Border Terriers are energetic, intelligent, alert, and usually friendly dogs. As with other dogs in the Terrier group, they are known for their hunting ability, and with their keen sense of smell may participate in earthdog trials. Other dog sports such as agility, tracking, flyball, rally, and standard obedience as sport can provide physical and mental stimulation while increasing the dog's bond with its family. Border Terriers are commonly quite food motivated which facilitates learning and training, also furthering the dog's bond to the family. While Border Terriers seem to be good with children, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the dog and its developing fear-based defensive aggression. Traits derived from the breed's hunting background that can impair a Border Terrier's bonding include chasing or hunting small pets (including outdoor cats) or wildlife, being difficult to disengage from an activity or behavior, barking, and digging.
The Border Terrier can be traced to the early eighteenth century in the border lands that separate England and Scotland. Farmers were using a scrappy little dog for ratting in the barn and to help hunt the hill foxes that preyed on the young lambs in the area. Border Terriers also proved to be helpful with the hunting of otter, rabbit and badger. When hunters went after a fox, the Border Terrier would accompany them and would chase the fox down into its den and the tunnels below the ground. Hunters would be able to tell exactly where the Border Terrier was by listening for its bark, which could be heard above ground even though the dog was underneath. Over time the breed became popular as a family pet in Europe and America.