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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The funny, scruff Sealyham Terrier wants to be the class clown. With a happy-go-lucky spirit and a laid-back attitude, he’s equally content hanging out on the sofa watching TV or chasing a chipmunk around the yard. That said, he’s a lover, not a fighter.
The Sealyham is named after the estate of the man who developed the breed, Captain John Edwardes, who lived in Wales.
The Sealy peers out at the world from beneath bushy eyebrows, ever curious about the goings-on around him. Although he certainly has the look of a feisty terrier, the Sealyham Terrier doesn't have the typical attitude. He's a very mellow, laid-back dog, with modest exercise requirements and a clownish spirit. He even gets along well with other dogs. All these traits serve to make him a good pet for someone who loves the high-style look of a terrier but isn’t enamored with or capable of handling that in-your-face kind of dog.
The Sealyham Terrier is all terrier on the outside, with the scruffy charm of his cousins and the white color of his ancestor, the West Highland White Terrier. But on the inside he's a very different dog.
Originally bred to hunt badger, he's better described as a lover, not a fighter. He's a playful dog with a big sense of humor, and while he has a tendency to bark a bit more than most people might like, at only 20 to 25 pounds he is the perfect size for an apartment. He's a light shedder, inclined to be child-friendly and dog-friendly, and doesn't even have an overwhelming desire to chase cats.
The Sealyham is one of the many breeds that came into being in the mid-19th century as British sportsmen vied to develop dogs that were perfectly suited to their own blessed plot. One of those men was Captain John Edwardes of Haverfordwest, Wales. He spent more than 40 years, from 1850 to 1891, perfecting a strain of dogs for hunting badger, otter, and fox. They were to be small enough that they could easily tunnel into a badger sett or fox den and white so that the waiting hounds wouldn’t mistake them for prey.
The breeds Edwardes used in his quest were probably Corgis, Cheshire Terriers (a now-extinct type of Bull Terrier), Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Fox Terriers, and West Highland White Terriers. The resulting small white dogs became known as Sealyhams, after Edwardes’ estate.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Sealyham in 1911. Today the Sealy, as he’s nicknamed, ranks 152nd among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The Sealy owns you, you don’t own him. This good-humored Terrier is more calm and relaxed than most but retains the Terrier love of the hunt. He will protect your garden from rabbits and moles and keep your home mouse-free. He can learn to coexist peacefully with cats and can get along well with other dogs.
The Sealy is of a size and temperament that makes him suited to city or country life. He has been described as the couch potato of the Terrier world, and a brisk walk or playtime satisfies his exercise needs. He doesn’t bark unnecessarily, although he will certainly alert you to the presence of anyone approaching the house. Once you invite someone into your home, the Sealy will probably welcome him, too.
This is a curious, funny dog who is devoted to his family. If he is brought up with children, he is sturdy enough to be a good playmate but not so big that he can easily knock them over. As with any dog, all interactions with toddlers should be closely supervised so that neither dog nor child gets hurt.
Like all terriers, the Sealy has an independent, tenacious spirit. Train him with firmness, consistency and positive reinforcement techniques. Keep training sessions short, fun, and interesting so he doesn’t get bored. The Sealy, like most of us, responds best when you praise him for the good things he does.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 10 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him to puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, so you can start building a strong working relationship, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. Invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Sealyham, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
The Sealyham Terrier is one of the healthiest of the dog breeds, with a genetic eye defect known as lens luxation, allergies, and hypothyroidism being among the medical issues of concern.
The American Sealyham Terrier Club funds research into allergies and lens luxation in the breed, in the hope of finding genetic markers and developing screening tests for these problems. To that end, they've created a registry for Sealyham eye health tracking, the SIGHT Registry.
One eye problem that affects the breed is primary lens luxation, or PLL. The lenses of the eyes become dislodged, requiring corrective surgery. A genetic marker has been found for the condition and a DNA test developed. Sealyham Terrier breeders can now utilize this DNA test on their dogs before using them in their breeding programs. If you’re looking for a Sealyham puppy, ask breeders if they are using the PLL DNA test.
A good Sealyham breeder should also have Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) documentation that their breeding dogs' eyes are healthy, based on an eye exam performed within the last year.
Although allergies and other diseases that affect the Sealyham have no screening tests at this time, your puppy's breeder should be willing – eager, in fact – to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives, and discuss how prevalent those particular health concerns are in his lines.
In 2010 the ASTC opened a new health registry called the SealyHealthGuard. Owners and breeders can register their dogs at no charge and track any health information they believe is relevant for each dog. This information is verified by sending veterinary information to the webmaster. The ASTC also belongs to the Canine Health Information Center, a database sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation and OFA. For a Sealyham to be a part of CHIC, DNA results for primary lens luxation, and a yearly CERF test must be submitted.
The Sealy has a long, weather-resistant double coat that doesn’t shed much but requires stripping or clipping in addition to regular brushing or combing with a slicker brush, pin brush, or stainless steel Greyhound comb (that’s a brand name, not a type of comb used on Greyhounds). Be sure you brush or comb all the way down to the skin. The beard requires daily combing to keep it clean.
The Sealy doesn’t shed much at all, but his hard terrier coat may need special care. If the show ring is in his future, the Sealyham's coat will have to be “hand-stripped,” a labor-intensive task that involves pulling out dead coat a little bit at a time, using a special tool. Dogs whose career involves your sofa and garden will simply need to be kept brushed and occasionally clipped for neatness and to minimize shedding and matting of the coat. Clipping will soften the texture of the coat, so think about whether that’s important to you before you have it done.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems.
Look for more information about the Sealyham and start your search for a good breeder at the website of The American Sealyham Terrier Club, which maintains a referral list for breeders. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the ASTC’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Sealyham Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life. Sealyham puppies are usually allowed to go to their new homes between 10 and 14 weeks of age.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Sealyham Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Sealyham Terrier may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Sealyham Terrier in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Sealyham Terrier s available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Sealyham Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Sealyham Terriers love all Sealyham Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The American Sealyham Terrier Club’s rescue organization can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Sealyham rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Sealyham Terrier home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Sealyham Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Sealyham Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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