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Border Terrier dog breed

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Border Terrier dog breed information and advice

Border Terrier’s may have grizzled features and a rough coat, but you must admit they are one of the cutest breeds of dog going. Originally bred as a hunter, these terriers have found a place in dog owners’ hearts with their playful and loving nature.

If you’re looking to welcome a Border Terrier into your home, this dog breed guide will give you advice on how to care for them.

Border Terrier facts

Border Terrier
Lifespan 12 - 15 years
How much £550 - £950
Size 28 - 40 cm
Weight 5.9 - 7.1 kg
Colours red, wheaten, blue & tan, grizzle (a mixture of red/black/white) & tan
Grooming once a week
Temperament obedient, affectionate and fearless
Exercise 60 minutes daily

Border Terrier insurance

There aren’t many common health problems linked to Border Terriers, which is great news for you and your dog. However, injuries and illness can happen to any dog. Covering your Border Terrier with dog insurance will mean that if the unexpected happens, you don’t have to worry about paying for treatment. How much it costs to insure a Border Terrier depends on the level of cover.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

There’s no need to lose sleep when you have Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance. Vet nurses are on hand 24/7 to answer any queries you may have about your dog. And if you have more than one pup or kitty in your household, multi-pet insurance will help you out, and you’ll get a nice little discount too.

Puppy insurance for your Border Terrier can be started as young as 8 weeks old and can be continued for their full lifespan. New policies for Border Terrier insurance can be taken out up to your dog’s 8th birthday.

How to care for a Border Terrier

Diet, exercise, grooming and training all play a part in your dog’s health care needs. It’s not that Border Terriers are high maintenance, but it’s important you give them the care they need.

Feeding and nutrition

Border Terriers are greedy dogs. They’ll continue to eat and eat and eat if given the chance. This means they can easily become overweight. It’s best to split your dog’s daily food into 2 or 3 meals. If they have multiple mealtimes, it will keep them feeling full throughout the day.

Border Terrier puppies should be fed small amounts 4 times a day. Puppies have small tummies so can only eat little but often. Ask the breeder what dog food they have been using and continue to feed your puppy the same food. If you want to change, you’ll need to do so slowly. Add small amounts of the new food to the old food, gradually increasing the new and reducing the old.

Like you, your dog needs to gain nutrition from their diet. You can find all the nutritional content on the back of the dog food packaging. There are also guidelines on how much food your dog needs in a day. Make sure you weigh the food to prevent over or underfeeding your dog.


The Border Terrier has a short, rough, double coat. It sheds minimally but the loose hair will need to be hand stripped every 6-8 weeks to help it fall out. This can be done using your fingers to pull the loose fur out, or you can use a shedding brush or glove.

Their coat is weather resistant meaning that your dog won’t get soaking wet in mist or rain. The water will run off their coat rather than seeping in. This is good news for you because it means your dog won’t need washing often. You’ll be able to towel dry when wet, without the need for a bath. You will only need to bath your dog when they start to get a bit smelly or are very dirty. Bathing them too often will soften their rough coat, which will reduce its weather and dirt resistance.

Border Terriers don’t need to be regularly groomed. If their fur is cut it will lose the rough texture needed to make the coat naturally protective. It’s best to strip their coat. Their natural shedding stops the hair from growing too long. Brushing your dog’s coat will keep it healthy and clean.


You may be surprised to find out how much exercise this breed needs. Be prepared that a Border Terrier will need an hour of exercise a day. Their high energy levels need to be burned off with a good run around off the lead in a secure area.

Dog exercise is an important part of your dog’s health as it provides both physical and mental stimulation. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise can become depressed.


Through dog training, they can learn to be obedient dogs, but they’re stubborn so you’ll need to be patient. Use their love of food to your advantage. During training, use small treats as rewards. One useful training tip is to start toilet training when your dog is young. It’s much harder to house train an older dog because they’ll be used to toileting indoors.

Temperament and behaviour

Border Terriers are a lively breed. Their bold personality and stubborn behaviour make them interesting characters. They are well behaved but like to do things in their own time. They may not have the most affectionate temperament, but they will keep an eye on you to make sure you’re nearby.

This breed was trained to follow a fox to ground when fox hunting. They have an instinct to dig, especially when they catch the scent of another animal. This is not good news for your flower beds. You will need to keep an eye on your dog when out in the garden because they can dig under fences and escape.

Common health problems

There aren’t many health issues linked to this breed, the two most common are PRA and heart murmurs. You should take your dog for regular vet health checks so that any problems are discovered early on. Having pet insurance for your Border Terrier will help you to pay for any treatment.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Heart murmur

A normal heartbeat consists of “lub” and “dub” sounds, which are the heart valves closing as blood circulates. If there is a “whooshing” sound, it means there is a disturbance to the blood flow. This is known as a heart murmur. Not all affected dogs show signs of a heart murmur, but your vet can detect the sound during health checks. Signs that you can look out for include coughing, rapid breathing, tiredness, collapsing or reluctance to go for a walk.

Treatment depends on the cause of the heart murmur. In some cases, the heart murmur is a result of heartworm disease or a congenital condition. Surgery and/or medication may be needed to help improve your dog’s quality of life and lifespan. If there is no sign of heart disease, your vet will monitor your dog to make sure no signs occur.

How long do Border Terriers live?

Border Terriers have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. They have few health problems so are likely to reach their full lifespan with the correct diet and exercise. Your dog will need walking for 60 minutes a day, but it is best to split this into two 30-minute walks.

Do Border Terriers shed/moult?

Yes, they do, but hand stripping is needed to help remove the loose hair. Hand stripping involves pulling the dead hair out of the coat using your fingers, or you can use a stripping tool. Border Terriers moult to allow a new coat to grow. Weekly grooming is needed to keep their coat clean and healthy.

Why does my Border Terrier smell?

If your Border Terrier smells, it could have a bacteria, yeast or skin infection. The smell will be stronger when your dog is wet. An infection can be treated with medication so take your dog to your vet. If there is a strong smell when your dog is dry, they have probably rolled in something. Unfortunately, Border Terriers like to roll in nasty smells.

What age do Border Terriers stop growing?

A Border Terrier will reach its full size by 12 months. They will be 28-40cm in height and weigh 5.9-7.1kg. Their weight will continue to change depending on their diet and exercise. You should weigh your dog’s food to make sure you aren’t overfeeding them. They are greedy dogs that will continue to eat if given the chance.

So, is a Border Terrier right for you?

The cute Border Terrier is a tough breed despite their appearance. They’re not afraid to get dirty and love to go for a walk in all kinds of weather conditions. They have a long life expectancy and are a healthy breed. So, if you’re looking for a small but active companion, this breed could be the ideal fit for you.

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Vetstream Ltd (online) Border Terrier. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Brooks D E, Williams D L & Gould D (online) Retina: central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA). In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Heart murmurs in dogs Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Content provided from Vetstream's Vetlexicon Canis opens in new window

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