The Border Terrier In Real Life

Puppies are adorable but they grow up, fast. Make sure you’re ready!

What’s your lifestyle right now?

Things to think about: how many hours you spend away from home every day, how physically active and healthy you are, home and yard size, how tidy you keep your home, fenced yard, hobbies, if you have kids or pets, etc.

In a perfect world all potential dog owners would be independently wealthy or work from home, own a home with a privacy fenced yard, never travel, and have owned dogs before. In the real world not many people meet those criteria, and most dogs can be happy despite that. How does a dog fit into your lifestyle, if it does? What traits do you need in a dog for it to be a good fit?

Do you anticipate major lifestyle changes in the next 15 years?

Obviously you can’t predict the future but you can make some educated guesses and figure out if it’s fair to ask your dog to adapt to those changes. Will you downsize your home or move? Do you plan to travel more? Will you get married or have children? Will you have to work more hours or spend more time away from home? Are you planning to get other animals?

What are your wish list items?

You’ve figured out what you need; now you can think about what you want! If you could have the perfect dog, what would they be like? Things to consider: coat care, shedding, ease of training, compliance, activity level, activities you want to do with them, health, playfulness, friendliness, and so on. How does this dog look, feel, act, and react?

Are Border Terriers the perfect fit?

This is the last piece of the puzzle, and the most important! You know exactly what traits you want and need, making it pretty easy to determine if this is the right breed for you. Check out the resources below to learn more about the breed and meet as many Borders as possible. Expect some basic terrier instincts: independence, chasing, digging, and scrappiness.


My Experiences with BT’s

Here are some of my general observations, keeping in mind that even within a breed each dog is unique due to genetics and individual experiences.

  • Overall Activity: easily bored and needs regular exercise; do best with a daily walk and enjoy the occasional adventure
    • I don’t recommend dog parks due to health, behavioral, and safety concerns
  • Indoor Activity: calm with regular exercise otherwise may race around the house and rebound off of furniture (might do this anyway), high energy greetings with lots of jumping on people (it’s a short-dog thing)
  • Trainability: best trained using positive reinforcement, usually highly food and/or toy motivated, excellent work ethic and problem solving abilities
  • Compliance: independent, not reliable off leash, may become “deaf” or choose to do something else if they get bored/frustrated or discover something more fun, require a trainer with a sense of humor
  • Athletic Ability: extremely versatile, capable of everything from therapy work to Schutzhund
  • Cling Factor: want to spend every second with you but not neurotic about it, will follow you around the house; you’ll never go to the bathroom alone again
  • Barking: watchful at windows and may bark at stimuli
  • Weather: prefer cooler weather, need watchful management in hot weather
  • Coat: sheds year round, coarse
  • Hypoallergenic: no
  • Grooming: strip coat every 3-4 months, clip toenails and clean ears
  • Some things are so highly dependent on socialization, training, and individual personality that I’m reluctant to make broad generalizations. I suggest that, in general, Borders are polite but not effusive toward strangers, tolerate strange dogs, may respect cats, and will almost certainly kill rodents/birds.