Terriers are more than hypo-allergenic dogs

Why did you pick your terrier puppy?

Because it won’t make you sneeze or wheeze? Because it had a rep for being smart and feisty? Or because you didn’t want to fix your broken doorbell?

If you got a terrier mainly because it’s a small, hypoallergenic breed you may have gotten more than you bargained for.  I, for one, got great “value-added” for my dog investment dollar.

When most people meet me with my Border Terriers they comment on their size and ask if they shed. They definitely don’t ask about their intense hunting natures.  All except for Hamish’s Dad–a young Scottish transplant to Canada–who spotted my Borders hundreds of yards away as we walked towards him.                                       [He “knew all their Border tricks”.]

If you’re considering a terrier puppy, consider Terrier Logic:

  1. Respect yourself and respect others who respect themselves.                            Terrorize everyone else.
  2. Hunt until you drop.
  3. Love your human companion with all your heart, but…
  4. Keep the Terrier “You’re-Not-The-Boss-of-Me” Motto in mind.
  5. If it moves, get it.
  6. If it scares you, GET IT.
  7. If it scares your human companion, GET IT.
  8. Get it before it gets you.
  9. Remember that persistence usually pays off. And that…
  10. Your desires are directly proportional to your human’s. The more your human wants something, the more you should want it.
  11. Tune into every thought and feeling your human companion has.
  12. Live with passion.

Terriers are way more than small, cute and hypoallergenic dogs. They’re empathetic and intense dogs with strong prey drives.  They can be reactive, determined and indefatigable.

Terrier Logic #5: if it moves, get it

So, before you get a terrier puppy know what you’re really getting into.  Prioritize your needs and theirs. Terriers respond best to self-respecting, calm human companions who honour their independent, hunting natures.  Be realistic about how your personality will mesh with–or fuel–theirs.

If you chose a terrier puppy and are having some challenges, be optimistic. If you can change, they can change.  Match your dog’s persistence. And consider these 12 Rules of Terrier Logic and how they might be playing out in your relationship. Doing so might help get you through The Rough.

If you “own” a terrier and have him all figured out, congratulations.                                  Please add your Rules of Terrier Logic so we can share in your success.

2 thoughts on “Terriers are more than hypo-allergenic dogs

  1. how hard is it to really, really get a border terrier/schnauzer rescue pup who is 1yr 7mo old adapted to home life with 3 cats? any advice? my last schnauzer rescue i had no issues with when i got him home he adapted with no problems with my other dog i had at the time and then we eventually brought home a feral 5ish week home kitten and then a little while later a 6 week home kitten and had no issues.

    • Aren’t you a good person, Debra, to consider adopting. So many dogs need great homes. And good for asking about this compatibility issue. The fit MAY be tricky. My suggestion is to find out as much as humanly possible about the dog’s history with other animals, and cats in particular, up to this point. Then be realistic…and I’m loath to say it, but be pessimistic. A rare time I would say this. But at 1 year and 7 months, the dogs patterns are relatively well established for things like prey-drive, which is innate. I know some BTs for whom the prey drive was very strong from the time they were very young and could not be dampened. Even worsened if they were successful with a kill. In these cases, there was no chance of a safe and peaceful coexistence between the species. In others, I know families that have cats and BTs. The cats are fine indoors with the dogs but the second the animals are all outside the rules of engagement change–the cats become prey. Some very bad and sad endings…for the cats and the owners who cherished both their dogs and cats. BTs, as a breed, seem to have much stronger prey drives than many other breeds. I haven’t owned a Schnauzer but think the BTs might be more intense. If you get even a whiff of an issue between the species in the dog’s past, my cautious recommendation is to assume the worst–since the outcomes could be so bad. f someone is stating that the dog might not mix well with cats, do listen. Read between the lines. BTs are truly GREAT dogs…and they can be very highly trainable, including redirection of some of their prey drives but it can take a lot of work and a ton of vigilance. Some BTs are fine; others MOST DEFINITELY not. Personally, I would never risk a cat’s life with either of my dogs at this stage in their lives and history even though I can get them to stop in hot pursuit of a rabbit. If you’ve already taken the plunge you might work with a reputable behaviourist in your area to figure out the safest way forward. Nonchalance is your friend in this matters. Remember: the more you want it, the more they want it. My guys will ignore things if I do. Don’t bring any energy to an outcome you don’t want. All the very best. Keep me posted. [I invite any other comments from other terrier people–what do you folks think?]

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