"Is a Terrier the Right Breed for You?

"Is a Terrier the Right Breed for You?

Terriers as a breed are happy, energetic characters and it doesn't matter whether they are large or small dogs, their fun-loving personalities always shine through. As working dogs, they excel at all the jobs they are given to do loving every minute of it. For decades, terriers have been among the most popular working dogs and much loved family pets and there’s very good reasons why this is.

Terriers are high energy dogs and there's nothing they like better than chasing something whether it’s another animal or a ball. In fact, these quick thinking dogs will run after just about anything that moves. A terrier is always prepared and “game” to do most things that's asked of them and will always show a tremendous amount of courage even in the most daunting situations.

Although they always like to be kept busy, terriers are very loyal to their owners by nature. They are affectionate and friendly towards people they don’t know too, but can be a little bit hostile around other animals and more especially if they happen to be small which most terriers will see as prey and therefore they’ll want to hunt and chase them.

Not For Everyone

Because terriers are highly intelligent and need lots of mental stimulation along with physical exercise to be truly happen, they are not the best choice for everyone and this is especially true of people who lead quieter lives. They also need to be handled with a firm but fair hand and be given consistent training throughout their lives or they might get the better of you. Although most terrier breeds are good when they are around children, like any other breed kids and dogs when together, need to be constantly supervised.

If they don't get enough exercise, these lovely dogs can get a bit creative which sees them doing a few things that are best avoided. This includes digging up your lawn or through the cushions of an expensive couch and they can be pretty tenacious when they get it in their heads to do something which makes it hard to train them not to do it in the first place.

A Little Background History

There are records of terriers being around in Britain as far back as the Middle Ages. Their name “terrier” comes from the French word “terre” which has its origins in Latin and literally means “go to earth”. Terriers as working/hunting dogs were used to dig out prey when it went to ground which is a strong instinct that goes hand-in-hand with the breed. It was in the 1700s that terriers were crossed with hounds to develop their already strong hunting skills only in a larger dog. Then in the 1800s, they were bred to bull-type breeds in order to develop fighting dogs.

There are four groups of terrier and each group is based on the size of dogs and the sort of work they were bred to do. These are as follows:

  • Working terriers
  • Bull terriers
  • Toy terriers
  • Companion terriers

There are many working terriers around today, but they make wonderful family pets too as do the other groups whether they fall into the Bull terrier category, toy terrier or companion. The Yorkshire terrier is among the most popular on the planet due to their small size, brave and loyal natures, but it's also due to their gorgeous looks and the fact they never appear to realise how small they actually are, a trait that can be either very endearing or quite ferocious. Other popular terrier breeds include the following:

The Charming Boston Terrier

Originally bred as a fighting dog, the Boston terrier can weigh in at up to 44 lbs. However, they are gentle giants and known to be very well mannered. Unlike other terriers, the Boston is more laid-back and mellow by nature which means they make great family pets for people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors before coming home to relax on the sofa with a loving companion and one that has the knick name “the American Gentleman”.

The Delightful Scottish Terrier

Bred in Scotland, the delightful Scottish terrier is an energetic and confident character. Originally bred to hunt badgers, these dogs are extremely tenacious and known for their courage and loyalty. As long as puppies have been well socialised, they make wonderful family pets, but they do need to be kept busy both mentally and physically or they might develop some unwanted behavioural problems.

The Cute West Highland Terrier

Another lovely breed that originated in Scotland where they were highly prized as hunting dogs, the Westie may be a cute looking, but they are highly skilled hunters. But with this comes a lovely, sweet and alert temperament although they do make great guard dogs too. They might be small in stature, but the Westie more than makes up for their small size with their massive and friendly personalities.

The Feisty Cairn Terrier

Another terrier that hails from north of the border where they were originally bred to hunt on the cairns of Scotland, these lovely terriers are courageous and loyal by nature. Being highly intelligent with a strong prey drive, the Cairn terrier needs to be well socialised from a young age and be given lots of consistent training throughout their lives or they could well become a little wilful and stubborn. With this said, the breed is among the most popular to keep as family pets and has been for decades.

The Proud Airedale

The wonderfully proud looking Airedale terrier hails from Yorkshire where they were bred to hunt game over rough terrain. They boast tremendous stamina and although large in size, they can be very gentle which makes them a great choice as a family pet. However, like all terrier breeds, the Airedale boasts a strong prey drive which means you have to keep an eye on them when they are off their leads because if given the chance, they'll be off chasing down prey you may not even have spotted.


Terriers are lovely dogs although they are high energy dogs that boast very strong prey drives, one of the reasons why they are not the perfect choice for everyone. However, if you lead an active life and live in the country, choosing to share your home with a terrier could be extremely entertaining and they will keep you busy for hours with all their antics. There are plenty of terrier breeds to choose from whether small or large which means doing a little research before you make your final choice.

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