Terriers can be described as busy, feisty, and active. They prefer to be part of the action and have a real zest for life.
They make awesome family pets for people who do not keep small pocket pets such as hamsters or gerbils. Terriers look at these smaller mammals as vermin that must be eliminated.
Most terriers are easily identified as belonging to this group because "terrier" is part of their name: Cairn
Terriers, Irish Terriers, Scottish Terriers, West Highland White
Yorkshire Terriers, Tibetan Terriers, and Biewer Terriers are not considered terriers at all, according to the American Kennel Club so don't rely on the name to help you classify these dogs. They are considered Terriers in other organizations such as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
Modern day Terriers can trace their roots back to the British Isles and were originally kept by peasants to control the pest population.
Many were proven to be tireless "ratters, loyal and determined to serve their humans. Over time, they became companions as well as working dogs.
Why do you need so many different types of terriers to kill a rat or two?
There were a wide variety of terrains in Britain and early terrier breeders had to develop dogs that could adapt to the local conditions. Some terriers were long-legged and others had short legs.
Some had smooth coats and others rough ones. Some have silky or wavy coats or even mixed coats.
Eventually some of the members of this group became known as fighting dogs, a sport that has been banned in Britain and the U.S.
Some of the dogs not recognized by the AKC have terrier blood in their pedigrees.
As a group, even though there are differences, terriers are more similar than different. Beyond size, leg length or coat type, they are all agile, fast and athletic.
They are intelligent, impulsive and very clever. They are capable of coming up with solutions to problems, whether we agree with their answers or not.
Terriers are also independent and stubborn (at least many are considered stubborn). Some can be dominant and demanding. Some are challenging to own, especially when you combine high energy, independence, courageousness, persistence and curiosity.
All terriers have a strong prey drive and none can be 100% reliable around small pets such as hamsters.
All have a degree of dog-on-dog aggression.
All dogs bark and most will dig.
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These dogs may be AKC breeds but classified in a different group, such as the Yorkshire Terrier. Yorkies are part of AKC Toy Group.
Others are not recognized by AKC, but may be recognized by another large Kennel Club. A good example of this is the American Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bulls are recognized by the United Kennel Club.
Where appropriate, I have tried to list the kennel club that recognizes the breed.
Australian Silky Terrier: FCI
Austrian Pinscher: Recognized by the UKC
Brazilian Terrier: FCI
Danish Swedish Farm Dog: Recognized by the UKC
Dutch Smoushond: UKC
German Pinscher: UKC
Jack Russell Terrier: UKC, ANKC, FCI
Japanese Terrier: UKC, FCI
Mountain Feist: UKC
Patterdale Terrier: UKC
Sporting Lucas Terrier: UKC
Teddy Roosevelt Terrier: UKC
Tenterfield Terrier: ANKC
Treeing Feist: UKC
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