The Terrier Group
The terrier is a group of dog
breeds initially bred for hunting and killing vermin.
While usually small, these dogs are brave and tough
with a lively, energetic, and almost hyperactive
personality. The largest breed in this family is
the Airedale Terrier.
Most terrier breeds were developed
in the British Isles. They were used to control
rats, rabbits, and foxes both over and under the
ground. Some larger terriers were also used to hunt
badgers. In fact, the word terrier comes from the
Middle French terrier, derived from the Latin terra,
meaning earth. The Kerry Blue Terrier and Airedale,
however, are particularly noted for tackling river
rats and otter in deep water.
The gameness of terriers was
exploited by using them in so-called sporting contests.
Initially, terriers competed in events such as clearing
a pit of rats. The dog that was fastest in killing
all the rats won. Bull Terriers, in particular,
were developed as fighting dogs.
Today, most terriers are kept
as companion dogs and make great family pets. They
are generally loyal and affectionate to their owners
but can be "big characters" requiring
a firm hand.