Primarily a working dog, the tough little Border Terrier is able to keep pace with a horse despite its relative small stature. It takes its name from the area in which it was originally bred long before it became known to the rest of the world; the border region between England and Scotland.
In this hill area where farms were widely scattered, the Border Terrier proved his worth by disposing of the hill foxes, who preyed on poultry, sheep and newborn calves. Undaunted by rain and inclement weather because of its double covering – a dense, wiry coat over a thick undercoat – the Border would spend days on end in this damp, cold countryside. Running for long hours and distances behind a mounted hunter, the dog had to be light and leggy enough so that it would not tire too quickly. This little dog, with its endurance and spirit, summoned up enough energy after running the fox down to boldly attack it, even if the quarry had managed to take refuge underground in its lair. Patient, even obstinate, its small size an advantage, the Border Terrier would remain alert near the foxhole, waiting as long as was necessary to trip the prey in his powerful jaws and finish the job.
Fanciers of this reliable dog were pleased that it was not quite as elegant as some of its showier relatives. Many breeders were upset when the British Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1920. They were fearful that breeders would prettify and change this little character and diminish its grit and stamina. Their fears were unfounded; the breed has remained game and still is able to follow a horse all day, if necessary.
With its highly social character, the Border Terrier today, is a much sought-after companion animal.