Terriers come in all different shapes, sizes, temperaments and colours. And while initially bred to hunt rodents, these ‘earth dogs’ (terrier is French for just that) have long since developed into fabulous companions, suited to various lifestyles and personalities.
In this article we’ll be looking at just the breeds with coats of black and white, but don’t worry – we’ve got plenty of personality packed into our list of seven below – let’s get started!
The Boston Terrier is perhaps the most famous of the black and white terriers because of its iconic tuxedo coat – in fact the breed is defined by this charming, distinguishing feature: named because of its similarity in appearance to that classic item of evening wear.
It’s a sleeker, thinner coat than many of its cousins, and as such sheds less and requires less maintenance.
At a height of 15 to 17 inches, and weighing between 12-25 pounds, this breed is an enduring favourite – among the top 25 breeds in the United States – and known for its affectionate, well-mannered personality, making it a good dog to keep among children.
Sturdy and content with brisk walks in an urban environment, the ‘American gentleman’ makes a perfect pet for city living – an attribute which draws from the breed’s history.
Unlike many terriers, which have their origins trotting the green hills and craggy cliffs of the British Isles, in flushing holes and chasing game – the Boston Terrier has a distinctly urban genesis, bread down from fighting dogs, and losing much of its heft and aggression concurrently throughout the years, becoming the tuxedo coated companion we know and love today.
At a height of 13-17 inches and a weight of 18-30 pounds, the Tibetan terrier has an endearing appearance that resembles a border collie, but is no doubt a distinctly Asian breed, taking its name from the vast plateau where the breed keeps a place as a holy animal.
In black and white varieties, it has a predominantly black coat with a white chest and moustache, although plenty of different patterns exist dog by dog.
It’s a long, woolly double coat, evolved to resist the harshest of climates, including the sweeping winds of its Tibetan homeland.
And those vast, sporadically populated distances turned the Tibetan into the perfect watchdog, a pursuit that owners should seek to encourage – in response, they’ll be rewarded with all the loyalty and affection that these delightfully shaggy dogs have to offer.
The bull terrier is instantly recognisable for its short, smooth coat, its pointed ears and ‘egg-shaped’ head – made more apparent when paired with its famous stark white variety.
But its sturdy, muscular appearance, endearing, beaded, triangle shaped eyes make this a terrific looking breed despite whatever negative connotations that description may conjure.
And there are plenty of other coat colours in circulation, including brindle, fawn, red, and black brindle and white – requiring relatively little maintenance compared to other breeds.
The black and white pattern involves a predominantly black body with a white belly and mostly white front legs, as well as a white snout, often with a stripe running between the eyes.
With a height of 21-22 inches, a weight of 50-70 pounds, and personality distinct from other terriers – retaining their energy and curiosity, but with an added mischievous side and occasional stubbornness – the Bull Terrier requires a little more training to keep it content, obedient, and out of trouble.
As such, it tends not to get on famously around other dogs, but owners love the uniqueness of their personalities – and with plenty of exercise and quality time, the breed adores them back, manifesting in the typical terrier characteristics of loyalty and affection.
It’s a true personality breed that gives back what you put in.
Certainly Teddy Roosevelt – and George S. Patton agreed, when the general adopted one from a fallen RAF pilot – even if it got quickly into a fracas with General Eisenhower’s canine companion, and was supposedly confined to barracks.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire bull terrier – the ‘staffy’ – is another terrier which comes in colours of black and white (the most common of these patterns involves a predominantly black coat with a white chest), but also a variety of other shades to its short, smooth coat, including fawn, red, blue and brindle.
And these attributes resultantly mean that less care is required to keep the staffy looking at its best.
At a weight of between 24-38 pounds depending on sex, and a height of 14-16 inches, this compact companion is known for its muscular appearance, often floppy ears and deep, beady eyes.
An enduringly popular breed native to the British Isles – and still well liked in the United States – the staffy draws its name from the English county of Staffordshire, with a long and chequered history recalling its past purpose as a fighting dog.
Fortunately, once the ban on such events began to be more strictly enforced, the temperament required for this cruel purpose was diminished in future generations of the breed – and in today’s more compassionate world, the staffy is a loving, affectionate companion that is great around children; although owners should be aware that it does retain some of its cautious nature and occasionally aggressive temper around other dogs.
This distinctive looking terrier distinguishes itself from the previous additions to this list with its long, straight topcoat – often coming in luxurious shades of grey, varying from black to light grey and blue, but with fawn and blonde varieties as well – its black and white pattern involves a mostly white coat with black ears and throat.
It has a typical height of 9.5-10 inches, and a weight of 35-45 pounds.
Make no mistake, despite its floppy haircut and low, unimposing appearance, this dog is one hardy companion, which makes it even sadder that it remains one of the most endangered dog breeds native to the UK.
It’s an attribute clear to anyone lucky enough to visit the place for which the terrier is named – Skye – a beautiful, rugged, weather-beaten island off the coast of the Scottish highlands, a favourite location of photographers, artists, and plenty of walkers and tourists.
However, its small size means that it requires minimal exercise, in fact too much exercise at an early age can be harmful to its development.
Therefore it makes an excellent house dog, but owners should still make sure that it receives a short daily outing.
Moving on to the Miniature Schnauzer – though it lacks ‘terrier’ in its name, it is considered to be a member of the terrier group by the AKC, the UKC and the CKC – and a popular one at that, the most popular Schnauzer of any breed in fact. And its terrier status goes beyond superficial traits, its history as a rat catcher matches that of many other breeds.
At a height of 12-14 inches, and a weight of 11-20 pounds – the Miniature Schnauzer distinguishes itself from many terriers in terms of its temperament: while both friendly, clever and curious, it is a much more obedient dog, as opposed to the cheeky and occasionally stubborn bull terrier, or the more aloof black Russian.
And unlike the smaller Skye, with a more robust appearance and longer legs, it requires more involved exercise and play, but will reward this with its deeply affectionate personality and love of family, making it a great pet to have around children.
Despite this – it remains suitable for urban and rural life, and a fenced off area will stop those rat catching instincts from being realised in a way that can be harmful to small animals in your area.
Owners should also be aware that its thick double coat requires frequent brushing. In black and white, the breed is predominantly the former colour, but often white around the paws, muzzle, and a little on the chest.
Parson Russell Terrier
Finishing off this list with the charmingly named Parson Russell, this terrier comes in at a height of 13-14 inches, and a weight of 13-17 pounds, with a short coat of stark white or white with black and tan markings – or all three colours together. In just black and white – it’s almost entirely the latter colour, but with black spots on the body and face.
This fine breed has a teddy-like appearance, with floppy ears, a button nose and sympathetic eyes. And like the ‘sporting parson’ that it is named after (parson is the old English word for a vicar) this breed is nimble, lively and covers ground at a rapid pace. And while we might struggle to do the same, we can compensate for these energetic attributes with a long walk, especially one which will allow for engaging – albeit limited – exploration.
Limited, because it retains its strong instincts derived from a heritage of fox hunting, and as such it is recommended that you keep your parson on a leash to prevent it from running off after small prey.
I’m often asked to name my favourite breed on the list – and this time, I’ve saved my favourite for last. There’s no doubt that this swift, sporty terrier would encourage me to spend a little less time on the couch.
³ Photo by Ian McFegan
⁴ Photo by Adria Ariste Santacreu
5 Photo by Pete Cumming
⁶ Photo by Chris Phutully