Border Terrier, Dog Breed of Terrier Group

A Border Terrier is a small, rough-coated dog breeds of the terrier group. Originally bred as fox and vermin hunters, Border Terriers share ancestry with Dandie Dinmont Terriers and Bedlington Terriers. Though the breed is much older, the Border Terrier was officially recognized by the The Kennel Club in Great Britain in 1920, and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930. In 2006, the Border Terrier ranked 81st in number of registrations by the AKC, while it ranked 10th in the United Kingdom

Border Terrier Appearance

Identifiable by their otter-shaped heads, Border Terriers have a broad skull and short, 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).

The Border Terrier has a double coat consisting of a short, dense, soft undercoat and harsh, wiry weather and dirt resistant, close-lying outer coat with no curl or wave. This coat usually requires hand stripping twice a year to remove dead hair. It then takes about eight weeks for the top coat to come back in. For some dogs, weekly brushing will suffice.

Border Terrier Temperament

Border Terriers is highly intelligent, even tempered but somewhat confrontational, stubborn & occasionally aggressive. Border Terriers generally get along well with other dogs; however, if they dislike another, they do not hesitate to start a fight and, as with most terriers, it can be difficult to stop them.

Border Terriers do well in task-oriented activities and have a surprising ability to jump high and run fast given the size of their legs. The dog 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, but appear less tractable if being taught mere tricks.

More recently a Border / Cairn Terrier cross breed, the Calhound Terrier has shown to have a much milder temperament whilst predominantly maintaining all of the physical characteristics of the Border Terrier.

Border Terriers 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.

Border Terriers can adapt to different environments and situations well, and are able to deal with temporary change well.

Border Terriers will get along well with cats they have been raised with, but may chase other cats and small animals such as mice, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and guinea pigs.

Border Terriers 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. They can be stubborn when they are tired and often require short breaks to sit and observe during long walks, it can be difficult to get them moving again!

Border Terrier Health

Border Terriers 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
  • Seizures
  • Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)

Border Terriers are also known to be sensitive to anaesthetics and slow to induce.

Due to their instinct to kill and consume smaller animals, Border Terriers often destroy, and sometimes eat, toys that are insufficiently robust. 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. They are strong-willed, very lively, and also like running.

Earthdog trials

Border Terriers have earned more American Kennel Club (AKC) Earthdog titles than any other terrier. An AKC earthdog test is not true hunting, but an artificial, non-competitive, exercise in which terriers enter 9 in (23 cm) wide smooth wooden tunnels, buried under-ground, with one or more turns in order to bark or scratch at caged rats that are safely housed behind wooden bars. The tests are conducted to determine that instinctive traits are preserved and developed, as the breed originators intended for the dogs to their work. While earthdog tests are not a close approximation of hunting, they are popular in the U.S. and in some European countries because even over-large Kennel Club breeds can negotiate the tunnels with ease, dogs can come to no harm while working, and no digging is required. Since Border Terriers are "essentially working terriers", many Border Terrier owners consider it important to test and develop their dogs' instinct. These tests also provide great satisfaction for the dogs. The American Working Terrier Association (AWTA) does conduct "trials"; where the dogs instincts are tested, and then judged to determine a "Best of Breed" Earthdog. These trials are also run similar as described above.

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