So you want to own a terrier?

Well, to a Terrier enthusiast there is nothing better; Terriers are wonderful dogs. But before you decide, there are some things you should know.

The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes 26 breeds of Terriers, not including the Jack Russell Terrier and the Glen of Imaal Terrier, which have not yet been granted full recognition. Most Terriers originated in the British Isles, where in earlier times they were invaluable for rodent control and also used extensively in the hunting field. An exception is the Miniature Schnauzer, which is a miniaturized working dog rather than a Terrier, and is classified in the Terrier Group only in North America. Today, most Terriers are primarily companion dogs.

With such a variety of breeds to choose among, you will probably find one that suits your lifestyle. You should understand that, because historically they were developed to work independently, most terriers have minds of their own and are fully prepared to use them! Overall, they are intelligent, active and energetic. They love people but can sometimes be territorial towards other dogs. They are excellent watchdogs, often have an impish sense of humour and thoroughly enjoy participating in family activities.

As a group, Terriers are generally healthy and long-lived, but like all animals health concerns can arise from time to time. You should be aware that Terriers need regular grooming to keep their coats healthy, tidy and presentable, and to prepare a Terrier coat for showing entails a considerable learning curve.

Whichever Terrier you fancy, do research your chosen breed carefully and buy from a reputable breeder who will provide advice and support to you and your new family member.

Breeds in the Terrier Group fall into three broad divisions: More or less squarely built, longer legged - Airedale, Bedlington, Border, Fox Terrier (Smooth & Wire), Irish, Kerry Blue, Lakeland, Manchester, Miniature Schnauzer, Welsh, Soft-Coated Wheaten.

  1. The Airedale is the largest, at about 23" shoulder height. The Bedlington is unique among terriers in its rather whippet-like outline, with a coat of mixed hard and soft hairs. The Kerry and the Wheaten carry soft, wavy coats, while the Manchester's black and tan coat is tight, smooth and glossy. The Lakeland and the Welsh are quite similar in general appearance, with the Welsh being the stockier of the two.
  2. Low to ground, more oblong in body - Australian, Cairn, Cesky, Dandie Dinmont, Norfolk, Norwich, Scottish, Sealyham, Skye, West Highland White.

    All the Terriers in this grouping are rough coated except the Cesky, which has a silky jacket. The Dandie's coat is a mix of hard and soft hairs and the backline rises in a gentle curve. Ear carriage distinguishes between the Norfolk and Norwich, the former having drop ears and the latter, prick ears. The Skye's body is twice as long as its shoulder height.
  1. "Bull and Terrier" types - American Staffordshire, Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier. All of these breeds are sturdily built and smooth coated. Despite a superficial similarity in head type,neither the American Staffordshire nor the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a "Pit Bull".