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What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 4, 2019
What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers

We often think of Terriers as small, feisty little dogs which nip at postal worker's ankles or sit in a socialite's handbag. However, this term is a small word for a large and varied breed of some of the most interesting pet dog breeds you can find. Some are indeed feisty (feist originally being an 18th century term for a small and ill-tempered dog), but many are docile and certainly aren't portable in the standard Louis Vuitton. The reason they were often bred small is because they were used for catching rodents both over and underground. This is where the name terrier comes from as it derives from terra, Latin for earth or ground. oneHOWTO shows what are the different breed of Terriers to show just how varied they can be.

You may also be interested in: What are the Different Pit Bull Breeds

Background on Terriers

Terriers have a reputation of being full of energy and hard to control. The former is true for good reason. Used for ratting and vermin control, Terriers needed to be quick and nimble to catch their prey. This is fine when out in the fields or in places where rat populations needs to be curtailed. However, as with most dog breeds, environmental factors and rearing will have a great influence on how a pet Terrier will expend its energy.

There is no solid classification system for Terriers with different kennel clubs permitting some breeds and not others. This is due to different types of breeding and issues relating to the court for particular clubs. There is an international federation of kennel clubs based in Belgium which is known as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. They have classified Terriers into 4 specific groups, which can help us to get a better idea of the different types of Terrier breeds:

  1. Large and medium-sized Terriers
  2. Small-sized Terriers
  3. Bull-type Terriers
  4. Toy Terriers

There are many dogs which are certainly some type of terrier which are not recognized in these categories. Others are recognized as terriers by some, but are of a completely different breed in other kennel's categorization. The Miniature Schnauzer is a good example as it shares many traits of Terriers, but is not considered one by many.

The last category of Toy Terriers are some of the smallest. Even though many are kept in this way, terriers are not supposed to be lapdogs. They are often much too rambunctious and need a lot of walking and exercise to stay fit and healthy. You can get quite large Terrier breeds such as the Airedale Terrier which can reach 24" in height and 121 lb in weight. Despite their height, they are, according to the American Kennel Association, eager to please and relatively tame.

One of the smallest is the Yorkshire Terrier. Just because they are small, does not mean that Terriers are not very clever. One famous Yorkshire Terrier is Smoky, a 7" tall little pooch which was found in New Guinea and looked after by Corporal William A. Wynne of the United States Army. She was taken in and brought on missions, even reportedly saving her master's life on more than one occasion.

Some terriers, however, have earned a negative reputation as dangerous dogs. This includes the Bull Terrier, with its egg shaped head and lean musculature. Their strength make them great for hunting, but they are thought by many to be bad-tempered dogs. However, their temperament is actually very caring and when reared properly can be loving and loyal dogs. The problem, according to the RSPCA, is that their willingness to please has been taken advantage by some owners to show aggression.

It is true that some Terriers have been known to attack small children and babies, but these are very rare occurrences. With proper supervision and training, a Terrier is a loyal, eager and affectionate companion dog which can make a great addition to many families. We're going to show you some of the key Terrier breeds below. You can just find out some interesting information or even see which type of Terrier breed might be worth considering for your home.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Background on Terriers

Airedale Terrier

As we said previously, the Airedale is the largest of the British Terriers. It is long-legged featuring a strong round bone structure, extreme agility and strength. It has strong jaws, free gait and a dense, wiry and hard coat. Being one of the most versatile Terriers, the Airedale is bold, adventurous and playful.

Although the Airedale is intelligent, it can also be headstrong and stubborn. Although it may get along with other smaller dogs, it always likes to be the head dog in the family. This, and its relative size, have warranted the Airedale Terrier the name the "King of Terriers". Like some other dogs, Airedales are hypoallergenic. This means that it usually doesn't provoke a reaction in those with dog allergies, although might still do for those with severe allergies.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Airedale Terrier

Wire Fox Terrier

This Terrier breed has a short back and square shape. It is a great combination of power, endurance and speed, due to which it is commonly reared with hounds and horses. It is adventurous and playful, but sometimes independent and mischievous. It is often seen barking and digging, and is quite scrappy with other pets.

Wire Fox Terriers are also very intelligent which is coupled with a high energy level. Like humans, this can raise problems if they are not given enough stimulation. They are wonderful companion animals if owner and dog share similar temperament and lifestyle. However, their abundance of energy and character can make them more likely to be abandoned than some other dogs.

Like many other Terriers, Fox Terriers get their name from the prey they were bred to hunt. You may know of a Wire Fox Terrier and not even realize as it is the breed of famous comic strip hero Tintin's loyal sidekick Snowy.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Wire Fox Terrier

Australian Terrier

This one is sturdy and small with medium bone structure. Mostly, it is proportionately long as it is tall. It is an often quieter breed of Terriers, but it likely to chase rodents whenever the opportunity arises. It is adventurous and fun loving and may become frustrated if it does not receive daily exercise.

Australian Terriers were also bred to be companion dogs which means they get on very well with people. However, this affability doesn't always translate to other dogs or pets. This is particularly the case with two adult males who will often be territorial and may fight. Australian Terriers are clever, like to please and can be obedient if they are trained well and early.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Australian Terrier

Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers are a good-looking, muscular and strongly built Terrier that is longer than its height. It has a particularly strong jaw, easy and smooth gait, tight skin and short coat. Some of the terms that best describe a Bull Terrier are playful, mischievous, self-confident and enthusiastic. It needs regular mental and physical exercise otherwise it becomes irritated.

It may act aggressive towards other dogs and pets in the house and, though it is considered one of the most aggressive dogs, it can be very loyal and lovable if trained adequately. Make sure you learn how to care for a bull terrier so it lives in a positive environment. Part of this perceived aggression comes from the dog's history as a fight dog, again more due to their treatment than nature.

Their distinctive head shaped (egg shaped with a flat top) has changed over the years, previously resembling more of a standard terrier shape. It was through years of breeding that the head shape changed, primarily because they were initially bred for performance rather than appearance. Originally, the dog was only bred in white, but color was introduced due to health problems associated with all white breeds.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Bull Terrier

Wheaten Terrier

The Wheaten Terrier is a dog breed which is graceful, strong and an all-rounder. It is big enough to work on a farm, and agile enough to work as a vermin exterminator. It has a free gait with lively attitude, and its tail is often held erect. It has a soft, abundant single coat, with silky, long and gentle wave. It can prove to be a playful creature at home.

Wheaten Terriers are often gentler, more affectionate and congenial than most other Terrier breeds. It jumps and digs, and can go along well with other pets and children at home. This jump is part of its famous demeanor when greeting owners as it will jump and lick faces if allowed. This is known as the "Wheaten greetin'". This dog, like most, will behave harshly if treated harshly.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Wheaten Terrier

Staffordshire bull terrier

The Staffordshire bull terrier is a cross between the English Bulldog and pure Terriers. These have been hunting dogs for many years, they are very adventurous and playful. They are also very loyal and clam though they have a lot of strength. These should not be mistaken with the American Staffordshire Terrier, which is a breed of Pit Bull.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a similar reputation as Bull Terriers, often due to their involvement in illegal bloodsports. They are very intelligent and kind dogs, but their loyalty makes them intimidating if they feel like their charge is threatened. It is also fearless and will not give up easily, another reason why maulings by these dogs can be so vicious. Again, this is believed to be due to training and not an innate temperament.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - Staffordshire bull terrier

West Highland White Terrier

As its name suggests, the West Highland White Terrier comes from the Scottish Highlands. Its white color and balanced character makes it one of the most loved terriers. It is very friendly with other animals but is not particularly good with small children, as it can display a short temper. This is particularly the case when the dog is being handled roughly, such as having its ears pulled.

These dogs are often known as Westies or Scotty dogs. While they can be very loyal, they are also quite disparate in temperament depending on the individual dog. Some are very rambunctious and are known as yappy dogs. Others can be very docile and quiet. They love to play and are particularly good with other dogs.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - West Highland White Terrier

American hairless terrier

The American Hairless Terrier can be found in more than 15 different colors. It is very friendly, playful and alert. It loves being outdoors and needs plenty of exercise. The American Hairless Terrier can have a small and medium size, and its main characteristic is its very short hair, making it a great suit for people with allergies (although no dog is completely hypoallergenic). Some dogs don't have any hair at all, but some do.

This bread is descended from Rat Terriers, making it a working dog and not a Toy Terrier as its small stature might suggest. They have been classified in different kennel associations (including both the United Kennel Association) for years, but were only recognized by the American Kennel Club as a Terrier in 2016. They are energetic and intelligent. Like their rat catching ancestors, they like to dig, but are not the best around water. As their skin is so exposed, those who live in cold climates and have an American Hairless Terrier may need to wear a coat in certain countries.

What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers - American hairless terrier

Other less common breeds of terriers

This is not an exhaustive list of Terriers. There are many other types, but this does give you a good range of different Terrier Breeds and should provide some insight into what sort of pooch you might like to enjoy as a pet.

Although many are less common than the above breeds (with the exception of the American Hairless Terrier which is relatively rare), other Terrier breeds include:

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Carin Terrier
  • Cesky Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Norkfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Parson Russel Terrier
  • Rat Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are probably the most recognizable Terrier (with perhaps the exception of Westies). They have a great temperament, can be well trained and are still used as working dogs today. One of the reasons they are so well recognized is the fact it is the Jack Russell Terrier which appears in the famous painting Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, later renamed His Master's Voice. It appear on various labels on records and store fronts over the years.

Their trainability is also useful in their varied movie career. You might recognize Jack Russell Terriers from movies like My Dog Skip and The Mask as well as the dog Eddie from TV show Frasier.

If you want to read similar articles to What Are The Different Breeds Of Terriers, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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