Terriers are typically energetic, combative and independent. The American Kennel Club recognizes 40 terrier races, 30 of them in the terrier group. The ancestors of today’s terriers were raised primarily to hunt and kill vermin. Some breeds performed pest control and other work on the farm. Others are bull-and-terrier types, dogs bred for bull bait and pits fighting. Some miniature terriers are in the AKC toy group. Terriers, whatever their type, are fun and fun pets for owners who have the experience and determination to match the personalities of their terriers.
The bug hunters
Most terriers were bred for pest control and may not be safe for other small pets. Some were ratters, like the miniature schnauzer; others, including border terriers and fox terriers, were hunted clandestinely. Digging its prey is instinctive; so that gardeners be careful. The Bedlington and Manchester terriers were raised for speed, they used to hunt rabbits. English miners ran their Bedlington for sport. Designed to work alone, terriers tend to be independent and tenacious dogs. This can be a challenge for their owners. But terriers can learn quickly if their training is lively, challenging and fun. Other examples of vermin hunters are Parson Russel terriers, cairn terriers, lakeland terriers, West Highland white terriers and Scottish terriers.
Some terriers were raised for other roles on the farm. The Irish terrier, Kerry’s blue and the tallest terrier, the Airedale, were versatile guard dogs and hunters. The soft-coated wheatens – softer than most terriers and good with other pets – were hunters, guards and shepherds. In times of war, Irish and Airedales terriers were messengers and sentries. Airedales was among the first races trained for police work. They are protectors of their families. The smallest of Glen of Imaal terriers were supposedly “lap dogs” that ran on exercise wheels that circled the kitchen fires. According to “The Dog Breed Bible,” Glen de Imaal terriers has a lot of resistance, but they tend to be less excitable than most terriers.
In the past, bull-and-terrier types were used for bull bait and dog fighting. They include the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, the bull terrier and the miniature bull terrier. Boston terriers were also originally bred for fighting. Bull-and- types of terriers are powerful and tough, and can be aggressive with other dogs. They can be stubborn, but they are usually biddable. Staffordshire bull terriers tend to be friendly dogs with people who get along with children. Bull terriers are typically affectionate and dedicated to their human families. All bull and terrier breeds can be good pets, but they need experienced owners.
The Toy Terriers
The six toy terriers are typically energetic, playful, inquisitive and bold: everything a terrier should be. While most toy terriers were bred to hunt small rodents, some also became companions. Affenpinschers, from Germany, were female lap dogs that kept their homes free of mice. The toy fox terrier in the United States were familiar pets expert in controlling small rodents. Yorkshire terriers caught rats in clothing factories in the 19th century, but later became partners in European high society. They are popular pets today. Other members of the toy group include Australia’s silky terrier, the bold miniature pinscher and the Manchester terrier toy. Toy Manchester terriers tend to be friendly and sensitive dogs, but retain all their hunting instincts.