Terrier Dog Breeds: Big Attitudes in Small Bodies

Airedale Terrier

By Linda Cole

The terrier group of dog breeds is an interesting mix of canines, bred to do a variety of jobs from hunting prey to keeping rats at bay. They are feisty, energetic and small enough to fit into any home. This is a group with a variety of distinct personalities, but all have a “big attitude in a small body.” Digging is common in terriers because they were bred to go underground after their prey. Terra is the Latin word for “earth,” and terriers are certainly “earth dogs.” The American Kennel Club recognizes 29 different terrier breeds. Here is brief information on nine of them:

The Airedale Terrier holds the “King of Terriers” crown; they are the largest and most robust of the group. The Airedale is considered an all purpose dog, and was used during wartime as a guard dog, to run messages, control rodents, and as a hunting dog. Hypoallergenic; they stand 22-24 inches and weigh 40-64 pounds.

The Australian Terrier was the first breed recognized in 1868 as native to Australia. His job was to work alongside his owner in the Australian Outback to keep vermin and snakes in check. He was also a watchdog, and helped with livestock. Hypoallergenic; they stand 9-11 inches and weigh 12-16 pounds.

Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier could easily be mistaken for a lamb because of his woolly, curly coat. The breed was developed in a mining shire in Northumberland, England, and that’s where its name comes from. The miners used the Bedlington to control vermin, and because they had excellent speed and endurance, miners also raced them. Hypoallergenic; they stand 15-18 inches and weigh 17-23 pounds.

The Border Terrier can get into most any size hole, and can race across different types of terrain after his main prey, the fox. The Border was bred as a working dog and protector of his owner’s livestock. In the old days living on a farm, this little dog had to be a good hunter because he had to hunt down his own supper. Hypoallergenic; they stand 11-16 inches and weigh 11-16 pounds.

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier takes its name from rock dens called “cairn” where fox and badger live in the Scottish Highlands. The breed originated in the highlands and the Isle of Skye. Toto, Dorothy’s little dog in “The Wizard of Oz” was a Cairn Terrier. One of the oldest of the terrier breeds, the Cairn was bred to control vermin. Hypoallergenic; they stand 9-13 inches and weigh 13-18 pounds.

The Cesky Terrier originated in the Czech Republic, and is considered one of the country’s national breeds. The Cesky (pronounced chess – key) was bred to work in packs to hunt fox, ducks, pheasants, rabbits and wild boar. This breed is so revered in its native homeland that it has been featured on postage stamps, TV, in books and in a movie. Hypoallergenic; they stand 10-13 inches and weigh 16-22 pounds.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier definitely has a big dog attitude packed inside his low and long body. This breed was recorded as a distinct breed as far back as 1700, and made his home with rich people and gypsies. Bred to hunt otter and badger, he has a reputation as a skilled hunter, able to go to ground after his prey. The breed was named after a character in a Sir Walter Scott 1814 novel, “Guy Mannering.” Hypoallergenic; they stand 8-11 inches and weigh 18-24 pounds.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is native to Ireland, bred to control vermin on farms, and hunt fox and badger. This breed has remained pretty much the same today as it was 100 years ago. This dog was also designed to do a rather unique job: they were used to turn a large wheel called a turnspit. As the dog paddled the wheel, it turned a spit over a fire, earning them the nickname of “turnspit dogs.” They stand 12 ½ inches and weigh around 35 pounds.

Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry Blue Terrier is an all purpose working dog, bred in County Kerry, Ireland in the 1700s. Their name comes from the area they were bred in, and their coat color. They were used to hunt small game and birds and retrieve them from water and land. The dog also herded cattle and sheep, guarded homes and did police work. Peasants used the Kerry to hunt silently within a nobleman’s hunting grounds. The Kerry Blue is born black, and his blue coat doesn’t appear until he’s between 9 months to 2 years old. Hypoallergenic; they stand 17-20 inches and weigh 33-40 pounds.

The rest of the terrier group includes the American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Irish Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Russell Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier.

Airedale Terrier by Lulu Hoeller
Bedlington Terrier by Pets Adviser  
Cairn Terrier by Living in Monrovia
Kerry Blue Terrier by pw95

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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