Named for “terra” or earth, terrier breeds were developed to eradicate vermin around homes and on farms. These dogs were trained to dig into burrows to kill small pray and to chase and kill rodents to protect grain bins. These short legged breeds were fast and efficient in controlling pests.
Longer legged terrier breeds were used to eliminate larger pests such as badgers and river rats and were often going after those pests in deep water.
The Terrier group is a large one and has three distinctive type of coat: wire (Wire haired Fox Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer), soft (Wheaten Terrier, Kerry Blue), and smooth (Bull Terrier, Jack Russell).
Only the wire hair breeds carry the requirement for regular professional grooming. In part, this is due to the water resistant nature of this type of coat. For show dogs, a procedure call stripping is used, but to for pet wirehair terriers owners need only regular professional clipping to keep the coat in good condition.
The small size of many terrier breeds is deceptive because these dogs need a lot of exercise on a regular basis. These are high energy pets and failure to provide an acceptable outlet for that energy can result in a dog that is hard to live with and possibly destructive to property.
Regular brisk walks or a park or large area where you can play with your terrier will result in an improvement in his behavior in your household. These are not lay-arounddo-nothing dogs.
The same traits bred into them for catching vermin (a solitary job) result in dogs more independent in nature than other breeds. If you won’t play with them – your shoe will. If you have no time to romp in the yard, a terrier will climb the fence and have a romp on his own.
The smaller breeders are escape artists. It is not unusual for a 12 inch high terrier to climb a six foot high fence. if that doesn’t work, he’ll simply dig a burrow under it. Keeping a terrier breed contained can be a challenge.
Experienced owners will often install a channel of poured concrete mix at the base of a fence to stop the digging behavior.
Fence climbing can be discouraged by attached a loose covering of a roll or two of vinyl netting such as used by gardeners to keep small animals off growing berries or vegetables. Attached with vinyl pull ties to the top and near the bottom of wire fencing is often effective for discouraging climbing of your dog. The light weight mesh blends visually into the fencing while the loose mesh provides no comfortable of stable foothold for climbing.
Terriers possess spirited personalities and are known for their “gameness”. Gameness is the willingness to take on any perceived threat, no matter. This common trait is the reason many terriers are best kept as pets in one dog homes. A growl of warning from a larger dog might cause a spaniel to retreat. A terrier would be more likely to take on the threat and issue his own.
This situation can rapidly escalate into a full blown dog fight and the adrenalin rush in the terrier blocks pain sensation. Even when seriously injured, the terrier breeds may continue the attack; preventing this escalation is critical.
In a fight situation this dog is totally focused and anything that comes within range may be bitten – including the hand of his owner. Terriers in a fight will bite and then quickly shake their head (killing vermin, remember?) and this can result in a wound more serious than expected from a small animal.
Terrier instinct may also be destructive to smaller pets. A Jack Russell or Rat Terrier should be kept away from a newly adopt kitten – or a litter of them – until the cat is large enough to escape or defend itself. Small kittens may be viewed as prey even by a well trained pet terrier.
Most problems associated with terriers can be avoided by careful evaluation when choosing a terrier pup from a litter. You should be able to handle ears, paws, tail without the animal become defensive. When raising this type of dog, such handling should be part of his day to day experience and will go far to avoid problems during grooming or when vet care is needed.
Adopting an older Terrier dog may require more in the way of patience as it may take considerable time to fully win his trust and loyalty. Patience will pay off here and result in a pet that is absolutely loyal and dedicated to its owner.
Training should begin immediately and be calm and consistent. The intelligence of terriers is well documented but it is balanced by his independent nature. To train a terrier, you must know your dog and his triggers and thereby gain his cooperation.
Training sessions should be frequent and very short – five minutes and then increasing perhaps to 10 minutes is ideal. Terriers are easily bored and easily distracted and positive reinforcement with your voice and treats works well with these breeds.
There are distinct differences between Terrier breeds to be considered when choosing such a pet. The Bull Terrier, for example, was bred in large part for contents to produce dogs that would be aggressive in destroying prey. This breed makes a loyal, laid back pet – but only if you choose the dog wisely and check for aggressive traits.
The wildly popular Jack Russell is a personality dog – very loving but opinionated and single minded when there is something he wants.
High energy rat terriers and fox terriers seem to be in constant motion and often react wildly to the slightest event. These small dogs will be wildly ecstatic when you return after a day of work – and just as ecstatic when you return after a two minute walk to the mailbox.
Of all terrier breeds, perhaps the miniature schnauzer is the most family friendly. The size and temperament of these dogs is conducive to including them in family vacations and even daily trips. They love attention and are cute enough to get it whenever they want.
In spite of their often frenzied behavior, the terrier group is highly prized as family pets. They are without fail funny and interesting. The popularly can be clearly seen in the number of clubs, societies and rescue groups devoted solely to various terrier breeds.
Perhaps it is the interaction of this group of dogs that contributes to its popularity. Your terrier may frustrate you and occasionally ignore your commands – but he will never ignore you. He loves nothing more than interacting with you and his interest in your voice and your activities is evident.
For active people who want a companion, not just a pet, one of the terrier breeds may be perfect for your lifestyle.
Some of the Most Popular Terrier Breeds
A quick slideshow of picstures of terrier breeds
Airedale – The Airedale terrier was originally bred in the 19th century in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The breed was developed from a mix of local farm terriers and rough working dogs from the colder regions of Northern England.
The breed was called “Airedale” because these dogs were used by gamekeepers to hunt otters that had taken refuge in the large aires or artificial water reservoirs created during the 18th century. Otters were considered to be vermin at this time, so their destruction was encouraged.
Bull Terrier – The Bull Terrier is a medium-sized, short-coated dog with a square build and low center of gravity. They are often referred to as the “English Gentleman’s Dog” because they are so well-mannered and elegant.
This breed of dog was first recognized by American Kennel Club in 1885. The name “bull terrier” comes from this dog’s ability to go after bull for sport and entertainment.
Some people have said that the bull terrier is not just a dog breed, but a symbol of Britain’s history. The bull terrier was originally bred to be game and fearless, so they could enter the pits and fight bigger animals. It would take plenty of courage for one of these little dogs to go up against an ox or a wild boar in an arena.
Cairn Terrier – The Cairn Terrier is a small, sturdy dog with a short-haired coat. Originally from Scotland, the breed was used to hunt rodents and game.
Originating in Scotland in the 19th century, the breed was selectively bred for hunting small prey such as rats and rabbits. Though it’s name may give you a different impression, this dog thrives in cold climates and can be used for many things other than keeping your house free from pests.
The Cairn Terrier’s personality is often characterized as being very loyal, intelligent and friendly. They are said to be able to adjust well to any living situation and are happy with the company of either adults or children.
Fox Terrier – The fox terrier is a small working dog, bred for hunting. The breed originated in England and has been popular since the 1800s, when Queen Victoria purchased one of the dogs as a pet for her son.
The fox terrier is an energetic, sturdy, and brave animal. They are first-rate hunters that have been refined through generations of breeding. The characteristics of the breed can be traced back to 18th century England when the country went through a period of fox hunting for sport.
The fox terrier was bred by crossing an English bulldog with an English white terrier to produce a small hunting dog that was excellent at digging out foxes from dens.
The most common ancestor of the modern day Fox Terrier is called the Smooth Fox Terrier; this can be seen in its short coat and lack of markings on the face (as opposed to other breeds that developed later).
Smooth Fox Terrier – The smooth fox terrier is one of the oldest breeds of dog in existence. They have been around for centuries and have a lot of interesting facts about their history.
The smooth fox terrier has gone through some changes over the years. Originally, they were known as “smooth fox terriers” and had longer coats. They also had a longer tail that was docked to half its original length as well – this was done in order to prevent injury from other dogs during fights.
The first mention of a smooth fox terrier was written in 1814 by James Fenimore Cooper in his book “The Spy: A Tale Of The Neutral Ground”.
Wire Irish Terrier – The wire fox terrier is a breed of dog that originated in Ireland. They were originally used to hunt rats, but nowadays they are known as entertainment dogs who have won many awards.
This breed of dog is agile and intelligent, which makes them very good at their job. The wire fox terrier is also very easy to train and has an excellent memory. They can be trained for many different purposes including: tracking, hunting, show-dog, therapy dog and family pet.
This breed was first created in the 1800s when a man named Captain George Jesse brought back Irish Fox Terriers from his trips to Ireland into England. He bred these dogs with local English Terriers to create a new type of terrier that could handle the rat problem in England.
In the United States, this breed is mostly seen as an excellent companion dog and show dog. However, in Britain, they are used for a variety of tasks like being hunting dogs, guard dogs, and even as police dogs.
Jack Russell Terrier – The Jack Russell terrier is probably the world’s most popular working terrier. For more than 200 years these dogs have been bred to hunt foxes, rats and other vermin. They are brave, intelligent and tenacious – they are also small enough to go down holes or burrows where other large dogs cannot follow them.
The breed is typically high-energy and requires a lot of exercise. They are exceptionally intelligent with some individuals being able to learn as many as 250 commands and they are known for their ability to learn and work well with humans. They can be used as working dogs or companions, and can be found in many different colors.
The earliest records of the breed have been found in writings dating from the 1800s. It is not known when or where the breed originated, but it appears to have come about in England and was later introduced to Australia and New Zealand.
The Jack Russell Terrier has been a common pet in North America since the 1960s, when they were promoted by Hollywood actor Robert Young of Father Knows Best fame.
Kerry Blue Terrier – The Kerry Blue Terrier is a hardy and energetic dog that can be a good companion for an active family. They are loyal, obedient and friendly to people.
Originally, this breed was not popular outside Ireland. In the 1970s the Kerry Blue Terrier was introduced to America where it has grown steadily in popularity since then. Today, Kerry Blues have been bred for conformation showing as well as hunting and agility competition which has increased its popularity with dog owners around the world.
Nowadays, breeders are trying to create a new line of the Kerry Blue Terrier with “lively spirits,” but without losing its overall look of toughness or herding skills.
Manchester Terrier – The Manchester terrier is a small dog that originated in the 19th century. They were originally bred to be used for hunting rats. The Manchester terrier is also known as the “Ratting Terrier” because of its usefulness in rat catching.
The Manchester terrier is one of the most popular breeds in the UK, and it has been described as a “dog with an attitude.” It is best known for its fine bone structure, tight skin, and prick ears. They are very intelligent and loyal. You can train them to do tricks and they will love doing it for you. Another interesting fact is that if you have one, they will need a lot of attention and care.
Miniature Bull Terrier – The Miniature Bull Terrier was originally bred in Birmingham, England and is a mix of the Pit Bull and the white English terrier. The breed’s ability to fight was its original purpose: it was first bred to be a dog of fighting temperament.
The Miniature Bull Terrier was first introduced. in 1976 and has been, for the last three decades, a popular companion dog breed around the world.
The name of this breed, according to many commentators, has two possible origins: one is that it is a cross between a Bulldog and an English Terrier, while another one suggests that it was named after its resemblance to a bull terrier. The latter one seems more likely as there are historical records of this type of terrier being bred as early as 1790s.
Rat Terrier – The Rat Terrier is a small, muscular dog with a broad head and short legs. It has a wiry coat that comes in different colors and patterns to suit the owner’s preferences.
The Rat Terrier originated in the 1800s, when a cross-breed of the English White Terrier and the Black& Tan Terrier was developed. It is not clear how this cross-breeding event occurred, but it is believed to have been in America.
The rat terriers were first used as hunting dogs, where they would chase and catch rats. Over time they became more popular as pets because of their affectionate personality and intelligence.
Schnauzer -The Schnauzer terrier is a small dog with a low-shedding coat and, as its name suggests, it has the distinctive long whiskers that run along the sides of the muzzle. The Schnauzer terrier has been in existence for more than 400 years and is thought to have originated from Germany.
Schnauzers are intelligent dogs that are also known to be quite brave and protective of their families. They can be trained to help their owners with tasks like hunting, pulling carts and keeping livestock penned in. This is because they were originally bred as sheep dogs but people also trained them to guard their properties which gave them a reputation for being very alert watchdogs.
The Schnauzers have a double coat that protects them from harsh weather conditions, which makes them good at hunting in cold environments. What makes these dogs even more appealing is their intelligence, loyalty and eagerness to please their owners which make them really easy to train.
They have been known for being great with kids and other animals because of how happy they make everyone around him/her feel.
Mini Scottish Terrier – The Mini Scottish terrier is a breed of terrier which was developed in the 1800s. It was bred to be a smaller version of the Scottish Terrier, and it remained popular with people who wanted a small dog that was easier to keep in their homes.
This breed is highly alert and lively, and they are known for being very intelligent. This intelligence has led some to call them “the little geniuses”.
The Mini Scottish terrier is a small dog that is originally from Scotland. It was bred in the late 1800s by George Campbell. The standards for the Mini Scottish terrier were created in 1878. They are very popular dogs and have been used as circus dogs, show dogs, and therapy dogs.
Skye Terrier – The Skye terrier is a small breed of dog that is typically classified as a terrier because of it shape and spiky fur. The breed’s origins are not well documented but it is believed that they descended from fox-terriers or rough-coated black-and-tan terriers.
The name “skye” comes from the Isle of Skye off Scotland’s west coast, where some early dogs were said to have come from. It was not until the 1920s when the sky terrier was formally recognized as a separate breed by the British Kennel Club and American Kennel Club.. The first written records about the breed come from 1876 when it was recorded in the “Journal of Horticulture”
These small-statured people needed a hardy, low-coated hunting dog that could assist them with their livelihoods. As such, they crossed breeds of different sizes to create one that would be able to withstand harsh climates and terrain.
The Skye Terrier has curly fur and a high energy level which causes them to be very noisy when it comes to barking or playing with toys or others.
Welsh Terrier – Welsh terriers are one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They were originally bred to hunt foxes, rats, and badgers, but now they are mainly kept as companions.
In Wales there is a myth that says these dogs originated from fairies who were turned into dogs after being cursed by an angry god. These dogs are especially popular in Wales and it is believed that Welshmen who left their country for America took them with them. Interestingly, the Welsh people used to call them ‘Tylwyth Teg’ which means fairy dogs in Welsh.
This breed was not created by crossing two different dog breeds together like some other breeds, it came about by breeding a type of terrier with a type of wire-haired dachshund.
West Highland White (Westie) – The West Highland White Terrier is a breed of canine originating in Scotland. They are a relatively small dog, typically weighing 8.8–13.2 lb or 4–6 kilograms.
The Westie has a narrow muzzle and prick ears that fold back close to its head. Colors vary, but usually include shades of cream, white, black, gold, or blue(gray). Common coat patterns are pepper and salt or brindle; the Westie may also have some spots on its coat. Some puppies are born with additional colors like apricot or red-orange which usually fades as the dog matures.<
The history of Westies is not well known because they only became popular in the twentieth century as pets rather than working dogs; however it is believed that they descend from hunting terriers.