British Terriers Split into Regions

Where Terriers OriginatedWhere Terriers Originated

The primary purpose Terriers was for hunting animals that lived beneath the ground. Additionally they were developed according to the terrain in which they worked. The long legged terriers were used by huntsmen who were mounted on horses, and short legged terriers were used by huntsmen on foot. So the Terrier breeds we have today were initially developed by peasants or working class people living in the localised areas of the British Isles roughly depicted by the accompanying map. As these peasants were poor, they rarely travelled outside their local region. So many terrier breeds still bear the name of that region of the British Isles where they first developed. For this reason, we shall consider this Group according to those Regions.

The Terriers of England

English Terriers at WorkEnglish Terriers at Work

In the early 1800's when the various different terrier types began to emerge, there were no formal registration records. Terriers of various sizes were born in the same litter and named according to the areas in which they developed. At that time, any dog that was adept in a particular task was mated to another adept in that task. Huntsmen and farmers did not seem to care what the terrier looked like as long as it did the required job. So we have the various breeds of English Terriers we know today.

The Terriers of Scotland

Terrier of Scotland 1790Terrier of Scotland 1790

Until around 1800 this game little terrier was known by various names including the Skye Terrier, the Scotch Terrier, the Scots Terrier, the Highland Terrier, the Aberdeen Terrier and the Die Hard. But during the 1800's when pictures and word descriptions became more available in print, detailed descriptions began to emerge. The First English Stud Book names two classes for Terriers of Scotland - the Skye Terrier and Broken Haired Scotch and Yorkshire Terriers. These formed the basis for the distinct modern breeds of terriers of Scotland we know today.

Terriers of the Border Region

A Terrier which hunted FoxesA Terrier which hunted Foxes

This wonderful woodcut half a century before the English Stud books began, was captioned Fox Terrier 1806. Undoubtedly this was because this dog was used for fox hunting. But the dog pictured looks more like the forerunner of the Border Terrier in breed type and proportions than its Fox Terrier counterpart in England. We shall discuss these four breeds in two sections divided into pairs because of the close connection in their origin. The Dandie Dinmont is considered by some people as a Terrier of Scotland. But because of its obvious connection to the Bedlington Terrier and the other Terriers of the Border Region, it is considered there.

Their original purpose is fully discussed by following this link: Historical Function of Terriers.