The Border Terrier is of medium bone, slightly taller than long. Their long legs impart the speed, agility, and endurance necessary to follow a horse over all sorts of terrain, whereas their fairly narrow body allows them to squeeze through narrow passages in pursuit of a fox. Their gait displays good length of stride. Their coat consists of a short, dense undercoat covered by a very wiry, straight, somewhat broken outer coat, which should conform to the body. Their hide is very thick and loose fitting, affording protection. Borders are known for their distinctive otter head, and their alert expression matches their alert demeanor.
Perhaps the oldest of Britain’s terriers, the Border Terrier originated around the Cheviot Hills forming the border country between Scotland and England. The dog originated to chase and bolt (or remain underground and bark at) the fox that were considered a nuisance to farmers. The smallest of the long-legged terriers, the Border Terrier had to be fast enough to keep up with a horse yet small enough to go in after the fox once it had gone to ground.
The first evidence of these dogs dates from the eighteenth century. Their progenitors are unknown, although hey are probably related to the Dandie Dinmont and possibly Bedlington Terriers. The breed was once known as the Coquetdale Terrier or Redesdale Terrier, but the name Border Terrier, taken from the Border Hunt, was adopted in 1870. By this time, the breed had risen from its utilitarian roots to take a valued place alongside the Foxhounds in the gentry’s elegant foxhunts.
The first Border Terrier was shown in the 1870s. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1930. Less flashy than many other terriers, the Border continued to be better appreciated by patrons of the hunt than of the show ring.
Unlike many terriers, the breed has changed very little since it was recognized. In recent years, these dogs have experienced a rise in popularity and are fast becoming a fairly popular pet. They are especially popular in the United Kingdom, where they are among the ten most popular breeds.
The Border is one of the most amiable and tractable of the Terrier group. This breed is inquisitive, busy, friendly, and biddable. They do like to track and can be independent, ingredients that make for a dog that may tend to roam if given the chance. Borders are generally good with other dogs and cats, but not with small animals. They are very good with children and make a good companion for people of all ages. They dig, and some bark. Some are talented escape artists.
The Border likes activity and needs either a good walk on leash, a vigorous game session, or an off-lead expedition in a safe area every day. The harsh coat needs brushing weekly, plus stripping of dead hairs about four times yearly to maintain its clean outline.