10 Terrific Terrier Dog Breeds to Know

10 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
June 11, 2024

a woman hugs a white and gray pit bull

Bold. Spunky. Feisty. Lively. 

These words may describe a variety of dog breeds, but you can attribute all of them to the entire group of Terrier dog breeds. 

The Terrier dog breed group contains over 30 Terrier dog breeds ranging in personality, shape, size, and history. From strong, muscular tanks to dainty little paws, let’s learn about the types of Terriers to see which Terrier dog breed suits you best as a canine companion. 

The History and Origin of Terriers

Terriers have always served a purpose to humans who have utilized them in various ways. One of the most popular ways a Terrier was bred to assist humans was to catch vermin, like rats, moles, voles, groundhogs, badgers, and other menaces that threatened farms and other livelihoods, food security, and spread diseases. Terriers had a better sense of smell than humans and could fit into small spaces where humans could not. Their determination meant Terriers would not stop until they cornered the prey. 

Unfortunately, some Terriers have unfairly carried a reputation for being “terrible Terriers” through no fault of their own. Due to their tenacious nature, Terriers were often used in bull baiting and other violent bloodsports from about the 13th-19th centuries to attack bulls and other large animals. Now outlawed since the mid-1800s, dishonest people looking to make a quick buck through inhumane animal fighting practices still operate illegal bait rings, giving dogs like American Pit Bull Terriers and others that look like them a misguided reputation. 

Today, Terriers are beloved companions for families that appreciate their curious, courageous nature and playful dispositions. They make popular pets, from seniors looking for apartment dogs to families with children living in the suburbs. Even though they can have a mind of their own when training them, Terriers always make their human companions smile with their self-assured nature. 

Traits of Terriers

While each dog even in the same dog breed category is an individual animal with a unique personality, Terriers share similar personality traits. In general, Terriers are fearless and won’t back down from a threat, whether real or imaginary. It’s rare to find a Terrier that’s shy or comfortable with random strangers approaching their families, as Terriers are incredible watchdogs that are always alert and ready to warn you against possible dangers – even if that “danger” is a flag waving in the wind. But just because a Terrier is on guard doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly behind that bark. They just need to get to know you first. 

Terriers are programmed to be working dogs and are incredible at problem-solving. After all, they had to figure out how to corner and catch vermin that were oftentimes quicker than they were. While it’s amazing to watch them in action, their behaviors might not translate well into a home without proper training. Terriers need plenty of available outlets to work their intelligence through training, mental stimulation, exercise, playtime, and socialization.  If they do not have enough, they will turn to destructive behaviors such as digging, excessive barking, chewing, and antagonizing people if they are not socialized. 

The more effort you put into training and socialization, your Terrier puppy will be a more well-adjusted canine citizen that is a delight to be around. Exposure to unfamiliar sights, sounds, and experiences will reduce barking due to suspicion or fear. Having enough exercise will also reduce separation anxiety, boredom, and other destructive behaviors that stem from frustration. A tired Terrier is a happy Terrier! 

Terriers are high-energy dogs that require a fair amount of exercise per day, even for the little ones. Terriers love interactive toys, and mentally stimulating brain games for puppies and other activities will keep their wheels turning and their focus occupied. 

Exercising a Terrier can be loads of fun for both the dog and the human! Terriers excel at several dog sports, including agility, trials, and a sport called Earthdog. Earthdog trials for dogs provide an outlet for a dog’s naturally trained hunting and working behaviors. This non-competitive dog sport allows dogs to engage in a variety of active behaviors such as staring, digging, pawing, or more in a timed obstacle course to seek the quarry’s location, usually a rat in a protective cage.  No quarry is actually caught and harmed, unlike the unlucky quarry in the past. Dogs with short legs and a determined spirit are great candidates for Earthdog trials with most Terriers falling into this category. Each level of trial increases in difficulty. 

Meet These 10 Types of Terriers

From the tiniest Yorkshire Terrier to the biggest Airedale Terrier, learn about the diversity of the Terrier dog breed category full of bold, fearless canines.  

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1. Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, also called a Yorkie or a “Tomboy Toy,” is the tiniest Terrier dog breed known for its stunning long, flowing coat and feisty, smart personality. Their silky coats are considered hypoallergenic, a good choice for those with allergies. Yorkies will need frequent trips to the groomer to keep their hair trimmed and looking good. They are fantastic inside dogs and are a good choice for active individuals living in apartments who want a portable pet. However, you should train them not to bark at neighbors living nearby. Yorkies make active playmates for kids but should be supervised during playtime due to their tiny size.

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2. Airedale Terrier 

In contrast to the diminutive Yorkshire Terrier, the Airedale Terrier is the largest dog in the Terrier group, standing up to 23 inches tall and weighing 50-70 pounds. Their wiry beards, mustaches, folded ears, long muzzles, and friendly eyes make them recognizable Terriers. Courageous, friendly, and smart, an Airedale Terrier is one of the most versatile dog breeds that equally excels in athletics, hunting, and companionship. They’re alert but patient with kids and will not back down from anything that may compromise their people’s safety. This bold, determined Terrier does well with an experienced, active family with older kids, as an Airedale Terrier puppy may be too rambunctious (although playful and friendly) with young children. 

3. Cesky Terrier

You’ve probably never seen a Cesky Terrier, and most likely you’d get them mixed up with a Mini Schnauzer because they have very similar physical characteristics. Cesky Terriers are Czech dogs developed in the 1940s to serve as versatile hunting dogs in the forests of Bohemia. At #192 out of 200 popular AKC registered dog breeds, these dogs are rare with only around 600 living in the United States. While they are more sociable and laid back than other Terrier breeds, they still retain their stubborn, independent nature. Cesky Terriers can be difficult to train and require an owner who is able to devote time to socialize them to be a well-rounded dog. 

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4. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier lives up to its name with a soft coat that may be a variety of colors when puppies are born but changes to a wheaten color when all the adult hair grows in, usually by age 2. This dog breed is one of a few longer-legged Terriers that thrive in a variety of environments thanks to their willingness to please and affectionate nature with their families. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers feature an impressive fau, the mop of silky hair covering their eyes and faces, in addition to their long beards. These active pups love to work hard and play hard, so activities like agility, dock diving, and obstacle courses keep your Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s energy channeled in the right direction. 

5. American Pit Bull Terrier 

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood Terriers, an American Pit Bull Terrier is full of love for its family but is not aggressive by nature. Due to its unfortunate history as a bull baiter, they don’t get recognized first for their gentle dispositions. With its blocky, thick skull and a smile as wide as the ocean, a Pittie tends to wear a happy expression on its face. Pit Bulls require a firm hand in training using positive reinforcement techniques and a patient attitude, as Pit Bulls can be stubborn. Once socialized and trained well, they are amazing family companions that love and protect children. 

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6. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terriers are another type of Terrier of Scottish origin. Developed in the isolated Scottish highlands of Argyllshire on the southwest coast of Scotland, Westies ran in packs to chase wild game like foxes and hares. These all-white dogs eventually branched out beyond Scottish borders to become beloved pets with silly personalities that constantly make their owners chuckle. West Highland White Terriers form close bonds with their owners and are very affectionate with the people they love. They are self-confident, funny little puppies with a love of life.

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7. Bull Terrier 

If you remember Spudz Mackenzie from the Bud Light beer commercials of the 1980s or make frequent trips to Target, you’ve seen the unique-looking standard Bull Terrier or Miniature Bull Terrier. With its long, cone-shaped muzzle, it’s easy to recognize this Terrier. Miniature Bull Terriers are a mix of Bulldogs and Old English Terriers with a bit of Spanish Pointer. Miniature Bull Terriers have a spunky, playful personality but can be quite stubborn. They’re very energetic and have high social needs, so they’re not suited to a sedentary family. Bull Terriers do best with an experienced dog owner who can devote time to the training needed for this Terrier breed. 

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8. Scottish Terrier 

With their long beards, expressive eyebrows, and pointy ears, a Scottish Terrier hails from – you guessed it – Scotland. As one of five Scottish Terrier breeds, the Earl of Dumbarton nicknamed them “diehards” after their brave dispositions. Some fun facts about the Scottish Terrier are that it is the only dog featured as a Monopoly playing piece, and US Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George W. Bush each owned famous Scotties while in office. While a black Scottish Terrier may come to mind when you picture this dog breed, their wiry coats also come in five other colors such as wheaten and red brindle. 

9. Norwich Terrier

With their cute button noses, tiny erect ears, shaggy fur, and pink tongues always hanging out, it’s easy to mistake a Norwich Terrier for a stuffed animal. Unlike some Terriers with stubborn personalities or wariness toward strangers, Norwich Terriers are some of the friendliest and family-focused Terriers that get along with just about anybody and make great apartment dogs. And like most Terriers, their ratting history means they love chasing small animals. Their small, sturdy frame is covered in wiry hair that needs to be hand-stripped instead of brushed. You may recognize Winky the Norwich Terrier from the popular movie Dog Show, impressing judges with its adorable looks and cheerful personality. 

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10. Sealyham Terrier

If you are a dog show aficionado, you may have been intrigued by the winner of the 2023 National Dog Show held every Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. The 2022 winner, Winston the French Bulldog, passed along the championship status to Stache the Sealyham Terrier. Hailing from the Sealy Ham estate on the banks of the Seal River in southwestern Wales, this pup was bred to keep otters out of local fishing grounds, a change from the usual rats and other vermin Terriers traditionally hunt. Sealyham Terriers have bold, spirited personalities without the sassiness of other Terrier breeds. These lively dogs are great choices for individuals and families looking for a versatile family companion as long as they can provide outlets for all that energy!  

Find a Totally Terrific Terrier at Pawrade

Terriers are some of our most popular puppies offered by our breeder partners at Pawrade. Our Terrier breeders understand the nuances of each breed and raise their puppies to be healthy, happy puppies that exhibit the very best qualities of their breeds. 

For more information on how you can adopt one of our puppies for sale, call us at (888) 729-8812 or contact a member of our Puppy Concierge team. We can help you pick out the perfect Terrier of your dreams! 


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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