What is a Terrier?

four jack russell terriers running and playing in a field

Terriers tend to be energetic, quick-witted dogs that are loyal and devoted. They adore their owners, but also are known to have a stubborn streak and can become headstrong. Even though they can be prone to barking and may sometimes act clingy, terriers make fantastic companions. But, what is a terrier?

What is a Terrier?

A Terrier refers to a type of dog that was originally bred to hunt vermin. There are several terrier breeds and terrier types. Typically, these dogs are small and fearless. However, although many terriers are small, not all of them are and they do vary greatly in size. In dog registries, terriers tend to be categorized by function or by size.

3 Interesting Facts About Terriers

1. Terriers Originated in England and Ireland

The terrier was first bred in England and Ireland to hunt small game and burrow for prey such as rabbits, mice, or foxes. While hounds and other breeds may have tracked during hunts, the terriers were the ones who would often recover the prey.

While they look small, they are definitely focused on the task at hand. These pups are incredibly determined to catch their prey and have been known to dig for a few feet in order to retrieve the animal. If you decide to add a terrier to your family, be sure you are aware that you will have to be as headstrong as your pup. Otherwise, they will take charge of the household.

2. Their Name Comes From Greek and French

Terriers get their name from the Greek word terra, meaning dirt, and the French word terrier, meaning burrow. This is because they were able to burrow to claim prey or dig to get to small vermin infesting the household or out on hunts.

In London, terriers were often employed throughout the city to take care of pests throughout the streets. This helped clean up the city and made it easier to clean up debris rodent-free. This instinct to dig may be detrimental to those who pride themselves on their landscaping.

One of the reasons why dogs dig is because it’s instinctual. Terriers love to dig and often cannot stop themselves. If you want your dog to stop digging up your garden, give them their own place to dig such as a small sand/dirt box filled with toys, or try to deter them with smooth rocks so they will find it difficult to dig but will not hurt themselves.

3. There Are Over 30 Different Terriers

While they all originated from the same familial line, terriers have been developed over centuries into over 30 different types of dogs; each with their own temperament and personality.

If you are interested in a terrier, research several breeds to find out which one is perfect for you. Afterward, find a reputable shelter or breeder who can help you train your pup or give you advice.

These dogs may not be the best for first-time pet owners since they are often more stubborn than their owners. If you’re set on a terrier as your first dog, puppy training classes can help you keep training consistent despite the classic terrier stubborn streak.

“What is a terrier?” is a question that is both simple to answer and complicated because of all the different terrier types now available. If your heart is set on a terrier, your best bet is to figure out what you’re looking for in a puppy and then narrow it down to the terrier puppies that fit those traits.