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Group Focus: Terriers

August 13, 2018
No guts, no glory.

dog1-1.jpgGood luck describing the Terrier Group without using the adjective “Feisty”! Terriers were bred to hunt and kill vermin above and below the ground as well as guard their family’s home and barn. The short-legged terriers were bred to go underground. The long-legged Terriers hunted by digging out varmints and the group’s “bull” breeds were created centuries ago for appalling activities like bull baiting and dog fighting, long since banned, and today are cherished companion dogs.
This Group is unique in many ways, but especially when it comes to land of origin as most of the Terriers come from the British Isles. They vary in size from the small but sturdy Norwich to the grand Airedale. Terriers make great pets in the right home. They have a real zest for life and love to learn, but are easily bored so they require an owner whose determination matches theirs.
Activity Level
Terriers are busy dogs and thrive on lots of activity. They are usually ready to rip at moment’s notice but what would you expect from dogs who were bred to hunt rabbits, foxes and even badgers? Terriers like to play and can make a game of almost any activity so they are a joy to work with. Keep exercises fun and mix it up as Terriers tend to find repetition dull. Terriers excel in lots of Canadian Kennel Club events including Agility, Chase Ability and Barn Hunt as these sports utilize a Terrier’s natural instincts. Terriers don’t tire easily so it’s not uncommon to meet one that has titles in multiple disciplines. A busy Terrier is a happy Terrier. Check our list of events here:
As mentioned earlier, Terriers are active dogs who are easily bored so they require a lot of stimulation and interaction with their people in order to keep them entertained. A great way to train a Terrier is to make it a game, offer incentives and mix it up. Terriers are very bright, independent dogs who learn fastest when taught in a manner that captivates them.
There are two main coat types in the Terrier Group.
There are smooth terriers like the American Staffordshire Terrrier and the Bull Terrier. These coats lie flat and don’t require much grooming apart from regular bathing and brushing.
The most common coat type for a Terrier is the wiry outer coats with a soft, dense undercoat. Though it's not broken, the wiry coat also is called a "broken coat." The wiry coat is fairly easy to care for but does require a little brushing and the occasional hand-stripping, the pulling of fur from the undercoat, which helps avoid a shaggy appearance. Many breeders teach new owners how to hand-strip, but this can also be done by a professional groomer. The Welsh and Border Terrier are examples of Terriers who sport wiry coats.
There are several Terriers whose coats don’t fall into the Smooth or Wiry categories. Some Terriers like the Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terrier have mixed type coats. Though both coats are unique, their coats have a mixture of hard and soft hairs that give the coat a crisp feeling. The Kerry Blue Terrier’s coat is soft, dense and wavy. The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier’s coat is single-coated, soft and silky in texture.
A Terrier greets every day with great enthusiasm and their “joie de vivre” is contagious. Terriers are generally independent-minded, loving, adventurous, loyal, fearless and determined.
If the Terrier Group appeals to you, check out all the members of the Group at and once you’ve decided on a breed, use our Puppy List at to connect with Canadian Kennel Club member breeders near you!
Fun and Important Facts
dog2.jpgThe name Terrier comes from the Latin word “terra” so it might not come as a surprise that many Terriers love to dig – an important thing to consider if you’re incredibly proud of your garden.
Socializing a Terrier puppy is extremely important. Since Terriers were bred to hunt and kill vermin, many don’t have much of a tolerance for other animals. While some Terriers are happy to meet new dogs, most only get along with a select few they know well. The instinct to hunt rodents makes it hard to house Terriers and small mammals like rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs in the same home.
Most Terriers love to chew so directing this urge to the right place is a must. New Terrier owners learn quickly that low quality toys don’t last long in the jaws of a Terrier. Buying high quality toys is a smart investment when owning a Terrier.
Many Terriers are long lived. It’s not unusual to hear of a Lakeland or a Bedlington Terrier that lives to 15 or 16!
There are a few Terriers that are incredibly rare and are considered at-risk of becoming extinct. Breeds like the bright Manchester Terrier, sturdy Sealyham Terrier, aristocratic Skye Terrier, bold Glen of Imaal Terrier and charming Dandie Dinmont Terrier might be of interest to you if you want a very unique dog and are interested in preservation.
When it comes to Best in Show wins at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Terriers clean up! 46 Best in Show winners at Westminster have come from the Terrier Group. A Wire Fox Terrier has won the Garden 14 times, which makes them the breed that has won Best in Show at Westminster the most.
One of the most recognizable Terriers to Canadians is the Bull Terrier thanks to hockey commentator Don Cherry and his white Bull Terrier, Blue. Blue was reportedly a gift from the members of the Boston Bruins when Cherry was their head coach from 1974 to 1979. The original Blue, who died in 1989, was a female. Cherry has since owned other white Bull Terriers, all named Blue.
Canada’s 10th Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King was quite taken by the Irish Terrier and owned three, all named Pat.

The opinions expressed by authors on the Canadian Kennel Club Blog and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Canadian Kennel Club or any of its employees.

Les opinions et les commentaires exprimés dans le blogue du Club Canin Canadien sont ceux des auteurs et ils ne reflètent pas les opinions du Club Canin Canadien ni de ses employés.

agility, Ian, Lynch, terrier agility, Ian, Lynch, terrier

Author InformationInformation sur l’auteur

Ian Lynch

Ian Lynch

Ian Lynch is a comedian, on-air personality and Canadian Kennel Club member.  

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