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Ten Things You Need To Know About The Border Terrier Before You Buy One

The Border terrier is one of several terrier dog breeds native to the UK, with this one hailing from the Scottish borders. Originally used for pest control and commonly working with hunts, Border terriers have historically been used for both hunting with hounds and as ratters.

However, the breed today is now much more widely kept as a pet than for any working purposes, and they’re the UK’s 30th most popular dog breed overall.

This means that every year, a wide range of people from different walks of life consider choosing a Border terrier to join their families, and this is a breed that can be very rewarding to own – in the right hands. However, they’re not a good fit for everyone, and if you’re thinking of buying a Border terrier it is vital to know what you’re getting into ahead of time, in order to avoid a potential shock further down the line!

With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Border terrier dog breed – before you buy a dog of this type. Read on to learn more.

The Border terrier needs plenty of exercise

Border terriers might be small, but they’re not toy dogs and they are actually very active and highly energetic, needing lots of time every day to be dedicated to their walks and exercise.

If you live a fairly sedentary lifestyle and are unable to dedicate at least a couple of hours a day to exercising and entertaining your dog, the Border terrier would be a poor choice.

Border terriers are pretty smart

As well as having high energy levels, the Border terrier is also quite a clever dog breed, being ranked in 39th position out of a total of 138 different dog breeds in Coren’s ranking of canine intelligence. This makes them dogs with above-average working intelligence, which means that in the right hands they can be trained to perform a wide range of different roles and learn lots of different commands.

They may also be a good fit for canine sports like agility as a result of this.

…But some say that this doesn’t translate to a lot of common sense!

Many Border terrier owners will tell you that although their dogs are objectively intelligent, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a lot of common sense – and this is a breed that requires immediate investigation if they suddenly appear quieter than normal, as they are apt to be up to no good!

Dogs of the breed can be stubborn and obsessive and lose track of what is going on around them when they’ve committed to something, and a bored or poorly supervised Border terrier can get into all manner of hot water.

Border terriers have a high prey drive

As a dog breed with a historical working role within pest control applications, Border terriers naturally have a very high prey drive. This means that they are apt to chase wildlife and other animals like cats, and training dogs of the breed for reliable recall isn’t always possible.

Border terriers can often be trained to share a home safely with smaller pets as they’re smart dogs, but you need to take care to keep them on a lead and under control when outside of the home in open spaces.


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Border terriers love to dig

Dogs of the breed are also often keen diggers, who will soon destroy a garden and that may well be capable of literally burrowing out under a wall or fence.

This is another trait of the breed that can be hard to curb and manage, and so a Border terrier and an immaculate garden don’t usually go hand in hand!

They can suffer from “small dog syndrome”

Border terriers might be small, but they are also very bold and confident dogs that will think nothing of standing up to a much larger dog.

Proper socialisation is vital to ensure that the Border terrier can get on well with other dogs, and they can also be prone to dominance with people if incorrectly handled and managed to respect their pack leader.

Border terriers are often quite vocal

Border terriers are often quite loud dogs that bark a lot and with little incentive, and this can be a problem for some owners and particularly, their neighbours!

Conditioning the dog not to bark for no reason when they are young can help with this, but if a quiet life is very important to you, the Border terrier might not be a good pick.

The breed tends to be robust and healthy

Border terriers as a whole tend to be healthy and long lived, with an average lifespan of between around 12-14 years. It is certainly not unheard of for dogs of the breed to live to their late teens either, if fed an appropriate diet, kept fit, and properly cared for.

They don’t need a lot of grooming

Border terriers have short, wiry coats that require just the occasional going over with a brush and a bath every few weeks (or if the dog likes to dig a lot, more frequently!) to keep their skin and coat healthy. 

This provides an advantage over many small dog breeds, some of which have very onerous grooming requirements!

They can suit first time owners who do their homework

Border terriers are high energy, intelligent dogs that often get into mischief, but they can be very rewarding to have around too. If you do plenty of research, know what to expect and are able to provide the appropriate care and lifestyle that a dog of this type needs, there is no reason why a Border terrier cannot be a good fit for even the first-time dog owner.


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