The Terrier Group
by Kay King ( www.my-dogs-rule.com )
Named for "terra" or earth, terrier breeds were developed to eradicate vermin around homes and on farms. These dogs were
trained to dig into burrows to kill small pray and to chase and kill rodents to protect grain bins. These short legged breeds were fast and
efficient in controlling pests.
Longer legged terrier breeds were used to eliminate larger pests such as badgers and river rats and were often going after
those pests in deep water.
The Terrier group is a large one and has three distinctive type of coat: wire (Wirehaired Fox Terrier, Miniature
Schnauzer), soft (Wheaten Terrier, Kerry Blue), and smooth (Bull Terrier). There are coat variations in some breeds such as the Jack
Russell which may be smooth coated, have a rough coat or a broken coat which combines both rough and smooth.
Only the wire hair breeds carry the requirement for regular professional grooming. In part, this is due to the
water resistant nature of this type of coat. For show dogs, a procedure call stripping is used, but to for pet wirehair terriers owners
need only regular professional clipping to keep the coat in good condition.
Terriers are high personality dogs. They are funny, friendly, frenetic, intelligent, spirited, stubborn and uniquely
The small size of many terrier breeds is deceptive because these dogs need a lot of exercise on a regular basis. These
are high energy pets and failure to provide an acceptable outlet for that energy can result in a dog that is hard to live with and possibly
destructive to property.
Regular brisk walks or a park or large area where you can play with your terrier will result in an improvement in his behavior
in your household. These are not lay-around-do-nothing dogs.
The same traits bred into them for catching vermin (a solitary job) result in dogs more independent in nature than other
breeds. If you won't play with them – your shoe will. If you have no time to romp in the yard, a terrier will climb the fence and
have a romp on his own.
The smaller breeders are escape artists. It is not unusual for a 12 inch high terrier to climb a six foot high
fence. if that doesn't work, he'll simply dig a burrow under it. Keeping a terrier breed contained can be a challenge.
Experienced owners will often install a channel of poured concrete mix at the base of a fence to stop the digging
Fence climbing can be discouraged by attached a loose covering of a roll or two of vinyl netting such as used by gardeners to
keep small animals off growing berries or vegetables. Attached with vinyl pull ties to the top and near the bottom of wire fencing is
often effective for discouraging climbing of your dog. The light weight mesh blends visually into the fencing while the loose mesh provides
no comfortable of stable foothold for climbing.
Terriers possess spirited personalities and are known for their "gameness". Gameness is the willingness to take on
any perceived threat, no matter. This common trait is the reason many terriers are best kept as pets in one dog homes. A growl
of warning from a larger dog might cause a spaniel to retreat. A terrier would be more likely to take on the thread and issue his
This situation can rapidly escalate into a full blown dog fight and the adrenalin rush in the terrier blocks pain sensation. Even when seriously
injured, the terrier breeds may continue the attack; preventing this escalation is critical.
In a fight situation this dog is totally focused and anything that comes within range may be bitten – including the hand of
his owner. Terriers in a fight will bite and then quickly shake their head (killing vermin, remember?) and this can result in a wound more
serious than expected from a small animal.
Terrier instinct may also be destructive to smaller pets. A Jack Russell or Rat Terrier should be kept away from a newly
adopt kitten – or a litter of them – until the cat is large enough to escape or defend itself. Small kittens may be viewed as prey
even by a well trained pet terrier.