Game Bred Pit  bull terriers and other game dogs.


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What is a terrier?

A terrier is a dog of any one of many breeds or landraces of terrier type, which are typically small and fearless dogs. Terrier breeds vary greatly in size from just a couple of pounds to weighing over 70 pounds and are usually categorized by size or function.                   

Genetics                                 The mighty little Jack Russell

The Patterdale                The Airedale


Most terrier breeds were developed in Great Britain and Ireland. They were used to control rats, rabbits, and foxes both over and under the ground. Some larger terriers were also used to hunt badgers. In fact, the word terrier comes from the Middle French terrier, derived from the Latin terra, meaning earth. The Kerry Blue Terrier and Airedale, however, are particularly noted for tackling river rats and otters in deep water. Different localities raised terriers suited to their hunting or vermin control needs. Terriers were crossed with hunting dogs, fighting dogs, and other terriers. In the mid 1800s, with the advent of dog shows, various breeds were refined from the older purpose-bred dogs. Although many of today's terriers are bred as pets many are still worked in the traditional manner in particular the Jack Russell and the Patterdale terrier (Lakeland).

The gameness of the early hunting terriers was exploited by using them in sporting contests. Initially, terriers competed in events such as clearing a pit of rats. The dog that was fastest in killing all the rats won. In the 1700s some terriers were crossed with hounds to improve their hunting, and some with "bulldogs"  to "increase the bulldog's speed, agility and the instinct to kill rather than the traditional bulldog which tended just to  pin and hold ".

Genetics of origins

Genetic analysis shows that most terriers are in the "modern/hunting" genetic cluster of dog breeds developed from the same pool of ancestors in Europe in the 1800s. A few terriers are found in the "mastiff" genetic cluster with Pomeranians, Labrador Retrievers, and other large-headed dogs, and the Tibetan Terrier is found in the older grouping of Asian and African dogs, along with the Pekingese.

Terrier types and groups

In the 1700s in Britain, only two types of terriers were recognized, long- and short-legged.

Today, terriers are often informally categorized by size or by function:

  • Working terriers (Hunting types): Still used to find, track, or trail quarry, especially underground, and sometimes to bolt the quarry. Modern examples include the Jack Russell Terrier and the Patterdale Terrier. The original types of hunting terriers include
    • Fell terriers: breeds developed in northern England to assist in the killing of foxes, and
    • Hunt terriers: breeds developed in southern England to locate and kill or bolt foxes during a traditional mounted fox hunt.
  • Bull type Terriers: The Bull and Terrier types were originally combinations of bulldogs and terriers as general mixed breed bull-baiting and pit dogs. In the late 1800s, they were refined into separate breeds that combined terrier and bulldog qualities. Except for Boston Terriers, they are generally included in kennel clubs' Terrier Group.


Jack Russell Terrier


Smooth Coated Jack Russell Terrier


The working Jack Russell Terrier is a unique terrier which has been preserved in working ability as well as appearance much as it existed over 200 years ago. Originating from the dogs bred and used by Reverend John Russell in the early 19th century from the English White Terrier, they have similar origins to the modern Fox Terrier.

The small but game Jack  Russell Terrier is perhaps one of the gamest breeds of dog on the planet.  It is not of course the best fighting dog on the planet, but this breed boast gameness in abundance and anyone who thinks only pit bull terriers can be considered "game dogs" is really full of it!  To witness a Jack Russell fighting an animal three or even four times it size is a site to humble most "dog men".   Most pit bull enthusiasts are unaware that strains of Jack Russell still exist and are being used in animal fighting (with badgers and foxes)  which have been selected for generations on gameness and not on conformation.  Game bred Jack Russells are one bundle of gameness and attitude.

Jack Russells especially the game bred ones used as badger dogs or fox dogs are some of the gamest, plucky little fighters in existence.  Watching a Jack Russell Terrier fighting a fox or even badger many times it size and continuing the struggle despite the horrendous injuries they sustain in combat demonstrates their gameness.  Game bred Jack Russells do not back down or "cur out" despite for example even having their noses being ripped off, gaping holes inflicted in their underbellies by the badgers vicious claws or other horrendous  bites ( the badger's jaw strength is equal to the psi of a mountain lion).  Yes it is a fact that an alpha male badger has a psi close or equal to that of an American  Mountain lion this is besides the badger's extremely powerful back muscles that allow the badger to inflict massive damage to the dog's underbelly with their digging claws.  Additionally  these fights happen underground in cramped dark conditions indeed these dogs are (analogous to the human tunnel rat fighters of the Vietnam era).

The small white-fox working terriers we know today were first bred by the Reverend John Russell, a parson and hunting enthusiast born in 1795, and they can trace their origin to the now extinct English White Terrier. Difficulty in differentiating the dog from the creature it was pursuing brought about the need for a mostly white dog, and so in 1819 during his last year of university at Exeter College, Oxford, he purchased a small white and tan terrier female named Trump from a milkman in the nearby small hamlet of Elsfield. Trump epitomized his ideal Fox Terrier, which, at the time, was a term used for any terrier which was used to bolt foxes out of their burrows. Her coloring was described as "...white, with just a patch of dark tan over each eye and ear; whilst a similar dot, not larger than a penny piece, marks the root of the tail." Reverend Davies, a friend of Russell's, wrote "Trump was such an animal as Russell had only seen in his dreams". She was the basis for a breeding program to develop a terrier with high stamina for the hunt as well as the courage and formation to chase out foxes that had gone to ground. By the 1850s, these dogs were recognized as a distinct breed.

The Airedale Terrier

(often shortened to "Airedale" or "ADT") is a breed of the terrier type, originating in Airedale, a geographic area in Yorkshire, England. It traditionally was called the "King of Terriers" because before the creation of the Black Russian Terrier by the NKVD, the Airedale was largest of the terrier breeds. The breed has also been called the Waterside Terrier, because it was bred originally to hunt otters in and around the valleys of the River Aire which runs through Airedale. In England this breed has also been used as a police dog.



The Airedale can be used as a working dog and also as a hunting dog. Airedales exhibit some herding characteristics as well, and have a propensity to chase animals. They have no problem working with cattle and livestock. However, an Airedale that is not well trained will agitate and annoy the animals. Strong-willed, with the tenacity commonly seen in terriers, the Airedale is a formidable opponent.  Indeed in my book "Pitbull Garden" there is an account of a champion Airedale terrier that defeated pit bull terries in pit contests.

Albert Payson Terhune wrote of the Airedale: "Among the mine-pits of the Aire, the various groups of miners each sought to develop a dog which could outfight and outhunt and outthink the other miner's dogs. Tests of the first-named virtues were made in inter-mine dog fights. Bit by bit, thus, an active, strong, heroic, compactly graceful and clever dog was evolved – the earliest true form of the Airedale.

He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum and guard. ....To his master he is an adoring pal. To marauders he is a destructive lightning bolt."

Capt. Walter Lingo, of LaRue, Ohio, developed the Oorang Airedale strain. The name came from a line of bench champions, headed by King Oorang 11, a dog which was said to have been the finest utility dog. King could retrieve waterfowl and upland game, tree raccoons, drive cattle and sheep, and bay mountain lions, bears, and wolves. King even fought one of the best fighting bull terriers, and killed his opponent. He also trained in Red Cross work, and served the American Expeditionary Force at the front in France


The Patterdale Terrier


The Patterdale is a breed of working dog that originated in the Lake District of Cumbria in Northwest England. The name Patterdale refers to a small village a little south of Ullswater and a few miles east of Helvellyn.

The Patterdale is a type of Fell Terrier. The Patterdale terrier was "improved" and brought into the Kennel Club as the Welsh Terrier after a brief naming struggle in which the name "Old English Broken-coated Terrier" was attempted before being rejected by the Kennel Club hierarchy. The Patterdale Terrier is sometimes called the "Old English Terrier" or the "Fell Terrier".

The Patterdale Terrier is a small working dog. In the UK it is not a dog type that is recognized by the UK Kennel Cub as a pedigree. As such the Patterdale has been bred as a working dog, so the appearance can differ widely.

 In the UK, all sizes are in use, depending on the terrain and quarry: in the UK, the most common quarry was the fox. In the eastern United States, smaller dogs are preferred and 30 cm (12 in) tall and 5.5 kg (12 lb) is the preferred size for groundhogs (aka woodchucks). However, somewhat larger dogs can be used in the American West when ground barn hunting larger raccoons and badgers.


These dogs were carefully line bred. Nuttall blood lines are still considered to be of the highest quality. The modern Patterdale Terrier is to fell terriers, what the Jack Russell Terrier is to hunt terriers—the indisputable leader in numbers and performance as a breed.

The Patterdale was developed in the harsh environment in the north of England, an area unsuitable for arable farming and too hilly (in the main) for cattle. Sheep farming is the predominant farming activity on these hills. Since the fox is perceived by farmers as being predatory on sheep and small farm animals, terriers are used for predator control. Unlike the dirt dens found in the hunt country of the south, the rocky dens found in the north do not allow much digging. As a consequence, the terrier needs to be able to bolt the fox from the rock crevice or dispatch it where it is found. The use of "hard" dogs to hunt foxes in this way was made illegal in England and Wales by the Hunting Act 2004, as it runs counter to the code of practice under the Act.

In the United States, The Patterdale Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1995; yet it remains unrecognized by the American Kennel Club.