Terrier Dog Breeds
Among the several dog breed categories set by the American Kennel Club, the terrier group is sure to leave an everlasting impression. These feisty, energetic dogs are known for their distinctive personality which gives them the reputation of the “rascals of the dog world.” From the small West Highland terrier to the large Airedale, these dogs come in a vast array of shapes and sizes and require special owners capable of matching their lively, mischievous personalities.
A Look Back in History
Derived from the Latin word for Terra, many working terriers were selectively bred to hunt vermin, large rodents and foxes by “going to ground” in their underground burrows and dens and forcing them out of their habitats where the hunters awaited them. This task required determination, superior digging abilities and a strong bark. Some terriers were downsized, and their smaller sizes were perfect for hunting and killing small rodents, and later for companionship.
In the 19th century, some terriers were then purposely bred with bulldogs in hopes of attaining a dog blessed with the agility, speed and gameness of the terrier and the strength of the bulldog. These dogs were purposely bred to participate in blood sports for entertainment purposes.
So to recap, the terriers can be categorized in 3 subgroups: working terriers such as the Jack Russell who were bred to hunt quarry both in burrows and above ground, toy terriers such as Yorkies who are down-sized versions of larger terriers and are used today as companion dogs, and finally, bull-type terriers such as the Staffordshire bull terrier who are crosses of terriers and bulldogs.
Who Should Own a Dog in the Terrier Group
- Fellows who don’t mind digging. With a history of hunting underground critters, many of the working-type terriers have an innate determination to dig. Given the opportunity, these dogs will dig their way to China or build you an entire golf course in half a day.
- Those who don’t expect a social butterfly. Several terriers may be intolerant of other animals and that includes other dogs. At the dog park, these fellows may get into the occasional spirited argument. Some of the smaller terriers think to be big dogs trapped into small bodies.
- People not intimidated by challenges. These feisty dogs are known for their tenacity, stubbornness and boundless energy. If you don’t offer them an outlet for pent-up energy, and boredom, they’ll find forms of entertainment on their own. Exercise, training and socialization are a must. Pit bull terriers are often victim of breed specific legislation and discriminative bans which may pose some challenges.
- Owners who don’t mind grooming. Some terriers have wiry coats that need hand-stripping by a pro.
- Owners ready to deal with barking. Some terriers are on the yappy side, and will sound the alarm for the slightest noises.
As seen, the terrier group is quite varied. You’ll have specimens weighing just a couple of pounds and then others weighing over 70. Because of such genetic variance in this group, you’ll have to conduct good research to ensure the breed you select matches your lifestyle. While terriers may not be the easiest dogs to deal with, patience, understanding, consistency and realistic expectations go a long way.
The Complete List of Terrier Dog Breeds
The following are breeds categorized under the terrier group: