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Border Terrier

Our guide to the breed

Border Terrier

My ideal owner | Exercise | Temperament | Health | Appearance | Cost | History

Key facts

Height: 25cm – 28cm

Weight: 5 – 7 kg

Life Expectancy: 13 – 14 years

Exercise Needs: Medium

About Border Terriers

Hey there! I’m a Border Terrier. I’m a confident pup who loves to play and explore. I’ve got strong instincts to chase so small furry creatures had better watch out! I love my humans and like nothing more than when we’re out on a walk together or playing with my toys.

My ideal owner

I’m a rambunctious pup, so I need a family with a bit of experience owning dogs. They’ll need to be fairly active to make sure I get all my daily exercise – otherwise I’ll get bored and make my own entertainment that you might not like! I’m an intelligent dog, and with the right motivation and a little persistence you’ll be able to get me well trained in no time. I’d love a home with a garden, especially if I get my own special digging spot.

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Active lifestyle

Experienced dog owner icon

Experienced dog owners

Home with a garden icon

A home with a garden

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Committed to training


There’s all sorts of personalities amongst Border Terriers – some of us are friendly, whilst others are more shy, some of us are independent whilst others are reliant. It all comes down to our experiences, especially in our early years.

On the whole though, we’re known for being confident and fearless little pups. We need lots of motivation when being trained, otherwise we might get bored and decide to do our own thing instead!

Border Terrier temperament scales

Exercise needs


I may be little, but I’ve got lots of energy for a small pup. My daily walks are a must and playtime throughout the day will keep me from getting bored. If you want to get creative with my exercise routine, I love earthdog trials – it’s what I was bred for! I also excel at other canine sports, like agility, thanks to my tenacity and energy.

Did you know that understanding your dog’s exercise needs is now easier than ever?

Find out why thousands of dog owners are already using PitPat to keep their dog happy and healthy


I’m a robust pup, but like all purebred dogs there are a few conditions that I might be more prone to. Many can be tested for so if you’re buying a puppy make sure that the parents have been checked where possible.

What is a luxating patella?

A luxating patella is a medical term for a slipping kneecap. This can happen as a result of certain ligaments being misaligned.

How is it diagnosed?

If your dog has a bow-legged stance or occasional limping, they may be suffering from luxating patella. A vet will carry out an initial physical exam and, if necessary, refer your dog to an orthopaedic specialist. They may then carry out diagnostic imaging, such as a CT and MRI scan, to establish the extent of movement in the affected joint.

What is the treatment for a luxating patella?

Treatment for a luxating patella depends on the severity of the issue. Treatments include:

  • Weight management
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercise programs
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • Surgery

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is SLEM?

SLEM, also known as shaking puppy syndrome, is an inherited condition affecting the central nervous system. It typically affects puppies at 2 or 10 weeks of age.

The condition can mean the affected puppies may have difficulty feeding, requiring careful, hands on nursing from the breeder.

 How is it diagnosed?

Affected puppies will begin to show signs of shaking puppy syndrome at 2 weeks of age, with some showing signs at 10 weeks. 

The puppy will display severe tremors. These are recognisable by the side-to-side wagging of the read end or uncoordinated wagging of the tail and body. They usually stop whilst the puppy is asleep.

Sadly, many puppies with SLEM will be put to sleep because of welfare concerns. However, some are able to grow up thanks to careful, hands on nursing from breeders and owners. These dogs often grow up to be normal and healthy as adults.

DNA screening tests are available for affected breeds.

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is canine epileptoid cramping syndrome?

CECS is an inherited condition affecting Border Terriers, also known as Spike’s Disease. It causes your dog to have seizure-like episodes of varying severity, with the dog remaining conscious throughout. These are often triggered by excitement or stress.  

How is it diagnosed?

CECS has a range of symptoms that vary in severity. Owners who spot any of the symptoms below should consult a vet for a diagnosis.

  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to stand
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Gut noises and flatulence
  • Loose stools before of after the episode, occasionally tinged with mucus or blood

Your vet will be able to confirm the diagnosis. They may ask you to video an episode to assist with this.

What are the treatments for CECS?

There are a few treatments that your vet may recommend, based on your dog’s specific needs. This includes:

  • A gluten free diet
  • Medication to treat the cramps and intestinal symptoms

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

What is canine gallbladder mucocele?

Canine gallbladder mucocele is a disease in which thick mucus accumulates in the lumen, resulting in an enlarged gallbladder. 

How is it diagnosed?

There are a number of symptoms for the disease. Your dog may show some or none of the symptoms, depending on the severity of their individual condition. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Low energy levels
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Fever
  • Abdominal distension
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Collapse from septic shock

If you notice any of these symptoms you should consult your vet as soon as possible. They will usually conduct an ultrasound examination, and sometimes run blood and urine tests.

What are the treatments for canine gallbladder mucocele?

Treatments for this condition depend on the severity of the individual case. They can include:

  • Medication to manage symptoms
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgical removal of the gallbladder

*This information should not be considered to be veterinary advice. Please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

Get your dog’s tailored exercise goal by downloading the free PitPat app


One off costs


This includes the average cost of a puppy, and all the gear they will need, like their collar, bed and grooming tools.

Ongoing costs

£21 per week | £92 per month | £1104 per year

This includes your ongoing costs such as insurance, food, toys, and standard veterinary care, but not dog sitting, training or veterinary costs not covered by insurance.


I’ve got the look of a working terrier through and through. From my sturdy, agile body, to my wiry, dense coat, I’m ready for days spent going to ground or exploring the outdoors.

I come in a few main colours – red, wheaten, grizzle and tan or blue and tan. I don’t need a lot of maintenance, but daily brushing is essential to keep me clean and happy. Many of my owners will send me to a professional groomer a couple of times a year so I can hand stripped – that means removing the dead parts of the topcoat to keep my coat thin and looking smart.

I don’t shed much and produce very little dander, making me a good choice for mild allergy sufferers. You’ll need to make sure you keep my coat in tip top condition to make sure I don’t start triggering your allergies.

I may be small, but I’m certainly well built for the task I was bred for. I have a long body and short, stout muzzle. My tail is also short, but it doesn’t stop me wagging it at every opportunity!

Border Terrier Silhouette




Grizzle and Tan

Blue and Tan

Grooming needs

Twice yearly hand stripping

Daily brush

Bath only when necessary


Yes, depending on the severity of your allergy.


Us Border Terriers originated in Northumberland in the 18th century. We were created by farmers to keep control of the populations of foxes who posed a risk to their livestock.

We became particularly popular with the Border Hunt, a fox hunting group in Northumberland. We were bought along to flush the foxes from their underground lairs or bark loudly underground indicating where to dig for the other dogs.

We had to be able to keep up with the horses and hounds on the hunt and be able to get along with the bigger dogs in the pack. Our energetic and amiable nature is still apparent in us today, making us fantastic earthdog competitors and, of course, beloved family pets.

Border Terrier

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