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Nasty and sweet: The pros and cons of owning a terrier

Terriers are one of the most popular types of dogs around the world. There are seven different breeds of terriers in the top 50 most popular dogs in the world, and this isn’t by chance. Terriers as a group are lively, intelligent, playful, and generally very hardy and stout little companion dogs. They do have their own specific quirks and personalities, just as all other breeds do. Most terriers are relatively easy to care for as far as grooming is concerned but the Yorkshire terrier is a bit of an exception to the rule. Its fine coat requires regular grooming to keep it tangle and mat-free.

The Benefits of Owning A Terrier

As mentioned above most of the various terrier breeds are very social and friendly dogs that enjoy spending time with both familiar friends and even new people. Terriers are naturally fun and love to play, even well into their senior years. Some terriers almost seem to have a streak of mischief in them and delight in doing something that causes laughter and fun within the house.

Terriers generally enjoy sharing the couch or a chair with the owners. While not completely lapdogs they are always up for a bit of a cuddle, however, will remain alert and ready to run and romp at a minute’s notice. Most terriers require moderate levels of exercise and are known to thoroughly enjoy a game of fetch or a game of chase with the kids. Generally, terriers love to be outdoors even in wet or snowy conditions. Their coarse outer coats are largely water-resistant so they are able to tolerate rain or snow, but should not be expected to stay outdoors in extreme weather conditions.

As a smaller dog, terriers are not as costly to feed as the larger or giant breeds. They are generally very hardy and have few genetic conditions that are problematic, provided they are purchased from a reputable breeder. Some lines of terriers have problems with allergies, Von Willebrand’s disease (a hemophilia type blood disorder), and some difficulties with giving birth, but careful screening by breeders can eliminate almost all of the conditions.

Generally, terriers are a long-lived group of dogs often living for twelve to fifteen years. They are curious and interested in what is going on around them even as they move into their senior years.

The Challenges to Owning A Terrier

There are challenges to owning any breed of dog and terriers are no different. As a whole the group is more prone to problematic behaviors such as excessive barking, digging, and chewing when left alone. They tend to prefer being with the family rather than by themselves and will quickly find ways to let you know they are unhappy with the current situation.

All terriers were originally from dogs that were bred to hunt and dig, and modern terriers still carry those traits. A terrier is a natural chaser and may have difficulty learning to live with other pets in the house, especially if the terrier is not socialized as a puppy. They may also be so absorbed in the chase they don’t listen to commands or may even run into traffic areas without paying attention, often with tragic results.

Terriers tend to be aggressive towards other dogs and often will take on even very large dogs to protect their territory. They may also be aggressive even in parks and other public areas so should be kept on a leash for their own safety.

Some terrier breeds are somewhat snappish and difficult to train. It is generally not advisable to leave small children with terriers that are very possessive of toys or food as often this results in the child being bitten or nipped. Terriers, while very intelligent, often become bored of the same routines and may begin to simply ignore repetitive commands if obedience training is not consistent and firm.

As a breed terriers respond very well to positive rewards but not at all well to punishment-based training methods. Terriers may become overly aggressive or even hostile towards people through punishment-based training.

Terriers are great dogs for most people but do require some special attention and care. They thrive best when provided with consistent training, lots of love and attention, and high levels of socialization throughout their lives.

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Kelly Marshall

Kelly Marshall is a popular writer - where you can find dog beds, dog steps, pet ramps, and more unique dog gear.

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