The Border Terrier is a small, rough-coated breed of dog of the terrier group. Originally bred as fox and vermin hunters, Border Terriers share ancestry with Dandie Dinmont Terriers
Identifiable by their otter-shaped heads, Border Terriers have a broad skull and short (although many are fairly long), strong muzzle with a scissors bite. The V-shaped ears are on the sides of the head and fall towards the cheeks. Common coat colors are grizzle-and-tan, blue-and-tan, red, or wheaten. Whiskers are few and short. The tail is naturally moderately short, thick at the base and tapering.
Narrow-bodied and well-proportioned, males stand 13 to 16 in (33 to 41 cm) at the shoulder, and weigh 13 to 15.5 lb (5.9 to 7.0 kg); females 11 to 14 in (28 to 36 cm) and 11.5 to 14 pounds (5.2 to 6.4 kg). They are very versatile in families and as family pets.
Though sometimes stubborn and strong willed, border terriers are, on the whole very even tempered, and are friendly and rarely aggressive. They are very good with children, but may chase cats and any other small pets.
Borders do well in task-oriented activities and have a surprising ability to jump high and run fast given the size of their legs. The breed has excelled in agility training, but they are quicker to learn jumps and see-saws than weaving poles. They take training for tasks very well, and are extremely trainable, and capable of learning tricks quickly and competently. The border in recent years has been bred to harbor a more subtle character so are more adaptable to apartment living if properly exercised.
They are intelligent and eager to please, but they retain the capacity for independent thinking and initiative that were bred into them for working rats and fox underground. Their love of people and even temperament make them fine therapy dogs, especially for children and the elderly, and they are occasionally used to aid the blind or deaf. From a young age they should be trained on command.
Borders can adapt to different environments and situations well, and are able to deal with temporary change well. They will get along well with cats that they have been raised with, but may chase other cats and small animals such as mice, birds, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and guinea pigs.
Borders love to sit and watch what is going on. Walks with Borders will often involve them sitting and lying in the grass to observe the environment around them.
Borders are a generally hardy breed, though there are certain genetic health problems associated with them, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Perthes disease
- Various heart defects
- Juvenile cataracts
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)
A UK Kennel Club survey puts their median lifespan at 14 years.
Indigestion resulting from eating a toy can cause the appearance of illness. Typical symptoms include lethargy, unwillingness to play, a generally 'unhappy' appearance, lack of reaction to affection, and inability or unwillingness to sleep. These symptoms are generally very noticeable, however, they are also present just prior to Border Terrier bitches being on heat.