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Any of several dog breeds developed, mostly in England, to find and kill vermin and for use in the sports of foxhunting and dog fighting. Bred to fight and kill, they often were pugnacious but are now bred for a friendlier temperament. Because terriers had to fit in rodent burrows, most breeds are small and lean and have a rough, wiry coat that requires little maintenance. They have a long head, square jaw, and deep-set eyes. All terriers are vocal and inclined to chase and confront. Most breeds were named for the place where they were developed. See alsoAiredale terrier, Bedlington terrier, Boston terrier, bull terrier, Dandie Dinmont terrier, fox terrier, Irish terrier, pit bull terrier, Scottish terrier, Yorkshire terrier.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on terrier, visit Britannica.com.