The Happy Puppers

Terrier dog breed: a complete guide

Terrier dog breed

I am yet to meet someone who has not seen a dog belonging to the terrier dog breed. Originally, Terriers were bred for hunting. They were responsible for digging and hunting for small prey like Badgers, small foxes, and rats. The name terrier comes from the Latin word terra, which means Earth. People also joke that the name terrier has come from the word terror.

This breed includes various dogs belonging to different sizes. However, one factor is common amongst all the dogs belonging to the terrier dog breeds. This is their mischievous, feisty personality and energetic nature. Terriers are highly trainable and intelligent. If you have an amazing sense of humor and a lot of patience, the terrier might just be the dog breed for you. However, dog guardians often get a dog belonging to the terrier dog breed and then regret the decision. Therefore, before you decide to adopt a terrier, wait, and figure out if this breed is the right one for you.

terrier breed dog
terrier breed dog

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Terrier dog breed

The dogs of the terrier dog breed are generally medium to small in size and may seem easy to handle. However, the energy and the love of life that a terrier has will fill up your entire house. If you are getting a terrier, you are getting ready for a life full of fun and adventures. However, before you commit to getting a terrier dog breed, there are certain factors that you need to know to find out if you and the terrier will gel well with each other. Let’s have a look at each of them.

Characteristics of terrier dog breed

Job description

The terrier breeds originated in the UK. They were bred to kill various vermins like rats, mice, rodents, foxes, and other small animals. They were a part of the Industrial and rural sectors for this purpose.

The size of the terrier dog reads.

Except for the Airedale and pitbull terriers, terriers are generally dogs who fall in the small size bracket. Their size may be small, but they make up for it in their personality. Most terriers have different working styles and histories. Some of the terrier breeds are quite tenacious and feisty, while the other dogs are less challenging and softer in demeanor. However, you can describe a terrier as a big dog caught in a small dog’s body.

Natural instincts

Terriers are hunters. Their natural instinct is to hunt. The hunting skill of terriers has been polished and honed by varied breeding methods. They are experts at locating and killing vermins very quickly. Some terrier dog breeds would prefer to stalk, chase and play with the prey for a while before killing it. However, the other terrier breeds would just watch the prey and kill it in a single bite.

Such behaviors are usually self-rewarding for the dog. The dog does not look for external stimulation in case they have been instructed to hunt. Their hunt is itself the reward for them.

Hunting behavior

If you are planning to get a dog of the terrier dog breed, there is one thing that you need to understand. You cannot train the hunting skill out of your terrier. Your dog not only enjoys this behavior but also needs to engage in it to be happy and healthy. Therefore, if you’re getting a terrier, you should get ready to organize plenty of treasure hunts, fetch, chase, etc. if you do not provide your dog with proper mental stimulation, your dog will get bored and may start to display signs of separation anxiety or destruction.

This does not mean that you encourage your dog to become the terror for the local rodents. However, you must employ games and training methods that focus on honing the hunting skill of your dog. This will not only boost the hunting instinct; it will also keep your dog happy and healthy and deepen your existing bond with your pup.

high hunting attitude

Behavior and Personality

Terriers are dogs with large personalities in a small dog’s body. Terriers have personalities that can keep you entertained for hours. Let’s look at some quirky side of this particular breed.

Active and fun

Terriers are not dogs who will be couch potatoes. Their strong need to hunt keeps them from staying on the couch for too long. These dogs are always looking for a game of fetch or adventure. Thus, if you go out in nature a lot, have an active lifestyle, like to hike, etc., this dog breed is the perfect one for you. They may look like small dogs, but they enjoy plenty of exercise and walks. If you are a fitness enthusiast, you need a terrier breed in your life.

Highly alert

Because of their hunting instinct, terriers are almost always extremely alert. Your terrier will be the first to tell you anything that happens around you. This dog breed is not only constantly alert but also very good at taking action. If they feel that they need to save you from a threat, they will do it without a second thought. Unfortunately, this also means that terriers are extremely reactive toward other dogs. Thus, you may have to work on their socialization skills. They may try to hunt small furry animals like rabbits and cats. You must keep an eye out.

Courageous and extremely determined

Terriers may be small and size. But they make up for it with their fearlessness and sense of adventure. Whether they find a small rodent or a lion, they are extremely brave and tenacious. No terrier breed will ever back down from a fight, especially if they deem the fight necessary to protect their guardian.

Extremely independent by nature

Terriers are the equivalent of cats in this case. If you are a guardian who prefers a dog who will follow you around and listen to everything you say, think again and check out the other dog breeds. In such a case, the terrier may not be the right breed for you. Terriers demand to have their own space. They are very trainable and love playing. However, this does not mean that they will be at your beck and call. Terriers need their independence. Terriers are not known to be an obedient bunch. Switching on their selective hearing mechanism is very easy. Thus, terriers may not be the right breed for you if you want a dog who will follow you and always be by your side.

terriers very independent


Terriers are extremely talkative when they want to. Since they were originally bred to work underground, they learned to use their voices to guide their guardians if they got stuck inside a hole and needed help to get out. Many guardians have complained that their terriers would start nuisance barking just because they are bored. If you live in a place with noise restrictions, this breed may not be the one for you.

If the Terrier is alone for long, he may start to exhibit this behavior. Thus, this is something that you must look into before you adopt a dog of this breed.

Highly enthusiastic to dig

You don’t have to give the terrier dog breed a second invitation to start digging. In fact the first invitation may not necessary either. Terriers love to dig. Therefore, if you like gardening or have a huge back garden, your plants will not likely survive once you get a terrier dog breed. Before you adopt a terrier, get ready to fence off your garden to protect your plants from the over-enthusiastic nature of your dog.

digging enthusiasts

Ripping instinct

You cannot expect to have a dog who is a hunting expert but lacks the ripping instinct. The hunting nature of the terrier must be property stimulated without adequate stimulation. Otherwise, your dog is likely to rip through the house to satisfy his ripping urges. Thus, have plenty of toys and brain games to keep that hyperactive brain of your dog engaged so that the furniture in your house is safe.

Early bite inhibition training

Every puppy must learn bite inhibition at early stages. However, this is particularly important if you are getting a terrier-breed dog. The dogs of this breed have a pretty strong bite too. Thus, if your hand lands up in the wrong place at the wrong time, you can seriously get hurt.

Feeding habits

As the guardian of a terrier breed, you must understand and respect their innate hunting desire. As mentioned above, you must also provide your dog with a stimulating experience to tire out the brain. The best way to do this is to divide your dog’s food into two portions, use 30% of the food and treats for treasure hunts, and stimulate your pup’s brain. The remaining 70% of the food is to be used for breakfast and dinner.

You can also scatter the food in the backyard or bury it at different locations so that your pup uses his hunting skills to find the food. 5% of the food can also be used as a reward for good behavior, obedience, following instructions, etc. Whatever quantity of food you use as a reward must be a part of your dog’s daily diet.

Bonding with the terrier dog breed

If you want to bond with your terrier, you must engage in many activities together. These activities can involve games like tugging, chasing, playing fetch, or treasure hunts. The more you engage with your dog, the better and stronger the bond will be between the two of you. Terriers do not make good couch dogs. Thus, do not expect them to sit on your lap while you watch TV. These dogs are spirited and extroverted. They love to work. The more work you provide them, the happier they will be.

With kids

With terriers,, you have to check their reaction to kids before deciding whether they can adjust to kids. Certain terrier breeds like jack Russell and other small terrier breeds are too excitable and may not be the right fit for your family if you have small children. However, other breeds, like pitbull terriers, are very calm and can even be the perfect nanny for your baby.

bonding with terriers

Getting a dog sibling

If you are planning to get another dog, you should go for one that shares opposite traits to the ones your dog exhibits. A good option would be to get a dog of the opposite gender. Having a dog of the opposite sex will dramatically improve the chances of acceptance between the two pups. Terriers can be very aggressive towards other animals. If you have two dogs of different genders, neuter or spay at least one of them as soon as possible.

When looking for other dog breeds, go for a non-hunting dog breed. This way, your dog will not always compete with the new dog. E.g., if you get a sighthound, there is a high likelihood that the terrier and sighthound will have different needs and not compete for resources. Ensure that the pups receive regular exercise and training. Exercise and walks not only help you build a bond with your pup, but it also helps the dogs develop a bond with one another.

List of terrier dog breeds

What do you think about the terrier dog breed?

What are your thoughts on the terrier breeds? Do you think this breed is right for you? Why? Why not? What has your experience been with these dogs? Please share your experience in the comment section below.

getting a terrier

Do you want to know more about terrier dog breeds? If yes, please fill in your details and click the subscribe button on the sidebar. Your subscription will let me notify you when I release future blog posts. This way, you won’t miss out on any news about dog care. In case of query, reach me live on Twitch. I livestream on Twitch every day from 11 AM to 7 PM Indian standard time. If you like watching videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti, and Delta. Remember to ring the notification bell.

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Dr. Shruti

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