What are English Toy Terriers like as pets?

Temperament & Personality


The English Toy Terrier is a highly intelligent and observant little dog. They are very responsive and loyal to their owners/family but can be a little more reserved with strangers, taking time to carefully observe and assess before offering a vigorous welcome.

It is very important to start the socialisation of an ETT at an early age offering experiences with a wide variety of people, children, situations and other animals. Socialisation should continue throughout the dog’s lifetime to instil confidence and ensure the dog is at ease in all situations.

They’re incredibly affectionate little characters and will happily cuddle with you for hours and follow you around the house like little black and tan shadows. They’re a high energy breed but make perfect lap dogs if given enough exercise through the day. They can also be stubborn so it’s important to take a firm stance and not give in to your strong willed ETT from the outset.

They are generally low maintenance dogs and can easily adjusted to most family circumstances.

Though they may all look similar to one another, they all have very individual personalities and are loved for their funny characters and quirks. They like to bury themselves under blankets and sleep in some unusual positions!

What are English Toy Terriers like with other animals?

ETTs are happy to live alone or with other animals. They can live quite happily with cats, however it’s important to socialise slowly and discourage chasing behaviour from an early age. They were bred as rat catchers, so English Toy Terriers and rodents are not an ideal combination but could be socialised slowly to live harmoniously.

They’re high energy, incredibly playful and known for their ‘crazy half hours’ where they’ll zoom round and round the house, especially after a bath!

A well known and loved quirk of the breed is they have a penchant for nibbling noses! 

How much exercise do English Toy Terriers need?

English Toy Terriers are relatively easy going when compared with other terriers. Although they are a high energy breed, they are fairly low maintenance when it comes to exercise. They require 30 minutes of exercise per day, which can comprise of an energetic game of fetch in the garden or a play session in the house.

However, don’t let this fool you into thinking they have no stamina. These small dogs are mighty – provided it’s dry weather!  English Toy Terriers will happily embark on very long walks and hikes and won’t tire easily.

ETTs aren't keen on windy, hailstone conditions!

Lumen hitching a lift on the way back from her trip to the most remote beach in Scotland, Sandwood Bay. 

ETTs and Swimming

Swimming is fantastic exercise for your dog. Just 5 minutes swimming equate to a 5km run! But unfortunately, English Toy Terriers are well known for disliking water and will avoid even a small wet patch on the floor at all costs.

However, there is hope! There are a handful that do love to swim. Acclimatising ETTs to water from a young age and training can help with this.

What are they like to train?

With patience, they’re relatively easy to train. It’s important to start immediately from the moment you bring home your new puppy or older rescued dog and establish house rules because English Toy Terriers are cheeky and mischievous by nature and will push the boundaries – if they think they can get away with it! They respond very well to reward based positive training methods, whether it be using food or toys. They’re very loyal and eager to please so they love nothing more than spending time training with their owners when all of the attention is on them.

The most effective way to train an English Toy Terrier is little and often! You don’t have to dedicate huge chunks of time to it. 2 minute sessions a few times per day are the perfect starting point. As with all dogs, training and positive reinforcement should be a part of every day life.

Toilet training is fairly straight forward, but can be challenging and frustrating during the colder months as ETTs hate cold, wet weather!

Training Schemes

Lumen and Ludo have both taken part in the Kennel Club Good Citizen’s scheme and both completed silver level training.

Through the scheme, you can find a local training centre, attend a course and take part in 4 awards: Puppy Foundation, Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. The scheme takes you from very basic training through to more advanced material and courses range from 4-7 weeks, it’s a great way to add some structure to your training and gets invaluable hands on advice from an experienced trainer. 

Find your nearest training centre here. 

Got a question? Ask us!


Find out more about what English Toy Terriers are like as pets.


Keeping your ETT fit and healthy starts with a healthy diet.


The English Toy Terrier as a breed is generally very healthy and has few known heritable diseases, but there’s a few issues to be aware of.


English Toy Terriers are generally low maintenance when it comes to keeping them healthy, fit and happy.