- Best for Experienced Owners
- Best with older children
- Poor compatibility with other animals
- Toy to Large in size
- Medium to high exercise needs
- Very low-medium shedding
- Medium guard dog capabilities
- Medium ease of training
The word "Terrier" comes from the Latin word "terra", which means earth. Terriers are a group of dogs that were created to hunt and kill vermin. The majority of Terriers originated from the British Isles and Ireland. They were developed to be ferocious hunters that could work both above ground and below. Most Terriers were made to go to ground, which means they enter the den of their prey and fight them in their own homes. Smaller Terrier hunted badgers, rabbits, rats and foxes. Larger Terriers hunted river rats and otters.
The majority of Terriers are bold, fiery dogs. They are boisterous, feisty and full of enthusiasm. They are playful and fun loving, a little mischievous and always fearless. Terriers are strong willed quick thinking dogs that need a solid pack leader to control their exuberant nature. They also need a good amount of exercise to help keep them calm and well behaved. Just because a Terrier is toy sized does not mean they do not need daily exercise. All Terriers no matter their size need to be kept active. Care should always be taken when allowing them off lead, as many are chasers and will run off after anything that moves.
Terriers are fighters, it is in their blood. Not only were they used to hunt and kill vermin, they were also used in pit fighting. At one time, they were put in pits filled with rats and competed to see who could kill the most. When killing rats became dull, dogs were pitted against other dogs. The English Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier and more recently the American Pit Bull Terrier were all developed for this purpose. Thankfully, dog fighting is illegal in most countries and although it still happens underground, most of these once fighting dogs, now have the opportunity to be a loved companion instead. An opportunity they not only deserve, but they excel at.
Due to their tenacious dispositions, most are not the best for families with young children or other pets. They can snap if irritated and most are aggressive with other animals. Many should not be trusted around small animals as it is their instinct to kill them. Socialization with other dogs is mandatory for all Terriers.
Today, most Terriers are beloved companion dogs that are not actively used as hunters. However, it is not uncommon to find them on the occasional farm keeping the vermin population under control. They are affectionate and loyal and make alert home guardians. Assuming they get enough exercise, they fit well into almost any environment, country or city, apartment or house. They are an excellent group of dogs, but not for everyone. Terriers need to a solid pack leader, daily exercise, early and ongoing socialization and thorough training.
Appearance and Grooming:
Most Terriers are either smooth or wire haired. A few of the Terrier breeds come in both varieties. Smooth coated Terriers need only a quick brushing once a week, while their wire haired kin needs brushing several times a week and professional grooming every three months. The Terrier group has more hypoallergenic breeds than any other single dog group.
As a group, Terriers are healthy dogs. Some do not take well to extremely cold weather and will need protection during the winter. They have an average life span of 13-15 years.