Prior to the Mid-nineteenth century, the background breeding of the working terriers native to the country bordering the Cheviot Hills in the north of England was so intermingled it is impossible to trace the history of a particular breed farther back than this. And while they now bear little resemblance to one another, it is thought that the Dandie Dinmont, Bedlington, Lakeland, and Border Terriers share the same ancestry. Each has been developed along different lines but all were essentially hard-working terriers used to control the fox population that preyed on livestock.
The birthplace of the Border is considered to be the Northumberland valley of Coquetdale, an area renowned for its terriers. At one time the breed was known as the Coquetdale Terrier. Another local terrier, the now extinct white Redesdale, is thought to be a common ancestor of the Dandie, Bedlington, and Border. As evidence, terrier authorities cite the occasional Border puppy that carries the distinctive topknot and the occurrence of puppies born with white feet and white chest markings.
In 1880 the name Border Terrier took preference over all the local names by which the breed had been known probably because the breed was a favourite hunt terrier and worked with packs of Border Foxhounds. Credit for standardizing type, draughting the first breed standard, and helping to obtain official recognition for the breed belongs to three hunt masters whose families had been associated with working terriers for generations. In 1920 the Border Terrier Club was formed, and shortly thereafter The Kennel Club (England) added this breed to its official list.
For a time a group of breed fanciers were angered that the Border had been elevated to the ranks of the show dog, fearing that such prettifying would be the ruination of the working terrier. However, the Border has remained sturdy and natural, able if need be to run with the hounds all day. The breed’s most distinctive feature is its head which resembles that of an otter.
The Border Terrier was first registered in Canada in the years 1929 -1930.