8 Most Popular Terrier Breeds

When the term “terrier” comes to mind, many people imagine small, yappy dogs. But these pals come in all shapes and sizes! Meet some here.

Dec 16, 2023byThalia Oosthuizen
meet these popular terrier breeds

Terriers are typically small dogs with wiry coats, known to be energetic, mischievous, intelligent, loving, and sometimes a little feisty. But what makes a terrier a terrier? Well, the term “terrier” comes from the Latin word “terra,” meaning land or earth. It refers to how they were bred to hunt small vermin.

There are over 30 known breeds of Terrier, all with unique characteristics to suit your needs. Let’s meet some of the most popular ones!

Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier
Image Credit: Pexels

Bred in the 1800s, many people describe Jack Russell Terriers as stuffed animals come to life. They were originally bred for hunting but are also known to have a happy-go-lucky attitude and lots of energy.

Did you know Jack Russell Terriers are among the fastest dog breeds in the world? They can run up to 38 miles per hour–that’s quicker than Whippets and Border Collies. They need a lot of attention, as they get bored easily. So, if you plan on bringing a new dog home, keep them busy, play with them, and give them exercise.

West Highland White Terrier

white terrier dog
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Commonly known as the Westie, West Highland Terriers are a smiley and loveable Scottish breed. Westies have been loved by dog owners for over 300 years and can be defined by their white coat, dark eyes, compact body, and that adorable carrot-shaped tail.

Westies are known for being great family dogs––especially in households with kids. Owners say that this breed is full of self-esteem and certainly knows how cute they are.

Miniature Schnauzer

another mini schanuzer
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Defined by their hilariously adorable beards, Miniature Schnauzers are bright and friendly dogs that have been around since the 19th century. They are a sturdy and vigorous breed, meaning they need a lot of exercise to release their energy.

Miniature Schnauzers are said to have a personality twice their size. They are great with kids, making them the perfect family dog. They’re also low shedding, so this breed is a good option for those with allergies.

Scottish Terrier

scottish terrier
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The Scottish Terrier, also known as the Scottie, is one of the Skye Terrier highlands breeds and originated in, you guessed it, Scotland. They have a black or brindle wiry coat with longer hair around their chin, legs, and lower body.

Scotties may be small, but they have a lot of might. They make great watchdogs and companions, trained to be active and brave. This breed does not respond well to aggressive behavior, so rough playing should be avoided. They may be stubborn, so they should be trained well from a young age. If looked after well, Scotties make great canine companions and are quick to learn some easy tricks.

Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier
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The adorable Yorkshire Terrier (a.k.a. Yorkie) is one of the smallest dog breeds. This British terrier is well-known for its small size and floor-length smooth tan-and-black coat. Don’t let their cute and tiny proportions mislead you–they can be feisty, energetic, and even a little bossy. They truly do demonstrate the behaviors of old-time terriers.

The Yorkshire Terrier has a long lifespan of up to 16 years and is also hypoallergenic. Their coat is more similar to human hair, making them a great choice for those with allergies. Yorkies are all about their huge personalities, so prepare to have a long-time best friend.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

soft coated wheaten terrier
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Originating in Ireland in the late 1700s, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers usually have a thicker and heavier coat than most terriers–hence the name. They are relatively easy-going and only need a moderate amount of exercise to keep them happy. This breed of terrier needs more grooming due to their thick fur.

Wheaten Terriers are affectionate, loving, and happy dogs, generally kind to everyone they meet. This breed is better with kids and dogs than other terrier breeds, making them easier to transition into a busy home.

Glen of Imaal Terrier

glen of imaal terrier
Image Source: Country Life

The Glen of Imaal Terrier, often shortened to Glen, is known to be one of the quietest dog breeds, as they were originally bred and trained to hunt prey quietly. This breed is bold, high-spirited, and gentle in nature. Glens actually almost went extinct but were revived in the 20th century. Thank goodness this loving breed is still around!

Glens are scruffy and can either be brown, gray, or golden. They are known to be gentler than other breeds and are a little more child-friendly.

Wire Fox Terrier

wire fox terrier
Image Credit: The Fox Terrier Club

Wire Fox Terriers are sociable, confident, and alert canines with a prominent little beard and extra furry legs. Their coats are wiry (hence the name) and thick, meaning they need a little more grooming to avoid knotting. They vary in color, usually with some combination of brown, white, black, and brown fur.

This breed is known to be extremely athletic and may be suitable for the world of breed-specific sports. Due to being an active breed, they need a lot of walking and may require extra training to be around other pets and kids.

Unsure of where to start? Checking out these 10 dog training tricks!

Meet These Other Terrier Breeds

american pitbull terrier
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There are some other breeds of terriers, too. These are typically larger breeds with shorter and smoother coats. Some terriers on the bigger side are banned in some countries. A popular misconception is that some terries (like Bull Terriers) simply can’t move past their history as fighting dogs.

Still, any dog can make a great companion with patience, love, and training. Meet these other terrier pals:

  1. Pit Bull Terriers
  2. American Pit Bull Terriers
  3. American Staffordshire Terriers
  4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

If you’re looking at being a hairy hound home, various terrier breeds can be a great option. They require a lot of attention and will need more exercise than you’d think. So, we hope you like walking! If you have children at home, consider a West Highland White Terrier, a Miniature Schnauzer, or a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. Think twice about bringing introducing an Airedale Terrier into a home with small kids. These canines like being top dog!

Thalia Oosthuizen
byThalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading