Terrier dog breeds can be described as busy, feisty, and active.
Terriers prefer to be part of the action and have a real zest for life. They make awesome family pets for people who do not keep small pocket pets such as hamsters or gerbils. Terriers look at these smaller mammals as vermin that must be eliminated.
Most terriers are easily identified as belonging to this group because “terrier” is part of their name: Cairn Terriers, Irish Terriers, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers.
However, Yorkshire Terriers, Tibetan Terriers, and Biewer Terriers are not considered terriers at all according to the American Kennel Club, so don’t rely on the name to help you classify these dogs. They are considered Terriers in other organizations such as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
Modern day Terriers can trace their roots back to the British Isles and were originally kept by peasants to control the pest population.
Many were proven to be tireless “ratters”, loyal and determined to serve their humans. Over time, they became companions as well as working dogs.
Why so Many Different Terrier Dog Breeds?
Why do you need so many different types of terriers to kill a rat or two?
There were a wide variety of terrains in Britain and early terrier breeders had to develop dogs that could adapt to the local conditions. Some terriers were long-legged and others had short legs.
Some had smooth coats and others rough ones. Some have silky or wavy coats or even mixed coats. Eventually some of the members of this group became known as fighting dogs, a sport that has been banned in Britain and the U.S.
Some of the dogs not recognized by the AKC have terrier blood in their pedigrees. As a group, even though there are differences, terriers are more similar than different. Beyond size, leg length or coat type, they are all agile, fast and athletic. They are intelligent, impulsive and very clever. They are capable of coming up with solutions to problems, whether we agree with their answers or not.
The Airedale Terrier is also known as “The King of Terriers”, because they are the largest of the terrier breeds. They are from the Airedale Valley region of northern England, and are feisty, exuberant and brave.
As well as catching rats, they were big and brave enough to go after weasels, otters and wildcats. Due to their size and heritage, they are good watch dogs and guard dogs. Grooming is moderate, as they have a thick wiry coat that does not shed – dead hair needs to be brushed out.
Which is the best breed of Terrier to have? The West Highland White Terrier is best described as alert, active, independent and friendly. While not considered to be hyper, they are energetic and will need plenty of exercises which suggest that they might not be suitable for couch potatoes. The breed as a whole usually gets along well with other dogs and household pets.