Terrier (canis terrarius, Flem.), a small variety of dog, so named from its propensity to pursue and attack its prey in subterranean retreats. It is considered by Hamilton Smith as descended from an indigenous European canine.
There are two well marked varieties, the result of fancy or accident. One, the English or black and tan, is smooth, rounded, elegant in shape, usually black, with tan-colored spots over the eyes and the same tint on the legs and lower parts; the nose is sharp, eyes bright, ears pointed or slightly turned down, and the tail carried high and bowed over the back. The other, the Scotch terrier, the oldest and purest breed, has shaggy and wiry hair, a shorter and fuller muzzle, bearded snout and face, stouter limbs, less elegant form, and a pale sandy or ochrey color; it is sometimes white. The isle of Skye breed is one of the most prized, and one of the ugliest. The terrier has an acute sense of smell, and is a good attendant on a pack of hounds, forcing foxes and other game from their coverts and dens; it is a determined enemy of the weasel, badger, and rat families. The jaws are very powerful. The Scotch terrier has been known to kill 100 rats in a room in less than seven minutes. In England the terrier blood is visible in most of the sheep and cattle dogs; but the most prized variety is the bull terrier, from a cross with the bulldog, the most determined, pugnacious, and savage of the dog tribe; in this the ears are pointed, and the general characters are those of the bulldog; it is usually white, with some black about the head. - The turnspit is a cross of the terrier with larger and less pure breeds; the body is long and heavy, with disproportionately short and generally crooked legs; it is bold, vigilant, and spirited, and, though larger, is used in Europe for the purposes of the terrier; it is, when best, a cross with a hound; it received its name from its being in old times employed to turn the spit in the kitchen, walking round in a kind of wheel.
The 0. vertagus of the ancients, sometimes erroneously translated turnspit, is the lurcher, a degenerate greyhound.