An inherent working breed, the Border Terrier was first developed in the early 18th century in the Cheviot Hills, situated on the border of Scotland and England. Primarily bred for the purpose of flushing out and killing foxes that were attacking the farmer's livestock, the Border Terrier derived its name in 1880 when it was utilised alongside the Border Foxhounds. Highly valued for its willingness and stamina, the Border Terrier rose to tremendous popularity in the century, also hunting otters, badgers and vermin. Despite its old lineage, the Border Terrier was only officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1920.
Boasting a rustic, working appearance, the breed is easily identified. Characteristic traits include a medium-sized, sturdy build, a proportioned head, body and legs, small 'drop' ears and a black nose. The wiry double coat is commonly coloured wheaten, blue, tan, grizzle, red and white, which may have aided the breed's camouflage in the outland terrains of the border. The weatherproof coat will have protected the dog as it worked the volatile landscape, burrowing into fox dens through mud and bracken. The head of the Border Terrier is often likened to that of an otter.
An intelligent and curious breed, it is not uncommon for the Border Terrier to attempt an escape, often appearing stubborn and disobedient when left to its own devices. When shown firm leadership, consistent training and early socialisation, the Border Terrier is an affectionate, loyal and mannered breed, displaying a relaxed and friendly temperament that makes for an ideal companion. Compatible with children and other house dogs when introduced gradually, the Border Terrier is well suited to active family life or a dedicated sole owner, providing its needs for human companionship and regular exercise are met. On average, a healthy Border Terrier will weigh 5-7 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years, although it is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy.
The Border Terrier is generally very healthy and long-lived, susceptible to no serious breed-specific diseases. However, as with most canine breeds, there are documented cases of hip dysplasia, skin allergies, optical disorders and epilepsy. One genetic affliction identified in the breed is 'Spike's Disease,' a painful cramping disorder that will require treatment. Behavioural problems are often associated with the smaller breeds, including the Border Terrier.