The Terrier Group
The dogs in this group are by turns tenacious, lovable, energetic, and downright funny. Terriers are basically a group that is mostly made up of a number of wire-haired, smaller dogs that were originally bred to help landowners and gamekeepers keep undesirables off their properties — namely raccoons, foxes, rats, weasels, and badgers.
The word terrier finds its root in the Latin word terra, which means earth. And that's what many of these dogs were and still are used for. They were bred from way back to start digging to either kill or chase out animals that went to ground for cover or safety. They would bark and dig simultaneously, driving away vermin, or fighting their adversaries right there in the den's entrance. Indeed, many dogs in the terrier group have short, strong tails that many a gamekeeper or huntsman used to pull the little fighter out when it seemed he might be getting the worse of the scrap, or when the accompanying man thought that the contest had already been decided.
For the most part, terriers are well suited to urban, suburban, or rural life. However, they are determined little dogs, and require kind and consistent training to keep them on the straight and narrow. Like some of their larger brethren, these dogs need obedience and love; they need a real leader to keep them from ruining the house or backyard.
There is another thing that must be stated here: Don't be fooled by the package. Just because some of the terriers are small doesn't mean they are suitable apartment dogs. Terriers are opinionated, scrappy, feisty, fun-loving, high-energy animals that require extensive exercise, attention, and time. Their wiry coats also need special grooming. Many of them don't shed, and left to grow, your should-be-sleek terrier could look like a poor bedraggled orphan of a dog.
Terriers have been the steadfast companions of sportsmen and women for centuries. They thrive on being part of the action, and were common escorts in country carriages or urban avenues. In The Wizard of Oz, Toto is a Cairn Terrier who never leaves Dorothy's side, come tornado, wicked witch, or scary lion. Many of the terriers originated in the British Isles and are said to share the characteristics of their peoples: the stubborn but lovable Scots, the impish and wise Irish, and the adventurous, self-confident English. Study the history of these islands and you'll learn a lot about your terrier.
Terriers are steadfast and passionate companions who have a never-say-never attitude. This Norwich Terrier puppy has the sparkle in its eyes typical of terriers.
The AKC-recognized terriers are:
American Staffordshire Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Glen of Imal Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Miniature Bull Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier
Smooth Fox Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Wire Fox Terrier