Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be a daunting task to figure out what breed or breed group would be the right match for you and your family. If you're looking for an energetic, loving, and charming dog, one of the many terrier breeds might be a good match for you.
Terrier breeds come in all shapes and sizes, but at the core of it, they are always scrappy and love getting into mischief. Terriers have sharp hunting instincts because they were originally bred to hunt rodents, foxes, and all sorts of smaller animals. They may need a patient owner due to their independent nature, but they can make fantastic family pets.
So, which type of terrier dog would make the perfect companion for you? According to the American Kennel Club, these are the 14 most popular terrier breeds of 2020. This list can help you find your perfect scrappy sidekick.
1. Yorkshire Terrier
Don't let the small size and silky hair fool you! Yorkies are a great fit for those who enjoy a big personality in a small package. They're also hypoallergenic, which is a great positive for those with allergies. This dog showed up at number 13 on the AKC's list of the most popular dogs of 2020, making them the most popular terrier breed.
One of the reasons for the popularity of terrier dogs is their size. At an average size of 7 pounds, Yorkies are small enough for apartment dwellers to handle, yet they also exhibit an affectionate and sometimes feisty personality. Although they are small, they are still moderately active and will be satisfied with a nice daily walk and some play time.
2. Miniature Schnauzer
The smallest of the schnauzers, this low-shedding terrier is known for being an adaptable and trainable family pet. This handsome, mustached dog climbed to number 19 on the most popular dog breed list. At an average size of 11 to 20 pounds, they're a good size for families with children, and the AKC describes this breed as "lovey dovey" and 5 out of 5 on the "good with children" scale.
These dogs are highly intelligent and are considered easy to train, but at the same time, they need ongoing reinforcement in their training because they get bored easily. If you want a companion dog for long walks, consider the schnauzer. Somewhat active, they require a long walk and some rough-and-tumble play.
3. Boston Terrier
The Boston terrier is number 21 on the AKC's most popular dog breeds list of 2020. Known as "the American Gentleman," the Boston terrier sports a fancy tux at all times. Their active, playful, and goofy nature makes them an ideal companion for many homes. Also on the small side, their average size of only 12 to 25 pounds makes them easy enough to handle for a family with young children or for an older person seeking some affectionate companionship.
Some Boston terriers need more exercise on a daily basis than others, and none of them will enjoy being left alone for too long. Without adequate exercise and attention, they may become destructive.
4. West Highland White Terrier
Short and sturdy, the Westie lives up to the "terrier" in its name. The West Highland white terrier is an earth dog — a type of terrier who is used to dig up and hunt vermin. Don't be surprised if your West Highland loves to stick his face in any hole he can find. You may even be rewarded with "gifts" of mice or other small creatures — it's just their nature. There is even an AKC earth dog test, which gauges how good a hunter your dog really is.
At an average size of 15 to 20 pounds, these are portable dogs. They require plenty of exercise and play time. They are high energy, and their personality is cheerful, alert, and curious. The Westie dug himself up to number 44 on the most popular dogs list.
5. Scottish Terrier
Just a few steps behind the West Highland terrier on the most popular dogs list is the Scottish terrier, which lands in spot 57. What the Scottie dog lacks in height she makes up for in personality. These are not for the faint of heart! They are known as "the diehard" for a reason. This terrier is all business.
Although their personality is considered affectionate, they aren't considered to be good with young children. They love exploring and weight 17 to 22 pounds.
6. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Just one step behind the Scottie on the list is the soft-coated wheaten terrier at spot number 58. These are one of the unique types of terrier dogs with an atypical coat, which is quite soft in comparison to the more common wiry texture that other terriers have. A medium-size terrier breed hailing from Ireland, they are known for their outgoing personality. They are a bit larger than the other terriers on the list, weighing 30 to 40 pounds.
Wheatens are deeply loyal dogs who work well as a family dog but only if they're the only one — they may not be good with other dogs. They are happy, fun-loving dogs that don't shed very much and will be more than happy to accompany you on your active walks.
7. Airedale Terrier
Affectionately named the king of terriers, this terrier breed is known for athleticism and tenacity. Every bit as scrappy as their smaller terrier cousins, Airedales are known for their devotion to their family and their strong protective instinct. The Airedales wagged in at number 62 on the AKC's most popular dog breeds of 2020 list.
These dogs are larger than the other terriers above them on the list, with an average size of 50 to 70 pounds. They're also more physically active and need more stimulation than many of the terriers. They are considered 3 out of 5 on all the scales: being good with other dogs, affectionate, and good with young children. So, while they may be too stubborn to be good companions in homes with other dogs or children, they are good hunters and good athletes.
8. Bull Terrier
Just under the Airedale terriers on the list are the bull terriers, coming in at spot 64. The bull terrier's egg-shaped head isn't the only thing that's unusual about them. Their playful and comical nature is unmatched. On the larger side for terriers at 50 to 70 pounds, these dogs are considered very active, needing plenty of exercise and play.
Be sure to socialize these dogs with other dogs and people as early as possible. They also require firm but loving training and a lot of attention from their humans. The AKC says the bull terrier is the "ultimate personality breed."
9. Russell Terrier
At spot number 72 on the list is the Russell terrier. Known for their independent and intelligent personality, an owner of a Russell terrier has to have a sense of humor. They may be small, but they can keep up with large animals — even horses. On the small side at an average size of only 9 to 15 pounds, these dogs are more active and more curious than you might expect.
They are affectionate and good with other dogs but are only so-so in their ability to be good with young children. Originally bred by England's royalty for use in foxhunts, you can expect this dapper fellow to be ready for long, long walks.
10. Cairn Terrier
The cairn terrier is on the list just under the Russell terrier at spot number 73. There are so many different terrier breeds, but nearly all of them like to dig — the name "terrier" means "earth" in old French. Like the West Highland terrier, who is also an earth dog, cairn terriers are true to their breed's purpose: digging and exploring. Like all other terriers, they love to hunt and enjoy a healthy outlet for their natural instincts.
At an average size of 13 to 14 pounds, these dogs may be small, but they are very active dogs who adore long walks to explore. If you want an active, curious, and independent dog, the cairn terrier may be your dog, especially if you have a yard where she can dig.
11. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
At spot 81 on the popular dogs list is the Staffordshire bull terrier. This breed differs from the bull terrier due to a few things. For one, the bull terrier is an older breed that was recognized by the AKC in 1885. The Staffordshire bull terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1974. The Staffordshire's head is more like a pit bull's head, which represents some of its ancestry.
All bull-type dogs were originally bred to be fighting dogs or animal baiting dogs, so it's imperative that they be trained and socialized. That said, they are very friendly and loyal to humans, and they make great companions.
12. American Staffordshire Terrier
Easily confused with the American pit bull terrier or the Staffordshire bull terrier, a well-bred AmStaff is one of the friendliest and outgoing dogs you will meet. This terrier breed is known for being especially human savvy. They adore all the attention they can get! This dog is at spot number 82 on the list just below the Staffordshire bull terrier.
There was a lot of early interbreeding among the bull and terrier breeds, and this smart, courageous, and kindhearted 50- to 60-pound dog is the result of that breeding that crossed over into America. After the dogs crossed over into America, U.S. breeders developed a Staffordshire terrier who was larger than the English version, the Staffordshire bull terrier. The AKC recognized them as two separate breeds, with the AmStaff recognized in 1936.
13. Rat Terrier
A breed originating from America, rat terriers come in two sizes: miniature and standard. Their no-fuss coat, affectionate nature, and playful personality make them ideal pets for busy homes. Rat terriers are number 83 on the most popular dog breeds list.
These are small dogs with an average size of only 10 to 25 pounds, and they are affectionate and loyal family dogs, but you might want them to be your only dog. These dogs are very active dogs who love to keep busy and can keep up with you all day. The rat terrier is newer than all terrier breeds and was recognized by the AKC in 2013.
14. Border Terrier
There's nothing excessive about the border terrier, who pops in at number 97 on the most popular dogs of 2020 list. True to his working heritage, the border terrier is a no-fuss breed that exudes confidence and that typical terrier tenacity. Their wiry coat is quite easy to care for.
These are happy, affectionate 11- to 15-pound dogs who are high energy, which makes sense considering their history as being bred to help farmers chase and catch foxes. They have longer legs than other terriers, so they can run faster, but they are also small and agile enough to pursue their quarry into their dens.
- American Kennel Club: Terrier Group
- American Kennel Club: Yorkshire Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Miniature Schnauzer
- American Kennel Club: Boston Terrier
- American Kennel Club: West Highland White Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Airedale Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Bull Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Scottish Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Cairn Terrier
- American Kennel Club: American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Border Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Russell Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Tibetan Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Rat Terrier
- American Kennel Club: The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020
- American Kennel Club: Earthdog
- American Kennel Club: Staffordshire Bull Terrier