How to Care for a Border Terrierby Alice Moon
Border terriers are working dogs, bred to protect stock and hunt in the field. They are small dogs, weighing 10 to 15 pounds, with muscular builds and a wiry coat. Border terriers are friendly and easy to train, and make good companion animals and watchdogs. Spirited and affectionate, but not needy, they are good family dogs. Like all working breeds, these energetic little terriers require plenty of attention and activities, daily exercise, and an escape-proof fenced yard. The coat requires regular brushing and occasional stripping to keep it in shape.
Health and Feeding
Familiarize yourself with the health issues that sometimes affect the breed. Genetic diseases known to affect border terriers include hip dysplasia; patellar luxation, which can cause lameness in the affected leg; heart defects, particularly pulmonic stenosis and heart murmurs; hypothyroidism; seizures; malocclusions, or misalignment of the jaws; and undescended testicles. Take your border terrier for regular visits to his veterinarian for health checkups and to establish a vaccination schedule.
Be alert to changes in your pet’s behavior that may signal a health problem. Border terriers have a high pain threshold and are quiet and withdrawn when ill, according to the DogTime website.
Feed up to 1 3/8 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day over two meals. Adjust the quantity according to your pet’s individual needs and condition. Border terriers are prone to weight issues. Look at him when you measure his feed, to determine whether he is gaining or losing weight. Feel his body to determine whether you can feel his ribs easily. You should be able to feel them, but not see them. Your border terrier should have fresh water available at all times.
Exercise and Training
Handle your dog early and frequently to get him used to receiving care. Start his training immediately when you get him, using positive reinforcement. Avoid harsh forms of correction. Border terriers are intelligent but independent dogs, meaning they learn well but may sometimes choose to ignore commands. Proper training is essential to your dog's well-being, safety, and his ability to fit smoothly into the family.
Train your border terrier to the leash, keep him on leash, and be alert to his behavior when you take him for excursions, as this breed is courageous and tends to dart off. Your dog could run into a variety of hazards while chasing a small animal. Be aware of your border terrier's body language. The dogs tend to carry their tails high when alerted, an early signal that your pet may be about to act. Border terriers that have escaped their boundaries are at risk of being struck by a car. Border terriers are friendly and will approach strangers, putting them at risk of being taken.
Socialize your border terrier early to people and dogs. Once he has had all of his vaccinations, take him with you as much as possible when you go places, and allow him to learn about the larger world. Border terriers sometimes show aggression toward other dogs. It is important that your pet is socialized from the start, so he will know how to get along properly with other dogs. Reconsider choosing this breed if you have small pets, especially rodents. Border terriers do not live well with cats and will hunt small pets.
Prepare your yard and your home for your border terrier. The Border Terrier Club UK website refers to these small dogs as “escape artists.” They jump and climb fences, scramble through small holes, and dig -- part of their heritage of pursuing small animals in their burrows. Because of their ingenuity, you need high, sound fencing. The Border Terrier Club UK also recommends attaching wire mesh to the bottom of the fence, then burying the mesh, to prevent your dog from digging underneath. Give your border terrier a wire dog crate that will be his secure place in your home and when you travel with him. This will be a familiar and comfortable place where he can stay any time he needs to be secured.
Exercise your border terrier vigorously for at least a half-hour daily to promote general health and weight control. Keep him active and engaged to reduce negative behaviors such as barking and digging, and to provide him a happy life of involvement with you. .Agility and obedience trials are excellent forms of exercise for this breed, and border terriers also enjoy flyball. Their high endurance makes them good running companions; they are built to keep pace with horses. If you run with your border terrier, keep the activity to the cool hours, carry water, keep him safely on-leash, and check the condition of his feet often for signs of damage.
Brush your border terrier at least weekly. Coat length varies across the breed, and brushing frequency depends in part on your dog’s coat type. Typically, border terriers are thick-skinned, with a wiry topcoat over a dense undercoat.
Bathe your border terrier infrequently, only to remove stubborn odors or heavy, caked-on dirt. Otherwise, dry-brush him, then wipe him down with a damp cloth, to preserve the oils and weatherproof properties of his coat. Use dog shampoo and work it into the undercoat when you bathe him. Follow up with more frequent brushing in the days following bathing, to help distribute new oils throughout his coat.
Perform any grooming before you bathe your pet; loose hairs will wash away in the bath, allowing better penetration with the shampoo, and it will be easier to grasp the hair for removal by stripping.
Strip your dog’s coat every two to six months if he is full-coated -- meaning he has both a wiry overcoat and an undercoat. Stripping removes dead and dying hair from the top coat and gives your border terrier a neatly groomed, rather than a shaggy, appearance. Leaving the coat natural is a matter of preference, but stripping reduces heavy shedding. Single-coated border terriers do not need stripping.
Seek professional instruction before attempting stripping. After you learn the basics, you can perform the task yourself. Use a stripping comb or knife, a bristle brush and a fine comb for the job. Stripping takes several same-day sessions. It and won’t hurt your dog, but it's best to keep the sessions short and pleasant.
Items You Will Need
- High fencing
- Wire mesh
- Dog crate
- Dog bowls
- Chew toys
- Bristle brush
- Dog shampoo
- Stripping comb or knife
- Fine comb
- Opinions regarding clipping of border terriers vary, but organizations such as the Border Terrier Club of America recommend against it. Clipping reduces the weather-resistant nature of your dog’s coat, may cause the coat to lose some of its color, and does not remove hairs vulnerable to shedding. It is difficult to restore a coat once it has been clipped. Clipping does result in a softer coat.
- Border terriers will bond with a single owner, but they are also good with families and children. Supervise your dog around very young children, and teach children in your home proper behavior around dogs.
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Border Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Border Terrier History
- DogTime.com: Border Terrier
- Border Terrier Club UK: About the Breed: Is the Border Terrier the Right Dog for You and Your Family?
- North American Border Terrier Welfare: About Border Terriers
- East Anglia Border Terrier Club: Grooming a Border Terrier
- border terrier image by Edsweb from Fotolia.com