Terrier dog breeds.
Walk downtown and likely you’ll meet a Terrier or two.
There’s the Airedale Terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier, and the West Highland White Terrier, to name a few.
What is it that sets these pups apart from other canine pals?
Why choose a Terrier puppy above the rest?
Why are some Terriers banned in certain countries?
And let’s be honest, is a Terrier dog even right for you?
Let’s find out.
Terrier Dogs: What They Are
They are feisty, clever, and fiercely independent.
They have a weakness for barking, they thrive on action and are stubborn in all the best ways.
Terrier in fact comes from the Latin word terra, meaning ground.
Terriers are dogs who put their nose to the ground as they sniff out prey.
They are hunting dogs with a high prey drive.
So you better believe it, these pals are not to be trusted with small family pets.
Hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs are no match to serve as companions alongside a terrier dog.
Inside the Terrier family, breeds are divided into two categories.
First is the typical terrier.
You know, the ones who are mostly small and donned in wiry coats.
They flaunt exuberant energy and were first developed to hunt rats, badgers, weasels, and such.
The second category is bull-and-terrier breeds.
These pals are a cross of bulldog and terrier.
So naturally, they are solid and heavy like a bulldog while being tenacious and bold like the terrier.
With proper training, dogs with this label can mature into loyal family pets.
However, some cities have banned these dogs so check your local laws before bringing a bull-and-terrier breed home.
When browsing Terrier breeds, you’ll discover a wide variety in color, size, temperament, and fur.
Different breeds were designed for various terrain.
There are short legs and long legs and peculiar face shapes and you name it!
Without further ado, here are 31 Terrier dog breeds and what you should know about them.
31 Terrier Dog Breeds
1. Airedale Terrier
First up is the quickly recognized Airedale Terrier. Standing 23″ tall at the shoulder, this breed is dubbed “King of the Terriers” and is the tallest terrier breed. They first became famous during WWII thanks to their skills in delivering messages and finding wounded soldiers for the British.
True to their name, they hail from the Airedale Valley region in northern England. They are exuberant, brave, and in days past loved to hunt rats, weasels, otters, and – thanks to their size – wildcats! The Airedale Terrier is an excellent guard and watchdog. He sheds very little, so an occasional brushing to remove any dead hair should satisfy the grooming needs.
2. American Hairless Terrier
A relatively new breed, the American Hairless Terrier made its debut in 1972 and was only recognized by AKC in 2016. This breed is smart and embodies a deep love for learning. Thanks to having little to no hair, grooming is pretty simple for these babes. They will, however, need additional protection from both the sun and cold climates. American Hairless Terriers are few and far between. If you’re fortunate enough to spot one, thanks to being hairless, these pals can be excellent companions for people who otherwise suffer from pet allergies.
3. American Staffordshire Terrier
Also known as AmStaff, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a mix of terrier and bulldog. (Sometimes they are mistaken for the Pit Bull Terrier.) Initially, these muscular pals were used for dogfighting. They are tenacious, brave, and strong. If they are properly trained from little up, they can be charming family pets. However, it’s doubtful they’ll take to new dogs and pets unless they are actually raised together.
Note this breed is banned in some areas by municipal law. Check your local dog laws before bringing your own AmStaff home.
4. Australian Terrier
Closely resembling the Cairn Terrier, true to their name Australian Terriers first originated in Australia. This breed is quick to learn, deeply loyal, and even carries a touch of sensitivity. What’s more? This breed loves children too!
5. Bedlington Terrier
No surprise here. The Bedlington Terrier was named after the mining town of Bedlington, England where they were first employed as ratters. Their bloodline includes traces of Whippet and Otterhound. At first glance, they appear soft and fluffy. On the inside though? They are hardy, feisty, and so much fun to have around.
In comparison to other terrier breeds, the Bedlington Terrier is less noisy and calmer than his Terrier cousins. Still, just like the cousins, this breed loves to catch mice, rats, badgers, and foxes. Grooming is mid to high maintenance as the Bedlington needs a daily brushing along with occasional trimming.
6. Border Terrier
The Border Terrier was developed in the border area between Scotland and England. Specifically, they were bred to be a taller variety of the Hunting Terrier. Thanks to their longer legs, they gain extra speed. So naturally, these beauties are athletic and excel in agility challenges.
Border Terriers are smart, persistent, and quick to learn. They love visitors, they’ll bark at the slightest bit of action, and they carry a deep love for adventure. A strong prey instinct runs deep in their blood and they’ve proven themselves to excel in both urban and country living. In comparison to other Terrier cousins, the Border Terrier is more tolerant and less stubborn, making them excellent family dogs.
7. Boston Terrier
Recognized for his tuxedo markings, the Boston Terrier has been affectionately dubbed, “the American Gentleman.” He’s popular, carefree, and a tad clownish. The Boston Terrier first originated with blood sport dogs in England but later changed careers when imported to Boston in 1870.
One thing to note with the Boston Terrier is his aptness to health issues thanks to his prominent eyes and flat snout.
8. Bull Terrier
First bred for bull-baiting, the Bull Terrier comes in two sizes: Standard and mini. A distinctive feature for the Bull Terrier is his egg-shaped head that is set with small, triangular eyes. This breed was developed over 100 years ago as a mix between English Bulldog and English White Terrier (now extinct).
This breed is independent and thanks to his short, glossy coat, easy to groom. If you’re considering a white Bull Terrier, note that 1/5 of all-white bull terriers are born deaf. So check that hearing before your pup comes home.
9. Cairn Terrier
They are small yet fearsome. Originating first in the Scottish Highlands, the Cairn Terrier was named after the stone mounds, called cairns. These terriers would comb the mounds while hunting rodents. They carry a strong prey drive and share a deep love for anyone considered family.
Do note: if you plan to show your Cairn Terrier, the coat requires hand-stripping to maintain that signature wiry texture.
10. Cesky Terrier
The Cesky Terrier not only originated in the Czech Republic, they actually are the national dog of Czech Republic! They are a delightful combination of Sealyham Terrier and Scottish Terrier. Not to mention, they are semi-rare and small in size. Grooming needs are average. Oh, and they’ve been dubbed names such as the Czech Terrier and the Bohemian Terrier.
11. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Say hello to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. They are small in size carrying a long body atop short, stubby legs. Their head is unusually large, topped with a fuzzy topknot. The Dandie Dinmont is among the rarest of Terrier breeds. They are a calm variety who enjoys a baritone bark in contrast to the more popular high-pitched Terrier yap.
12. Glen of Imaal Terrier
Hailing from Glen of Imaal in Wicklow, Ireland is this small to medium-sized Terrier. The Glen of Imaal Terrier is considered strong but silent. Meaning they hunt game quietly, barking very little. In weight, they vary between 30-40 pounds total.
13. Irish Terrier
Among the oldest of all terrier breeds is the Irish Terrier. First a farm dog in Ireland, this breed is small to medium atop long legs. Coat colors vary between red and wheaten and exercise is a must. Irish Terriers love action and demand a regular workout of sorts.
14. Jack Russell Terrier
Coming from the United Kingdom, the Jack Russell Terrier is a famous little chap. He’s small in size, standing no taller than 12″ at the shoulder. His coat is high-maintenance and he is high on energy, making exercise a must. Best of all? These pals love a good playmate. They are excellent for medium and large families because hello: more kids equal more playmates!
15. Kerry Blue Terrier
Donned in a blueish coat, these Terriers are named after the county of Kerry in Ireland. They are of medium stature and have been employed for anything from exterminator to police dog. Kerry Blue Terriers sport a strong prey drive and can be aggressive with other dogs. Be sure to start training early with this breed to ensure a well-behaved, mature dog adult.
16. Lakeland Terrier
First bred for 19th-century farmers in the Lake District of England, Lakeland Terriers are skilled in killing fox and vermin. Their body is small in size while their legs are long and athletic. With proper training, the Lakeland Terrier is the perfect touch of not too reserved and not too aggressive.
17. Manchester Terrier
Smooth-coated, bred to kill rats, and straight from Manchester, England. The Manchester Terrier is wary of strangers, thus making himself an ideal watchdog. He’ll dig, chase, and hit high speeds. Learning comes easy, and agility is a given.
Manchester Terriers come in two sizes: toy, which can weigh up to 12 pounds, and standard, weighing as much as 22 pounds. They are lively, fun, and typically healthy. Thanks to their short, smooth coat, grooming is easy and their fur is low maintenance. Following WWII, this breed nearly went extinct and is still today among the less common Terrier breeds.
18. Miniature Schnauzer
Sidestepping the typical terrier profile is the Mini Schnauzer. He doesn’t have terrier in his name, and he has no background in England, Ireland, or Scotland. Still, he has the feisty Terrier personality, he is deeply loyal and playful all around.
The Miniature Schnauzer is the most popular Schnauzer variety and is among the most popular of all dog breeds. He is smart, he loves to make people laugh, and he’s quick to learn new tricks.
19. Norfolk Terrier
Coming from Great Britain, the Norfolk Terrier is a small little chap, weighing around 12 pounds. He’s among the smallest of Terriers and feisty just like the rest! He’s quick to learn and was first employed as a ratter and fox hunter. Thanks to his preference for working in packs, the Norfolk Terrier is generally friendly toward other dogs.
20. Norwich Terrier
Similar to the Norfolk Terrier except for the ears, the Norwich Terrier also hails from Great Britain. This breed is sturdy, fearless, and deeply independent. They stand a short 10″ tall and can be difficult to find, thanks to their small litters and needing to be delivered via c-section.
21. Rat Terrier
Common on American farms during the early 20th century was the well-loved Rat Terrier. They have few health problems, they are smart, and they love to please. In addition to a touch of hardiness, they also carry a streak of stubbornness so you’ll do well to start training early with this breed. Grooming is simple thanks to their short, smooth coat. And size? You can take your pick between standard and mini.
22. Scottish Terrier
Affectionately dubbed “Scotties”, the Scottish Terrier is a short little pal with a bushy beard and flowing skirt. He’s a tad gruff and fiercely independent. While he loves anyone considered family, he is not so fond of other strangers and dogs.
23. Sealyham Terrier
First employed as an Otter Hound, the Sealyham Terrier first made its home in Wales. He is quick to adapt, small in stature, and requires regular brushing.
24. Skye Terrier
Another small little pal, the Skye Terrier carries long, silky hair that looks best when brushed often. He’s good-natured and fun. Plus, he is exceptionally rare. So if you see one at the park, be sure to say hi!
25. Smooth Fox Terrier
Friendly, charming, and beautiful are three words summing up the Smooth Fox Terrier. This chap is low maintenance thanks to his short, smooth coat. He also carries exuberant amounts of energy and loves to exercise in the outdoors. Plan for frequent walks through your neighborhood and visits to a local dog park when there’s a Smooth Fox Terrier in the party.
26. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier ranks number one in popularity among the long-legged Terriers from Ireland (the other two terriers being the Irish Terrier and the Kerry Blue Terrier). This beaut is medium size and flaunts a silky, soft coat. He is sweet, charming, and carries a relaxed and easy-going personality. Thanks to his silky coat, he’ll need regular brushing to keep him looking swell.
27. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Often confused with the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is slightly more compact and began as a fighting dog in 1800’s England. These dogs are powerful, agile, and of medium size. They are most popular throughout the United Kingdom and Australia. When you socialize them early, they can mature into excellent canine companions.
28. Welsh Terrier
Related to both the smaller Lakeland Terrier as well as the larger Airedale Terrier, the Welsh Terrier carries traces of both breeds. He is among the oldest of all Terrier breeds and began with the intent of exterminating varmints in Wales. He is affectionate, independent, and presents few health concerns. Typically, he’ll enjoy an average lifespan while sporting lots of high energy! He loves a good challenge, will seldom say no, and as such, is not the best match for first-time dog owners. Welsh Terriers thrive under a firm and loving master who is consistent in teaching them the ropes of life.
29. West Highland White Terrier
Affectionately dubbed Westie, these pals are cute, playful, and active! They live alert to their surroundings, they carry an independent streak, and they thrive when given lots of exercise. It should be noted, Westies are not particularly cuddly so if you’re hoping for a couch potato, keep searching.
30. Wire Fox Terrier
As their name implies, hunting foxes are their jam! Plus winning dog shows and making people smile, of course. The Wire Fox Terrier made its debut in Great Britain and today is the perfect combination of smart and athletic all-in-one.
31. Yorkshire Terrier
A popular little chap, the Yorkshire Terrier is bold, affectionate, and one for adventure. He is quick to learn, he’s all-around fearless, and he’s donned in a stunning silk coat.
Q. Are Terriers good house dogs?
A. Bred to hunt, Terriers sport a high prey drive. So while training is expected, many Terriers will never settle with smaller animals around and are best suited for single-animal homes.
Q. What is a Terrier personality?
A. Terriers are feisty, quick, bold, and fearless. They are often vocal and exude lots of energy. What’s more, thanks to their origins in hunting, they carry a high prey drive too.
Q. Are Terriers high maintenance?
A. This depends on your choice of Terrier. If it has a short, smooth coat, then grooming will be minimal. If, however, the coat is long and silky, expect more grooming.
“Exactly the style of football I love is like a terrier,” Says Wagner. “We are not the biggest dog, we are small, but we are aggressive, we are not afraid, we like to compete with the big dogs and we are quick and mobile and we have endurance. We never give up. This small dog has fighting spirit for sure.”
That, my friends, is the Terrier dog.
P.S. Ready to bring home your own Terrier puppy? Browse our newest selection of puppies right here.
Becker, M. & Spadafori, G. (n.d.). How to identify terrier dog breeds. Retrieved from https://www.dummies.com/pets/dogs/how-to-identify-terrier-dog-breeds/.
Jobe, M. (2019). The ultimate guide to terrier breeds. Retrieved from https://terriblyterrier.com/terrier-breeds/.
Terrier Dog Breeds (n.d.). Dog breeds expert. Retrieved from https://www.dog-breeds-expert.com/terrier-dog-breeds.html.
Sara Ochoa, DVM is an expert veterinarian ready to help you give your dog an amazing life. Stationed in East Texas, Dr. Ochoa specializes in small and/or exotic animals. She’s currently loving life alongside her husband Greg and their three fur babies: Ruby the Schnoodle, Monkey the tortoise, and Oliver James (affectionately dubbed “OJ”) the cat.