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Over the last decade, there have been an increasing number of small dogs finding their way into people’s homes and hearts, according to the AKC. Terriers are among that group and are once again becoming popular.Terrier is derived from the word terra, meaning earth. Terriers are energetic with vivacious personalities. The diversity within the group is vast from the small Cairn to the large Airedale and includes 28 breeds recognized by the AKC and other breeds not yet recognized or in another group.
One of the lesser-known terriers, the Border Terrier, is rising through the ranks in the U.S. based on AKC dog registrations. The Border Terrier originated along the border of Scotland and England in the eighteenth century. They descended from an old line of working terriers that gave way to other terrier breeds including the Dandie Dinmont, Lakeland, and Bedlington. They were bred to hunt vermin and bolt foxes. Until recently, they were paired with Otterhound packs to hunt otters.
The Border Terrier’s otter-shaped head and bushy muzzle distinguish the breed. They are a small breed with a sturdy build. The standard gives weights of 13 and 15.5 pounds for males and 11 and 14 pounds for females, but most Borders weigh between 14 to 18 lbs. Their narrow build allows them to fit into small spaces necessary for going into dens.
Border Terrier coat colors are typically grizzle and tan, but can also come in red, wheaten, and blue and tan. They have a double coat, which consists of a coarse outer coat that is resistant to dirt and weather and a soft, dense undercoat. The coat requires stripping two to three times a year to remove dead hair and weekly brushing.
The breed is an intelligent one, with a desire to please, though often strong-willed and independent. Border Terriers do well when engaged in task-oriented activities and have excelled in sports including agility and Earthdog trials. While they are even tempered, their instinct to hunt may not be for everyone. An active breed, they require daily activity. They do well with cats if raised with them from a young age, but may not do well with other pets such as ferrets or guinea pigs.
Border Terriers are a hardy breed and usually long-lived. Health problems can include canine epileptoid cramping syndrome, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, cardiac problems, and juvenile cataracts. All pups should have had a pediatric cardiac exam from the breeder’s veterinarian. Owners should purchase pups from breeders who health test the parents and record the results in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database.
Border Terriers are a versatile breed making great working dogs and wonderful companions. With their drive to hunt, they may be prone to chewing, destroying toys, and other destructive behavior. With the right amount of exercise and training, this may not be the case. Many would be happy hunting vermin or just spending time in the house cuddled on the couch with their owner.