All About The Terrier Breed Dogs

All of the breeds in the Terrier Group are small enough to be kept in a city apartment. Nowadays, most of these dogs are raised as pets although, like the working and porting dogs, they, too, were originally trained to help man.

The word “terrier” comes from the Latin word “terra,” which means earth. It was given to these tough little dogs because they were particularly skilled in tracking small game into the ground. Most terriers originated, as far as is known, in the British Isles, where the dense underbrush and thick forests of early days made them a popular help in this kind of hunting. A few breeds also came from Tibet and Germany. In England today, more people own terriers as pets than any other group of dogs. Because of their alert personality and small size, they are almost equally popular in the United States.


The airedale has been called the “king of the terriers,” because he is the largest of all the terrier breeds. His ancestors were probably the black-and-tan wire-haired terrier and the otterhound. They were developed by sportsmen in Yorkshire, England, to hunt otter and other small animals. They got their name from the Aire River in that county. The airedale has since earned a reputation as a police dog as well as a pet. And because he can endure any kind of climate, he has also been used to track large wild game in Africa, India, and America.

The airedale stands about twenty-three inches high. His sturdy body is covered with a hard, wiry coat that is mostly black, with a touch of red in it. His head, ears, legs, chest, and underbody are tan, and he sometimes wears a blaze of white on his chest. His muzzle looks square because of its thick whiskers. His ears perk forward toward his bright eyes. His short tail is carried straight up, like a stiff brush. He is brave, yet full of fun, and makes a wonderful combination of hunter, house companion, and watchdog.

Smooth and Wire-Haired Fox Terriers

The smooth and the wire-haired fox terriers are really the same dog except, as their names show, one wears a sleek, flat coat and the other a coat of rough hair. They are descended from English terriers that were originally used to hunt foxes. They were carried on horseback to the place where the pack of foxhounds had driven a fox into its hole. There it was the job of the fox terrier to drive it out for the huntsmen.

The fox terrier weighs about eighteen pounds and stands fifteen inches high. He is very gay and active, and his small, sparkling dark eyes are always full of life. He wears a white coat marked with tan or black patches. His head is narrow, and the nose in the smooth-haired fox terrier is pointed. A wire-haired’s nose seems square because of his heavy whiskers. He carries his stiff, short tail proudly and seems to prance on his strong little legs.

The smooth-haired fox terrier has been called the “gentleman of the terrier world,” but both smooth and wirehaired make remarkable pets for children, if they are carefully trained when puppies. And both are as at home in the city as the country. Probably no other breed of dog is kept as a pet in so many different countries all over the world.

Wire-haired fox terrier

Fox terriers, like most dogs, are extremely possessive of their master’s property, sometimes with very funny results, as in this story: In the days when men wore curled and powdered wigs, an English nobleman gave one of his own wigs to a friend who was too poor to buy one. Some time later, the nobleman took his fox terrier with him to visit this friend. They sat and talked a while, the dog lying at their feet. When the nobleman rose to leave, the fox terrier suddenly jumped up on the sofa where the other man still sat. Seizing his wig in his teeth, the dog snatched it off the poor man’s head and ran proudly to his master with it. The dog could not know his master had given the man his wig, but he did know from the smell that the wig was something that belonged to his master!

Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry blue gets his name from County Kerry in Ireland, where he originated, and from the fact that his coat varies from silver blue to black blue. His forebears were used as hunters and watchdogs for hundreds of years by the Irish farmers. He was so highly valued in his own country that when Ireland became a Republic, the Kerry blue was officially named its national dog.

Since then, the Kerry blue has become increasingly popular in the United States. Because of his thick, soft coat and sturdy build, he looks larger than he really is. He only weighs around thirty-five pounds when fullgrown. He has a square face with a beard, and a brush of hair falls over his eyes and muzzle. His brief tail stands up straight when it isn’t merrily wagging. His legs are strong and well covered with hair. His ears are V-shaped and his sharp eyes are rather small, either dark or hazel. But it is his silky, wavy coat, with its unusual coloring, that makes the Kerry blue a most distinguished-looking dog, sure to be admired.

His bright disposition, his great endurance, and his devoted loyalty make him a fine companion.

Irish Terrier

The Irish terrier is one of the oldest and most popular of the terrier breeds. It is believed to have existed in Ireland for many hundreds of years. These early Irish terriers were all white, but today they wear coats of bright tan or golden red. Originally a water dog and retriever, he is still an outdoor dog that can stand all kinds of weather and live in all kinds of climate. The Irish terrier is a playful pet for children but, because of his high spirits and his fondness for a fight, he must be carefully trained as a pup. Since he is easy to teach, he can be made into an obedient companion. Although small enough to fit comfortably into an apartment, he has the courage of a much larger dog. This may be why he earned the nickname of “daredevil.” An example of his courage can be found in the following incident:

On a hunting expedition in Africa, hunters were using a pack of dogs to drive out a lion which had hidden in a thick tangle of thorny bushes. For a long time, the dogs circled the bushes, barking and growling. But the lion refused to run out where the hunters could shoot at him. All at once, however, the lion did dash madly from the bushes. Why? Well, as he ran with his tail held straight out behind him, the hunters saw that a plucky little Irish terrier had his teeth firmly locked on the end of the lion’s tail!

The Irish terrier is a strong, active dog with a longer body than most terrier breeds. He looks somewhat like a small Irish wolfhound, although his square muzzle, drooped-forward ears, and perky, stiff tail also resemble the airedale. His reddish coat is thick and wiry, lying close to his body. He loves to play and needs plenty of exercise. If he is kept in the country, it would be wise to see he doesn’t run away, as he also likes to travel far from home.

Scottish Terrier

The Scottish terrier, called the Scotty, has long been a pet of many, many families. You will remember that President Roosevelt’s famous dog, Fala, was a Scotty. Although this breed wasn’t known even in nearby England until around 1870, it originated in the Highlands of Scotland many years before that. There the Scotty was used as a small hunting dog to dig holes in the earth in tracking foxes, rats, and other vermin. His especially bushy eyebrows kept the dirt out of his eyes while he was digging.

The Scotty is a short-legged, long-bodied little dog weighing about twenty pounds. The beard on his muzzle gives it a square look, and his bristling eyebrows make even the youngest pup resemble an old man. His coat is short, with a dense undercoat and a wiry outer one. It is usually black, iron gray, brindle, or sandy in color. His ears are small and pointed. Like almost all terriers, he carries his rather long, stiff tail proudly. He is a lovable pet who seems to adjust his personality to that of his master’s. Because he often attaches himself to one particular person in a family, he has been called a “one-man” dog.

Sealyham Terrier

The Sealyham grew up with families from the very start of his breed, and has always been a pet. His original use was to dig underground after fox, otter, badger, or other small game. He was bred especially for this purpose by the owner of an estate called “Sealyham” in Wales. This is where he gets his name.

The Sealyham’s expression and appearance are most appealing. He stands about ten inches high and has a long body and quite short legs. His head is broad, with ears that fold over level with the top of his skull. His square muzzle wears whiskers. His brief tail is carried high and looks a little like a man’s shaving brush. His coat is long, thick, and wiry on top, but soft underneath. It is usually a pure white, although it can have pale tan or yellow markings on head and ears.

The Sealyham is bright and affectionate and demands a lot of attention. Because of his quaint looks, he usually gets it! He makes an ideal city pet.

Bedlington Terrier

Perhaps the strangest looking of the terrier breeds is the Bedlington. Originated about one hundred years ago in the mining county of Bedlington, England, this is the dog that looks like a lamb! However, when used to hunt small game, his disposition is anything but lamblike. He can be as good a fighter as any other terrier. From being the pet and sporting dog of the English miners, the Bedlington has quickly become a favorite of both city and country families.

He has rather long legs and his body looks a little like that of a greyhound’s. His coat is different from any other terrier’s. It is thick and woolly, like a lamb’s, and is either blue or a liver red. Or it can be a combination of these colors with tan. When his hair is properly trimmed, his narrow head has a lamb’s shape, with no stop, or dent, in the muzzle and with small dark or hazel eyes. His rather long ears have little hair on them except for a silky fringe on the very tips. He carries his long, thin tail close to his body. He is still an excellent hunter and retriever. But because of his usually calm disposition and the fact that he doesn’t smell doggy, he is also a fine city companion. Wherever he lives, however, he should be the only household pet. He is apt to be jealous of other animals.

Skye Terrier

The Skye terrier is one of the oldest breeds from the British Isles. It gets its name from the island of Skye, off the coast of Scotland, where it originated some four hundred years ago. There the Skye was valued as a hunter of small wild game. In spite of his tiny size, he had a very keen nose, hearing, and sight and was fast on his little feet. His thick coat protected him from the teeth of the animals he was hunting. And his long, narrow body enabled him to follow game into small holes between rocks where larger dogs could not go.

Later, he became popular as a pet. Indeed, after Queen Victoria owned one, almost every fashionable lady in London could be seen out walking with her Skye terrier! The Skye’s body is long, his legs short and muscular. His coat is about five inches in length and is very straight and hard over its woolly undercoat. It is usually dark or light blue or gray, or fawn with black markings. His head is large for his body, with a thick fringe of hair falling over his eyes and forehead. His tail is feathered, his ears either short and pricked up or long and hanging close to his head.

In personality, the Skye is brave, with a will of his own. He is very shrewd and has cunning ways of asking for whatever he wants. Since he is no longer used for hunting, he makes a fine city pet.


The Schnauzer is a German breed that is very old. He looks the same today as he does in paintings by Rembrandt, Diirer, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Originally, he was used to hunt rats and to guard German farm wagons when they carried vegetables and meat to market. He was also a good retriever, and later became a valued house companion and watchdog. When wire-haired pinschers were first shown at a German dog show in 1879, a dog named “Schnauzer” won first prize. Schnauzer means beard in German, and this is how the wire-haired pinscher breed got its name. Because of their great intelligence, owners of Schnauzers have often called them the “dogs with the human brain.”

The Schnauzer is a stocky dog about twenty inches high. He wears a pepper-and-salt or a black-and-tan or an all black coat of dense, harsh hair. His square face has arched eyebrows, a bristling mustache, and thick whiskers. His eyes are dark brown, and his ears are usually cropped, set high on his head, and held straight up. The Schnauzer comes in three sizes: giant, standard, and miniature. But all look the same except for size. Here is one dog from which you can make your choice of a good pet for a large house, a medium-sized house, or a small apartment.

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn terrier’s ancestors came from Scotland many years ago. Small as they were, they were highly prized for their ability as hunters of small game. Today, the Cairn is the favorite of many a country or city family, because he is at home in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of places.

He has an alert personality that wins hit n many friends. He is hardy, easy to raise, and, in spite of his size, he takes his responsibilities as a watchdog very seriously.

He only weighs about fourteen pounds and stands some ten inches high. He is short-legged and strong, with a wide head. He wears a double coat that is harsh on the outside and furry underneath. It can be any color except white, but it should have dark markings on ears, muzzle, and the tip of his brush of a tail. He has shaggy eyebrows and little pointed ears and sharp eyes that give him a bright expression.

He makes a cheerful, intelligent, loyal companion.