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All about Border Terriers

The Border Terrier is typically a good-natured, energetic dog, and was originally bred to drive foxes out of their hiding places and out into the open for hounds to chase during fox hunts. Keeping up with hunters on horseback meant this little dog needed to have very high energy levels, and many within this breed still have a powerful drive to dig and hunt.

Border Terriers can be wonderful companions who love and play with all of their might, but their energetic nature can make them an aggravating pet for some owners. For more information about typical Border Terrier traits, read on!

It’s not difficult to figure out why Border Terriers have become such a popular breed. They’re very playful, and tend to make great family dogs because they’re great with kids. They were first bred during the 18th century in northeast England, near the border with Scotland. The Border Terrier’s position in fox hunting meant they were bred to have a flexible, lengthy, narrow body that could fit down foxholes, and long legs that could carry them at great speeds.

Breed Strengths


Just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies, dogs like Border Terriers, who were bred for jobs that require concentration, problem solving and intelligence (like hunting), need to exercise their brains. Chewing, digging and other projects you don’t necessarily like may become a problem if they don’t get the mental stimulation they need.

Dog careers and activities like search and rescue or agility training, as well as interactive dog toys and careful training, are good ways to give your Border Terrier’s brain a workout.

Friendly Toward Strangers

As an adult, dogs of any breed will respond better to strangers if they were exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes and shapes of people as a puppy. Stranger-friendly dogs like Border Terriers will greet guests with a nuzzle and a big dose of love, while many other breeds are more likely to be indifferent, unfriendly or nervous around people they don’t know. If you like to stop for a chat when you’re out on a walk with your dog, a Border Terrier will be fine with it.

Family Dog

Even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood, some breeds will remain aloof and reserved throughout their life. Border Terriers are not like this – they live to shower their whole family with affection and are likely to bond closely with their main human. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels. They will feel more comfortable with humans, of course, if they were raised inside a home around people.

If you want to bring one into your own home, it’s best to try and adopt, as some of these mixed breed dogs do end up in rescues and pounds. Border Terriers will get on especially well in a family that knows how to prevent them from practicing their skills as an escape-artist and is willing to give them all the exercise they need.

But it is worth noting that energetic family dogs like labradors and Border Terriers are a great companion for those looking to drop a few pounds, as they need a significant amount of exercise. Of course, you can only meet those exercise needs if you’ve taken the time to research the breed.

Health Notes

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

58.3% of pet cats are obese or overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and so are 52.5% of pet dogs. A higher potential for weight gain will be present in breeds like the Border Terrier, who tends to have a hearty appetite. In dogs, as in humans, being overweight can cause health problems. Rather than leaving food out all the time, if you adopt a Border Terrier who is at risk of packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise and measure out their daily kibble in regular meals.

Exercising with Your Dog

Adults in the UK are increasingly struggling with the risk of clinical obesity, to the point that a study by the WHO in 2018 found that the condition affects 28.1% of the population. Our pets seem to be struggling just as much. But this doesn’t need to be the case – with an energetic dog like a Border Terrier, you can exercise together to maintain a healthy weight.

If you want to know exactly what you’ll need to do when you bring your new dog home and avoid causing them health problems, such as obesity, it’s well worth putting in the work and research in advance. Exercising with your dog is great fun, and there are loads of different activities you can try.

A Border Terrier will need very regular exercise, thanks to their high energy levels.

Training Notes


Soft, fairly painless bites that don’t break the skin (play-bites), nipping and chewing – also known as “mouthiness” – are common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Border Terriers and retrievers at all ages. You’ll need to train them that it’s not alright to bite people, which they may try to do when they want to “herd” or get the attention of their human family members, byt that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys.

A chew toy that’s been stuffed with treats and food will be mentally stimulating and good for your Border Terrier’s teeth, and they’re likely to really enjoy a game of fetch.

For more information about building your relationship with man’s best friend, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Dog Training which explains why positive reinforcement works much better than the outdated, scientifically disproved harsh methods and takes you step by step through the important elements of training that ensure your dog will be a pleasure to live with.

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