The Truth About Terrier Temperament
Terrier temperament is often portrayed, by those who don’t completely understand the blood and spirit of the terrier family, as hyper, aloof, and sometimes aggressive. And though all of these traits are possible, more predominately in some terriers than in others, they should not be used as the foundation of terrier temperament. This group is, for the most part, an absolutely jovial, vibrant, ready in an instant companion. Comic relief abounds for owners of a terrier, as they can never leave well enough alone, unless they have properly killed and disposed of it. This can cause some worry, and owners should be prepared to use more determination than the dog does if things are to settle down.
The terrier temperament is unlike anything else in the world, and has to be experienced to be truly understood. Pharaohs and Greek governors used to erect monuments and commission golden sculptures of the Maltese Terrier, one of the most ancient breeds of domestic animal known to man. What kept her alive, well, and atop the golden pedestal throughout all 28 of her recorded centuries on earth? She is a terrier. It’s that simple.
The terrier eye is one which has two facets. To truly know terrier temperament you must watch his amazing eyes. Some are beady and others enormous, but they all glow with a deep and mature wisdom, behind the crazed sparkle on the surface, of course. He loves the world, and he knows that the world belongs to him. The terrier is not owned, he owns his people. The terrier is not a hapless couch potato; the terrier is a savage, graceful hunting machine that will fight to the death in order to protect his people. His energy is born in his blood, but he finds the joy in every moment by just being a terrier.
Terrier temperament can vary in one of the most important ways. People want a dog that they can trust with their children and cats, and a great many of the smaller terriers are not that dog. The Jack Russell Terrier, for instance, is not aggressive, nor mean, nor unhappy, he just will not share his home with another animal (unless they were there first), and he would be caught dead before a loud, slobbery baby sat on him and yanked his ear. He is not maternal. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the larger Airedale and Irish Terrier temperamental attributes, of which kindness to children top of the list. They are naturally drawn to children, and are awesomely gentle; as if they know what a baby is and that it shouldn’t be broken. They also fiercely protect the family that they choose, and keep diligent watch at all times.