Hailing from the England-Scotland border, this terrier breed was mainly used for killing rodents and flushing out fox that have gone underground. But now, known for its high intelligence, obedience, and athletic capabilities, it is as popular in the competitive sports circle as it was in the hunting field earlier. The Border Terrier dog breed is regarded as the most intelligent among canines, and it boasts an even temperament too.
These dogs are especially successful in obedience and agility tests, and almost always come on top in Earth Dog Trials conducted by the kennel clubs. These trials help assess the retention of the breed characteristics in dogs that are no longer engaged in their original careers. Since Border Terriers were originally vermin hunters, they are put through a simulated exercise in hunting rodents in underground tunnels.
The origin of the Border Terrier dog breed is traced to the Cheviot Hills in the England-Scotland border. They have been used from the early 18th century as vermin hunters to keep fox and other small animals away. Besides keeping the rodent population under check, they could hunt badgers and beavers too.
Originally known by the name Coquetdale Terrier, they were known for their speed, in spite of being the smallest among the long-legged group of terriers. While they could easily chase fox through the underground tunnels, they were equally capable of keeping up with galloping horses. This made them ideal for the Border Hunts that were popular in the area.
This terrier shares a common lineage with Dandie Dinmont and Bedlington Terriers. They got the name Border Terrier in 1870, and stated making appearances in dog shows, leading to a rapid rise in popularity. The Kennel Club of UK was slow to recognize this breed, but now they are among the top ten popular dogs in England. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1930.
Border Terriers are well-proportioned with a lean body. They are relatively small-sized with a height of 13-16 inches and under 15 pounds in weight. Their small ears fold over at either side of the face and the thin tail is naturally short and tapering towards the end. The dense, shaggy, double coat varies in color from a mixture of blue and tan to plain red, tan, or lighter.
Known for its even temperament and affectionate nature, the Border Terrier dog breed is considered the perfect family pet. They are well-behaved in the house, and love to play with children. Because they are highly intelligent, they are easy to train. They are extremely obedient, and consistently try to please their owners. These little dogs are independent and fearless too.
They need to stay active and busy, and they require plenty of affection and frequent attention from their owners. It is essential to socialize this dog early as they can feel uncomfortable around strangers. Even though they are not aggressive, they may resort to undesirable behaviors like barking. The owner of this dog should always be a confident pack leader the dog can look up to.
Grooming and exercise
The shaggy double coat of Border Terriers has to be brushed at least once a week. The tough, wiry, outer coat is dirt resistant, and offers excellent protection in all weather conditions. It needs an occasional stripping by hand to keep it looking good.
These high-energy dogs need their daily quota of exercise, but it can consist of several walks a day, preferably at a fast pace, and some games in the yard. Vigorous exercises are also suitable for them, but they are not essential. This makes them suitable for apartments too, but some enclosed area for free play is highly desirable.
Border Terriers love to explore the surroundings on its own, hence occasional hikes in the country where the dog can roam freely are highly recommended. Since the breed was originally accustomed to outdoor life, they can withstand wide temperature variations, but they are ideally kept in the house with the family, with a free access to a fenced in area outside.
Common health issues of Border Terrier dog breed
With an average life expectancy of 12-15 years, and not having any major breed-related health issues, the Border Terriers are easy on the mind. Patellar luxation is a minor problem occasionally observed in these dogs. Hip dysplasia and congenital heart defects may occur, but it is extremely rare. Regular health checkups are sufficient to keep the dog in good health.