Terriers were originally bred to hunt vermin, and most of them would still do a stellar job. At the very least, the modern terrier breed is capable of running long distances and tends to outstrip the physical stamina of its owner. Although there are arguably hundreds of purebred and hybrid terrier breeds, below you will find 15 of the most popular, including details of their personality, so that you can determine whether they would make the right dog for you.
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The 9 Small Terrier Dog Breeds
1. Border Terrier
The Border Terrier is a small, wire-haired terrier. The breed was used to protect stock and was first introduced to the border between England and Scotland. The breed is highly active and requires a lot of exercise, but it can be trained well and does well in agility and obedience classes. As a pet, the Border is responsive and affectionate and will get along with all family members.
2. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is the gentleman of the terrier world, and not least because the breed’s appearance includes the tuxedo coloring. They are small and light, and they are loving and affectionate, lively little animals. They enjoy playing and love to spend time with their owners, and most of these dogs will get along very well with strangers, both two-legged and four-legged.
3. Cairn Terrier
The Cairn Terrier is a small, white, shaggy-coated terrier. They can be quite demanding and they will want a lot of your time. They also have a high prey drive, which means that they are not considered suitable for a new life with cats unless they can be introduced at a young age. They are one of the more popular terrier-type breeds, especially for owners that enjoy hiking.
4. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier is a very popular breed of dog. It was first bred in England in the 19th century by a vicar called John Russell. The dog was given his breeder’s nickname, which was “Jack” Russell. The breed was used to hunt foxes and rabbits, and also to kill and dispose of rats and mice. The Jack Russell might be small but it demands a lot of exercise and can become destructive if it does not walk enough.
5. Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is the smaller version of the Standard Schnauzer. The dog is playful and energetic and needs a decent amount of daily activity to keep it fit and healthy. The dog’s facial hair requires regular professional grooming, otherwise, it can discolor and start to look dirty. The breed was used as a multipurpose farm dog and rat catcher.
6. Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier was bred for hunting foxes and badgers and it worked the Scottish Highlands. They have short legs but long bodies and their low center of gravity enabled the terrier to get around the Scottish mountains more quickly and deftly. The Scottish Terrier can make a great pet although he won’t always get along with other dogs.
7. Welsh Terrier
The Welsh Terrier is an ancient breed that was first bred to take on badgers, foxes, and otters. It is a happy little breed that is believed to have originated from Roman breeds. Although the breed was obviously popular in its home country of Wales, John F. Kennedy kept a Welsh Terrier called Charlie, who lived at the White House.
8. West Highland Terrier
The West Highland Terrier is a happy-looking dog that is often thought of as smiling. The dog’s cheerful disposition and his hardiness make him a popular dog today, but the dog was first bred to hunt foxes. The white color would stand out and prevent the dog from being shot. But some fox hunters considered the dog unlucky because its color represented cowardice.
9. Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier, or the Yorkie, competes with the Chihuahua for the crown of the smallest dog breed in the world. While small, however, the Yorkie is no shrinking violet and it will let you know of anything it perceives as a threat. In fact, the Yorkie will let you know of anything at all because it is a very vocal little breed. It’s also lively, friendly, and loving.
The 6 Large Types of Terriers
10. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is another breed from Ireland, this time from the County Kerry mountains. It was used for hunting, retrieving, and could even turn its paw to herding livestock. Puppies are born with black coats, and their fur fades to the blue-black that we know.
11. Airedale Terrier
The Airedale is one of the largest, if not the largest, terrier breed and will grow to around 50 pounds. It was bred to catch otters and rats around the River Aire in Yorkshire, England. It is a good swimmer, a good runner, and an agile hunter, but is gentle and patient with kids and can become a loving member of any family. They do require plenty of time and exercise to work off their energy, which is a common trait among terrier breeds.
12. Staffordshire Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or Staffie for short, is a strong, stocky, and very muscular type of terrier breed. This breed was originally bred for fighting hundreds of years ago, and it has suffered a bad reputation largely because of this breeding and also because its incredible loyalty to its humans has seen it used for dogfighting. It is an incredibly loyal dog and will usually get along very well with all family members including kids.
13. Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier was bred in England and has a unique egg-shaped head with a bullseye marking around their eye, in most cases. Although they are considered small to medium dogs, they are very strong and formidable terriers. They are loyal and loving, too, and they can be quite protective of their family members so they make good guard dogs.
14. Irish Terrier
The Irish Terrier, of course, comes from Ireland. It has bright red hair and is a medium-sized dog that is large for a terrier. It was bred to hunt mice and rats and would have also protected livestock while keeping the family company. It retains these properties today and makes an excellent family pet with some light work duties.
15. American Pit Bull Terrier
The American Pit Bull Terrier was bred for bull-baiting and other blood sports. Its shape and strong jaw combined so that the dog could attach to the bull and not be easily thrown off. This strength, combined with the dog’s fierce loyalty to its human owner, saw the Pit Bull used for dogfighting and the breed gained something of a poor reputation in countries around the world. It does require good training from a young age, and ownership of the breed is actually illegal in some countries.
Terriers tend to be energetic, hardy, and quite small, but there are some large types of terrier breeds too. They are popular with owners for their working capabilities but also for their love of the field and their desire to get out and enjoy some regular exercise. After looking at our list, we hope you have decided if a small terrier breed or a large terrier breed is right for you. Or, maybe even one of each?
- Related read: Sealyham Terrier
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