as long as they are given enough to do and lots of physical exercise, they fit in well as a family pet.

As with other terriers and dogs in general, the Border Terrier really does need to be well-socialised from a young age so they get on with other animals commonly kept as family pets and this includes cats. However, if a neighbour's cat ventures into their territory, a Border Terrier would see them as "fair game" and would not be able to resist chasing a visiting cat off the property.

Border Terriers are intelligent little dogs which means they learn things quickly both the good and the "bad". They can be a little stubborn at times and if they think there is something more interesting to do, they have a tendency to ignore a command to go off and do their own thing. On top of this, because the Border Terrier boasts a high prey drive, it's important for gardens to be made very secure because these little dogs will try to get over or under a fence when the mood takes them. They are known to be highly skilled escape artists.

Although hardy, the Border Terrier is a sensitive character and responds well to positive reinforcement training. These terriers do not respond well to any harsh handling. Their training needs to start as early as possible when puppies are at their most receptive and their education needs to continue throughout their lives to remind them of their place in the pack which will need to done from time to time.

Border Terriers are very good at agility all thanks to their active and lively natures. This paired to the fact they love nothing more than to be kept busy, means they excel at canine sporting activites like Flyball, loving every minute of the attention they are given when they take part in any competitions.

Children and Other Pets

Border Terriers are generally very well behaved around children although any encounters should always be supervised by an adult. These terriers are very affectionate by nature, but they are also extremely energetic which means that even though they are small dogs, they might accidentally knock a toddler over and this could end up scaring the child which could result in them being fearful of other dogs too.

When it comes to animals and other pets, as long as a Border Terrier has been well socialised and introduced to a cat or other pet when they are young. they generally get on well with them. However, because these terriers boast a high prey drive, it is never a good idea to leave them alone with a guinea pig, pet rat or other type of pet rodent because a Border Terrier might not see them as a pet, but rather as "prey" and the results could be disastrous.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Border Terrier is between 12 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality, well-balanced diet to suit their ages.

Border Terriers are hardy little dogs that rarely fall ill. However, there are certain genetic health disorders that are known to affect the breed more than other dogs and this includes the following conditions:

Caring for a Border Terrier

As with any other breed, Border Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to make sure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, these little dogs need to be fed a good quality diet and one that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Border Terriers have short, coarse coats with a close undercoat which means they are quite easy maintenance in the grooming department. However, a weekly brush is necessary to get rid of any loose hair and it's important to make sure their paws are kept nice and tidy too. As with other breeds, the Border Terrier sheds the most during the Spring time and then again in the Autumn when more grooming may be necessary to keep on top of things. It's also a good idea to have a Border Terrier hand stripped from time to time which is another way of controlling their shedding and it makes keeping their coats looking good that much easier too.

These little terriers do not need a lot of bathing, but because they like to go down burrows, they may get a bit muddy from time to time which could mean they need to be given a bath. However, it's important not to overdo bathing a Border Terrier because it could result in upsetting the natural PH balance of their skin which could lead to an irritation. It's also important to always use a dog-specific shampoo when you bath them too for the same reason.


Border Terriers need to be given lots of exercise, but they also need to have a tremendous amount of mental stimulation to be truly happy, well-balanced dogs. They are the ideal choice of pet for people who enjoy spending as much of their free time in the great outdoors with a canine companion. However, these little terriers would not be happy if stuck indoors for great lengths of time. One thing a Border Terrier is not, it's a couch potato although once they've been out for a nice long and interesting walk, they are quite happy to chill out on a sofa with you.

They also need to be given lots of mental stimulation which involves playing fun and interesting interactive games with them as often as possible. As previously mentioned, there's nothing these little dogs enjoy more than playing Flyball and other doggy sporting activities.


Border Terriers are not fussy or finicky when it comes to their food. In fact, quite the opposite is true, they are known to like their food a little too much which can often lead to obesity. However, it's not necessary to feed these little dogs a diet that's high in protein, but it is important to feed them good quality dog food that contains all the nutrients they need to remain healthy.

If you've decided to pet a Border Terrier puppy, the breeder would let you know the sort of diet they have been on and you would need to continue feeding them the same food to avoid a puppy from developing any tummy upsets through a change of diet. Puppies need to be fed at regular intervals throughout the day and ideally this needs to be either 3 or 4 times a day. You can change their diet gradually over a period of a couple of week without risking any digestive upsets when the time is right and if you have any concerns, it's best to discuss things with your vet before you do anything.

Older Border Terriers, as previously mentioned will eat until they burst if allowed to, so it's important to gauge the amount of food they are given in relation to the amount of daily exercise they get. Like this, a dog won't be at risk of putting on too much weight which can put stress on their limbs, joints and hearts. It is now known that when dogs carry too much weight, it can shorten their life spans by several years. 

Average Cost to keep/care for a Border Terrier

If you are looking to buy a Border Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £450 to well over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Border Terrier in the north of England would be £17 a month for basic cover, but this rises to £38.77 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). It's worth bearing in mind that lots of things are factored into a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK and their age and breed.

When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality food, whether wet or dry, for your dog throughout their lives and it has to suit the different stages of their lives too. This could set you back between £25 - £35 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Border Terrier which includes their initial vaccinations, neutering or spaying them when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which can quickly add up to over a £800 a year.

As a rough guide, the total average cost to keep and care for a Border Terrier would be between £50 -  £85 a month depending on the level of pet insurance you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Border Terrier puppy.

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