Terrier dogs: all about breeds, temperament and training

  Terrier dogs are spirited, courageous, but also stubborn dogs with a strong hunting instinct. Many have their own personality and enrich your home with their energy and joie de vivre. You can have tons of fun with an adventurous terrier by your side. You can find out here at PURINA whether a terrier really suits you and what you can expect from the different terrier dog breeds! 

Terrier dogs: all about breeds, temperament and training

Is a terrier a hunting dog?

Clearly! Most terrier species originally come from Great Britain and were bred as early as the Middle Ages to hunt rats and mice, but also to chase badgers, foxes, and martens out of their burrows and pursue them. The name Terrier is, therefore, no coincidence and is derived from the French word "Terre" for "earth". Because the smallest to medium-sized terrier breeds also had to hunt underground in the den, where they had to act fearlessly on their own.

The nature of the terrier

Terriers are bold, responsive, confident, and docile. And sometimes a bit stubborn. They don't submit easily! As a terrier owner, you should know that in order to remain happy and healthy, your dog needs to be able to express and pursue its hunting instincts.

What characteristics does a terrier have?

Terrier dog breeds are generally: 
  • Fun and Active: Terriers love life and are always up for a game or an adventure. Although they are rather small dogs, they enjoy long walks and lots of exercises. Even the smallest terrier needs at least an hour a day! A terrier is therefore ideal for fitness enthusiasts or people who like to be outdoors.  

  • Alert: In addition to being constantly alert, terriers are also capable of responsive action. Other dogs, cats, and small animals like to be attacked or chased by them. 

  • courageous and resolute: they are characterized by tenacity and courage because they also need these qualities when hunting! 

  • independent: and therefore not particularly obedient. They don't like to submit. 

  • Loud: Terriers were trained to bark loudly when they were hunting underground so that they could be heard. Unfortunately, underutilized and poorly trained or socialized terriers can quickly become annoying barkers. 

  • Enthusiastic digger: Terriers often tend to dig, which is in their genes. Terriers are therefore not suitable dogs for passionate gardeners! It is best to ensure that your dog can live out its natural digging and hunting instincts as much as possible in the great outdoors!  

  • Destructive: Terriers have a strong ripping and tearing instinct, if not channeled properly this can have negative consequences for the home and property! Terriers really enjoy tug of war: often play with him with a tug and tear toy! 

  • gripping: A targeted, strong bite is necessary for hunting. However, if terriers are not taught bite inhibition, they can (even unintentionally) bite heavily, unfortunately also into human limbs.

Terrier breeds: what types are there?

The vast majority of terrier breeds come from Great Britain, for example, only the Jagdterrier comes from Germany. From the original terrier breed, modern dog breeding has created 34 genetically distinct terrier species. Terriers come in many sizes (from 25 to 60 cm), but most are small dogs, having to fit into the cramped working-class communities of Britain. Large terriers - such as the Airdale Terrier, for example - were among the very first service dogs to be used by the military, police, or customs.  

The World Dog Federation FCI divides the terrier breeds into 4 subcategories: 
  1. Long-Legged Terriers: Large terrier species, such as the Airedale Terriers. 
  2. Short-legged Terriers: Small terrier species, such as the Jack Russel, Fox Terrier, and most other terrier species. 
  3. Bull Terriers: They are mostly descended from the old bulldogs, such as the bull terrier. They were trained to fight bulls, and some are listed dogs. Depending on the country or federal state, there are various requirements associated with keeping list dogs. 
  4. Miniature Terriers: These include the Yorkshire terrier and other miniature terriers. 

What types of terriers don't shed?

Terriers' fur is usually rather short and rough, it defies wind and weather and is relatively easy to keep clean. The terrier breeds with longer fur must be trimmed often and regularly, but they lose comparatively little hair. The best way to get precise advice on grooming is from your breeder!

How old do terriers get?

Life expectancy depends_on_the size of the dogs. Smaller, but not overly small, dogs have a longer life expectancy. As a rule, terriers enjoy a long dog life often over 15 years.

Terrier Training: Are Terriers Difficult to Train?
Terrier dogs are very smart and docile. They are easy to train and educate, but clear announcements and consequences are extremely important. Because they are bold and assertive, do not subordinate themselves easily, and are not among the most obedient dog breeds. Don't be surprised if a terrier in the hunting fever simply ignores your commands and his instincts run away with him.  

You should practice regular recall training with a terrier over and over again. Because patient, loving and respectful interaction with a little humor often makes training a terrier easier and strengthens the bond between humans and animals.  

Some terrier species are very affectionate and enjoy physical affection, others have little patience and do not like to be groomed and touched. That depends a lot on the breed. This is precisely why it is important to get your terrier puppy used to being cared for and touched at an early stage. 

Learn more about puppy care and bathing puppies. 


Sociability: Socialize terriers

Socialization with other dogs, pets, and children is also particularly important for terriers since terriers were actually bred to work alone and independently. This is the reason why they do not always accept other dogs and also often display dominant behavior towards children and sometimes show little tolerance. However, this behavior varies in the different terrier dogs. Some species are also much more tolerant and sociable towards noisy children. In any case, you should make sure that you socialize your terrier continuously and carefully so that dealing with other dogs, people or children does not become a problem. 

You can read in our articles how encounters with other dogs or people can be successful without any problems: socialize puppies and Get the dog and child used to each other. 


Conclusion: Is a terrier right for me?

You can see whether you could be the perfect owner of a terrier in our summarized checklist. A terrier is perfect for you if: 
  • you have a little less space but still want an active dog.  

  • Like dogs that are independent and may not show physical affection, but are still loyal companions to you.  

  • you don't mind the noise, because they bark often and loudly. 

  • like to play with your dog and are outdoors a lot.  

  • if you already have older, calmer children who know how to handle dogs. 

Because despite their somewhat rough charm, terriers are among the most popular house and family dogs!

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