Brazilian Terrier: An Amazing Companion Dog for Kids

Brazilian terrier lying and watching up
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Dogs can vary so much from breed to breed. Especially for families with younger children, it is very important to make the choice regarding which dog breed to go for carefully. Pick wrong, and they may never learn to see eye to eye. Pick right, and they will become the best of friends. Here, we have a dog breed that excels as a companion dog for children—the Brazilian Terrier.

These dogs are very friendly and affectionate, as well as highly energetic and playful—exactly the type of dog that most children wish for. They crave attention and will suffer if they are separated from their owners for long periods of time. If your kids spend a lot of time at home or playing around in the neighborhood, you will see them becoming inseparable with your Brazilian Terrier in no time at all.

In this article, we’ll go over all of the characteristics of the Brazilian Terrier—their good health, their lovely but sometimes challenging temperament, as well as their curious history. After reading this article, you’ll be able to decide whether to go for this breed or find another one.

Breed Characteristics

Brazilian terrier on beach

  • Adaptability: Good; can’t stand being left alone for too long

  • Trainability: Above Average; but still needs a relatively experienced owner

  • Health and Grooming: Good; sheds moderately

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance

Dog Breed GroupTerrier Dogs
Height13 - 16 inches (34 - 41 cm)
Weight15 - 22 pounds (7 - 10 kg)
Lifespan12 to 14 years

The Brazilian Terrier is a dog breed that is often confused with the Jack Russell Terrier breed from which it is created. Compared to the Jack Russell Terrier, the Brazilian Terrier has longer legs. These dogs are blessed with a slender, yet athletic look.

These dogs are still not recognized by the American Kennel Club and are recognized by just a few other international dog fancier organizations. However, their origins date back to the 1800s.

They were crossbred in Brazil, and even today they remain as one of the most popular breeds there. They make for great family pets, thanks to their playful, social, and affectionate nature. But they often require a skillful dog owner to be properly raised and trained.

Main Highlights

Brazilian terrier standing on stone

  • Brazilian Terriers are bigger than Jack Russell Terriers and are much less aggressive towards other dogs, making them a much better choice for households with more than one canine family member.

  • Despite being a popular breed in Brazil for nearly two centuries, these dogs are not as popular outside of the country and are still not recognized by some of the bigger international dog fancier organizations.

  • Brazilian Terrier is a highly energetic breed that requires a lot of physical activities throughout the day.

  • These dogs don’t fare well when they are left alone. Only get a Brazilian Terrier if you and your family are ready to give the dog enough attention every day.

  • Despite being a crossbreed, the Brazilian Terrier is a very healthy dog and doesn’t have any breed-specific health issues.

Breed History

Brazilian terrier with a collar

The Brazilian Terrier is one of the two dog breeds that call Brazil their country of origin, the other being the Fila Brasileiro. Even though both breeds originated in Brazil, they actually have European ancestors.

The Brazilian Terrier is the result of a crossbreeding program between a few breeds, but the most significant ancestor of the Brazilian Terrier is the Jack Russell Terrier.

J. R. Terriers were brought to Brazil in the early 1800s. Once there, these English dogs were crossbred with other dogs such as the Miniature Pincher, the Chihuahua, and possibly the Fox Terrier.

The result of all those crossbreeding was a terrier dog that was larger than most other European terrier breeds but also had a less aggressive temperament, particularly against other dogs.

This last part was key, as it meant that the Brazilian Terrier breed could be kept in packs and could also hunt in packs. This made the Brazilian Terrier an excellent choice for a sporting dog, as well as a vermin hunting dog.

All this, together with the Brazilian Terrier’s resistance to heat and the various Brazilian diseases and parasites, quickly made the breed very popular in the country.

Very soon after its inception, the Brazilian Terrier breed became popular as the “dog of the common people.” It was used by plantation owners to keep the crops and livestock safe from vermin. It was used by the common folk to keep their homes, yards, barns, and cellars free from vermin as well.

After that, it didn’t take long for this breed to “make it” into the big city as well. The Brazilian Terrier’s affectionate nature and small size made it a great dog breed for apartments.

Despite the breed’s very high popularity in Brazil, it isn’t actually very popular outside of the country. For non-professional dog owners, the Brazilian Terrier looks just like a Jack Russell, despite the clear physical differences.

It was much later, in the 1960s that the breed started to get some international recognition and be registered as a separate breed by some organizations. Before that, the breed didn’t have an official breed standard. Even today, the Brazilian Terrier is still not a registered member of the American Kennel Club.


four brazilian terrier puppies sitting on grass

The Brazilian Terrier weighs between 15 and 22 pounds, with the females being slightly lighter than the males. It’s worth noting that the difference in size between males and females, while noticeable, is not as significant as it is with other dog breeds. The average height of the breed is between 13 and 16 inches.

Despite the breed’s small size, Brazilian Terriers have very muscular bodies. They have a generally well-balanced build and a tapered chest. This gives the breed a look that’s rather similar to Jack Russell Terriers, but Brazilian Terriers are still noticeably larger than their English predecessors.

The breed’s tail is short, thick, and doesn’t curl. However, in Brazil, it’s common practice for the breed’s tails to be docked, since they are a working dog breed. In most other countries, this practice is banned, and Brazilian Terriers outside of their homeland get to enjoy having their tails.

Brazilian Terriers have small heads that come in a triangular shape. They also have strong jaws and muzzles. Still, the muzzle is not as broad as it is with other terrier breeds. These dogs’ ears are half pricked and pointy, and they also fold downwards.

Personality and Character

brazilian terrier playing with ball

Brazilian Terriers are playful and spirited. They share these personality traits with most other terrier breeds. Unlike Jack Russell Terriers, however, the Brazilian Terrier displays much less aggression towards other dogs and animals, which makes it a significantly better breed for households with more than one dog.

See Also: How to Introduce Dogs to Other Dogs

That’s about all the personality differences you can expect to see between a Brazilian Terrier and most European terrier breeds, however. Brazilian Terriers are very willful and determined, and as is the case with other terriers, they require a good and firm owner who knows how to establish himself or herself as the pack leader.

Notice that “firm” doesn’t mean physically firm. The same as any other dogs, Brazilian Terriers don’t respond well to physical punishments. If these dogs are raised and trained properly, they can become amazing family companions.

Brazilian Terriers are highly intelligent, so they can learn a lot of commands and tricks from a good and skillful owner. They can be raised to be loyal and obedient, and they are friendly and affectionate to both their family and strangers, so long as they are socialized well.

This breed is very playful and is highly active. This is a great trait for children and for families that love to give their dogs attention and to play with them, but it can also be a problem for smaller households that can’t spare much time for their dog.

A Brazilian Terrier can easily cause a mess at home and even become destructive to your furniture if he or she gets too bored, or if you leave him/her alone for a significant amount of time. That’s why it is important to train your Brazilian Terriers properly, as well as to keep their attention occupied.

This can be done by getting a second dog, by staying home more often, by hiring/arranging someone to take care of the dog while you’re away, or simply by giving your dog a ton of attention while you’re together, so that he/she will be satisfied and tired while you’re at work.

Health and Potential Problems

Brazilian terrier sleeping

The Brazilian Terrier is a generally healthy and hardy breed. These dogs don’t suffer from any significant genetic problems that are specific to their breed. Still, they are living and breathing animals, and as such, they can have health issues.

As with all other dog breeds, you need to watch out for potential ear infections, eye infections, orthopedic problems, or skin allergies. And if you are recruiting a Brazilian Terrier to become a field/working/hunting dog, you obviously need to keep in mind the risk of physical injuries.

Other than that, as long as you’ve made sure to get your Brazilian Terrier from a reputable dog breeder who can provide you with health certificates for the pup and his/her parents, you should have a long-living and healthy dog.

See Also: Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder

Care Features

Brazilian terrier playing

Regarding the care they require, Brazilian Terriers are relatively easy to take care of. Their hardiness means that you won’t have many health problems to deal with, which in itself is already a great positive aspect.

Aside from that, you need to give your dog the general care that all dogs need. You need to vaccinate and deworm your pup; then you need to help with his or her physical hygiene, especially after a trip outside.

You also need to maintain good dental hygiene for your dog, since dogs tend to keep their toothaches to themselves. You also need to keep the dog’s eyes and ears clean to avoid any eye or ear infections.

Also, remember to clip your dog’s nails as Brazilian Terriers tend to be very active indoors as well as outdoors, and long nails can become a problem both for the dog and for your home.

As far as their coats are concerned, Brazilian Terriers do require coat brushing sessions twice per week, to keep their coats clean and your furniture relatively hair-free. Even though they are not long-haired, Brazilian Terriers shed a noticeable amount of hair, so this is also a factor. They aren’t hypoallergenic either, so you should keep that in mind.

See Also: Top Hypoallergenic Dogs

Feeding Schedule

brazilian terrier's head

As a small dog, the Brazilian Terrier doesn’t eat too much. A couple of cups of food per day, divided into 2 or 3 meals will be perfectly enough for any Brazilian Terrier.

As a physically active breed, this dog burns through all the energy he or she consumes, and that makes these dogs less prone to becoming overweight. Still, you need to keep an eye on that; don’t overfeed your pup.

As far as the quality of the food is concerned, it’s obviously important to feed your dog only the highest quality dog food you can find. Yes, this means paying more for better dog food.

Low-quality dog foods are usually responsible for a lot of internal health issues that dogs develop later on in their lives. This can be both very unpleasant and dangerous for the dog, as well as financially costly for you.

Most dog owners feed their dogs once or twice per day, but we usually recommend a feeding schedule of about three times per day. A lot of dog owners view this as impossible, considering their working schedules because they are away for work for more than 8 hours per day. However, a three-times-per-day feeding schedule doesn’t necessarily mean feeding your dog once every 8 hours.

Instead, you can feed your dog in a 10-7-7 hour scheme, or an 11-7-6 hour scheme. The benefits of a three-times-per-day feeding schedule are the same as the benefits of more frequent yet smaller meals for humans. The dog eats smaller portions, overeats less, stays full longer, eats more slowly, and so on.

Plus, as we have mentioned above, you don’t want to leave a Brazilian Terrier alone for too long anyway. The dog shouldn’t be without company for more than several short hours per day.

See Also: Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Coat, Color, and Grooming

brazilian terrier with brown coat

Brazilian Terriers have short, fine, and sleek coats that are tri-colored and are a combination of white and tan with black, blue, or brown markings. Despite being short, these dogs’ coats are prone to shedding, so brushing them two or three times per week is recommended.

Other than that, their coats are typically easy to maintain. Still, since Brazilian Terriers are so physically active, outdoors as well as indoors, their coats tend to get dirty and shabby very easily, which in turn can require some extra attention.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

brazilian terrier lying on grass

Brazilian Terriers, like most other terrier breeds, are very good in households with children. They love to play with people of all ages, which makes them perfect companions for a small child, as long as the child is taught how to handle a dog properly.

When it comes to other dogs, Brazilian Terriers are much friendlier and social than other terriers like the Jack Russell Terrier, so they are great for families with more than one canine pet.

As far as other pets are concerned, Brazilian Terriers may require some training and socialization before they can be allowed to interact freely with a cat or an even smaller pet, due to their strong prey drive.

Their high energy levels can also make them a bit bothersome for low-energy cat breeds or older pets, so you’ll need to train them well.

Wrap Up

two brazilian terrier puppies sitting together

Brazilian Terriers make perfect pets and companions for a specific type of dog owners. They require a lot of attention and play time, since they are very energetic, which means that you shouldn’t leave them alone for too long and you should generally not let them get bored.

Being terriers, they can also be rather willful, so they typically require a smart and experienced dog owner who knows how to raise and train them properly. Aside from that, these dogs are very intelligent, quite healthy, as well as exceptionally affectionate and friendly toward their families, strangers, and other dogs.

Are you interested in adopting a Brazilian Terrier? Or perhaps you are already living with one of them? Tell us your story. We’d love to talk more about this amazing dog breed with you. If you need a fitting name for your Brazilian Terrier pup, do check out our article on little dog names. Big things come in small packages!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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