It’s All About (The) Should you Get a Border Terrier?
The Border terrier is a wonderful breed for families. It was originally bred in England as a fox hunting dog. It took its name from becoming an essential part of the team in the famous Border Hunt in Northumberland.
But before you run out to get a border terrier, you need to learn more about this impressive breed. In this overview, you’ll learn about its physical and personality traits as well as get important information about caring for, training, and grooming a border terrier.
Border Terrier Characteristics
This breed was originally meant to help hunt foxes but later, it was also used to hunt badgers and otters as well as kill rodents. This history has led to some very unique physical and personality traits.
Border Terrier Physical Traits
They have a muscular, broad body and head paired with very long legs. It was this physical makeup that gave them the legs they needed to keep up with the horses during hunts but the small stature they need to dig down into fox holes and scare out the foxes.
As for the basic traits, an adult border terrier will weigh somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds. And they will grow to be about 10-11 inches tall at the shoulder. Their fur is short, rough and usually a tan or reddish tone with speckles of grey, blue, or black. With a double coat, they can shed more than some other breeds but it is manageable.
Border Terrier Personality Traits
As with many hunting dogs, border terriers can be a little bit on the stubborn or strong willed side. With that said, they definitely are not very aggressive and they are great with children.
Because of this Border terrier temperament and their instinct to hunt smaller creatures, you will want to be careful if you have any smaller pets like cats or rodents. They are unlikely to cause any serious harm but they may chase them around which can cause stress for your other pets.
If that could be a concern for you, it is something that you can train your border terrier to stop doing. More importantly, once they have gotten used to the cat, they will get along fine. And they do have many other wonderful qualities that make them well worth considering even if you might worry about your smaller pets.
They are very intelligent and love to please their owners which is the perfect combination for training. They learn tricks and commands very easily but will always retain some independence which is actually nice to have in a dog for some people.
For example, their independence makes them very comfortable with adapting to new environments and situations well. They are unlikely to suffer from separation anxiety or become nervous around new people or new places. It is also because of this that training a border terrier as a therapy dog is quite common.
Border Terrier Care & Grooming
Grooming and caring properly for your border terrier is important just as it is with any other pet. One of the biggest questions a potential pet owner will ask is “do border terriers shed?” As a short haired breed, the answer is yes. Short haired breeds tend to shed more in general. However, the good news is the Border terrier sheds less relative to other short haired breeds but they definitely do shed. That is an easy enough problem to manage though. Just follow these tips:
- Brush them once per week.
- Twice per year, do a heavy duty brushing that removes the bottom coat so that it can regrow.
- Trim fur every 2-3 months (unless you prefer a slightly longer coat length).
As you can see, they are not especially high maintenance when it comes to grooming.
Border Terrier Health Issues
All breeds come with their own unique health risks and issues. This is a natural side effect of pure breeding. You can minimize these risks by getting a mixed breed but if they do have Border terrier genes, there are still some conditions you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
The most important health issues to watch out for include:
- Heart defects
- Canine Eplieptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Juvenile Cataracts
- Perthes Disease
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
With those conditions in mind, a border terrier is likely to live an average about 12 to 15 years. To keep them healthy, make sure they get at least one 30 minute walk per day. A full 60 minutes of activity (either vigorous playing or walking) would be ideal but they need a bare minimum of 30 minutes per day.
Feeding Border Terrier
Different breeds have different dietary needs. And to make it even more complicated, different dogs of the same breed will have different dietary needs. Here are some guidelines to make feeding a little less stressful:
- Aim for about 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 cups of quality dry food per day. Divide this into 2 separate meals—one in the morning and one in the evening. They may need more or less depending on their activity level.
- Do not do free feeding. Some owners just leave the food out so their dog can eat whenever they want. This will likely lead to obesity unless they are leading a very active lifestyle.
- Go for high quality. Avoid foods that use corn or soy fillers as the main ingredient. Look for quality protein rich recipes with moderate amounts of fat.
These guidelines should help keep your dog in peak health throughout their life. But always keep an eye on their weight to make sure they aren’t over or underweight.
Training Border Terriers
Border terriers are eager to please and very smart. This can be a great help in the Border terrier training process. However, they can also be very independent and on the stubborn side which can slow the process down a bit. Successful training should follow these general guidelines:
- Patience. At the beginning of every training process, you will have to deal with a lot of sessions that feel like you’re getting nowhere. Even if your dog doesn’t seem to be getting it down right away, stick with it. Results will come.
- Combine positive and negative reinforcement. This is the best option for border terriers who are eager to learn but can also be stubborn. The positive reinforcement (rewards) encourage and motivate them to learn while the negative reinforcement (punishment) will help manage their stubborn tendencies.
- Consistency. Not only do you have to be patient, you have to really stick with it. Stick to the same method and the same schedule day in and day out. Use the same commands, the same rewards, and the same punishments every time. This will make it easier for them to figure out the pattern and learn what you are trying to teach.
Using the guidelines above and other training resources, you will definitely be able to train your border terrier to obey basic commands. But border terriers are also great for teaching fun tricks as well because they love learning new tasks and skills!
Costs & Buying Tips
Buying a pure bred from one of the Border terrier breeders is one of the ways to assure that you are getting a certified pure bred animal. However, there are some important things to note if you’re planning to go with a breeder:
Puppy mills are a real and dangerous risk. Make sure that if you go with a breeder, you go with a real, proper breeder who provides a healthy, happy home for the dogs before they go to you. Never buy from a breeder without first seeing the place where the dogs live. Here are some more tips for making sure that the breeder you are considering is not actually running a puppy mill.
Breeders are expensive. Getting a certified purebred costs a lot of money. Expect to pay somewhere between $1000 and $3000 for a puppy. So you need to decide how important it really is that your dog is officially certified as purebred. This is really only important if you plan to become a breeder yourself or you plan on taking this dog to shows. For a family pet, an uncertified or mixed breed will make a perfectly wonderful pet.
With those points in mind, you should absolutely look into Border terrier rescue dogs. Many people who don’t do their research end up buying a Border terrier puppy and then deciding later that they aren’t up to the responsibility. You can save that abandoned pup’s life by bringing into your family. Here are some of the many benefits of choosing to get a rescue.
A brand new Border terrier puppy or adult can be a great addition to a family home. But make sure you are willing to invest the time in taking your new pet out for walks and spending quality time with them. If you have the time for them, they will be one of the best pets you could ever own!