terrier dog breeds

Ever wanted to get yourself a terrier dog?

Well, there are plenty of terrier dog breeds. So, why not get one right away?

As much as you want to think that it's simple, the terriers are a specific dog group that includes canines of different shapes and sizes.

The terrier dog breed was originally bred to dig and hunt for prey. The word Terrier originates from Middle French, meaning dog of the earth.

In some instances, these dogs were initially bred to kill vermin, with a hunter's instinct. But don't let that scare you!

The terrier dog group is actually an intelligent canine companion with a friendly yet feisty nature.

If this sounds like the type of dog that you want, get to know more about this dog breed group in this article!

You will learn their common traits and what are the top ten terrier dog breeds that most dog owners would love to have in the family!

Terrier Dog Breeds: Common Characteristics

Terriers are known for their energetic and feisty personality traits, eager to hunt, kill, and guard their families.

But they are more than that, as they have proven their loyalty, companionship, and friendliness to dog owners over the years.

Here are the common characteristics of the terrier dog breed and how they stand out from other dog groups:


Fearlessness has defined the temperament of the breed today, as they had to hold their own as hunters in the field.

Determined and Head Strong

While owners should know that Terrier makes excellent pets, they also require strong determination for handling as they can be stubborn.

They’re used to running the field and making their own choices.

High Athletic Ability

With such high levels of energy and a strong drive, this group of canines is committed to the field and to organized activities (flyball, agility, search and rescue, and more).

Top 10 Terrier Dog Breeds

Does it sound like terriers are the best dog choice for you? Well, you might want to check out our list of top ten terrier dogs, their general characteristics, and their personalities.

dogs good for hot weather airedale terrier

Airedale Terrier

Known for his strength, size, and unparalleled spirit, the Airedale Terrier is known as the King of Terriers.

This dog is versatile and distinguishing, working well as an athlete, companion, and hunter.

The Airedale Terrier is considered the largest of all terriers. The males stand approximately 23 inches at the shoulder. They have a wiry, dense coat with black and tan markings.

These dogs are bold, determined, and stubborn. The Airedale Terrier is docile and patient but refuses to back down when protecting the home and family.

These dogs tolerate other pets, assuming owners raise them together early. As intelligent dogs, these dogs hold high levels of independence but require firm handling.

Although the Airedale isn't a big barker, they can be serious chewers and diggers if they get bored.

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier

Known as a muscular breed with strength behind it, these dogs are affectionate and loving.

The American Staffordshire Terrier loves spending time with their humans, whether going for a jog or cuddling on the couch. This breed is intelligent and eager to please, making them largely trainable.

They require mental stimulation, or you may find destructive habits for occupying their time.

These dogs hold great strength behind them, whether pulling a dog walker down the street or chewing through bone effortlessly.

A strong, confident trainer must set boundaries for these animals, holding a firm hand but not too harshly.

The Staffie will excel in agility, nose work, and various athletic activities.

While they are typically used as watchdogs, the Staffordshire Terrier holds more intimidation through their physical appearance than anything else.

These dogs are built with muscle and maintain a reputation as aggressive, but this is largely undeserved.

Australian Terrier as terrier dog breeds

Australian Terrier

The Australian Terrier is both a watchdog and a companion animal. Developed in Australia, these dogs hunted snakes and rodents.

Today, this dog holds many of these traits, remaining fierce earthdog competitors while becoming a delightful companion.

Don't let the tiny size fool you – this dog is a little dog with large amounts of energy. With their compact size and low-maintenance coat, these dogs are ideal for active apartment dwellers.

For those owners wanting a watchdog, the Australian Terrier will remain loyal and alert, especially when something is out of the ordinary.

With a spirited and mischievous personality, the “Aussie” jumps into everything they do with attitude and personality.

This dog is known for matching personalities and adapting to the family's mood.

When you're happy and excited, he'll become energetic and playful. He'll sit quietly at your feet if you're feeling sad and disheartened.

The breed is known for being animated and silly, with an affinity for the elderly, young, and disabled.

While the Aussie is great with children, adults should always supervise interactions. These dogs aren't snappy or aggressive but face limits on roughhousing and handling.

Border Terrier Close-Up

Border Terrier

The Border Terrier is a good-natured, alert dog bred initially to assist in hunting foxes. They were famous for driving foxes out of hiding and into the open.

Nowadays, these dogs are wonderful companion animals. Border Terriers will have a powerful prey drive and enjoy digging, complete with energy to keep up with hunters on horseback.

Unfortunately, these traits can often make these dogs aggravating for the average pet owner.

While the Border Terriers can adapt to apartment life, they must get plenty of exercise. With plenty of physical activity, this dog is affectionate and loyal for life.

The Border Terrier is a small dog with a powerful drive to hunt and dig. These dogs are determined and fearless, combined with an intelligent and loving persona.

They have the stereotypical level of energy with a good-natured personality.

The Border Terrier is a beautiful dog that loves to play hard, suited for active families that can keep up with their energy.

This dog will need a securely fenced yard to keep them safe, as they'll dig under fences or bolt through open gates to explore.

Bull Terrier dogs are some of the worst swimmers

Bull Terrier

Initially developed in the 19th century, the Bull Terrier was once a fighting dog.

Eventually, these dogs became fashionable companions, settling in nicely as companion dogs currently.

The Bull Terrier is a lover, not a fighter, remaining largely affectionate with the family. With outstanding personalities, these dogs love people and prefer spending their day with them.

They want to stay a part of daily activities. These dogs have high energy levels, so they need plenty of exercise and vigorous play.

As the Bull Terrier is rather rambunctious, this breed isn't ideal for homes with younger children. Older children work well with this breed, as they're tireless playmates.

Unfortunately, these high-energy dogs can become quite destructive if they're bored.

If you're ready to take on the challenge of a Bull Terrier, these dogs remain loyal companions who love making their owners laugh.

Cairn Terrier Black

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is a small working breed originally bred to rid properties of vermin. These dogs are known for courage, intelligence, and tenacity.

Cairn Terriers are independent, sensible, and friendly. These dogs work well in apartments and large homes equally, making decent companions for novice and experienced dog owners.

It's critical to remember that these dogs are high-energy, requiring a lot of exercise and physical stimulation throughout the day.

They enjoy being active and want to spend time burning off excess energy.

The Cairn Terrier doesn't enjoy being left alone for extended periods, so make sure you spend time with him throughout the day to prevent negative habits.

This breed is curious and quick to learn; they enjoy obedience training and thrive with early socialization.

These dogs thrive in positive training methods, as they can be sensitive when using harsh training methods.

The Cairn can master unlimited tricks and commands but breaking old habits can be difficult.

These dogs love to dig and chase, tracking down cats, squirrels, and rabbits if given a chance.

Red Dog Breeds #3: Irish Terrier

Irish Terrier

These dogs were the “poor man's sentinel, a gentleman's favorite, and the farmer's best friend.”

The Irish Terrier is a versatile breed that acts as a watchdog, loyal companion, and vermin dispatcher.

The Irish Terrier is highly affectionate toward any human in their life, although they typically prefer being the only animal in the home. Early and frequent socialization can help them accommodate other dogs and pets.

The breed is notoriously high-energy, requiring a good amount of daily activity to remain fulfilled.

Anyone living in an apartment or working long hours may find meeting the physical demands difficult.

Commonly nicknamed “Daredevil,” this breed is agile and courageous. The Irish Terrier is loyal and on guard, willing to take on anything threatening his home and people.

A rough personality requires thorough training and socialization from a very early age. Irish Terriers are highly intelligent, learning many commands quickly.

They occasionally have a stubborn streak, so stick with consequences if necessary. The Irish Terrier is a wonderful watchdog, frequently barking to alert owners of anything out of place.

These dogs can become obsessive with barking, primarily if you don't address the behavior early on.

The Irish Terrier works well within a family home or single-person dynamic as an excellent people dog.

manchester terrier healthiest small and medium dog breeds

Manchester Terrier

Bred in Manchester, England, this dog is a spirited and lively breed that loves the driving game.

These dogs, commonly called Gentleman's Terriers in Victorian England, love a good chase. They're perfect for agility and flyball.

Although these dogs resemble the miniature Doberman Pinscher, the Manchester Terrier has a big personality.

They are hearty, loyal, and adore hanging out with their people. These dogs are perfect watchdogs, often alerting the family to any newcomers in the home.

The Manchester Terrier is an intelligent breed with high spirits and a faithful personality.

They are devoted and loyal, craving attention from their people. While they won't beg for attention, they enjoy spending time with their people.

The Manchester doesn't enjoy being alone for extended periods, becoming anxious and bored in these situations.

Unfortunately, anxiety can cause problematic behaviors like digging and excessive barking. Exercise is the best remedy for boredom, especially agility or flyball.

These dogs love to hunt and frequently gift owners with dead critters they've discovered or hunted from the yard.

Additionally, these dogs can be snappy with small children or pets, making them unsuitable for family dynamics.

Owners should always enroll in early obedience training and socialization opportunities to limit aggressive tendencies.

Scottish terrier hunting dog

Scottish Terrier

Known for strong, stubborn, and independent personalities, the Scottish Terrier was initially bred to hunt prey like foxes and badgers.

This history makes this breed a self-direct and opinionated companion with high independence.

The Scottie can be somewhat aloof, not naturally trusting of strangers or people. He'll need plenty of socialization early on to offset these traits.

He also works through a situation in his own time, whether training or meeting new people. These dogs are loyal and brave, defending their family to the end.

The Scottish Terrier enjoys all living arrangements but will require a daily walk to burn energy.

The Scottish Terrier loves family companionship and is tolerant and playful with children.

He does well in a family dynamic but can get somewhat defensive when pulled and prodded, making him unsuitable for babies and toddlers.

The Scottie enjoys digging, whether you like the new additions or not.

The Scottish Terrier holds a high prey drive, willing to chase prey right into traffic, making a fence necessary (an electric fence won't cut it—these dogs will charge right through the pain).

While other terriers are yappy and loud, the Scottie offers an alert bark, recognizing the difference between family and stranger.

As these dogs were bred to work apart from their owner, the Scottish Terrier can be challenging to train but does well in situations where he's apart from his family.

Ultimately, this breed does well as a family dog but is much happier with a specific job to do overall.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of the most popular fighting dog breeds

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

While these dogs were bred in 19th-century Britain to be fast-fighting dogs, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is better known as a loving companion animal with high levels of intelligence.

This breed can be rather imposing, especially with its powerful stance and strong, muscular build.

Despite the tough exterior, the Stafford is a loving and sensitive companion that enjoys living life to the fullest.

The Stafford is known for a strong love of people and wanting to spend as much time with their family as possible.

They're up for almost anything, participating in agility, flyball, therapy work, and obedience. They don't like being left alone, nor should they be left outside.

With a nickname of “the nanny dog,” the Stafford is known for patience and devotion to children.

Although they hold a tolerant and patient approach to poking and prying, adults should always supervise interactions.

This breed isn't always friendly toward dogs they don't know, an unfortunate remnant of previous fighting breeds.

These dogs should always have firm but gentle handling and plenty of training. The Stafford is brilliant, responding well to most training, but occasionally likes to do things their way.

FAQS About Terrier Dog Breeds

Are terriers good with other canines in the house?

The terrier dog group may be a friendly type, but it might take some time for them to socialize with new dogs.

With this said, it may not be ideal to have a terrier dog breed and another dog under one roof. They thrive when they're the only pooch in the house.

What is the most popular terrier dog?

Miniature Schnauzer is considered one of the most popular terrier dog breeds in the group.

In 2021, this dog breed topped the charts and ranked 18th on AKC's list of most popular dog breeds.

Do terrier dogs bark a lot?

Unfortunately, terriers tend to be more vocal compared to other dog groups. Their hunting instinct and protective nature are best to blame for this trait.

On a good note, not all dogs from the terrier group will bark excessively. You might want to train them while they're young to avoid too much barking.

Which terrier dog breed is the calmest?

If you're looking for a calm terrier breed, you might want to get a Border Terrier. They aren't as feisty or stubborn as other breeds in the group.

The Border Terrier has an affectionate and mellow temperament that it would be easier for you to handle on most days.

Is it okay to leave terrier dog breeds on their own?

Terrier dog breeds are independent and intelligent types of canines. They can manage on their own whenever you try to leave them at home.

However, they can be very curious and energetic. Leaving them in the house for too long can lead to destruction and other forms of damage to your home.

Terrier Dog Breeds: Conclusion

Although these dogs were initially bred to hunt and drive prey, they've become valuable integrated companion animals.

The Terrier is fearless, feisty, and energetic, making them an excellent addition to active families.

Known for strong determination, terrier breeds should always have firm training to offset undesirable personality traits.

READ NEXT: Sporting Dog Breeds

Chin has been working as a writer for more than a decade in various niches and now she's finally living the dream of writing something she's passionate about—dogs!