Terrier Breeds: The Dogs of the Earth
Terriers come in all shapes and sizes, from small (less than 22 pounds) to medium (25 – 50 pounds) to large (35 – 65 pounds) breeds. These various terriers also display a stunning range of coat types including short and smooth coats, wire coats, and long coats. If you are interested in bringing a terrier into your family, there are plenty to choose from to match your home and work schedule. Here are some popular terrier breeds to consider:
A Brief History of the Terrier
The word “terrier” originates from the Middle French term chien terrier, or “dog of the earth.” The terrier earned this name as far back as the 16th century because he had been bred for two purposes: to hunt vermin and to protect the family’s home and barn. The modern breeds’ fearlessness and confidence come from its earliest days guarding property and flushing out rats, badgers, foxes, and rabbits both over and below ground.
The terrier breeds began their surge into the world’s limelight in the Victorian era, and by the turn of the 20th century, they were the most popular breed in the world thanks to their winning ways at the Westminster Dog Show. Their appearances in television shows, movies, and politics also called attention to the breed, as many famous persons, such as American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, owned a terrier. Although the terrier is no longer as prominent as it once was, it remains a winner in the hearts of those who have owned one of these intelligent and loyal dogs.
Top Terrier Dog Breeds
The Airedale Terrier
One of the most recognisable terriers, the Airedale is a larger member of the breed who originated from England. This breed is well known for their intelligence, high trainability, fun-loving personality, and gentleness toward children. Although the Airedale is keen and smart, the breed requires an active family or owner to allow him to expend his energy in healthy, breed-appropriate ways. The Airedale needs to have his coat brushed daily and thoroughly groomed, stripped every two months, and clipped once or twice a year.
The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
An exuberant extrovert, the Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier is a sturdy, friendly dog who sports a goatee and a peek-a-boo hairdo. This terrier has a medium to high level of energy and requires daily exercise. Wheatens typically have a strong prey drive, stronger than the average terrier, so they may not mix well with other family pets such as rabbits and ferrets. The Soft-Coated Wheaten makes for an engaging family dog, and because their coat is low-shedding, they are an excellent hypoallergenic choice for families with allergies.
The Australian Silky Terrier
Developed in the early 20th century from a cross of the native Australian terrier and the Yorkshire terrier, the Australian Silky terrier makes for a superb urban companion. His popularity can be attributed to his smaller size and spunky, people-friendly personality. This low-shedding dog features a unique silky coat that is blue and tan, but despite his lack of dander, his coat is long and needs regular brushing and maintenance. The Silky terrier is true to its breeding and nature: an alert, vigilant, loyal dog, he has a strong prey drive and lots of energy to burn.
The Yorkshire Terrier
Well before he became a favorite canine of the Victorian age, the Yorkshire terrier — also known as the “Yorkie” — earned his living as a ratter in mills and mines across England. This little terrier tops out at no more than 3.2kg, but he makes up for his small stature with his brave and tenacious spirit. The Yorkie is a faithful companion and an excellent watchdog. Although the Yorkie is a light-shedding terrier, he does need weekly baths and monthly grooming sessions to keep his trademark shiny fur bright and healthy. The Yorkie bonds strongly with his owner and will need patient, positive training to become accustomed to different social atmospheres.
Are Terriers a Good Breed to Own?
Terriers have been one of the most popular breeds the world over for centuries, and they are good, dedicated dogs to own. The terrier is a breed that is highly intelligent, energetic, eager to please breed who has risen from chasing vermin to being loved and pampered in homes around the world. If you are looking for a dog who is smart, with a standout personality and plenty of pep, then the terrier might be the dog breed for you. As the “dogs of the earth,” the terrier breeds will continue to steal the hearts of dog lovers, and if you take the time to meet one, he might steal your heart, too.