Long ago, way back in English history early writers referred to a type of little dog called the " terrier", a French word stemming from the Latin Terrarus, meaning "of the earth". Available evidence indicates that these fearless, adventurous and bold dogs had almost all the same characteristics possessed by the various terriers of today, but there is no way of knowing what they looked like.
They were called terriers because when they went the rounds with the hunters and spotted a badger, rat or fox, they would follow the quarry down into the burrows, then chase it to the surface again for the hunter to bag. These wonderful little dogs followed their wandering masters all over the British Isles, sharing food, excitement and the life of the professional hunter.
In the early 1600's these terriers, which were slowly developing into the different ancestral types of our present breeds, also accompanied packs of hunting hounds owned by the gentry of the period. James 1, for instance, wrote in 1617 to Laird of Caldwell requesting that he be sent " two couples of excellent terriers or earth-dogs, which should both be stout fox-killers and stay long to the ground."
A hundred years later a sort of loose knit breed commonly called kennel terriers, somewhat similar to King James's earth-dogs, began to emerge. The offspring of this breed, in turn, crystallized into the distinct breed types with special names. A dog generally considered to be the old, rough-coated, working black and tan terrier of Wales, Derbyshire, and Durham was crossed with a variety of other terriers to produce the ancestor of the wire-haired fox terrier. The smooth fox terrier (antedating the wire-haired variety and used extensively for improving the wire-haired dog in the early days) owes its styling mainly to four dogs: the smooth-coated black and tan terrier, the bull terrier, the beagle and the greyhound. One explanation offered for the beagle blood is that this breed's predominantly white coloring, when added to the small tan or red terriers, made it easier for the hounds to tell dog and fox apart, a differentiation difficult for them to make in the excitement of the chase.