Terrier dog breeds encompass a wide variety, all initially bred for hunting vermin. Deriving its name from the French word terrier, meaning “burrow,” these dogs had to dig deep into the ground to effectively hunt and eliminate their prey.

Terriers come in various sizes, with some weighing as little as 2 pounds and others reaching up to 70 pounds or more. Among the small breeds are the well-known Yorkshire Terrier and English Toy Terrier, while medium-sized breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier were often used for farming or hunting. In this article, we will focus on the larger Terrier breeds, such as the Black Russian Terrier, Airedale, and Standard Bull Terrier, delving into their characteristics and exploring the biggest Terrier of all.

The Largest Terrier Ever

The King Oorang Airedale holds the title for the largest terrier ever, with some individuals weighing over 100 pounds. This impressive breed, also known as the King of Terriers, were specially bred by Walter Lingo in the 1920s to create a more robust and imposing version of the Airedale Terrier.

Interesting fact: Walter Lingo went on to establish a small NFL franchise, the Oorang Indians, named after his breeding program. This team, based in LaRue, Ohio, was recognized for having the smallest hometown of any NFL team in history. To promote his King Oorang Airedales, Lingo orchestrated halftime shows featuring the dogs parading around the field – an idea believed to be the origin of the modern halftime show.

Unfortunately, the King Oorang Airedale breed no longer exists, mainly due to health issues caused by selective breeding. However, the standard Airedale Terrier can still reach impressive sizes when appropriately cared for and nurtured. These majestic dogs continue to be admired for their strength, intelligence, and striking appearance.

Large Terrier Breeds

Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terriers are sizable dogs, typically weighing between 80 and 130 pounds. Originally bred in Russia for military and working purposes, they stand tall at around 30 inches at the shoulder. Recognizable by their glossy black coat, this breed has diverse ancestry with over a dozen other breeds contributing to its heritage, such as the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Schnauzer, and Newfoundland.


A popular breed in media, Airedales have been featured in Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmatians, and The Great Gatsby. Developed originally for hunting purposes, Airedales can also be fantastic family pets when both dogs and children are properly trained. With an average weight of around 50 pounds and a shoulder height of 24 inches, this versatile breed is highly adaptable.

Standard Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers have a distinct appearance with their signature egg-shaped heads, setting them apart from other breeds. These unique dogs weigh between 50 and 70 pounds and have a shoulder height of approximately 22 inches. They boast notable owners in history like Theodore Roosevelt and George S. Patton, with their Bull Terriers named Pete and Willie, respectively.

In the Movies: Celebrated Terrier Dogs

These terrier dogs have captured our hearts through their iconic appearances in various movies and television shows.

The Cairn Terrier, Terry, from The Wizard of Oz

Terry was a famous Cairn Terrier who played the role of Toto in the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Terry’s portrayal of Toto is forever etched in our hearts and remains one of the most memorable dog performances in film history.

Bullseye, the Mascot of Target

The charming Bull Terrier, Bullseye, serves as the mascot for the Target Corporation and is often seen in commercials and promotional materials. The role of Bullseye originated with “Smudgie,” an American Kennel Club Champion. Nowadays, the character is portrayed by Nikki, a well-trained Bull Terrier managed by Worldwide Movie Animals.

Moose, the Jack Russell Terrier from Frasier

Moose was a talented Jack Russell Terrier who played a recurring role as Eddie, the main character’s dog on the popular sitcom Frasier. Known for his comic antics, Moose added a touch of humor to the show. He lived a long life of over 15 years and enjoyed a cozy retirement in Los Angeles before passing away from natural causes.

The Types of Terriers

Terriers come in various sizes and serve different purposes, but they all share a lively, spirited, and energetic nature. In this section, we will briefly explore the different types of terriers and look at some specific breeds.

Hunting-type Terriers were initially bred to help track animals and support hunts. Among these breeds, you’ll find the Jack Russell Terrier, the Dobermann, and the Rat Terrier.

Vermin-hunting Terriers are smaller in size and were bred to control pests by protecting their owner’s property. The Scottish Terrier, Cairn Terrier, and the West Highland White Terrier excel at this task. “Cairn” refers to a pile of rocks where these small hunters efficiently flush out vermin.

Toy Terriers or Companion Terriers are smaller breeds that make perfect family pets while still maintaining their terrier energy. Examples of these breeds are the Japanese Terrier, the English Toy Terrier, and the popular Yorkshire Terrier.

Bull-type Terriers, such as the Standard Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier, unfortunately, have ties to dog-fighting and bull-baiting. While they also contributed to vermin control, positive breeding programs have transformed them into loving and suitable pets.

Working Terriers are dogs that perform tasks underground by burrowing into holes to drive out vermin. Sometimes, this leads to confrontations between the dog and its prey. To avoid cruelty, training programs now focus on teaching terriers to bark and alert their owners rather than attacking the vermin directly.

In conclusion, terriers are a diverse group of breeds with a shared energetic personality. Whether they are hunting, vermin control, companions, or workers, these lively dogs continue to play a significant role in the lives of many pet owners.

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