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Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. March 2, 2017
Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World

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"Terrier" is the generic name for a type of dog breeds that share a common origin. Over the years, they have developed such diverse physical characteristics that in some cases it is difficult to believe they are related. In general, terrier dogs are small or medium-sized, with a restless and determined character.

Most terriers originated in the British Islands, but you can find terriers breeds around the world. Their name comes from the Latin terra, which means "land". They were so named because they were bred to hunt small animals that burrow underground, such as rodents and rabbits. However, they are not the only dogs bred to hunt underground - so were Dachshunds, which are not a terrier breed.

While all the breeds of this type have the word "terrier" in their name, not all of them belong to the same FCI group. While Group 3 is supposed to include terrier type breeds, the Black Russian Terrier is grouped with Pinscher and Schnauzer dogs in Group 2. Here you can learn more about how are dogs classified into types and groups. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to discover what are the different types of terrier dogs with a list of terrier breeds around the world.

Terriers as working dogs

The different terrier breeds were mainly used to hunt burrowing animals such as foxes, rabbits, rats, badgers and marmots. In the 19th Century, terrier dogs were also used for a cruel and risky practice: rat-killing competitions. The dogs were simply let out into a pit of rats, and the winner was the terrier that killed the most rats in the least amount of time.

Later, terriers were included in the cruel and bloody practice of dogfighting when organizers looked for dogs that were more agile than the usual participants, molosser dogs. They decided to crossbreed the two types, breeding faster dogs without losing the combative and fearless temperament of fighting dogs. The result were the ancestors of the current Pit Bull breeds and types.

Nowadays, terriers are primarily used as companion dogs, although in some places they are still used to hunt small burrowing animals. "Show" bloodlines usually have slightly different characteristics to working dog lines, becoming ineffective for that purpose. Generally, "show" terriers are bigger and a little more robust, making it difficult for them to enter and maneuver in burrows.

Terriers are occasionally used as guard and defense dogs, but most breeds are not big enough to be protection dogs. An exception to this rule is the Airedale Terrier, which measures around 60 cm (24 in) at the withers and can be fierce and combative protectors.

Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Terriers as working dogs

Terrier dog types

Depending on where you live or the kennel club you use as a reference, terrier breeds are classified in different ways. According to the World Canine Organization (FCI), terrier dogs are classified into four main types.

  • Large and medium sized terriers
  • Small sized terriers
  • Bull type terriers
  • Toy terriers

However, there are other dog breeds with the term "terrier" in their names, but because of their physical characteristics do not fit well in Group 3. Therefore, in this article we'll add a fifth section: "other terriers".

Large and medium sized terriers

Even though these terrier dogs are called "large or medium-sized", they are not very big. In fact, the largest terrier breed is the Airedale Terrier, who doesn't measure more than 61 cm (24 in) at the withers. These dogs are used to hunt small animals, but also to assist in search and rescue duties.

Large and medium sized terrier breeds:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Deutscher Jadterrier (German Hunting Terrier)
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Fox Terrier (Wire)
  • Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Terrier Brasileiro
  • Welsh Terrier
Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Large and medium sized terriers

Small sized terriers

These are small-sized terriers originally used to hunt vermin. Although they are small, they are not lapdogs or companion dogs; they are strong and very active animals that need a lot of exercise.

Small sized terrier breeds:

  • Australian Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Cesky Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Jack Russell
  • Japanese Terrier (Nihon Teria)
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Small sized terriers

Bull type terriers

These are molosser dogs, and their origins are associated with shepherd and fighting dogs. Despite their intimidating appearance, these terriers are not usually good guard or defense dogs since they tend to be sociable, playful and very affectionate.

Bull type terrier breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier (not recognized by the FCI)
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Bull type terriers

Toy terriers

These are the smallest of all terrier dogs and although they meet the characteristics to be in this group, they are no longer used to hunt burrowing animals. Their main function today is to be companions and lapdogs. They are excellent for families with older children who know how to respect animals properly. These breeds are unsuitable for families with very young children.

Toy terrier breeds:

Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Toy terriers

Other terrier breeds

These are called "terrier", but because of their appearance and temperament they are not classified within Group 3 by the FCI. There are three different breeds that are called "terriers":

  • Tibetan Terrier (companion dog)
  • Boston Terrier (companion dog)
  • Black Russian Terrier or Tchiorny Terrier (Pinscher and Schnauzer dog type)
Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World - Other terrier breeds

These are the different types of terrier breeds around the world. Some of them are included in the following lists and rankings:

If you want to read similar articles to Types of Terrier Dogs: Terrier Breeds Around the World, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

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Logan South
What about rat terriers?

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