Terriers get their name from Terra, which is Latin for Earth. The dogs from the terrier breed can vary a lot, but overall they have more similarities than differences.
These dogs are amazingly intelligent, alert, fast and agile animals, which have their own specific character traits and peculiarities. Still, as a whole, the dogs from all terrier breeds can become loving, eager to please and entertaining companions.
Let’s take a look at all of the various terrier breeds and their key characteristics so that you can choose the perfect terrier dog as your best friend and companion.
The Airedale is the largest breed of the entire terrier family. Its height at shoulders can reach 23 inches, and when completely grown, you can expect male Airedales to weigh about 50 to 70 lbs.
These beautiful, almost regal-like dogs are known as the “Kings of the terriers” and are highly versatile. They are excellent athletes, hunters and companion dogs.
They may be large-sized, but overall these terriers are very gentle animals.
The Airedales have tan and black wiry and dense coats, long legs and prolonged heads, decorated with long beards and mustaches, and folded ears.
The Airedales are alert, intelligent and determined animals, which is typical of the majority of the terrier breeds. They are patient with children but can be protective of their homes and family. Given that they are tall and heavy canines, you should supervise any interaction between your Airedale and a very young child to avoid accidents.
They do not require too much maintenance and grooming, just a brisk weekly brush to remove the dead hairs. You will have to strip or clip your Airedale at least 3 or 4 times a year to keep it in good shape and health.
These large-sized terriers are perfect for active families, as they are energetic and athletic and enjoy all kinds of sports and other outdoor activities.
American Hairless Terrier
This is an alert, curious and energetic terrier breed that originated from Louisiana. The smart little American Hairless Terriers will reach a height at the shoulder of about 12-16 inches and a weight of 12 to 16 lbs.
They have a pretty long life expectancy of 14 to 16 years and are incredibly playful and inquisitive dogs.
The American Hairless Terrier actually comes in a coated and hairless variety, but the breed is one of the preferred hypoallergenic breeds by people with dog allergies.
While the coated terriers from this breed have cute eyebrows, whiskers, and short coats, the hairless ones have smooth and warm skin, which is a joy to pet and touch.
The broad wedge-shaped heads of these dogs make them highly recognizable, and their curious and intelligent eyes will melt anybody’s heart.
Even though the grooming requirements for these dogs are minimal, you should make sure you protect your hairless pup from sunburn in the summer and inspect and clean its ears regularly.
The dogs from this breed are excellent watchdogs and do not require intensive exercise. Plus, they are very easy to train, making them perfect pets for any kind of family and even for first-time dog owners.
American Staffordshire terrier
The AmStaff is a very intelligent and loyal dog. These terriers are strong and courageous, yet they are good-natured animals, which, if properly socialized and trained and responsibly bred, will turn into the owners’ best and most trustworthy friends.
The dogs from this breed reach 18-19 inches at the shoulder and weight of 55 to 70 lbs. for the males and up to 55 lbs. for the females.
These muscular dogs have broad head, pronounced jaw and cheekbones. When they run and move, they are exceptionally graceful and agile canines.
The American Staffordshire terriers have short, glossy and stiff coats that can be in just about any color or pattern.
They are very easy to train and love to be challenged both physically and mentally. This means that you will need to spend a lot of time walking and providing a dog from this breed with the exercise it needs to stay happy and healthy. The AmStaffs are human-oriented dogs, so don’t consider leaving your dog to play or live outdoors without sufficient human interaction.
Remember that the dogs from this breed do tend to be aggressive, so no matter how well you train and socialize yours, don’t risk leaving it unsupervised with another dog!
Don’t let the small size of these cute little terriers fool you. The Australian Terriers are highly spirited and courageous pups who are also very affectionate and loving companions.
The Australian terrier will reach a height of the shoulder of just about 10 to 11 inches and a weight of 15 to 20 lbs. Their small size is compensated by great self-confidence and sturdiness.
The dogs of this breed have long necks and long torsos, and they have topknots of silky soft hair that contrasts beautifully with their otherwise harsh weatherproof double coats. They are usually blue and tan, sandy or solid red-colored.
These compact pups are very alert watchdogs and move very quickly and easily like working dogs.
They have a natural instinct to chase small animals and dig, but they are also smart little fellows and are easy to train and can adapt to all kinds of families, even though they prefer to be the only pet in the household.
You will need to provide your Aussie with regular exercises, but don’t let it roam freely, as it is prone to chasing small animals and may wander far away pretty quickly!
The dogs from this breed are extremely fast runners and stand out with their sheep-like curly coats and unique pear-shaped heads.
The Bedlington terriers will grow to a height of about 15 to 17.5 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 17 to 23 lbs.
They are loving dogs that make excellent watchdogs, cuddly companions and impeccable athletes, which first originated in the Bedlington shire in England.
They are highly affectionate animals that love being the center of attention and will protect you and your family at all times.
Despite their curly coats, the Bedlington Terriers do not shed and only need to have their hair clipped every couple of months.
These loveable and eye-catching dogs will love jogging and walking with you as much as they will enjoy curling up and lounging with you on the couch after that.
Border terriers are bred to run in packs, making them very social animals that can get along with other dogs and pets, except for rodents.
These agile dogs are about 12 to 15 inches high and weigh about 13 to 15.5 lbs.
They are happy and affectionate pups and have unique otter-like heads and longer legs than other terriers.
They have wiry coats which can be blue and tan, grizzle and tan, red r wheaten.
These sturdy canines are easy to train and make perfect companions and playmates for children.
They do require quite a lot of exercise but can quickly adapt both to living in the country as well as in the city.
These handsome dogs are known for their comical and mischievous personalities.
The height of the Bull Terrier is about 21-22 inches, and it can grow to weigh about 50 to 70 lbs.
The dogs from this breed have egg-shaped heads and small triangular-shaped eyes and pointy ears. They are quite muscular, big-boned and robust dogs which can be a tad stubborn but at the same time are very devoted companions.
You will need to socialize your Bull Terrier with other dogs and people from a very early age because this is among the most dangerous breeds, so train it properly. Provide it with sufficient exercise and attention, and you will have the most entertaining, loving and adoring companion ever!
These compact earth dogs are busy and happy little pups that are always alert due to their instincts for hunting foxes and smaller furry animals.
Cairn Terriers are 10 inches high at the shoulder and weigh about 14 lbs. when fully grown. They have short wide heads and adorable short-legged bodies that are quite strong.
Due to their double coats, which look harsh on the top and downy underneath, these terriers can look a bit shaggy but are amazingly smart and loving little dogs.
They make the perfect companion for people who enjoy the outdoors and those who spend time reading, working, or relaxing at home.
This clever dog breed is the national dog of the Czech Republic and is a family-loving and adventurous terrier.
The Cesky Terrier is 10 to 13 inches high and weighs about 14 to 24 lbs. It is a muscular and short-legged pup with a beautiful silky fine gray coat that comes in various shades.
It has wavy hair on the face and an overall sporty look.
As earth dogs, Ceskys are prone to chasing prey and are determined canines, but as a whole, they are much mellower than most other terriers.
They are alert watchdogs and can be wary of strangers but are quiet and wonderful family dogs.
The breed is still not too popular in the US, but if you manage to find one, you will end up with a loving and beautiful companion.
Dandie Dinmont terrier
The Dandie Dinmont has a unique look and is a proud and independent dog breed that will reach a height at the shoulders of only up to 11 inches and a weight of 18 to 14 lbs.
Although it is bred to chase rodents in the country, the Dandie Dinmont terrier can easily adapt to living in a city or in an apartment.
It has a long torso and short legs, and its coat can be pepper or mustard colored.
These small-sized terriers are excellent watchdogs with a loud bark. They are intelligent, and with some positive training, they can become superb pets and faithful and fun companions. They get strongly attached to the pack leader, so they will likely pick one person as their favorite human.
Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a gentle dog, and while it is highly spirited and bold, it is not as excitable as other terriers. The breed originates from Ireland and is a scruffy-looking, low and study dog that will reach a height of up to 14 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 32 to 40 lbs.
With its bowed legs, broad face and wiry coat, the Glen of Imaal is an exceptionally cute dog that will make you want to pat it and scratch it every time it comes around to show its love and appreciation.
The breed is hard-working, easy to train, and versatile, and even though they have the typical stubbornness of many terrier breeds, you shouldn’t have a problem training your Glen of Imaal terrier.
This Irish daredevil terrier is a medium-sized breed that will reach a height of about 18 inches at the shoulder and a weight of up to 27 lbs.
It is a hard-working, courageous and bold dog that is also a loving and affectionate pet at home.
Its beautiful tight red coat, cute face, intelligent eyes, and elegant long-legged structure make it one of the most beautiful terriers out there.
The Irish terrier is a lively dog that will need lots of exercising either in a fenced yard or via several walks on a leash per day.
This athletic and smart dog is a joy to the eyes and is an excellent dog to have because it is always eager to please.
Jack Russell Terrier
This popular dog breed was first developed for fox hunting with horses about 2 centuries ago in England. Today, this terrier is one of the top preferred terrier breedс for pets.
It is a clever, extremely lively and independent dog breed that can be quite a handful to manage and train, so it is recommended for experienced and patient owners only.
Jack Russel is highly affectionate with his family and can get used to living in an apartment or in urban settings but requires vigorous exercising and long walks. It has a strong hunting instinct and a fearless personality. If you don’t keep it entertained, you can end up with results you won’t like as soon as the dog decides to entertain itself in your home or backyard.
The dogs from this truly attractive terrier breed reach a height of up to a foot and 3 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 13 to 17 lbs.
The AKC does not recognize them, unlike their lookalike cousins – the Parson Russel and the Russell terriers.
Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of the largest terriers and is highly recognizable thanks to its amazing blue-colored dense coat.
The dogs from this breed grow to a height of 18 to 19.5 inches for the males and 17.5 to 19 inches for the females and a weight of about 33 to 44 lbs.
This is another terrier breed from Ireland. It is a muscular and strong canine with a sporty beard and intelligent dark eyes on its long head.
The beautiful coat of the Kerry Blue Terrier needs to be brushed at least once a week and clipped and cut every six months.
The dogs from this breed are well known for their excellent performance and their enjoyment in herding, obedience, barn hunting, and other canine sports.
The Lakeland terriers are zesty and bold dogs that originate from England and will grow only up to a height of 15 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 17 lbs. but do not want to accept the fact that they are small dogs.
These sturdy and square terriers come in various colors, with some of them having a saddle mark on their backs.
They are long-legged terriers with a keen and mischievous look and attitude and require a long walk or jog and some playtime, but are not as hyperactive as some of the other small terrier breeds.
As young pups, you will need to provide them with sufficient exercise if you want them to grow up happy and sane.
Yet another terrier breed which is originally from England, this breed was first developed in Manchester. The Manchester terrier is one of the sleekest and most athletic terrier breeds, which combines the elegance and contours of greyhounds and the strong and determined ratting instinct of terriers.
These terriers come in standard and toy sizes. The standard Manchester terrier will reach a height at the shoulders of 15 to 16 inches, and a weight of 12 to 22 lbs. while as the toy variation will grow to weigh no more than 12 lbs.
These terriers have a long life expectancy and are very recognizable thanks to their body type and rich mahogany ran and tight black coats.
The dogs of this breed require at least two long walks and some mental and physical training and exercising to stay happy and make you happy by returning the care and affection to you and your family.
This is the smallest of the Schnauzer breeds and is a dog with a long life expectancy, an outgoing personality, and amazingly sporty looks.
These small dogs reach a shoulder height of up to 14 inches, and their bushy beards and eyebrows give them almost human-like expressions.
They have hard and wiry coats which can be in salt and pepper, solid black or black and silver colors.
They shed very little but require regular grooming and trimming.
The Mini Schnauzers were bred as ratters and farm dogs and are easy to train, very smart and friendly dogs, which will get along with both children and with other pets.
This is a toy dog terrier breed, so you can expect your Norfolk terrier to grow to a height of only 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 11 to 12 lbs.
The Norfolks are the smallest of the working terrier group and are playful, full of energy and very loyal.
Although they will enjoy an exhausting session of catch and long walks, they also won’t mind curling up and spending their resting hours beside you or on your lap.
They have wiry, hard and straight coats and folded ears. They create strong bonds with their humans, which can sometimes end up in jealousy, but overall, these small terriers are adaptable, loving dogs that adapt to any home or family.
The Norwich terriers originate from England and are very similar to the Norfolk terriers but have pointy ears.
These plucky little dogs are only about 10 inches in height and weigh about 12 lbs.
They are alert earth dogs that are fearless ratters, so don’t expect them to be the typical lap dogs despite their small size.
They are clever little fellows but can be somewhat stubborn. Overall, the Norwich terriers are among the cutest terrier breeds.
Parson Russell Terrier
Although they have the same origin as the Jack Russel terriers, the Parson Russel Terriers were bred to be higher energy hunting dogs, while the Jack Russells are more of companion dogs.
These incredibly swift and energetic dogs are fearless hunters and are pretty independent canines. After all, they were bred to run along with the horses during fox hunts in England.
The Parson Russel has a height of up to 15 inches and a weight of 13 to 17 lbs.
They are amazingly smart and have beautifully balanced, athletic bodies, which combine perfectly with their plush-like adorable looks.
They require a lot of physical and mental exercising and, if socialized, will get along with children but will not tolerate rough play or abuse.
This is a US terrier breed. President Theodore Roosevelt gave its name after his dog resolved the problem with rats in the White House. These terriers come in miniature and standard sizes. The miniatures have a height of up to 13 inches. The standard ones have a height of up to 18 inches.
They are very jolly and playful dogs with shiny and smooth white coats with large colored patches on their white bodies.
They are energetic, avid rat chasers and wonderful playmates for both adults and children.
Scotties are compact but have vivid personalities. They are sensitive to reprimands as well as to praise. They are excellent watchdogs as they are naturally intelligent, alert and have powerful barks.
The dogs from this Scottish breed reach a height of up to 10 inches and a weight of up to 22 lbs.
They are one of the most popular terrier breeds in the US and worldwide.
Scotties do have strong hunting instincts and will enjoy several brisk walks per day as well as some playtime with their humans.
The Sealyham Terriers are small-sized terriers that reach a height at the shoulder of about 10.5 inches and weigh up to 24 lbs.
They are spirited and brave and are among the strongest of the smallest dog breeds. Their determined, long stride, long torso and short, muscular legs will always make you smile.
They have the bark of big dogs and are very alert, so they are great watchdogs.
The Sealys have weatherproof coats, lavish facial hair, and are highly adaptable to urban and country life.
Like most other terriers, you will need to socialize your Sealy by meeting it with other dogs, people, and children at an early age to prevent future aggressive behavior.
This long-bodied, low terrier breed is an amazingly cute one. The Skye terriers will grow to a height of up to just 10 inches and a weight of 35 to 45 lbs.
Their distinct look is due to their big bat-like feathery ears, long coats, and peekaboo hair on their faces.
They are small and yet muscular earth dogs, which are about twice as long as they are high.
Despite the luxurious look of their coats, the Skye terriers do not need excessive grooming. They will do fine with brushing weekly and require no trimming or clipping.
These dogs are smart and prone to training but will not tolerate negative or harsh training methods.
Like most other terriers, they are eager to please but can be stubborn and are usually much calmer than the dogs from the other small terrier breeds.
Smooth fox terrier
These elegant dogs are called the Gentlemen of the terrier world and were originally developed in England for fox hunting.
They simply love chasing, exploring and digging and are very adventurous and independent canines.
Their height will reach up to 15 ½ inches at the shoulders and their weight is up to 18 lbs.
The Smooth fox terriers have V-shaped heads and dense, flat coats, which are usually mainly white with some tan or black markings.
They have very graceful gaits and movements. Being one of the most athletic terrier breeds needs substantial exercise, long walks, and lots of playtime to stay physically and mentally healthy and happy.
Due to their strong hunting instincts, avoid letting your Smooth fox terrier off the leash.
These funny and cheerful dogs are excellent watchdogs but need to be socialized because they are prone to growing jealous towards other dogs, cats or smaller pets at home.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
This Irish farming terrier dog breed is quite popular due to its natural friendliness, happy temperament and deep devotion.
Despite its eye-catching wheaten coat, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a low shedding breed. This is a medium-sized dog breed with male dogs growing up to 19 inches high and weighing up to 40 lbs.
The wavy, silky coats of these beautiful dogs can be pale beige or shimmering gold, as well as all shades in between these two colors.
They have peek-a-boo hairstyles and gorgeous goatees.
With such eye-catching coats, it comes to no surprise that the dogs from this terrier breed require daily grooming and brushing at least 3 times a week.
Their prey drive instincts are strong and their energy level is medium to high, so make sure that you never let them off the leash, or leave them outdoors without a reliable fence, because they will chase just about everything that is moving.
These dogs require consistent positive training and will not tolerate negative or harsh treatment.
Once socialized and trained properly, these dogs will become your best companions.
Staffies are not tall dogs, but they are muscular, strong and heavily built terriers.
The dogs from this breed are about 14-16 inches at the shoulders and can weigh up to 38 lbs.
They are tenacious, fearless dogs but with mild and playful characters.
Their broad heads and pronounced cheek muscles make them look like their ancestors, who were mainly used for brutal dog fighting in England.
Thanks to the successful breeding since those times, today, Staffies are sweet and family-oriented dogs. But do keep in mind that proper socializing and training are needed from an early age to curb their lurking aggressive and fighting instincts.
Staffordshire Bull terriers are easy to maintain but do require a lot of exercises, so they are more suitable for active owners or families who love jogging, cycling, hiking and walking.
The joyful Welsh terriers were originally bred to hunt and catch badgers and otters but are significantly calmer than other terrier breeds.
They are up to 15 inches high and weigh up to 20 lbs. They are compact and yet sturdy dogs. They have rectangular heads, jaunty bears and folded ears. Their black and tan coats are tight-fitted and beautiful.
They may resemble Airedales but are much smaller than them.
The Welsh terriers require hair clipping once every 2 to 3 months, and hand-stripping of their broken coats.
They are high-energy dogs, so prepare to take long walks and play a lot of games with your Welsh terrier until you get it tired and satisfied.
With proper training and socializing, the Welsh terrier can turn into a well-behaved and highly affectionate pet and companion.
West Highland White Terrier
The adorable Westies are among the most popular small dog and terrier breeds. These cute white dogs are about 11 inches high and weigh about 15 to 20 lbs.
They are confident, intelligent and playful dogs that have been preferred companions and pets for over three centuries.
They are small but sturdy earth dogs with dark, intelligent eyes and button-like black noses, which contrast perfectly with their white coat.
They are courageous dogs originally used to hunt rats and rodents, so they are very active and alert pups.
This independence can make training them quite a challenge, especially for inexperienced dog owners.
Despite their cute looks, Westies are very sturdy dogs that don’t require too much pampering.
Wire Fox Terrier
The Wire Fox Terrier breed is also a highly recognizable one. These alert and gregarious dogs grow to a height of up to 15 1.2 inches and a weight of up to 18 lbs.
Originally bred and used for traditional foxhounds in Britain, these amusing and elegant dogs make perfect show dogs and companions.
They are energetic pups with symmetrical bodies, wiry and rough coats which are predominantly white and V-shaped folded ears.
They are low shedding dogs but require quite a bit of grooming, including hand-stripping or coat clipping.
They do have strong hunting instincts. Like other terriers, they are rather independent, but even though training them will require a lot of persistence and patience, the Wire Fox Terriers can become excellent companions that will keep you entertained 24/7.
Overall terrier breed information
“Terrier” comes from the Latin word for earth – terra. The dogs from this group were originally bred to hunt, catch and kill rats, badgers, moles, foxes, and vermin.
The terrier dogs were developed to dig up underground dens and scare the rodents or other small animals out.
While most terriers have the word “terrier” in their names, there are a few exceptions, including the Miniature Schnauzer. On the other hand, the AKC has moved the Yorkshire terriers from the terrier to the toy group.
Most terriers are small-sized but sturdy and strong little dogs since they were bred to get into small holes and tight spaces, but there are some middle-sized terrier breeds as well as the large-sized Airedale terriers as well.
Today, most terriers still have very strong hunting instincts and will chase after small animals and other moving objects. They still enjoy digging as well.
Due to their chasing drive, it is recommended that terriers are adopted into single-pet environments. Also, due to their lack of patience and their desire to be the center of attention, they are usually not recommended for households with small children either.
Being very smart but independent and sometimes stubborn dogs, terriers can be quite a handful when it comes to training. They will tolerate short training sessions with a lot of positive reinforcement and praises only.
They need to be kept entertained both mentally and physically because they can be destructive or otherwise annoying if they are bored.
Terriers are sassy, territorial and fearless, which can often get them into trouble if left alone with other dogs. Also, they often can get pretty jealous if the attention of their humans is not entirely dedicated to them.
At the same time, these dogs love playing and fun and are good-natured canines that will bring a lot of smiles and joy to your home.
So, overall, dogs from the terrier breeds are more suitable for active people who are willing to spend a lot of time playing walking, jogging and entertaining their dogs.
Once socialized and trained though, terriers are the perfect loving and loyal companions.
They are superb dogs for people without children or those who have older kids and seniors.
You can be sure that your terrier dog will be loyal, often silly and always willing to please you, companion, all life long!