Terriers come in many varieties. The terrier breeds were created as hunters of vermin and other small animals. Over time, many different variations of the terrier developed and today there are more than 40 variations of terriers, as listed by the American Kennel Club. However, not all of these breeds are terriers in the true sense of the word. And, some true terrier breeds are not classified as terriers in the AKC.
On the whole, the terrier breed is used more as a companion dog today than as a hunting dog, though their hunting instincts are still quite prevalent in the breed's demeanor. Many terriers will chase small animals and have an absolute need for running to burn off their tremendous energy. In addition, terriers as a group tend to be somewhat willful, and require a firm and consistent hand in training. Once trained, however, they make delightful pets for families and singles. They are very loyal dogs who genuinely enjoy interaction with humans.
Some of the most popular terrier breeds include:
The Irish Terrier - This breed is very popular in Europe, but less so in the US. It is a medium sized terrier breed, weighing about 25-27 pounds. This breed has short, wiry hair and is a true terrier, meaning that the breed was originally developed for hunting.
The Yorkshire Terrier - This terrier is among the "toy breeds". They are listed in the toy group within the AKC, but this breed is a true terrier. They will chase and hunt just like a dog that is three times their size. The Yorkie averages about 7 pounds in weight, but should not be thought of as a lap dog.
The Airedale Terrier - This is the largest of the terrier breeds. The Airedale terrier often weighs 50-100 pounds. They are often referred to as "waterside" terriers because they were originally bred to hunt otters. These terriers, like most others, have a short and wiry coat and were bred for hunting. This breed also has been used quite successfully as a herding dog.
Jack Russell Terrier - Another working breed of dog, the Jack Russell was bred for fox hunting. These dogs have a short coat, but it lacks the wiriness of that of an Airedale or Irish terrier. These dogs are very playful, but like other terriers are hunting dogs and are prone to chasing small animals.
Cairn Terrier - This is one of the oldest breeds of terrier and was used, like many other terriers, for hunting small animals living in burrows. The Cairn was bred in Scotland and, today, is mostly used as a companion dog. They have a wiry coat and the true, stubborn terrier temperament.
Scottish Terrier - The "Scottie", as he is known, has a look resembling an Irish Terrier or Airedale terrier, but in smaller package. The Scottish terrier weighs around 20 pounds and possesses the true terrier look, coat and nature.