Terriers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and they are one of the most popular dog types in the UK overall in terms of the sheer number of terriers kept as pets and working dogs across the country.
A terrier is a dog type rather than a breed in its own right, and it is also the name given to one of the Kennel Club’s man dog breed groupings, each of which encompass a range of different individual dog breeds that all share a number of core traits.
This enables the Kennel Club to group dogs with shared traits into wider categories for showing and other purposes, so that as well as competing in breed-specific classes, winning dogs can also go head to head against dogs of other breeds with similar origins in higher-level group classes, to find the best possible example of dogs of the terrier type.
The Kennel Club does of course only register and count terrier dogs that are formally recognised as breeds within the UK, but even this constitutes 26 different dog breeds in and of itself, and there are also a range of other terrier breeds that we don’t see much of in the UK, but that are recognised in other parts of the world.
This means that there is a lot of choice available to puppy buyers who are seeking a terrier as their next pet, and the terrier grouping is a versatile one that offers a lot of variety in terms of the core traits of different dogs within the breed group.
Choosing the right dog of any type is not a decision to make lightly, or in haste – and you need to spend plenty of time researching the right breed for you, ruling out unsuitable ones, and even narrowing down your choice of breeder to buy from.
However, knowing which terrier dog breeds are the most popular among other puppy buyers in the UK can help to provide pointers and direction on the right choice, but this is information that is often hard to come by.
Pets4Homes is the biggest and busiest dedicated pet classifieds website, advice portal and forum in the UK, and our unique position means that we have access to information that can help you to find out what breeds and types of dog are currently the most popular, and those that are not in great demand.
In this article, we’ll provide you with our definitive list of the six most popular terrier dog breeds in the UK, along with supporting information on their average advertised prices, and the popularity of pedigree versus non-pedigree dogs of each breed.
We’ll also share our insights into the reasons behind each terrier breed’s level of popularity, and the pros and cons of choosing them as your next pet.
Read on to find out what terrier dog breeds are the most popular pets in the UK – and why.
Let’s start with the basics – what is a terrier, and what makes any dog eligible for inclusion in the terrier dog group?
The word “terrier” comes from the Latin word “terra,” which means “earth,” and this gives the first pointer to what makes a terrier a terrier. Terriers are dogs and dog breeds that were originally bred and developed to hunt pests and vermin of various different types and sizes, many of which live in underground burrows or holts – and the terrier is so-named because they can pursue such animals underground into their homes to catch and kill them.
When we think of vermin, we often think of small rodents like rats and mice, and some terrier breeds are very well known for being excellent ratters, and helping to cull populations of small rodents. However, not all terriers hunt for such small prey, and badgers, foxes, and even otters have all historically been hunted by different terrier breeds in the UK.
Terriers are a specific type of working dogs that are bred and valued for their courage, tenacity and stubbornness when pursuing prey, as well as their strong prey drive itself and dedication to finishing a hunt successfully. Terriers are by their very nature hardy, tough and brave dogs, which usually have bags of personality and outgoing, alert natures.
However, whilst the terrier’s origins come from their working roles, today they are much more widely kept as pets and companions than as working dogs. Whilst some people still work terriers in the UK, this is quite unusual in modern times, and even working terriers are generally much-loved pets too.
To be classed as a terrier, a dog doesn’t ever need to have worked itself – nor do any of its known ancestors. If a dog belongs to a breed that was originally kept as a working terrier, they are still classed as a terrier and will display recognisable terrier personality traits, which is what is important for inclusion within the terrier group.
Before we introduce our list of the six most popular terrier dog breeds in the UK, it is important to explain how we collated the information we used to do so, and what the results we’re sharing reflect.
As we mentioned earlier on, Pets4Homes is by far the largest and most visited dedicated pet classifieds website in the UK, hosting more adverts for dog and puppies for sale each year than anyone else. This means that the trends that develop across our own website in terms of adverts placed and viewed by visitors represent the most comprehensive snapshot of the wider market across the UK as a whole.
Understandably, we don’t have access to data and information for adverts and dog sales advertised elsewhere, but with more adverts placed on Pets4Homes than anywhere else, we can provide an accurate picture of the state of play and what breeds are in demand that reflects the general trends of the time.
When a dog or puppy seller places an advert here, we gather anonymous information from it on factors such as the breed or type of dog advertised, its asking price, and its pedigree status. Putting this information together across the site as a whole over the course of the year tells us which breeds are the most popular in terms of advert numbers, whether pedigrees or non-pedigrees of each breed are more common, and the type of prices that dogs of each breed are advertised for sale at.
The list you’ll find below of terrier dog breeds ranked by their popularity in the UK represents dogs of recognised terrier breeds that were advertised in the highest numbers on Pets4Homes during 2018, which is the latest year for which we have a full set of data to work with.
To provide a more comprehensive level of information on terrier popularity and traits, we’ve also supplied information on the split in advert numbers between pedigree and non-pedigree examples of each terrier breed offered for sale here, based on the information supplied by the persons placing the adverts.
When it comes to how we’ve established the pricing information we’ll show for each terrier dog breed, we’ve expressed this in terms of the average price for all dogs of each breed combined, then further divided this to show information on the average prices for pedigrees and non-pedigree dogs separately.
These figures represent the averaged advertised price for each breed based on information supplied by advertisers, rather than the eventual sale prices achieved. To determine each average, we first discounted adverts placed with no asking price or for free, and also discounted dogs that were offered for sale for less than £100, or over £8,000.
This is in order to ensure that errors on the part of advertisers, or dogs that are priced well outside of the norms for their respective breeds do not cause a marked and misleading change in the price averages we’re sharing.
One final point to note is that our popularity ranking for terrier dog breeds is based on the number of adverts placed on Pets4Homes for each breed in 2018, rather than the number of individual dogs or puppies advertised. Many breeders advertise a whole litter within one advert rather than creating individual adverts for each pup, and so the number of adverts for each breed shown will be somewhat lower than the total number of dogs of each breed showcased here within the given time period.
However, as this practice is common amongst breeders of all different breeds, the ranking of our list – if not the exact number of dogs within each position – remains broadly accurate.
Next, we will present Pets4Homes’ exclusive snapshot of the six most popular terrier dog breeds in the UK right now, based on information collated from across the site during 2018.
You will also find information on advertised prices, pedigree versus non-pedigree popularity, and some insights into the reasons behind each listed breed’s popularity in the UK.
The Lakeland terrier is perhaps one of the less well-known terrier dog breeds in the UK, but nonetheless it makes it into our popularity rankings in the sixth-place position. The Lakeland terrier is a small, compact and plucky little terrier breed that hails from England’s Lake District.
Looking at the data collated across Lakeland terrier adverts placed here in 2018, pedigree dogs of the breed are in short supply, with just 29 advertised on Pets4Homes over the course of the entire year. This indicates that pedigree dogs of the breed are harder to come by than non-pedigrees, but whether this is the result of a lack of demand for pedigrees amongst puppy buyers or simply scarcity of pedigree dogs for buyers that want them is less certain.
There is also a big difference between the price of pedigrees of the breed versus non-pedigrees, which lends weight to the position that lack of supply, rather than lack of demand, helps to drive pricing for pedigree Lakelands.
Lakeland terriers are very versatile terriers in terms of their suitability as pets, and there are a lot of good points to recommend them to puppy buyers trying to choose between different terrier dog breeds.
Lakelands are very energetic small dogs that are often full of beans, and which have very high exercise requirements and need long, varied walks to keep them happy. However, a Lakeland terrier that is well exercised and that has all of their needs met is also a very calm, relaxed dog within the home, and they are generally perfectly happy being left alone for a few hours at a time with a toy and something to amuse themselves with.
They need a moderate amount of grooming to keep their coats in good condition, but they are also a very low-shedding breed that doesn’t make too much mess within the home.
Another couple of advantages the Lakeland terrier has is being notably good with children of all ages, and being very easy to train.
However, the Lakeland terrier’s health is below average compared to most other dog breeds, and with an average lifespan of anywhere between 9-15 years, the health of any individual dog of the breed can be quite variable. There are several hereditary health issues that can be found within the breed population, many of which relate to the dog’s eyes. These include microphthalmia, or abnormally formed small eyes, cataracts, and primary lens luxation.
Some Lakeland health problems can be screened for in breeding stock prior to mating, so always ask any breeder you are thinking of choosing a puppy from about the health tests performed on their adult dogs, and ask to view the results.
The English bull terrier is one of the larger terrier dog breeds, although they are medium sized rather than large. These are muscular, stocky dogs that have quite an imposing physical presence, which is balanced by a hugely loyal and affectionate personality.
As you can see, the English bull terrier is quite an expensive dog breed to buy, at well over £1,000 for a pedigree dog of the breed and over £800 for even non-pedigree specimens. Pedigree English bull terriers also outnumber non-pedigrees by over three to one, which is unusual compared to most of the other terrier breeds in our popularity list – for which most breeds have a closer balance between the number of pedigrees and non-pedigrees, or a weighting in favour of non-pedigrees.
English bull terriers have a very distinctive physical appearance. They are medium sized in terms of height but relatively stocky, with a lot of lean muscle mass that lends bulk but not excessive weight. The head of dogs of the breed is perhaps their most easily identifying feature, and the English bull terrier’s head is convex rather than concave in shape, with a distinctive outwards curve and often, prominent angle or bump over the eyes.
This is one terrier dog breed that was only formally developed within the last few decades, although dogs of this type have been around for much longer than this. The breed’s working origins include applications as hunting dogs and “gentleman’s companions,” and this is one working terrier type that has a particularly long history of life as pets and companions as well as within working roles.
Today’s English bull terriers are almost exclusively kept as pets, and they are excellent companions for the right type of owners.
The English bull terrier personality is friendly, inquisitive and fun-loving, and they are very personable dogs that show a lot of affection and loyalty to their owners and favourite people. They also tend to get on well with children that form part of their family, often actively enjoying their company and being very protective of younger children, but they can be a little shy and speculative with children that they don’t know, or that are overly boisterous.
English bull terriers also make for excellent watchdogs that will often actively patrol their territory and soon bark if someone approaches, but they are not naturally aggressive dogs, and rarely make good guard dogs.
This is a breed that is around the middle of the pack in terms of how much exercise they need each day. They are medium-sized dogs that need to take at least a couple of moderate to long walks each day including off-lead play, socialisation, and plenty of variety, but they do tend to settle quickly and be reasonably quiet within the home too.
However, dogs of the breed need almost constant company and won’t thrive if left alone for too long at a time, and so they’re not a good choice of pets for families that don’t have someone at home most of the day.
In terms of training and management, English bull terriers are average in the intelligence stakes and can usually be trained to learn and execute a reasonable number of essential commands, but they are rarely capable of learning a wide range of commands or complex chain commands and perfect recall.
The breed is amenable to well planned out training sessions that are kept short and varied, but they can be prone to stubbornness and do have minds of their own – if they see something more interesting going on nearby, they might simply ignore you and go off and investigate!
Another common trait of the breed is that English bull terriers tend to be slow to grow and slow to mature, keeping a very puppy-like temperament well into adulthood.
The English bull terrier breed’s overall health can fairly be described as complex, and just as this is a dog breed that can be prohibitively expensive to buy, they can also be costly to own too. Whilst the breed’s average lifespan is within more general norms at between 10-14 years, there are several serious and acute hereditary health issues that can be inherited by English bullies, and which present themselves within a reasonable number of dogs of the breed.
These include hereditary deafness (many English bullies are white coated, which within this breed specifically, is correlated with a higher than usual number of deaf dogs) and around 18% of all English bull terriers in the UK are thought to be either fully or partially deaf. It is important to note also that deafness within the breed is not exclusive to white-coated dogs either.
Other breed health challenges include hereditary heart disease, hereditary liver disease, and patellar luxation. Dogs of the breed also often need to be delivered by caesarean section, due to the size and curvature of their heads. This makes breeding English bull terriers costly, which is reflected in their average sale prices.
If you are considering buying an English bull terrier, take your time to learn the ins and outs of the breed’s general health, and specific health challenges. Find out if the breeder you are considering buying from undertook any health tests on their parent stock, and never commit to a purchase without viewing their results.
The West Highland white terrier or “Westie” is another native British terrier dog breed that is very popular in the UK. West Highland white terriers hail from Scotland, and the breed is instantly recognisable in the UK thanks to their distinctive conformation and all-white coat.
Non-pedigree West Highland white terrier adverts were far more numerous than those for pedigrees in 2018, which indicates that pedigree status is possibly not hugely important for most puppy buyers seeking a pet and companion rather than a dog with show potential or to use as breeding stock.
However, pedigree Westies are still in demand amongst buyers who are looking for something specific or who simply prefer to buy a dog with pedigree paperwork, and this is reflected in the average asking price for pedigree dogs of the breed, which is slightly on the high side for a small breed.
This is a popular dog breed that has long been valued as a pet and companion in the UK, but that like all terrier breeds, has working origins. Westies were originally bred and developed for hunting vermin like foxes and rodents, although dogs of the breed have not been widely used within roles of these types for a long time, and today they are far more common as pets.
West Highland white terriers are compact little dogs that are a good fit for homes of all sizes, and they are particularly notable amongst terrier breeds for generally being very good with children. They often form strong bonds with children they live with, and tend to be tolerant with visitors too.
They’re not amongst the most dominant or territorial of terrier breeds, but they do recognise and sometimes guard their own territories, soon barking to let you know if someone is approaching. They are usually quite social and friendly with other dogs that display good manners and social communication, and are generally keen to make new friends with both other dogs and people when properly introduced.
This is a very affectionate and demonstrative dog breed that loves to snuggle up with their favourite people, but the Westie is by no means a lapdog, and they tend to be lively and outgoing although not as excitable as many equivalent sized terrier dog types. They need at least a couple of moderate length, varied and energetic walks each day, but will then usually be quite happy and well behaved within the home.
However, Westies are not very tolerant of being left alone for very long at a time, and so they are not usually a good fit for people who are out for most of the day, or only able to pop home at lunchtime to let the dog out for a short while.
One trait of West Highland white terriers that often catches first-time owners by surprise is the fact that for a shorthaired dog breed, Westies need quite a lot of regular brushing and grooming to keep their coats in good condition. They shed moderately but not hugely heavily, and so caring for the coat of a dog of this breed should be factored into the general time commitment required of their owners.
In terms of training and management, Westies are around the middle of the pack in terms of canine intelligence, and the same in terms of their ability to learn new skills and follow commands. This means that usually, even a first-time dog owner that does plenty of research can train their own West Highland white terrier to follow all of the core, essential commands, and providing that the dog knows their boundaries and is appropriately managed, they tend to be responsive and well behaved.
One prospective downside of West Highland white terrier ownership that all prospective buyers should bear in mind is that the overall picture of the breed’s health across the board is not great. Whilst West Highland white terriers are often quite long lived, with an average lifespan of 12-16 years, there are several hereditary health conditions that can be found within the breed, and a reasonable proportion of dogs of the breed exhibit one or more of them.
Skin allergies, sensitivities, and chronic problems with the skin and coat are perhaps the best-known and most common health issue within the breed. Whilst skin or coat problems might not seem like a huge cause for concern in the greater scheme of things, it should not be overlooked how much of an impact these can have on the dog’s quality of life, their care requirements, and their owners’ bank balances!
Hereditary deafness, inherited liver issues and a range of other hereditary health issues can also be found within some dogs of the breed, but many of the best-known Westie health issues can be tested for in breeding stock prior to going ahead with a mating match.
If you are thinking of buying a Westie, find out from the breeders you contact about the general health of their breed lines, and if they undertake any pre-breeding health tests on their parent stock. Pre-breeding testing is more commonly performed on pedigree dogs of the breed than non-pedigrees, but hereditary Westie health issues can of course affect non-pedigree dogs too, so proceed with caution if you are tying to save some money by choosing a non-pedigree Westie who has not undergone any health tests.
The Border terrier is another native British dog breed that has long been valued for its working ability as a hunting dog, and that also made a very successful transition to pet life as their traditional working roles have become eroded.
Whilst the split between non-pedigree and pedigree Border terrier adverts placed in 2018 was relatively close to even, pedigree dog adverts outnumbered non-pedigrees by a small margin. This indicates that like many terrier breeds, non-pedigrees are very common and popular, although not to the point that they surpass pedigrees within this breed, as is the case for many terrier dog types.
Border terriers are also relatively keenly priced, even for pedigrees (at just over £700 per dog) which means that most prospective puppy buyers would be able to budget for one if they chose to.
So, why is the Border terrier such a popular breed? First of all, they are small but not tiny, which opens up the possibility of ownership to people who might not be able to consider a larger dog breed.
They also have bags of personality, and are loyal and affectionate with their owners, and usually get on well with children that live with them too. Border terriers are playful and inquisitive and often quite mischievous – if your Border terrier seems to be behaving a little too quietly, the chances are that they are up to something!
Like most terrier dog breeds, Border terriers are high energy dogs that need a significant amount of exercise to keep them happy and fulfilled, and they won’t thrive within a very sedentary lifestyle. They’re also smart and analytical dogs, which is another common terrier trait, and they can often work things out for themselves given enough time – such as how to escape from the garden!
Border terriers can be trained to learn quite a wide range of commands, and they need a confident and experienced trainer that knows how to harness the dog’s core traits and personality, and provide direction for them. Border terriers are also versatile enough to fulfil a number of different roles, including various working applications and also potentially things like canine sports too.
The border terrier coat is wiry and fairly short, and requires little brushing and grooming. Dogs of the breed are also quite low-shedding, so they don’t make a huge mess of shed hair in the house, and can be left on their own for a few hours at a time as long as all of their needs are met and they have something to entertain themselves with.
However, a bored Border terrier can get into all manner of trouble very quickly, and so it is important for prospective owners to understand that dogs of the breed do need plenty of company and entertainment, and they’re not a good choice of pet for households where everyone is out for the main part of the day.
Border terriers are naturally watchful and can make for good watchdogs, but they can also be a little territorial, and so plenty of socialisation with both other dogs and people is important.
Their prey drive is naturally very high too, and so care should be taken on walks to prevent dogs of the breed from chasing or hunting wildlife and smaller pets.
In terms of Border terrier health, dogs of the breed live for an average of around 12-14 years, and they’re not prone to falling ill very often. That said, there are a number of hereditary health conditions found across the breed that can compromise the quality of life and longevity of individual dogs, and so prospective puppy buyers should learn in detail about the main threats to the breed, and ask breeders they are considering buying from about their health testing protocols and the health of their parent stock.
The Jack Russell is perhaps the best-known terrier breeds of all, and also the most popular small terrier type, beating out a lot of competition for the spot. These small, plucky little dogs have very lively and outgoing personalities, and can be very entertaining to live with.
The first thing that you have probably noticed about the figures for Jack Russell adverts placed here in 2018 is that non-pedigree dogs outnumber pedigrees by a huge percentage, with less than a hundred pedigree adverts placed over the year out of almost 4,000 ads in total.
This indicates that pedigree status is not generally very important to Jack Russell buyers, and as a breed that has a very strong working history right up until recent times, working ability and robust health have always been more prized within this breed than show potential.
Jack Russells are also one of the cheapest dog breeds of all to buy too, even for pedigrees, at under £500 per dog. The average for non-pedigrees itself is low at under £350 each, which means that J