Do Border Terriers feel the cold

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In the past I have mentioned how Border Terriers in hot weather really do not cope that well at all. Well, at least my Indy doesn’t – he gets like lethargic and almost lifeless.

Today, based on my experience with Indy, I would like to tell how Border Terriers cope in cold weather.


Why talk about Border Terriers in cold weather

I don’t know about you, but whenever searching for information about if and how Border Terriers cope in cold weather, I never come across anything much, other than the all important forums, where Border owners exchange their experience.

As there is so much information about Border Terriers in hot weather, but nothing much regarding their behaviour during the cold spells, I thought of sharing my experience with Indy so far.

The long and short of it is that Indy copes with cold weather much better than in the hotter months of the year. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t feel the cold. Because Indy does feel the cold now as much as when he was younger!


Border Terriers and blankets

Like all Border Terriers, my Indy is extremely partial to blankets, duvet, bed spreads and anything remotely cuddling and warm. Even in the warmer months, Indy will prefer to sleep on a pile of old blankets rather than on a tidy pillow.

Indy on blankets
Indy, sofa and blankets are the ideal combination

Remember that with blankets or old bedspreads, Borders can ‘rearrange their bedding’ as we like to call it – or rather, they can start digging in their pile of blankets imitating their hunting technique as if they were digging for vermin or foxes in the open. They need blankets to fulfill their natural instinct.

However, in the colder months Indy likes to have far more blankets than in the hot weather. And that’s no surprise, no big deal, you’ll tell me – if we humans feel colder, why shouldn’t a small dog like a Border? (and apologies to my beloved Borders, who I am sure would not appreciate at all to be addressed to as ‘small’ #lol)

Yet, that doesn’t mean that Borders do not like the cold weather.


Borders embrace the colder weather

Borders, especially when young, embrace the challenges posed by colder months. If a spell of snow may catch us cursing the bad weather in the morning when our car is stuck in the drive, Borders are not fazed off by biting temperatures or snowy conditions.

I remember when Indy was younger, he enjoyed running and frolicking in the snow with my son (also young at the time). And I remember as if it was yesterday when we used to have invigorating walks in the woods again after a spell of snow.

Now age 13, Indy hasn’t shown a great deal of enthusiasm about rolling himself in the snow – even because it hasn’t snowed as such in the part of UK I live for the last few winters. But Indy still finds energetic to have walks in colder weather. His pace gets brisker, but does not put him off from his regular walks or from exploring new routes.

Still, when the cold becomes pungent, or if it does rain, Indy will ‘tell’ me he is not interested in big walks, as he will keep wanting to U turn on the way back home. And this happens particularly if I try to give him his walk when dusk is drawing in and the air gets more pungent.


Borders and jumpers

This is more subjective to the favours of the individual dog than to the whole breed of Borders. Based on my Indy’s preferences, I would say that Borders are actually not that keen on been dressed up.

When cold, indoors Indy will like to be wrapped up in blankets and duvets, but outside he finds coats or jumpers restrictive of his movements. In the course of the years, I have tried getting Indy different types of coats and different sizes of jumpers for Indy. And admittedly at times he has humored me – but you could read his looks of indignancy that he had to put up with such humiliation, that in the end he would win that battle.

Nevertheless, I often see on social media the most endearing pictures of Borders wearing knitted jumpers or really cool coats, which turn them into proper canine country gentlemen – a lot of them remind me of a canine Sherlock Holmes, bar the lack of pipe and renowned hat.

If you are one of those very good Border handler, who can manage to put lovely jumpers or even boots on their dogs and to get them to sit long enough to be able to take their picture, by all means leave your comment below and post a picture of your lovely Border or of any other dog. It would be absolutely grand to be able to share winter pictures of our beloved fur babies 🙂

Indy in jumber
I can’t exactly say that Indy likes to wear jumpers, or any other garment for all that matter. That’s the pride of being a Border!!

Our Indy will only agree to wear his favourite yellow coat when the weather gets really bitter. And the reason, I think, is yes, because coats or other garments of wear get in his way of being busy when walking, or just in case he may have to break to the chase of potential squirrels or cats. But it is more than that. I think for my Indy, and for some Borders, clothes are not needed as Borders are … well, they are Borders – they were born and bred, and live, by their creed and mission: the one of being sturdy small dogs, prepared to take on the whole world on and to get on with their job of reminding the neighbouring dogs, cats and any other animals that they and they only rule.

In a way, it is easier to spot when your Border is truly cold when they start getting older. When younger, they are far too brave and stoic, and as such they will just get on with the job in hand rather than showing any sign of shivering or curling.

However, do remember, when a dog starts feeling the cold, it is not good for his/her health, as it can set up arthritis, and more generally it slows down blood circulation, which in turn can lead to hypothermia – exactly like in humans.


Borders will tell you if they are cold

Borders have a very high degree of intelligence and perception of human mannerisms and facial expressions. Yet, they may not always understand why they are denied a longer walk altogether.

Borders can feel when it’s too cold outside for them to enjoy their walk. All you have to do is allow them to test the weather – let them out in the garden, and if they are reluctant to go out or to stay out for a prolonged period of time, that will tell you that really it is too cold for them.

⇒ ⇒ Be careful, however, as Borders can use their intelligence to craftily let you believe they’d rather stay indoors due to …laziness ⇐ ⇐


When too cold outside, let’s play indoors

Borders are highly energetic dogs, with their long skinny and all muscle legs. Especially when young (but my Indy still does it when not exercised enough), if you don’t give your Border enough exercise, they are not going to be tired during the night and they will pace … and pace … and pace again. A few weeks ago, we took Indy to our vet, concerned that for the past two nights Indy had been pacing extremely restlessly. By the second morning, after being sleep deprived for two whole nights, our brains had switched to anxiety mode to such an extent that, after googling the possible causes, we had persuaded ourselves that Indy might have a brain tumour.

The vet found no neurological sign, nor any sign for any other possible cause. But, after walking Indy to the vet and giving him another long walk afterwards, much to our surprise that night he slept like a pup.

Indy playing with an old sock
A treat inside a Kong inside an old sock. That’s Indy’s favourite toy!

So, that energy has to be burnt even if we can’t take our Borders out when excessively cold.

The secret is to keep our Borders occupied with games and with play time. For Indy, the ultimate fun is trying to catch us whilst we hold an old sock full of treats. Likewise, playing tug of war with the same sock full of treats is equally entertaining and energy consuming.

Ideally, we want replicate the same set up a Border would engage in the wild, that is hunting for a prey. If you can manage to hide your Border’s favourite toy under a pile of old cushions, so that your Border has to sniff and dig it out, that will equally be fun but also engage your Border’s brain and keep his/her instinct awake.


My conclusion

I am not prepared to say here that below a specific temperature your Border Terrier will be cold, and above the same temperature your Border will be alright. That would be silly of me, as ultimately I believe that, like us humans, each Border has his/her own sensitivity to the colder weather.

But yes, with age your Border will feel the cold more easily. And likewise, it mustn’t be forgotten that, if you strip your Border regularly as we do with our Indy, (s)he will be colder with the shorter fur. It might be worth, in the winter months, reduce the frequency of the stripping, so that their natural coat can protect your Borders from the lower temperatures.

Colder months do not have to be punishing for Borders nor for their owners. Even if the days get shorter, and your Border may be more inclined to want to go to bed earlier due to the natural instinctual clock associated with daylight, you can still have plenty of fun with your Borders.

And remember, winter months bring physical closeness – nothing beats a good old cuddle with your Border to ensure both you and your dog keep warm. Warmer bodies, warmer hearth!


As ever, Amazon has so much canine apparel in store to offer protection against the cold – should your Borders ‘decide’ that it is to their favour, of course!  Here’s a few ideas:



  1. // Reply

    Thank Guila for all this information. It’s good to know that you and Indy seem to have got things covered – literally! 🙂 I know several people with border terriers and they are always active and play easily with my children (who love them). You’ve just given me some great ideas for Christmas presents that the children can give – thanks a bunch and have a wonderful day. Gail

    1. // Reply

      Thank you ever so much for your comment, Gail. Borders are the cheesiest monkeys (no, they are dogs – really!) and yet the most easy going dogs I’ve ever known. They are so adaptable, yet energetic for a younger family. And their inquisitive nature makes them easy to take with you on holiday or on trips, as they are always ready for the next adventure.
      Let me know how you get on with your canine Christmas shopping!

  2. // Reply

    Quite a charming and interesting post especially for dog lovers as we are aware that as most breeds of dogs get older, just like humans , they can feel the changing climates and it can effect they more than younger dogs. Applying extra layers of blankets in the winter is one benefit and placing the bed closer to the fire. I see that your dog is a terrier and smaller breeds of dogs have a longer life span than the larger breeds, so they will see more winters. I hope Indy is nice and healthy and give him my regards.

    1. // Reply

      Andrew, thank you ever so much – I shall certainly pass your regards to my Indy 🙂 As you may not yet have read from previous posts, Indy has been through the wars with dental and back problems as well as, last Christmas, with cancer. We are blessed as Indy is still with us and we’ll and happy. We thank God every day for helping us and Indy during that horrible time – last Christmas was the worst and yet the best, as we got our Indy back from the referral centre after his surgery.
      For the last couple of years external factors contributed to us not keeping our eye on the ball, so to speak, in so far that we never seemed to find time to cherish our Indy – older relatives had to come first. Indy’s cancer has taught us to appreciate each and every second we are granted to spend with him and with each other ❤️

  3. // Reply

    Thank You

    Very interesting and informative article on border terriers and the cold, I am a long time dog owner but never owned a border terrier but they sound like a great dog to have in your home.

    I have found from my experience dogs are not so different than we are, during nice sunny weather they are full of energy and enjoy being outdoors. When it is cold and nasty like us they prefer the comfort and warmth of being indoors.

    1. // Reply

      You are right Jeffrey, they are much similar to us. Only, I find Borders, or my Indy at least, does not handle hot weather as well as we do. I just think Borders are better prepared to take colder weather, but not extreme cold conditions 🙂

  4. // Reply

    Great looking website, good layout and filled out. this a great article on border terriers. I loves dogs always had two or three now just got one inside.

    1. // Reply

      Thank you ever so much for passing by. And I’m pleased you enjoyed my article. I try my best to share my experience as a Border Terrier owner with other fellow dog owners, particularly, but not solely, owners of Borders of course.
      What dog have you got, Fred? And are you tempted to get any more? Dogs bring nothing but endless love and joy, and to be honest I cannot envisage my life without my Indy ❤️

  5. // Reply

    Fantastic article. It is so important to consider the climate when thinking about a breed of dog. I live in the South and I would never get a dog like a husky because the heat is just too oppressive.

    When it comes to the cold, it is great to know the different options for helping border terriers deal with the cold. Have you ever tried putting those little dog booties on Indy?

    1. // Reply

      No I haven’t, but to be honest I haven’t even tried it – Indy, remember, we call it a short version of Mr Independent as far as our Indy is concerned, and I’m sure he would not be very happy at my attempts. In fact, every year we have to retrain him to put up with eventually becomes his favourite coat, a yellow one like the one sold by Amazon. We had a job of making him wear his coat yesterday, till in the end I took it off. Today however, it’s much colder, and Indy was happier (not elated, mind you) to wear his coat. A Border, I guess, must see the point of doing anything you ask him/her to do: there must be something in it for them to gain from, such as a treat or anything else they benefit from. So, when not cold enough by his standard, I know what my Indy will think: what’s the point of wearing the silly coat?!?!?! Yes, my Indy is a right and proper Border … and we love him for that!!!

  6. // Reply

    Nice article.
    How do they fare in extreme hotter temperatures?
    I have a Cairn Terrier and he hated going out in cold temperatures in Scotland.
    We have recently moved to Mexico and he loves it!
    Has to get haircuts more often though…
    Your blankets featured look cozy, BTW. Keep warm doggies!

    1. // Reply

      Tracy, I think our dogs are as individual in their copying mechanisms as we are. My Indy, I am sure, would not like the extreme temperatures you can experience in Scotland.  But he gets very lethargic in hot weather too.  His ideal would be between 10-20C – anything hotter than the 20C, we can notice a change in Indy’s personality straightaway.  At least in winter, even when he doesn’t want to go out, we can play indoors- which in the summer he refuses to do, even in environments with fan or air conditioning. I am glad your Cairn has found his ideal terrain, and hope he’s enjoying discovering the new surroundings 🙂

  7. // Reply

    I really enjoyed the post. How adorable creatures are they, I have never owned a border terrier though. That is good for you that they like cold weather for a country like UK otherwise it makes life difficult for pets and owners. The blanket part is so cute, that they love to dig into the piles of blankets. Thank you for sharing.

    1. // Reply

      You are very welcome Raman. And you are right, Borders should be naturally used to colder climates, though not to sub zero temperatures – they are originally bred from the Scottish-English border after all! But it has to be remembered that all dogs are now domestic, and as such have got used to the comforts of a home and may have lost that resistance typical of the great and wild outdoor.
      Thanks for passing by, Raman, and I hope you’ll keep in touch. Who knows, maybe my articles may encourage you to adopt a Border ?

  8. // Reply

    Thank you for sharing Indy with me! Reading about him took me back to my beloved fur baby, Dempsey. He was a Jack Russell Terrier, which probably tells you everything you need to know about him. He was the most intelligent dog I’ve ever known, so it only took him about three months to train his Daddy!
    I love your site and I truly appreciate your spreading your joy.

    1. // Reply

      Thank you ever so much, Frank. Your words are of much comfort and encouragement, especially at a time when we are still coming to term with the fact that our Indy has just had a second tumour removed, before Christmas. I shall keep you all posted in my next article, but the fact that his cancer is the same melanoma is not good news.
      My Indy brings bagfuls of joy and love ❤️ Indy and I are building this website so that it can be his forever legacy in future ??

  9. // Reply

    Over twenty years of sharing our lives with Borders we have found all ours have disliked rain and will only swim if they fall in . They don’t like hot weather as you say .

    1. // Reply

      Do you know, Rex, it’s so nice to hear that my Indy is not unique in this. I have often wondered whether it was just him to suffer in the Summer, and to be a proper Terrier, linked to earth far more than to water. It’s reassuring to hear that our Indy shares so many features with other Borders!
      Thanks for stopping by, and look forward to hearing from you soon again 🙂

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