Girl playing with three jack russell terriers
AKC Groups | Cleo's Blog | Dog Breeds

Terriers Are Feisty, Stubborn, Charming and Devoted

Terriers range in size from a tiny Yorkie (Yorkshire Terriers are in the AKC Toy Group) to the big Airedale, from the small but scrappy Westie to the sometimes sweet, sometimes fierce American Pit Bull.  In between, you have a choice in a variety of sizes and personalities.

Terriers are sometimes stubborn but are always ready for play. Their attitude can make training a challenge. Terriers require patience and persistence. They do have many endearing qualities, however.  Terriers are extremely loyal and bond closely with their family or special person.

Terriers do require a moderate amount of care. Long-haired, silky Skyes need regular brushing. Similarly, the dense undercoat and rough fur of a Kerry Blue will take regular clipping to keep the dog’s coat in good condition.

Because they are so competitive and high-energy, many terriers won’t take well to regular grooming. More so than most breeds, it’s important to teach them early in their lives that you are in charge.

Terrier Group

Airedale Terrier

Brown Airedale Terrier Dog Close Up Portrait.
Airedale Terrier

Height: 22 -23 inches
Weight: 45 -50 pounds
Lifespan: 11 -14 years
Country: Great Britain

“King of the Terriers,” the Airedale Terrier is the largest Terrier in the AKC Terrier group. It first bred during the min-1800s in the River Aire valley (dale) of Yorkshire, England. It was used as a hunting and working dog.

As a family pet, it is a reliable watchdog and faithful companion. It is not a threat to small children, but it can be boisterous so should not be left unattended with them.

It has a short and wiry coat that needs only occasional brushing to keep it looking good. It is hypoallergenic as it sheds very little. Its coat is either black and tan or grizzle and tan.

Airedale Terrier Club of America

American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terrier

Height: 12-16 inches
Weight: 12-16 pounds
Lifespan: 14-16 years
Country: United States

The American Hairless Terrier was developed from the Rat Terrier. Breeders in Louisiana produced a hairless variation of the Rat Terrier that was recognized by the AKC in 2010. Some are still born with a short, shiny coat. Both varieties are hypoallergenic. They are very good little watchdogs.

Grooming requirements for the American Hairless Terrier is minimal. They do need protection for the sun to prevent sunburn.

If you have a rat problem, this breed and the Rat Terrier can take care of it. According to a story on the AKC website, a Feist (dog) killed over 2,500 rats in a single day!

American Hairless Terrier Club of America

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier dog on a summer day
American Staffordshire Terrier

Height: 16-19 inches
Weight: 50-80 pounds
Lifespan: 12-16
Country: United States

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium-sized dog with a stiff, glossy coat of several different colors. It is similar to the American Pit Bull. However, the Pit Bull breed is not recognized by the AKC. Also, it should not be confused with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier from the United Kingdom.

The “Amstaff” is a strong, muscular dog with great confidence. They are very loyal and dependable family pets.

The Amstaff is ofter included with the Pit Bull as a breed that should be limited on banned. Unfortunately, some Pitt Bull owners do not take care to socialize their dogs and some have harmed other dogs and people.

Staffordshire Terrier Club of America

Australian Terrier

Ten Years Old Australian Silky Terrier Portrait
Australian Terrier

Height: 10-11 inches
Weight: 15-20
Lifespan: 11-15 years
Country: Australia

The Australian Terrier was developed in Australia from terriers imported from Great Britain. It is a small self-confident dog that was bred to kill rodents and snakes. Like most other terriers, it has above average dog intelligence.

It has a rough double coat that needs weekly brushing. It is a sturdy little dog and has very few health problems. They are very active so will need some room to romp and play to avoid becoming bored.

You should either keep your Australian Terrier on a leash or in a fenced-in back yard. They have a strong hunting instinct and may stray from home in search of something to chase.

Australian Terrier Club of America

Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier

Height: 15-18 inches
Weight: 17-23 pounds
Lifespan: 11-16 years
Country: England

Bedlington is a mining town in Northumberland, England. The Bedlington Terrier was developed there for hunting otter, rabbits, and other small game.

These Terriers are “gentle as lambs” and wear a coat that looks much like sheep’s wool. However, when they need it, they have plenty of wolf inside if provoked. They were once used for dogfighting when that sport was still legal and popular.

They are non-shedding hypoallergenic dogs. In most pictures, they appear white but they come in several different colors. They are loyal and obedient house pets.

Bedlington Terrier Club of America

Border Terrier

Border Terrier
Border Terrier

Height: 12-15 inches
Weight: 12-16 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: England, Scotland

 If your name begins with Border, you probably come from an area between two countries. The Border Terrier supports that assumption as it was developed in the border area between Scotland and England. They may share ancestors with the Bedlington and the Dandie Dinmont Terriers.

Border Terriers are tough, just plain hard-working farm and hunting dogs. They were bred to have legs long enough to keep up with foxhounds and horses, and bodies small enough to flush out the fox or other game if it went to ground.

Border Terriers are more “peaceful’ than some other terrier breeds and get along well with other family pets, except maybe the cats.

Border Terrier Club of America

Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier

Height: 21-22 inches
Weight: 50-70 pounds
Lifespan: 12-13 years
Country: England

The Bull Terrier has Terrier and Bulldog ancestry. They are a muscular, sturdy-looking dog with a gentle disposition. Perhaps if “Bull” was removed from its name, it would not be confused with some other breeds that have been restricted or banned in several countries.

The Bull Terrier has a unique egg-shaped head and almond-shaped eyes. They were originally all white in color but due to medical problems with the all-white dogs, other colors were introduced to strengthen the breed.

The Bull Terriers has a short, flat coat that needs very little grooming. A Bull Terrier named Bullseye (mascot) is the mascot of Target.

Bull Terrier Club of America

Cairn Terrier

Cairn terrier walking in front of a white background
Cairn Terrier

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 13-14 pounds
Lifespan: 13-15
Country: Scotland

Cairn Terriers began in Scotland with the job of rooting out foxes, rodents, and other critters from cairn in the highlands of Scotland. They are one of the oldest Scottish dog breeds

The Carin Terrier is a rugged, active, loyal dog who does well in just about any housing situation but does better is it gets plenty of exercise. It sheds very little and weekly brushing to remove dead hair will usually be enough grooming.

The most famous Cairn Terrier was a dog named Terry who played the part of Toto (Oz) in the movie The Wizard of Oz (1939 film). Perhaps the most famous line of the movies is when Judy Garland says, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Cairn Terrier Club of America 

Cesky Terrier

Height: 10-13 inches
Weight: 14-24 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: Czech Republic

The Cesky Terrier is the national dog of the Czech Republic.  It is a relative newcomer to the United States and the AKC registry. The first Ceskys arrived in the late 1980s and was recognized by the AKC in 2011.

The Cesky Terrier’s ancestry includes the Scottish Terrier and the Sealyham Terrier so it naturally resembled those breeds. The breed owes its existence to Frantisek Horak who wanted a dog to hunt in the forests of Bohemia.

There are only a small number of this breed in the United States so finding a groomer familiar with its grooming requirements may be difficult. Its coat should be clipped rather than the stripping that is suggested for other Terrier breeds.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier, 2 years old, sitting in front of white background
Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 18-24 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: Scotland

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a unique-looking dog with a unique name. It seems Sir Walter Scott wrote a book, Guy Mannering, that included a character named Dandie Dinmont. The Dinmont character was likely based on a real person named James Davidson who is credited with starting the Dandie Dinmont Terrier breed.

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier has short legs, a long body, and big round soulful eyes that make it look like a wise little dog.

They are good watchdogs and companions. They tend to be more laid back than some Terrier breeds but do enjoy playing with kids. The number of registered Dandies has decreased to the point they are considered a vulnerable breed in the United Kingdom.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of America 

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Height: 12-14 inches
Weight: 30-40 pounds
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Country: Ireland

The Glen of Imaal is a remote area of Ireland and the birthplace of the Glen Of Imaal Terrier.  Earning a living was difficult in that area of Ireland and the dog was expected to work just as hard as its masters.

It was a hunting dog but also had to do other chores around the farm including the kitchen. They seem to be more easy-going and quieter than most Terrier breeds.

This breed almost died out in the early 20th century and is still a rare breed. It is listed as a vulnerable breed in the United Kingdom.

Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America

Irish Terrier

Irish Terrier

Height: 18 inches
Weight: 25-27 pounds
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Country: Ireland

The Irish Terrier is the only Terrier breed that has an all-red coat. It may be fitting that it hails from Ireland a country that has more people with red hair than any other country in the world.

The Irish Terrier is one of the oldest Terrier breeds and, along with 14 other dog breeds, was recognized by the AKC in 1885, just a few months after the AKC began operating.

As most Terriers, the Irish can be stubborn but also is eager to please its owner. It is an affectionate, loyal dog that is ready to protect its family.

Irish Terrier Club of America

Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier

Height: 17-19 inches
Weight: 22-40 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: Ireland

The Kerry Blue Terrier, also from Ireland, is famous for his solid blue coat.  It is one of the larger Terriers. Its name comes from County Kerry where it originated. It was bred to be a hunting dog but now is most commonly kept as a family pet and companion dog.

The Kerry Blue has a single coat, does not shed, and can be tolerated by many people who may be allergic to dogs in general. Its hair continues to grow so it will need trimming every 6 weeks or so.

The main life purpose of this Terrier is to be with its family and do whatever they are doing. This includes outdoor fun and games or indoor stuff like watching TV with a nice fire in the fireplace.

United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club

Lakeland Terrier

lakeland terrier
Lakeland Terrier

Height: 14-15 inches
Weight: 16-17 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: England

The Lakeland Terrier, named for the Lake District England, was bred as a farmer’s dog bred to work in packs to get rid of foxes.

The Lakeland is a small dog but no Terrier really believes that. It is confident, bold, and friendly. It is also a low shedding dog that is hypoallergenic. Its coat will need to be either plucked or trimmed.

Unfortunately, the Lakeland is a relatively rare breed and is considered one of vulnerable dog breeds of the United Kingdom .

United States Lakeland Terrier Club

Manchester Terrier

Manchester Terrier

Height: 15-16 inches
Weight: 12-22 pounds
Lifespan: 15-17
Country: England

The Manchester Terrier is named after the city of Manchester where it was developed. Similar to the Poodle, the Manchester Terrier is one breed that is recognized in different AKC groups depending on the dog’s size. The larger or standard Manchester is in the Terrier Group while the smaller is part of the Toy Group. The Toy must be less than 12 pounds.

The Manchester has a short, smooth coat that requires very little grooming other than a bath. It usually has a black and tan coat although some are solid black.

The Manchester is a fierce ratter and was sometimes used in the now illegal sport of rat-baiting. The Manchester is also considered one of vulnerable dog breeds of the United Kingdom .

 American Manchester Terrier Club

Miniature Bull Terrier

Miniature Bull Terrier

Height: 10-14 inches
Weight: 18-28 pounds
Lifespan: 11-13 years
Country: England

The Miniature Bull Terrier is, for all practical purposes, a Bull Terrier in a smaller body. Before 1991, they were considered varieties of the same breed. Now they are considered separate breeds.

Miniature Bull Terriers are loving dogs, but being Terriers can have a stubborn streak. Their coats come in several colors, including an all-white version. Their hair is short and easy to care for.

Miniature Bull Terriers have an egg-shaped head and triangular eyes like the Bull Terrier.

Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America

Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer in studio
Miniature Schnauzer

Height: 12-14 inches
Weight: 11-20 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: Germany

The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest and most popular of the three Schnauzer breeds. Although the Schnauzers, Miniature, Standard, and Giant have a common ancestor (the Standard Schanzuer0, they are considered separate breeds and not different sizes of the same breed.

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small dog with a friendly attitude. They are not generally aggressive but are good watchdogs that enjoy sounding the alarm whenever the doorbell rings or a stranger is at the door.

The Miniature sheds very little and will need grooming every 6 to 8 weeks. If its hair gets too long, tangles become a real problem unless they are combed daily.

American Miniature Schnauzer Club

Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 10-12 pounds
Lifespan: 12-16
Country: Great Britain

Norfolk Terriers are clever, friendly, and loyal little dogs that are very active but will gladly curl up in your lap. They need to be part of the family.

Norfolks originate from the Norfolk county of Great Britain. They are very similar in appearance to the Norwich Terrier. The significant difference is that the Norfolk’s ears fold and the Norwich’s ears stand upright (prick). Then all you have to do is remember which one has the folded ears. I do this by calling the Norfolk the “Norfold” Terrier.

The Norfolk and Norwich Terriers are the smallest of the working terriers. They were trained to work in packs so tend to get along well with other dogs.

Norfolk Terrier Club

Norwich Terrier

Norwich Terrier

Height: 10 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: Great Britain

The Norwich Terrier is a little, toy size dog earthdog named for Norwich, England.  They are feisty and love to play but like their cousins, the Norfolk Terriers, love to snuggle in your lap for as long as possible.

Many terrier breeds were bred to hunt rodents, and the Norwich is no exception. It is an excellent ratter, but that occupation is no longer in great demand, so now they are family companion dogs and also excel at that job.

They have a soft undercoat and a harsh outercoat that needs frequent brushing to maintain a good appearance. Clipping will cause the color and texture of its coat to fade over time.

Norwich Terrier Club of America

Parson Russell Terrier

Parsons Russell Terrier

Height: 13-14 inches
Weight: 13-17 inches
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Country: England

The Parson Russell Terrier (aka Parson Jack Russel Terrier) is an intelligent, independent-minded hunting dog. They are small dogs (under 20 pounds) but still run fast enough to keep up with horses on a foxhunt.

The Parson’s coat is generally white but may have markings of black, brown, cream, tan, or all 4 of these colors. They need regular brushing and clipping to keep away tangles. They love digging so may need to be bathed more often.

The Parson Russell Terrier is a friendly, affectionate dog but is has an all around terrier personality. It is not an aggressive dog but does not tolerate rough handling. If you want a docile, submissive dog, do not get a Parson Russell Terrier.

Parson Russell Terrier Association of America

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier

Height: 10-13 (miniature) 13-18 (standard)
Weight: 10-25 pounds
Lifespan: 12-18
Country: United States

As its name suggests, the Rat Terrier is a first class rat exterminator. If you don’t have a rat problem, this dog is also a great family playmate, guard dog, and does everything you want a dog to do.

Teddy Roosevelt gets the credit for naming the Rat Terrier.  It is one of three Terrier breeds developed in the United States along with the American Staffordshire and American Hairless Terriers.

The Rat Terrier comes in two sizes, the Miniature and the Standard. The Miniature is under 13 inches tall.

Rat Terrier Club of America

Russell Terrier

Russell Terrier

Height: 10-12 inches
Weight: 9-15 pounds
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Country: England, Australia

The Russell Terrier originated in England for use in foxhunts. It then was further developed in Australia into the breed recognized by the AKC. It has common ancestry with the Parson Russel Terrier but has a different shape body and is considered a separate breed.

To complicate keeping the Russell Terrier matters, there is a Jack Russell Terrier breed not recognized by the AKC. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, not associated with the AKC, maintains a Jack Russell Terrier breed registry.

The Russell Terrier has a mostly white coat that can be smooth, broken, or rough. It may have markings of black, brown, tan, cream or a combination of these colors.

American Russell Terrier Club

Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier, 2 years old, in park
Scottish Terrier

Height: 10 inches
Weight: 19-22 pounds
Lifespan: 12 years
Country: Scotland

The Scottish Terrier was developed in the Highlands of Scotland to hunt rodents, badgers, and foxes. Scotties have a dignified, almost-human personality. They have a distinctive appearance and could be the most recognizable of the Terrier breeds. They may also be the oldest.

Scotties have been pets for many famous people including Queen Victoria, Presidents George W. Bush and Dwight Eisenhower, actors Humphrey Bogart and Tatum O’Neil, and many others. The most famous Scottie was Fala (dog) who a constant companion of President Franklin Roosevelt. The most infamous owner of a Scottie is probably Eva Braun.

The Scottie has a solid color coat, the most common being black. They can also be brindle (black, red, or silver), and wheaten.

Scottish Terrier Club of America

Sealyham Terrier

Sealyham Terrier

Height: 10-11 inches
Weight: 23-24
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Country: Wales

The Sealyham Terrier breed began in Wales at the Sealyham House in the second half of the 1800s. Its coat is predominately white and it may have some black, lemon, or tan markings. Its most unique looking feature is the mass of hair, called a “fall,” which can cover its forehead.

Sealyhams border between being a small or medium-size dog. They have a big dog bark and are very good watch dogs. They are affectionate and make good family pets whether in the city or in the country.

Sealyhams were quite popular after the World War I with Hollywood stars. Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, and other Hollywood royalty owned Sealyhams. Unfortunately, they have become a rare breed and are on the vulnerable dog breeds of the United Kingdom.

American Sealyhams Terrier Club

Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 35-48 pounds
Lifespan: 12-14
Country: Scotland

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier whose devotion to his master equals that of the famous Akita, Hachikō. The bond between dog and man is something that transcends our understanding.

This low but long dog was bred on the Isle of Skye to be an earthdog for hunting fox and badger. It is a fairly old breed and was recognized by the AKC in 1887. It, too, is now a rare and somewhat endangered Terrier breed.

The long, luxurious coat of the Skye needs weekly brushing. Some Skye Terriers have upright or prick ears while other have ears that fold. Other than the ears, they are the same breed.

Skye Terrier Club of America

Smooth Fox Terrier

smooth fox terrier
Smooth Fox Terrier

Height: 15-16 inches
Weight: 15-18 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: England

The Smooth Fox Terrier was originally developed for traditional fox hunting.  Its job was to flush or “bolt” the fox from its hiding place so the bigger dogs and men on horses could give chase. After all, galloping across the countryside and jumping fences was the main purpose of fox hunting.

The main color of the Smooth Fox Terrier is white. Some may have black, tan, or both colors in varying degrees of prevalence. Grooming is relatively easy but clipping will be required to keep its coat looking smooth.

Fox Terriers are active dogs so may be best for those who have some room for the dog to get some exercise. If you are bred to chase the fox, sitting on the couch can become too boring.

American Fox Terrier Club

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 

Height: 17-19 inches
Weight: 30-40 pounds
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Country: Ireland

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a happy, friendly, devoted dog that, like most Terriers, can be a bit stubborn.  They are good family dogs that love to play with children. With proper socialization, they get along with cats and other family pets.

The Wheaten got its start in Ireland as a general-purpose farm dog and family companion of the common people. It was not to the manor born.

The only coat color the Wheaten Terrier has is, you guessed it, wheaten. It has soft hair that needs a lot of grooming attention.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Running staffordshire bull terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Height: 14-16 inches
Weight: 24-38 pounds
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Country: England

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was bred for the gruesome blood sports of dog fighting and rat baiting. It originates from Staffordshire and the city of Manchester.

Despite being bred for fighting, the Staffordshire is a gentle, loving family dog. If challenged, however, it may not back down from a fight. They need good early socialization to learn how to get along with other pets.

The Staffordshire is a low maintenance dog that only needs the routing bath and brushing. They can have coas of several different solid or combined colors.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America

Welsh Terrier

welsh terrier in studio
Welsh Terrier

Height: 15 inches
Weight: 20 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15
Country: Wales

The Welsh Terrier is another dog bred in Wales for hunting foxes, rats, and badgers. It may be the oldest dog breed from Great Britain.

Welsh Terriers are good with kids and love to play. They have the Terrier attitude so can be stubborn. They are known to require more training than the average dog.

Their coats are generally black and tan but some are grizzle (a mixture of black and tan or even white). They shed very little. For grooming, if you do not hand strip, they will need to be clipped every two to three months.

Welsh Terrier Club of America

Wire Fox Terrier

Fox terrier, 1 year old, standing in front of white background
Wire Fox Terrier

Height: 14-15 inches
Weight: 15-18 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Country: England

The Wire Fox Terrier was bred for fox hunting similar to the Smooth Fox Terrier. The Wire Fox is an energetic dog but also likes some down time.

The Wire and Smooth Fox Terriers may have some common ancestors and are similar looking, but they are separate breeds. The Wire Fox Terrier has the honor of winning Best in Show of the Westminster Dog Show more times than any other dog breed.

When it’s not fox hunting or strutting around the show floor, they make good family pets for those willing to put in the training effort. If you want a show dog, you will need to put in a lot of grooming time. Otherwise, it will need to be clipped as it sheds very little.

American Fox Terrier Club

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