West Highland White Terrier, Westy, Dog Portrait
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Terrier Dog Group

The terriers are among the broadest group of breeds around. They range in size from a tiny toy Yorkie to the huge Airedale, from the scrappy but small Westie to the sometimes sweet, sometimes ferocious American Pit Bull Terrier.

In between are a whole smorgasbord of breeds. Jack Russells remain a great favorite, thanks to their happy nature and endless energy. Cairns and Scotties retain their ranks near the top, thanks to a good dose of Scottish charm and their stellar good looks. Fox Terriers, whether Wire-Haired or Smooth, are another breed that captures the hearts of many, just as the famous Asta did decades ago in the Thin Man films.

Most of these breeds began over 200 years ago as working dogs, developed to hunt game, control rat populations or chase off varmints. The attributes that were selected for to produce the needed behavior – fearlessness, endless endurance, great strength in a small size and others – have sometimes come back to haunt modern owners. Terriers can be a trial.

The terrier temperament continues all these generations later. Their sometimes stubborn, but always-ready-for-play attitude can make training a challenge. Terriers, even more so than the average dog, require great patience and persistence. The rewards are great, though. Terriers are extremely loyal. They bond well with their family or special person.

Terriers do require a moderate amount of care, however. Long-haired, silky Yorkies need regular brushing. But they have no undercoat, so shedding is minimal. The dense undercoat and rough fur of a Kerry Blue, similarly, will take regular clipping and good treatment to keep the dog’s coat in good condition.

Because they’re so competitive and high-energy, many terriers won’t take well to regular hair and nail grooming, either. More so than most breeds, it’s important to establish early in their lives that you are the alpha dog and will allow no rebellion.

To help with that task, modern dog owners are lucky in having an array of gear at their disposal. For some individual dogs a simple but sturdy collar and leash is enough. Many others will need, for their sake and yours, a strong chest halter and maybe even a muzzle.

Caring for them requires  taking great precautions with their diet. Some breeds have sensitive stomachs. The Boston Terrier is an example that demonstrates this more clearly than most. They’re not alone, though. More than one Yorkie has frustrated its owner by requiring considerable research to find just the right food.

Some terrier breeds are also more prone than others to certain diseases, such as cardiomyopathy and von Willebrand’s disease. On the whole, all dog diseases are relatively rare (today, at least, thankfully). But terriers come in for their share or perhaps a little more.

Still, despite all the challenges of housebreaking, training, grooming, and diet, owning a terrier is one of the most rewarding options for those seeking a dog. That is, at least according to those who should know best: their human companions.

  1. Airedale Terrier
  2. American Hairless Terrier
  3. American Staffordshire Terrier
  4. Australian Terrier
  5. Bedlington Terrier
  6. Border Terrier 
  7. Bull Terrier
  8. Cairn Terrier
  9. Cesky Terrier
  10. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  11. Glen of Imaal Terrier
  12. Irish Terrier
  13. Kerry Blue Terrier
  14. Lakeland Terrier
  15. Manchester Terrier
  16. Miniature Bull Terrier
  17. Miniature Schnauzer
  18. Norfolk Terrier
  19. Norwich Terrier
  20. Parson Russell Terrier
  21. Rat Terrier
  22. Russell Terrier
  23. Scottish Terrier
  24. Sealyham Terrier
  25. Skye Terrier
  26. Smooth Fox Terrier
  27. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  28. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  29. Welsh Terrier
  30. West Highland White Terrier
  31. Wire Fox Terrier

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