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Breed Priorities – The Border Terrier

274 – August, 2013 (click here for full digital article)

By Nikki Riggsbee

The Border Terrier experts emphasized time and again that this breed is a working terrier, and that the important characteristics were those that support that activity. Some experts expressed doubts that this survey could identify the important features of Border Terriers, that individual virtues and faults could not be ranked to help reach the whole dog.

Most students of a breed build up their image of the whole, correct dog of any breed step by step. Part of the education is learning what is most important and what can be forgiven. Evaluation is different and more difficult than just describing the perfect dog. Evaluation is a process of making choices, and students learn to make better ones when they learn the choices that experts would make. It can be hard to analyze your own thought processes, to identify why you value one dog above another that is very close in quality. Yes, the perfect dog has all the critical virtues and none of the serious faults. But there are very few perfect dogs, if any. In the meantime, we have to put them in order.

Twenty-five Border Terrier experts were invited to complete the survey on which this article was based; almost all were judges. Twenty-two of the group agreed to participate. Fourteen surveys were returned, which is almost sixty percent of the original list. The participants averaged almost thirty-five years in the breed and over seventeen years judging it. Three-quarters had judged the national specialty and other Border Terrier specialty shows.


The survey included two lists, one of faults and one of virtues. The genesis of this portion of the survey is at the end of the AKC Irish Wolfhound standard, where there is a “List of Points in Order of Merit.” Below is the list of Border Terrier virtues in sequence by the average of the experts’ ranks, from most important to least important.

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