Wondering which are the best type of terrier dogs?

Terriers are a group of intelligent, tenacious, loyal, and sometimes stubborn dog breeds that have won the hearts and minds of people across the planet.

From sweet little lap dogs to bold and big watchdogs, this group of working dogs has it all.

a black & a white Scottish Terrier laying on the grass
A full black and full white Scottish Terrier portrait

If you’re curious to find out more about these hunting and fighting dogs, this guide will give you all the information you could ever need and more!

Popular Terrier breeds based on size

The American Kennel Club (AKC) terrier group comprises a wide range of different dog breeds. Although they mostly share the same background, they’re usually categorized by size.

Some have smooth and long coats, while others have short and wiry fur. We provided a list because the AKC has 30 types of terriers, while there are 44 in the United Kennel Club (UKC)!

Some adapt well to city life, while others are great family pets or active buddies.

So let’s explore more about these unique canines.

Toy and Small Terrier Breeds

The smallest terriers of the group shouldn’t be judged because of their stature. These canines have a lot to offer their human companions.

1. Yorkshire Terrier

Two Yorkshire Terrier with ponytails sitting
Meet Maya and Mora, two full groomed Yorkshire Terrier – Image source

The Yorkshire Terrier, endearingly called Yorkie, isn’t part of the AKC terrier group but is considered a toy breed. Still, this feisty little pooch is all terrier.

It was bred to chase and kill rats but quickly earned a place as a lady’s lapdog.

Most people know this dog today as the brown, black, and tan pup with the gorgeous, flowing coat rather than as the bold hunter it once was, but Yorkies retain some of that bold personality under that pretty face.

2. Australian Terrier 

an Australian Terrier happily playing on the garden
Meet Konsta, a fashionable Australia Terrier loving the yellow flowers – Image source

The Australian terrier is a lot of dogs in a tiny little body. At under 20 pounds(9 kg), this plucky fido is curious, stubborn, and self-assured.

These working dogs were bred in Australia by British settlers to be fearless exterminators. Today, they also make lovely family pets.

3. Bedlington Terrier

two adorable Bedlington Terrier wearing blue and yellow harness sitting
Meet Grapefruit and Yan, two Bedlington Terrier with fur covering their eyes – Image source

The Bedlington Terrier weighs in at under 23 pounds (10 kg) and has a fleecy, pear-shaped head that really makes it stand out from other terriers.

This petite pooch has a slender body that looks more like a whippet than a stocky terrier.

These dogs tend to be calmer than many other terrier breeds, but they still have a lot of that rambunctious terrier personality hidden under their pretty coat.

They’re protective, non-shedding lovebugs who want to be a part of the family at all times.

4. Rat Terrier

A Rat Terrier wearing a blue collar while laying under the sun
A Rat Terrier resting at a dog park after exercising – Image source

Rat Terriers are among the tiniest dogs in the AKC terrier group, though they do have quite a range.

They can weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds (5 to11 kg) because they come in both standard and miniature sizes.

As the name suggests, they were bred to kill rats, but they can also guard poultry, alert against intruders, and be a great friend for your kids.

5. Border Terrier

a Border Terrier happily smiling with a painting
Meet Jones, a proud Border Terrier standing with his portrait – Image source

This working dog is known for its wiry coat and affectionate, happy, and friendly nature. It weighs 11.5 to 15.5 pounds (5 to 7 kg) and has a characteristic “otter-shaped” head.

While Border Terriers can be tough as nails while they’re working, at home, they’re happy playmates.

And thanks to their low-shedding coat, they’re also suitable for people who have allergies to pet hair.

6. Cairn Terrier

a Cairn Terrier with tongue out while standing in a park
Meet Dwight, a Cairn Terrier puppy appreciating the sunny day – Image source

Cairn terriers were bred to hunt foxes and other small animals, but they also love to be snuggly little lap dogs for their loving owners.

These small doggos weigh just 13 or 14 pounds (5 or 6 kg) and have a wiry double coat with a downy undercoat.

While independent and hard-working, this is a dog that needs to be with its family, so don’t think you can just ignore this happy little friend.

7. Scottish Terrier

A Scottish Terrier standing with his tail up
Meet Pickle, a Scottish Terrier with shaggy hair – Image source

The beloved “Scotty dog” has a long coat, upright ears and tail, and a sweet, inquisitive expression that people around the world recognize.

The Scottish Terrier weighs between 18 and 22 pounds (8 and 10 kg) and is an independent, confident companion.

Originally bred to hunt rats, foxes, and badgers in their native Scotland, these days, this breed is just as happy hanging out with their family.

8. West Highland White Terrier

a West Highland White Terrier sitting on a wooden chair
Meet Ruby, a charming West Highland White Terrier on a walk – Image source

Westies, as this breed is affectionately called, stands out with its white coat, charming personality, and happy expression.

These dogs don’t need to be pampered, though. They’re smart, intelligent, and self-reliant.

Weighing around 15 to 20 pounds (7 to 9 kg), these dogs are active, alert, and loyal.

9. Norfolk Terrier

a Norfolk Terrier with leaves on head while sitting
Meet Mille, a Norfolk Terrier appreciating the nature – Image source

The Norfolk Terrier, not to be confused with the closely related Norwich terrier, is a small dog at 11 to 12 pounds (5 to 5.4 kg).

While they’re happy to hang out with their humans, they aren’t afraid of work and play. With their adorable folding ears and sweet expression, they’re easy to love.

10. Miniature Bull Terrier

a Miniature Bull Terrier looking closely
Meet Tyyne, a lovable Miniature Bull Terrier – Image source

The Miniature Bull Terrier often gets confused with a Bulldog, but this pup is in a class all its own.

Weighing anywhere from 18 to 28 pounds (8 to 13 kg), this mischievous canine is full of playful personality wrapped up in a petite package.

These dogs may be small, but they’re incredibly strong and were bred to fight. That’s not to say that they are all business, however.

These dogs have earned the title of the “clown prince of dogdom” for their goofball nature.

11. Miniature Schnauzer

a happy Miniature Schnauzer on a walk
Meet Ruru, a Miniature Schnauzer on his daily walk – Image source

If you want a friendly, smart, and obedient terrier, look no further than the ever-so-popular Miniature Schnauzer.

This sturdy little pooch weighs between 11 and 20 pounds (5 to 9 kg) and is known for being healthy and long-lived.

12. Glen of Imaal Terrier

a Glen of Imaal Terrier enjoying the sun with tongue out
Meet Millie, a pretty Glen of Imaal Terrier with adorable hair – Image source

These may not be one of the most popular terrier dog breeds, but Glen of Imaal Terriers deserves some time in the spotlight.

These dogs are bold and hard-working, but they’re also gentler and less excitable than many other breeds. 

With a scruffy coat, bowed front legs, and weighing 32 to 40 pounds (15 to 18 kg), these dogs were bred to be tough vermin hunters as well as doing other odd jobs around the farm.

Want to see more of these lesser-known pooches? This video shows an AKC competition with some of the finest examples of the breed out there:

List of other small Terrier breeds

While less common, here are some other beloved small- to medium-sized terriers:

  • Cesky Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Smooth Fox Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • American Hairless Terrier

Medium and Large Terrier Breeds

Want a working dog that’s somewhat compact but more reliable in fieldwork? Check out these medium- and large-sized terriers.

1. Airedale Terrier

Two Airedale Terriers running on the beach
Meet Leopold and Belle, two high-spirited Airedale Terriers – Image source

The Airedale Terrier has earned the title of King of Terriers because it’s the largest of all the terrier breeds. It can get up to two feet tall and weigh up to 70 pounds (32 kg).

With their characteristic black and red coat and folded over ears, they’re easily recognizable.

2. American Staffordshire Terrier

an American Staffordshire Terrier sitting near a lake
Meet Lester, an American Staffordshire Terrier on a walk – Image source

With its bulky build and courageous nature, the AmStaff or Pitbull stands out. It has broadheads and wide chests and weighs anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds (18 to 32 kg).

American Staffordshire Terriers are confident, loyal dogs were bred for blood sports in the 19th century, but today they make elegant companions. 

3. Bull Terrier

a Bull Terrier sitting with owner
Meet Cleo, a Bull Terrier enjoying her vacation – Image source

While they look tough, the Bull Terrier is a devoted, mischievous, and comical friend. It was bred for bull-baiting, but these days this recognizable fido is loyal and friendly with its family and friends.

4. Irish Terrier

an Irish Terrier puppy standing on a grass field
Meet Rita, an Irish Terrier puppy enjoying a day out – Image source

If you’re looking for a bold, courageous dog with a fiery personality, the Irish Terrier is the pup for you. These medium-sized dogs pack a ton into their 25 to 27 pound (11 to 12 kg) frame.

They’re hard workers, loyal companions, and tenacious in spirit. And its bright red coat stands out among other breeds.

5. Kerry Blue Terrier

a Kerry Blue Terrier wearing a blue harness on a walk
Meet Eire, a Kerry Blue Terrier with pretty wooly hair – Image source

The Kerry Blue Terrier also has a coat that turns heads. With a steely blue color and a characteristic beard, this terrier has an extraordinarily soft, hypoallergenic coat.

These dogs are strong and weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kg).

6. Skye Terrier

a Skye Terrier with tongue out
Meet Ralph, a handsome Skye Terrier with fabulous hair – Image source

The Skye Terrier has never become extremely popular in the US, but it’s a stand-out dog because of its incredible coat and bold personality.

Weighing up to 45 pounds (20 kg), this terrier is covered in a thick, long coat with distinctive bat ears

This is the largest of the terriers from Scotland’s Skye island and was bred to hunt badgers and foxes. It became extremely popular with nobility in the United Kingdom.

7. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier laying on a wood bench
Meet Riley, a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier with eyes covered – Image source

Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers are happy little Irish farm dogs who are stubborn, loyal, friendly, and hard-working.

Owners call them extroverts, and people everywhere will recognize the beautiful low-shedding coat that resembles rippling wheat.

The AKC describes this dog as an “iron fist in a velvet glove” because of its elegant appearance but willingness to work hard.

8. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

a Staffordshire Bull Terrier looking so happy while playing
Meet Rio, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with eyes close enjoying play ball – Image source

Not to be confused with the American Staffordshire Terrier, this dog is shorter and a bit smaller, weighing up to 38 pounds (17 kg).

But the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a stocky canine that’s all muscle, with a giant head and broad chest.

These were bred as fighting dogs, too, but most are far away from those vicious roots and have become the perfect companion dogs instead.

They’re fantastic family dogs with a courageous, playful personality and a sweet nature. They’re incredibly patient with children and will be loyal to their people to the end.

Lesser-Know Terrier breed dogs

While the AKC is the best-known breed club in the US, the UKC is also prominent. They include a few terriers in the breed category that don’t appear in the AKC’s list.

Patterdale Terrier 

a Patterdale Terrier puppy on a hike
Meet Kaya, a majestic Patterdale Terrier on an adventure – Image source

The Patterdale Terrier is a tough, hard-working dog that was bred to hunt. This dog is courageous and wants to please its owners.

They’re high energy because they were bred to work, so they need a person who can keep them active and give them a job.

German Hunting Terrier (Jagdterrier)

a Jagdterrier on a walk on snow
Meer Sonia, a German Hunting Terrie on a hunt – Image source

Also known as Jagdterrier, this smaller dog is new on the scene. It was bred to hunt and participate in sports, so as you’d expect, it’s athletic, active, and alert.

This breed isn’t afraid of anything but is willing and loyal to its owner.

Jack Russell Terrier

a Jack Russell Terrier with tiny tongue out
a Jack Russell Terrier appreciating the nature – Image source

The iconic Jack Russell Terrier, known as the Russell terrier in the AKC, was bred to hunt vermin and has earned a spot in the hearts of people around the world for its bold, friendly personality. 

These fearless little pooches have appeared in countless television shows and movies for a good reason. They are willing to please and eager little companions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Four Airedale Terriers in the wild
Meet Dasza, an Airedale Terrier walking with her friends – Image source

Do different types of Terriers have different temperaments?

All terriers share some basic characteristics, which others call “terrier-tude.” This trait is necessary for dogs bred to go up against other animals, as terriers were.

For that reason, almost all terriers have a high prey drive and a bit of stubbornness.

Every dog is different, and some breeds have lost some of that tough personality, while others retain it fully. Breeds that are still often used as working dogs are more likely to have that warrior outlook.

Terriers bred for bloodsport like the AmStaff need good socialization when they’re young to ensure that they get along with other dogs.

Which type of Terrier sheds the least?

Some people appreciate the fact that many terrier breeds don’t shed. If that appeals to you, consider the Australian, Yorkshire, Bedlington, Dandie Dinmont, Wire Fox, Tibetan, Kerry Blue, or Scottish terrier.

The Boston Terrier, which is technically part of the non-sporting group, has a very short coat, and while it does shed, it doesn’t have a ton of hair to drop.

What is the smallest terrier breed?

While the Yorkie is the smallest dog with the terrier name, it’s considered a toy breed type of dog.

Of the dogs that are included in the terrier breed category, the Norfolk Terrier is the smallest. They weigh under 12 pounds (5.4 kg) and are under 10 inches (25 cm) at the shoulder.

What is the calmest terrier?

Terriers weren’t bred to be calm little lap dogs. They were bred to work hard and hunt. But that doesn’t mean that some terriers haven’t become calmer over time.

If you love the terrier breeds, but you want a pup that is a bit more chill, consider the Cesky, Bedlington, or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The Glen of Imaal is also a good option. All of these pups will still make good watchdogs but are less inclined to be highly active.

Which types of terrier dogs make the best pet?

a close-up image of a Red Staffordshire Bull Terrier smiling
Meet Riley, a lovable Red Staffordshire Bull Terrier – Image source

The answer depends on what you’re looking for.

If you want a good family dog, it’s hard to beat the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Airedale terrier, the AmStaff, or the Biewer terrier (a relative of the Yorkie).

Those who want an active companion should look at the Jack Russell, the Rat terrier, or the Airedale.

But any of the dogs on this list are amazing for the right person or family. It all depends on what you want out of a companion.

All of them are fierce and bold, and some are calm and thoughtful. Some are all four traits!

If you decide to pick yourself out a terrier puppy, be sure to come back and tell us which one you made a part of your family by commenting below.

Further reading: Get to Know Some More Lovable Breeds

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