about the welsh terrier

The Welsh Terrier is a sturdy, "cobby," compact dog, always with an alert expression; very smart and workmanlike in their appearance. They are typically short-backed with deep ribs, ideally with a good tail-set. The tail, which prior to recent legislation was customarily docked, should have a "Good set-on" and be carried upright, leaning slightly forwards in a graceful arc. The breed standard describes Welsh Terriers as having "cat-like paws" as they stand and move with great agility and speed on small, neat toes. The majority of them are extremely agile and will chase anything which moves. Others are also natural athletes, able to jump obstacles and high fences with ease.
Charlie - a typical Welsh Terrier!
They should be solid and muscular, carrying no excess weight. You should always be able to see and feel the outline of their ribs. An adult dog should weigh in the region of 16 - 22 lbs. (7 - 10.5 kgs.) and be approximately 14" to 16" (36 - 41 cms.) in height at the withers, or shoulder. The males are often slightly bigger and heavier than the bitches. They have good bone in their limbs.

Their neck is of moderate neck, sloping gently and elegantly into their shoulders. The head is flat, should never be coarse nor wide, with a balanced distance between the ears. Their jaws are extremely powerul with a clean "scissor" bite and strong white teeth. Their eyes are dark brown or black and their ears are small and "V" - shaped "leathers" set fairly high on their head, carried forwards and close to the cheek.

They have a double coat as adults. The inner, softer layer is paler in colour and insulated for warmth. The jacket is wiry, hard, very close and abundant. It grows continuously and rapidly. The preferred colour is a deep black and rich tan, although black grizzle and tan is also permissible. As an adult, there should be no black pencilling below the hocks.

ORIGINS OF THE BREED

There are differing views about the origins of the breed but it is a commonly held view that the Welsh Terrier is the oldest native breed of dog in Britain. For several hundred years, black and tan terriers were used to support packs of hounds hunting for fox, badgers and otters. The Welsh Terrier was finally recognised as a breed in its own right by the Kennel Club in 1855.  The majority of Welsh Terriers are now primarily companion dogs.
 
However, they still retain their hunting and digging instincts very strongly. They can still hunt and track game and vermin, such as rodents. They love going to ground and get particularly excited if they pick up an interesting scent from a sett or den whilst you're out on a country walk !  In America, they have "Earth Dog" trials and competitions which are extremely popular with both the owners and the dogs.  In these trials, Welsh Terriers are timed as they track prey underground, in a series of artificially made tunnels. (The prey is safely caged so is unharmed.)  They are excellent watchdogs but are NOT guard dogs!
 

TEMPERAMENT

A typical Welsh Terrier is boisterous, cheerful, vigilant and very active. Most owners will smilingly tell you that they are also extremely nosey !  They need mental stimulation and like to be involved in whatever is happening around them. They are highly intelligent and very affectionate dogs. They are loving and loyal to their own family but equally enjoy making a fuss of total strangers. They tend to have a lot of patience with children, as long as the children are of an age to understand and respect the dog's needs and recognise that they are a dog, not a toy.
 
Many Welsh Terriers will play for hours retrieving a ball which is being thrown for them, often diverting on the way back, to drop the ball in water or bury it, to add his own retrieving dimension to the game!  The typical Welshie is a feisty, energetic dog and if his energies are channelled and directly properly from an early age, he can be the ideal companion for a young, energetic family.
Charlie - a typical Welsh Terrier!
 
The hunting instinct and thrill of the chase is never far from the surface with a Welshie. Never trust one to be alone with another pet animal, such as a cat or rabbit, unless you are positive that it is safe to do so.  Similarly with recall training. Never allow your Welshie to run freely until you are positive that they will recall instantly and "down" on command. This could one day safe their life and is a command well worth persevering with. Even then, only let them run free in an area which you know to be safe, where they will not encounter small animals and take off after one of them.
 
Generally Welsh Terriers are easy to train because they are so intelligent. They soon learn what is required of them. However, all training must be consistent. They are bright enough to try to divert you from your original intention! They respond well to variety in their training and exercise regime. Always try to make any training to be an enjoyable and fun experience for you both.
 
Several members of WELTAF have undertaken a range of activities with their dog. We currently have several Welsh Terriers who have successfuly completed their Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme at different levels. One has recently achieved the Gold Award, which requires a very high level of off-lead obedience. Others have succeeded in agility, attaining a great deal of success. Another has recently begun Flyball. Other members' dogs regularly attend Ringcraft classes and have enjoyed a large amount of success in the discipline of the show ring. One member is about to begin training her dog under the PAT Scheme (Pets As Therapy). The Kennel Club website has lists of venues all over the country where these and other suitable activities and training take place.
 
The Welsh Terrier is a feisty, hardy breed. They should be socialised with other dogs from a very early age. Under those circumstances they will usually learn to get along with other dogs. The majority of them will not deliberately pick a fight with another dog but neither will they back down if another dog starts one. There's a common saying amongst terrier fanciers that "A Welsh Terrier has no reverse gear!"  If your desire is to keep a pair of them, it is not wise to keep two of the same sex and NEVER two from the same litter.  A dog and a bitch of different ages will usually get on well together.

DAILY CARE

Welsh Terriers are very lively dogs, with huge reserves of energy. They must have regular, purposeful exercise. Allowing them to "play" on their own in a garden without human company will not be sufficient for their needs. They need mental stimulation every bit as much as physical exercise. This is one breed of dog which will not tolerate being left at home all day whilst his owners are at work. Inevitably he will soon become bored and use his pent-up energy and frustration to set about destroying the room in which he is confined.
 
Grooming requirements for this breed are high. His double coat needs to be brushed thoroughly several times a week or the luxuriant "furnishings" on his legs and face which typify the appearance of the breed will tangle and soon matt.  The coat grows very vigorously and will need hand-stripping or "plucking" frequently in order to keep him looking true to the breed standard and to maintain the rich colour. Dogs intended for showing will probably need the services of a professional groomer quite often, which can be expensive, unless you have the time, patience and determination to master the skill yourself.
 
 Dogs which are kept solely as pets and companions may be clipped and this should also produce a very smart appearance. However, over a period of time a dog whose coat has been regularly clippered will lose its wiry texture and rich colour as the hair texture softens over time.
 
They are generally a healthy breed and typically live well into their teens, fifteen or sixteen not being uncommon. Some dogs are prone to skin or eye problems but this is not particularly common.
 
If you are seriously contemplating owning a Welsh Terrier please contact us via email at info@weltaf.co.ukor via the Guest Book on this site. We will endeavour to arrange for you to contact experienced owners, or perhaps enable you to meet up with a group of us to talk to us, ask questions and see the dogs, so that your decision about owning a Welshie can be as well informed as possible. 
 
If you have visited the picture Picture Gallery on this website, you will have realised that our members are totally committed to the breed and their own dogs. However, depending upon  personal domestic circumstances, time constraints, leisure pursuits, etc., Welshies  are NOT the ideal dog for everyone.