Breeds of Terriers
The origin of the word terrier is the Latin word "terra" or earth. Originally the terriers were sent to earth to ferret out game.
When the English began to classify dogs, all breeds of small dogs were called terriers, as a matter of course. Now the group classification means any animal that hunted game of any description.
As a breed there are numerous varieties. Here is a list of terrier breeds:
American Hairless Terrier
American Pit Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Austrian Shorthaired Pinscher
Black and Tan Hardocated Northern Terrier
Black Russian terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Danish Chicken Dog
English Bull Terrier
German Hunt Terrier
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Guatemalan Bull Terrier
Irish Glen Imaal Terrier
Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Manchester Terrier (Standard)
Miniature Fox Terrier
Norwich Terrier Parson Russell Terrier
Petit Brabancon (Belgian or Brussels Griffon)
Pit Bull Terrier
Russian Bear Schnauzer
Russian Toy Terrier
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
Smooth Fox Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Swiss Shorthaired Pinscher (Glattharidge)
Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Tibetan terrier (not a terrier, see further on this page)
Toy Fox Terrier
Toy Manchester Terrier
West Highland Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier
Manchester Terrier (Toy)
Despite that impressive list of terriers breeds I am certain that it is not complete, there are many American terriers omitted. It would be next to impossible to compile a complete list of all breeds of terrier.
Despite the fact that pinscher means terrier in German and there are Russian and American varieties of terriers it is accepted that all the terriers originated in the British Isles. The English, the Welsh the Irish and the Scottish were all represented with their own specific breeds.
Despite the fact that the Scottish terriers are some of the oldest dogs known to man, they were unknown ourtside of Scotland until the 1930's. They hunted game above and below ground and many of them are such as the Cairn terriers are exceptional swimmers.
Many of the terriers took their names from their places of origin as in the Manchester terrier, the Yorkshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull. Others took their name from their breeder as in the Jack Russell terrier.
Terriers were a tough, usually small hardy dog, bred to catch vermin. They had a reputation for being fearless and they pursued fox, badger, rat and otter with a ferocious determination. As they were working dogs for working men, their looks were not of any importance. Nowadays there are breeding standards for all the terriers, but their irrepressable humour, comic abilitites, and their fiesty temperaments have not been altered.
Terriers can be very analytical dogs, they have a predilection to think things through and have to question everything. Let's examine a simple command "sit". To some dogs that is a simple everyday common garden request, but it requires a reasonable amount of analysis when you suggest that to a terrier!
- "You want me to sit? Why? Why would you want me to sit know when there are more important things going on?
- Is it necessary that I sit now, and is it important that I sit here?
- Why will you be pleased if I comply with this sitting request?
- Do I have to sit in this immediate area?
- Will the next field do?
- Can I finish sniffing before I sit?
- Why now would you want me to sit when I want to be alert?
- Was that a rabbit?
- Can I smell rain?
- Will it stop the rain if I sit?
- If I do sit just how long will I have to sit for.
- I wonder if there is anything to eat there?
- Now fluent dog spoken here, what was it you thought you said? It was just so interesting watching that paper bag float away!
It does vary, some of the short haired terriers are very low maintenance, for example the rat terrier takes no time to groom, whilst the cairn terrier with its double coat takes a time to brush.
Some terriers have a wiry coat that looks natural but it takes a lot of work and thrice weekly grooming sessions to achieve that natural look.
Many terriers require a labor-intensive process called stripping, and whilst this can be avoided by clipping the coat, it means that the color of the coat is altered.
They all have an average life expectancy of just less than 10 years, but some live to 15 and others 18.
All the terriers appreciate exercise and as working dogs they are used to high levels of mental and physical exercise. Some of the terriers such as the Airedale are destructive when bored.
Terriers are bred for "gameness", but if you do not know terriers it does not mean much, in the terrier it means, brave, bold, intrepid, dauntless, fearless. It means that a dog less than a foot high, a Yorkshire terrier will face a mastiff or a Newfoundland. However it is more than that, a terrier has to stand tall; it will always go for it! Remember they were bred to hunt vermin, which means that they are fast and furious, and to some extent this means that they are independent of spirit, it is a one dog job down a vermin hole, there is no room for another dog or a human.
That means that having a terrier with other dogs can present problems, they cannot always interact easily with other dogs. They were bred not only to kill vermin, they have been used historically against boars, bears and dogs.
If you cannot accept that this trait of gameness is not aggression, then the terrier is not for you, this trait has been bred into terriers by very specific selective breeding, as in the English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Humans selected and bred the trait and the same humans are responsible for protecting a terrier from its own instincts, and if you are not prepared to take on that responsibility, there are other breeds.
Training terriers is not at all like training other dogs, when a terrier chases vermin, it does not do so to eat it! A terrier adores the chase, and to get a terrier to do anything may be difficult, as it does not respond the same ways as hunting dogs. However it is possible to interest the terrier in responding to your wishes if you make the chase fun! In fact every terrier has a great sense of fun if you play to that then the terrier is your dog.
The Tibetan Terrier
The Tibetan terrier was never a homier of game therefore it is not a true terrier, and it was not developed in England . The Tibetan terrier is not a true terrier either by breed or nature it does not have the feisty temperament of a terrier.
In Tibet they represent a good luck charm, the ancient belief is that an owner of a Tibetan terrier will never be harmed. The Tibetan terrier is one of the hairiest as befits a dog that has to live in conditions which are freezing in Winter, where it is so cold the women do not wash their hair five months as it would remain a sheet of ice.
The history of all wildlife in Tibet, and there are not many native animals other than the yak, is that they share the houses of their owners in winter, so the Tibetan terrier is very much a family dog. They have very flat big paws to survive in the snow. The present Dalai Lama, Tenzing Gyatso, took a Tibetan terrier called "Senge" with him when he went in exile to Dharamsala in India.
Their history and breeding means that many terriers have a very high level threshold for pain, it is necessary to know your dog and for you to know when it is hurt.