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Terrier Types

You're either a terrier person or you're not. They are probably the Marmite of dogs.

Border terrier

Border Terrier

There are many different terrier types. There’s the ever-popular Jack Russell and then there’s the little seen Sealyham terrier.

What’s true about all terrier types is that on the whole they are opinionated dogs. Each breed of terrier has different characteristics so consider what you want carefully before committing yourself to a decision. (Wondering if you can put a terrier out in the field? )

Training different terrier types

Terriers are results-orientated dogs with a low boredom threshold so you’re going to have to work hard to keep their attention. On the whole, labradors and spaniels aim to please. Terriers not so much. (Read are terriers born anarchists?)

In addition terriers are hardwired to hunt above and below ground and are easily distracted – which may not form part of your plans. (Read our guide to the best slip leads.)

However terriers do have a host of loyal fans who would never be without one by their side. (Read a closer look at the terrier.)


The Patterdale/ fell terrier

Hardwired earth dogs

Patterdale/Fell Patterdale terriers are fast and formidable ratting dogs. (See Patterdales out ratting here.)  They can be pets although they have been bred for hard work, so may be far too energetic for a quiet, sedentary household.

Lakeland Lakeland terriers have slightly longer legs because their traditional work includes finding quarry in vast outcrops of stone, where they need to climb and scramble, and maybe tackle a fox on a ledge above them.

(Read more on Lakeland and Patterdale terriers here.)

Plummer terriers Read more about a day out with Plummer terriers here.

Wire haired Jack Russell terrier

Wire haired Jack Russell terrier


Bedlington The Bedlington has a totally different attitude from those mentioned earlier and doesn’t go looking for trouble. It is a silent worker, though possessed of a deep bay quite at odds with its size.

Jack Russell As happy to be part of the family as they are to work.

Border You’ll see a Border terrier in the beating line on occasion. Like the Jack Russell, they are both a family dog and a working dog.

Bedlington terrrier

Bedlington terrrier

Border terrier

Border terrier


Yorkshire Believe it or not the Yorkie was bred as a ratter, to kill rats and mice in small spaces.

Manchester Bred to keep down the rats in mills, the Manchester terrier can also be a rabbit hunter.

English Toy These can look like miniature Dobermans, although they are not related.

Scottish Confident, independent, spirited.

Norfolk terrier

Norfolk terrier

Norfolk Not many Norfolks go ratting these days but give them the chance and they’ll probably jump on it.

West Highland White Friendly, happy and liked by everyone who meets them (except small rodents.)

Cairn These dogs got their name as their purpose was to hunt and chase quarry between cairns in the Scottish Highlands. (Dorothy’s dog Toto in the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn terrier.)

Skye. Originally bred to hunt and kill badger, otter, and fox, but these days they’re loved as companions.

West Highland White terrier

West Highland White terrier

Popular in Europe

Fox (rough and smooth). As the name suggests, these were originally bred to drive a fox out of its den.

Jagterrier In German this means “hunt terrier” and this terrier can work for hunting under ground or as a flushing dog.

Cesky A useful dog for stalking trips. (Read more about the Cesky terrier here.)

Sealyham terrier

Sealyham terrier

Vermin dogs

Kerry Blue A good all-rounder, this terrier was originally bred to control vermin and then became a general working dog, herding cattle and sheep and guarding the premises.

Wheaten Intelligent and sensitive, this is not a terrier that can live in kennels or in isolation. It’s best within a family.

Irish Used as a watchdog and for pest control. However the breed standard says: “The Irish terrier is good-tempered with humans but he is a little too ready to resent interference on the part of other dogs”.

Welsh Whilst good-tempered, fun and devoted companions these terriers can be mischievous and are totally fearless.

Sealyham Recognised by the Kennel Club in 1911 the Sealyham breed was popular in the 1930s and 40’s but numbers have dwindled in recent years.

Airedale Known as the king of terriers and the largest.

Airedale terrier

Airedale terrier

Lucas Sir Jocelyn Lucas bred the first cross between a Norfolk Terrier and one of his own Ilmer Sealyhams. The result was an intelligent and feisty dog with an excellent temperament, suitable for use as a working terrier but equally happy as a domestic pet.

Sporting Lucas Developed from the Lucas Terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier, and various Fell Terriers by Brian Plummer in the 1990s.


This article was originally published in 2014 and is kept updated.