Although there are several types of terriers, you can expect to find most of them to be feisty and energetic. From Airedales to Yorkies, this group of dogs was originally bred to hunt and kill vermin.
A fun fact about Yorkies: Although the AKC classifies Yorkshire terriers in the toy dog group, they were bred to hunt and kill rodents, especially in coal mines … that is, until they became ladies’ lapdogs in the 1800s, forever spoiling their reputation as fierce hunters.
Most terrier breeds make great pets for families of all sizes; however, you need to keep a terrier in check as they have high energy and can be stubborn. Daily exercise is essential to keep a terrier from boredom and destructive behavior, like digging up your backyard. Unfortunately, terriers are bred to hunt burrowed animals so you may find your pet digging, regardless.
Today, terriers are classified based on their form, coat style and historical working function (as in the vermin hunters we mentioned previously).
List of Terrier Breeds
How many types of terriers are there? The AKC recognizes 31 types, which fall into the toy, small and medium-size dog categories. Historically — and we are talking way back in the 18th century — terrier dogs were bred and trained to be hunters. Because of their size and speed, they could quickly hunt vermin and kill it. We’re giving honorable mention to the Yorkshire terrier and silky terrier, making our list of 35 terrier group dog breeds. Those marked with a * are pictured below the list.
- Airedale terrier (also known as “king of all terriers”)
- American hairless terrier (good small dog for allergy sufferers)
- American Staffordshire terrier* (commonly referred to as AmStaffs and also known as pit bulls)
- Australian terrier (aka “Aussie,” but so is the Australian shepherd)
- Bedlington terrier (once known as the “gypsy dog” because it often accompanied Gypsy poachers)
- Border terrier* (tends to get along well with other dogs, thanks to its history of hunting alongside fox hounds)
- Bull terrier* (sometimes called an English bull terrier and “egghead” because of their head shape)
- Cairn terrier* (an excellent family dog breed and also the breed of Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”)
- Cesky terrier (pronounced “chess-key” and of Czech origins)
- Dandie Dinmont terrier (aka “Dandies” for short)
- Glen of Imaal terrier (known as “Glen” for short and of Irish origin)
- Irish terrier* (nicknamed the IT and also one of the oldest AKC-recognized terrier breeds, dating back to the 1880s)
- Kerry blue terrier (aka “Kerry” and also of Irish origin)
- Lakeland terrier (also have been known as Patterdale, Fell, Cumberland, and Westmoreland terriers)
- Manchester terrier (AKC recognizes two Manchester terriers — standard and toy)
- Miniature bull terrier (same as bull terrier, only smaller)
- Miniature schnauzer (classified in the AKC terrier group rather than schnauzer group because of its size and rat-dog history)
- Norfolk* terrier (ears-down relative of the ears-up Norwich terrier)
- Norwich* terrier (ears-up relative of the ears-down Norfolk terrier)
- Parson Russell terrier (also referred to as “the PRT”)
- Rat terrier (historically bred to kill rats and said to be named by President Teddy Roosevelt)
- Russell terrier (related to Parson Russell but with shorter legs)
- Scottish terrier* (aka the “Scottie”)
- Sealyham terrier (aka “Sealy” and known for being affectionate companions)
- Silky terrier (AKC classifies in the toy group, not the terrier group; often confused with Yorkies, which are smaller)
- Skye terrier (easy to recognize because of their “peek-a-boo” hairdo, which covers their eyes)
- Smooth fox terrier (so named because it was bred for fox hunts)
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier (“wheaten” refers to their shimmering gold-beige hair color)
- Staffordshire bull terrier* (related to but taller than the American Staffordshire terrier)
- Welsh terrier (one of the oldest recognized AKC breeds)
- West Highland white terrier (aka “Westie”)
- Wire fox terrier (identical to smooth fox terriers except for their coats)
- Yorkshire terrier (“Yorkies” are AKC-classified in the toy group, but they’re terriers that were bred to hunt vermin)
Types of Terriers: Breed Info
As a group, the terrier is commonly referred to as “feisty” and energetic. That’s because of their breeding to be hunters, killers and guard dogs. Generally, terriers make for great pets, which makes sense. Hunters, farmers and landowners trained terriers to accompany them on hunts, as well as to stand guard and alert the family when intruders are nearby.
Do terriers bark a lot?
Terriers can earn reputations as being barkers, such as the Australian terrier, miniature bull, miniature schnauzer and west highland white terrier. You can train terriers not to bark; however, training with this group of dogs requires patience. Most terrier breeds have reputations for being stubborn. The Glen of Imaal tends to be one of the lesser-barking terrier breeds.
Do terriers need to be groomed?
Many of the terrier breeds tend to be low-shedding dogs. Of course the American hairless terrier likely has the least amount of hair and therefore is a low-shedding dog. Other low shedding terriers include the Airedale, American Staffordshire, Australian, Bedlington, Border, Cairn, Cesky, Dandie Dinmont, Glen of Imaal, Irish, Kerry blue, Lakeland, Manchester, miniature bull, schnauzer, Norwich, Parson Russell, Russell, Scottish, smooth fox, soft coated wheaten, Staffordshire bull and Welsh terriers.
Dogs with wiry coats need very little maintenance and are good with a weekly brushing and a quarterly shampooing. Always make sure your dog’s nails are clipped to a comfortable length. As dogs’ nails grow, they become uncomfortable if they get too long (just like ours!). For people who are new to DIY dog grooming, visit our guide to doing your own dog grooming.
Long-hair terriers, such as the silky and Yorkshire terriers, need daily brushing (or several times per week) and monthly baths with a dog-friendly shampoo.
Do terriers make good pets?
Terriers make wonderful pets. Although stubborn, they are trainable and very loyal and lovable. Airedales, Bedlingtons and border terriers are especially good for families, and bull terriers and soft-coated wheaten terriers are particularly patient with children.
Staffordshire bull terriers have a tough history as fighters, brawlers and guard dogs, yet they’re sweet and family-oriented even with kids. They’re good for protecting your property and family, so socialize them at a young age.