The German Hunt Terrier was developed in the 1920s by a very precise method. The need for them came about because of the inefficient burrowing work that the terriers of the time were performing. Hunters generally agreed that they could do with a terrier that was hardy, keen and had sufficient toughness to go to ground to tackle badger and fox without hesitation.


Also known as the JagdTerrier or, in its native country, as the Deutscher Jagdterrier, this rugged breed was developed as a general-purpose hunting terrier.

This is that rare thing, a dog designed by a committee. After World War I was over, four German hunters broke away from the main Fox Terrier Club in Germany and formed a splinter group dedicated to manufacturing a new, improved hunt terrier. Their names were Rudolf Friess, Carl-Erich Grunewald, Herbert Lackner and Walter Zangenberg. With the help of German zoo director Lutz Heck, they started a breeding programme in which carefully selected terrier types were crossed with one another in a special way, bringing out the best qualities of each of them and combining them to create an ultra-efficient new breed.

Authors differ as to the precise terrier breeds involved, but there is general agreement that Fox Terriers and Black and Tan Terriers provided the main ingredients, and that perhaps German Pinschers and Welsh Terriers were also involved to some extent. The result was an unusually aggressive all-rounder which would hunt game birds, fox, badger, deer and even wild boar, and would not only go to earth, but also track and retrieve. This terrier was so fearless and assertive that it became what one owner described as the ‘perfect hunting machine’.

According to some authors, the main drawback of this breed is that it is exclusively a working dog and is so belligerent that it is quite unsuitable as a pet or a household companion. For this reason, they say, it remains a rare breed. Others disagree, stating that although it may be stubborn and may indeed be aggressive towards other dogs, it is extremely friendly with its owners and affectionate towards their children.

The four hunters who originated the breed were able, through ruthless selection, to stabilize it very quickly and by 1926 had established a German Hunt Terrier Breed Club. It has since been recognized as a distinct form of pedigree dog by the FCI. In the United States a Jagdterrier Club was formed in 1956, and 30 years later there were estimated to be about 500 Jagds in the country.


The German hunting terrier resembles the rough-coated Irish terrier. Willing to retrieve even in water, it will also jump into the burrows of foxes and hares with great speed and attack wild boars fiercely.

Courageous, aggressive toward other animals, loyal only to its master, this breed makes an excellent watchdog and guard dog.


The breed’s height should be 13 inches/33 cm and should not exceed 16 inches/40 cm. The body of the Jagdterrier should be rectangular and never have the reach of its British ancestors. The head should be long but not as narrow as in the Fox Terrier; the muzzle should have very strong, punishing jaws. The coat may be either smooth or very wiry and short. It should be either black, grayish black or liver brown with tan markings. The grayish black color is often seen in dogs with very wiry coats.

Care and Exercise

The Jagdterrier needs only occasional brushing. An agile terrier who loves to exercise, it occasionally needs to run freely in a big exercise area.

Puppies and Training

The litters of from three to seven puppies are easily delivered. Most German hunting terriers are aloof with strangers, so the mother is best kept alone during delivery. Puppies' tails should be docked within a week of birth.

Gallery of Jagdterrier