Terriers are known and loved for their boundless energy and tenacious spirit. The American Kennel Club includes 30 different breeds in the terrier group; five tiny terriers are listed in the toy breed category. Terriers range across the size spectrum, from the tall Airedale, American Staffordshire, Kerry blue and wheaten to the mid-sized Glen of Imaal and Skye to the toy Manchester, silky and Yorkshire terriers. If you are seeking a small terrier breed to welcome as a family member, these spunky, scrappy, lively little dogs have big personalities that make entertaining companions and effective watchdogs.
The Parson Russell terrier was developed by The Rev. John Russell in England during the 1800s to assist in hunting foxes. The breed is known to many as the Jack Russell terrier. He stands 13 to 14 inches tall and weighs 13 to 17 pounds. A similar terrier breed, known simply as the Russell terrier, was developed as a slightly smaller variation of the Parson Russell terrier, standing 10 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder. Another pair of small terriers includes the smooth fox terrier and the wire fox terrier. These two dogs are identical in size, standing 15 inches tall at the shoulders and weighing 18 pounds. As their breed names imply, the coats are the most notable difference between these two terriers.
Small and Agile
The West Highland terrier is a popular small terrier breed, known for his white coat and pointy, erect ears. The West Highland terrier originated in Scotland, and the compact, sturdy dog stands 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder. One lesser-known small terrier is the border terrier, who originated in the United Kingdom along the border of Scotland and England. The border terrier weighs between 11.5 and 15.5 pounds. Border terriers were developed to be able to follow horses during fox hunting expeditions. It was bred to be agile enough to crawl into the foxholes. Like most small terriers, this breed is a skilled athlete on agility courses.
Smaller Terriers Still
The cairn terrier, known to many as Toto from “The Wizard of Oz,” stands 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs 11 to 12 pounds. The cairn terrier was developed in Scotland and was named for the cairns, or rock dens, of the foxes that the dog was sent after on hunting expeditions. The Norfolk terrier and the Norwich terrier were both developed in England. They share a similar stature of 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder and 11 to 12 pounds in weight. The difference in appearance that jumps to the eye is that Norwich terrier’s ears stand straight up, and the Norfolk terrier’s ears flip downward.
Smallest Toy Terriers to Tote
The smooth fox terrier was used in America to develop the toy fox terrier. This resulting breed stands 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder. If you desire a tiny terrier to tote along, the Yorkshire terrier weighs 4 to 7 pounds. The Yorkshire terrier has consistently remained the most popular terrier and toy breed registered with the American Kennel Club.
- American Kennel Club: AKC Breeds By Group - Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Parson Russell Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Smooth Fox Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the West Highland Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Border Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Cairn Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Norfolk Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Toy Fox Terrier
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Yorkshire Terrier
- American Kennel Club Dog Registration Statistics
- Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images