Or, so you think you want a Border Terrier!

OK, so you’ve been doing some reading and researching (on the ‘net!) and are wondering if the Border Terrier is right for you and your family.  Unfortunately, not all of the information on the ‘net is accurate (where do those doggy quizzes get their information?!).  I hope I can help clarify the characteristics of the Border Terrier for you.

Whenever someone asks me about researching a breed, I tell them to look at what that breed was bred to do — it will affect how that dog behaves today.  The Border Terrier was bred to hunt fox and vermin, often following it’s prey into tunnels under ground.  (The word Terrier comes from the word “terra”, meaning “earth”.)  This means that they were bred to hunt independently of Man — so they like to do things their own way, in their own time, thinking for themselves.  A Border is not a dog that will cater to your whims; he/she works for food or prey — not necessarily your approval.  They are intelligent and trainable, but not “stick to your side and walk without a leash reliably” kind of trainable; they are NOT miniature Golden Retrievers.

Today’s Border Terrier is still a hunter: he excels at Earthdog, Barnhunt, Tracking and AWTA (American Working Terrier Association) trials.  No amount of training can take out what he was bred to do!

Because of this independent nature and natural prey drive, the Border Terrier must be kept on leash or inside secure fencing.  Your Border might be very well obedience trained, but he can suddenly become quite deaf to your commands when he has a rabbit, squirrel or the neighbor’s cat in his line of sight.  In hot pursuit of anything he considers “prey”, the chase could put him directly in the path of oncoming cars with a fatal accident quickly bringing his end.  Some Borders also bark a lot, especially when they SEE something nearby that they consider prey.

Some Borders are diggers, easily tunneling their way out of the typical chain-link or privacy fence.  It’s a good practice to secure the bottom of the fence with chicken wire, curved inward underground, with a layer of gravel and brick on top.

Once you have accepted and dealt with these safety issues, the Border is an outstanding family dog (my humble opinion!)  I think attendance in a good basic obedience class is of utmost importance for any breed of dog; it not only gives the dog important socialization  and training, but gives you bonding time with your dog.  The other important bonding time with your dog is grooming; again, more is necessary than those generic dog sites suggest!  Borders must be hand-stripped to keep that neat appearance; you can expect to spend 90 minutes every 3 weeks grooming.  It isn’t difficult, but it is a skill to be learned — and most professional groomers do not hand-strip, they CLIP, so count on grooming your dog YOURSELF.  And — Borders do shed; minimally, but they are not a truly non-shedding dog like a Poodle!

Digger (Ch. Ketka’s Call Before You Dig, CD) at age 12, waits for his “mom” to take him kayaking.
Madeline dresses up for a party!

Borders make great Agility dogs, too!

Basically, Borders like doing whatever their people are

doing, and want to be a part of your life!  They are a

very “hands on” breed, needing time and training —

all in a safe environment involving fencing or leashes!