Dog Breeds - The Terrier Group of Dogs
Named for "terra" or earth, terrier breeds were developed to eradicate vermin around homes and on farms. These dogs were trained to dig into burrows to kill small pray and to chase and kill rodents to protect grain bins. These short legged breeds were fast and efficient in controlling pests.
Longer legged terrier breeds were used to eliminate larger pests such as badgers and river rats and were often going after those pests in deep water.
The Terrier group is a large one and has three distinctive type of coat: wire (Wire haired Fox Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer), soft (Wheaten Terrier, Kerry Blue), and smooth (Bull Terrier, Jack Russell).
Only the wire hair breeds carry the requirement for regular professional grooming. In part, this is due to the water resistant nature of this type of coat. For show dogs, a procedure call stripping is used, but to for pet wirehair terriers owners need only regular professional clipping to keep the coat in good condition.
The small size of many terrier breeds is deceptive because these dogs need a lot of exercise on a regular basis. These are high energy pets and failure to provide an acceptable outlet for that energy can result in a dog that is hard to live with and possibly destructive to property.
Regular brisk walks or a park or large area where you can play with your terrier will result in an improvement in his behavior in your household. These are not lay-arounddo-nothing dogs.
The same traits bred into them for catching vermin (a solitary job) result in dogs more independent in nature than other breeds. If you won't play with them - your shoe will. If you have no time to romp in the yard, a terrier will climb the fence and have a romp on his own.
The smaller breeders are escape artists. It is not unusual for a 12 inch high terrier to climb a six foot high fence. if that doesn't work, he'll simply dig a burrow under it. Keeping a terrier breed contained can be a challenge.
Experienced owners will often install a channel of poured concrete mix at the base of a fence to stop the digging behavior.
Fence climbing can be discouraged by attached a loose covering of a roll or two of vinyl netting such as used by gardeners to keep small animals off growing berries or vegetables. Attached with vinyl pull ties to the top and near the bottom of wire fencing is often effective for discouraging climbing of your dog. The light weight mesh blends visually into the fencing while the loose mesh provides no comfortable of stable foothold for climbing.
Terriers possess spirited personalities and are known for their "gameness". Gameness is the willingness to take on any perceived threat, no matter. This common trait is the reason many terriers are best kept as pets in one dog homes. A growl of warning from a larger dog might cause a spaniel to retreat. A terrier would be more likely to take on the threat and issue his own.
This situation can rapidly escalate into a full blown dog fight and the adrenalin rush in the terrier blocks pain sensation. Even when seriously injured, the terrier breeds may continue the attack; preventing this escalation is critical.
In a fight situation this dog is totally focused and anything that comes within range may be bitten - including the hand of his owner. Terriers in a fight will bite and then quickly shake their head (killing vermin, remember?) and this can result in a wound more serious than expected from a small animal.
Terrier instinct may also be destructive to smaller pets. A Jack Russell or Rat Terrier should be kept away from a newly adopt kitten - or a litter of them - until the cat is large enough to escape or defend itself. Small kittens may be viewed as prey even by a well trained pet terrier.
Most problems associated with terriers can be avoided by careful evaluation when choosing a terrier pup from a litter. You should be able to handle ears, paws, tail without the animal become defensive. When raising this type of dog, such handling should be part of his day to day experience and will go far to avoid problems during grooming or when vet care is needed.
Adopting an older Terrier dog may require more in the way of patience as it may take considerable time to fully win his trust and loyalty. Patience will pay off here and result in a pet that is absolutely loyal and dedicated to its owner.
Training should begin immediately and be calm and consistent. The intelligence of terriers is well documented but it is balanced by his independent nature. To train a terrier, you must know your dog and his triggers and thereby gain his cooperation.
Training sessions should be frequent and very short - five minutes and then increasing perhaps to 10 minutes is ideal. Terriers are easily bored and easily distracted and positive reinforcement with your voice and treats works well with these breeds.
There are distinct differences between Terrier breeds to be considered when choosing such a pet. The Bull Terrier, for example, was bred in large part for contents to produce dogs that would be aggressive in destroying prey. This breed makes a loyal, laid back pet - but only if you choose the dog wisely and check for aggressive traits.
The wildly popular Jack Russell is a personality dog - very loving but opinionated and single minded when there is something he wants.
High energy rat terriers and fox terriers seem to be in constant motion and often react wildly to the slightest event. These small dogs will be wildly ecstatic when you return after a day of work - and just as ecstatic when you return after a two minute walk to the mailbox.
Of all terrier breeds, perhaps the Miniature Schnauzer is the most family friendly. The size and temperament of these dogs is conducive to including them in family vacations and even daily trips. They love attention and are cute enough to get it whenever they want.
In spite of their often frenzied behavior, the terrier group is highly prized as family pets. They are without fail funny and interesting. The popularly can be clearly seen in the number of clubs, societies and rescue groups devoted solely to various terrier breeds.
Perhaps it is the interaction of this group of dogs that contributes to its popularity. Your terrier may frustrate you and occasionally ignore your commands - but he will never ignore you. He loves nothing more than interacting with you and his interest in your voice and your activities is evident.
For active people who want a companion, not just a pet, one of the terrier breeds may be perfect for your lifestyle.
Most Commonly Known Terrier Breeds
Fox Terrier, Smooth
Fox Terrier, Wire
Jack Russel Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Miniature Bull Terrier
West Highland White (Westie)
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