Terriers are a group of working dogs which were bred to hunt and control vermin, especially rodents and foxes. Broadly speaking, terriers are smaller, energetic, and highly intelligent dogs with an equally high work and prey drive. Terriers originated in Europe, with a particularly strong history in the UK. A number of breeds originated in the north of England and Scotland, with their names indicating where they were first developed. Common breeds include the Jack Russell, Border Terrier, and Airedale Terrier.
While famously loving and loyal, terriers must be recognised and understood as essentially being working dogs. The characteristics which suited them to their particular line of work, namely hunting and pest control, remain strong and may pose challenges to newer and less experienced owners. Terriers are all likely to have retained their instincts to bark, dig, and of course aggressively chase small furries with lethal intent! If any of these behaviours could trouble you or your family, then a terrier will not be a suitable breed type choice.
Terriers do best in active homes with owners who can offer them plenty of time outdoors, training, and other structured activities which allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours. Although they are at heart working dogs, terriers’ prey drives can be met and facilitated with specialist toys and training aids when owners would rather not directly facilitate them hunting and killing other animals.
If you are considering buying or rescuing a terrier, we recommend reaching out to the appropriate breed club for advice on how to best meet its needs. Terriers can make excellent pets in the right home, but should not be taken on lightly without having properly researched their particular needs.