Welsh Terrier

  • Welsh Terrier Dog Breed

    Mary Bloom

  • Welsh Terrier Dog Breed

    Mary Bloom

  • Welsh Terrier Dog Breed

    Mary Bloom

  • Breed Group: Terrier
  • Height: 15 to 15.5 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 20 to 22 pounds
  • Life Span: 10 to 14 years

Independent and a true terrier, the Welsh is charming, cocky, and confident. His inquisitive nature may lead him into trouble, but he'll take care of any rodent problem. He will find his own fun, so it's best to channel his energy into acceptable venues.

Breed Characteristics

Adaptability 5 stars Dog Friendly 2 stars Shedding Level 1 star
Affection Level 4 stars Exercise Needs 4 stars Social Needs 3 stars
Apartment Friendly 4 stars Health & Grooming 4 stars Stranger Friendly 3 stars
Barking Tendencies 4 stars Health Issues 2 stars Territorial 5 stars
Cat Friendly 1 star Intelligence 4 stars Trainability 3 stars
Child Friendly 4 stars Playfulness 4 stars Watchdog Ability 5 stars

Did You Know?

A Welsh Terrier has lived in the White House. During the administration of John F. Kennedy, the young Caroline Kennedy had one named Charlie.

He's a medium-size, workmanlike, sturdy tan dog with a black saddle, upright docked tail, and folded-down ears – pretty much the dog most people would see in the street and say, yup, that's a terrier, even though they couldn't say which kind.

And looks aren't deceiving, because the Welsh Terrier has all the charm, stubbornness, and cocky attitude of the truest of terriers: He’s not great with other dogs and yes, he's going to dig in the garden and chase the cat. But you’ll never have a dull moment with a Welsh Terrier in your home.

Weighing in at 20 to 22 pounds, the Welsh is an independent, somewhat stubborn breed. He's extremely cute as a puppy and seems to know just how to work that cuteness to get his own way. But what's adorable in a ball of fur you can hold in your hand turns into tyranny in an adult dog, so be careful not to spoil your little charmer. Be careful of the opposite, too; although he's bold and confident, the Welsh Terrier needs affection and a light touch in training or he'll become defensive and simply start ignoring you.

As with virtually all terriers, a bored Welsh Terrier will find his own fun, which means barking while chasing small, furry creatures and tunneling to the center of the earth. All that can be prevented with consistent training starting at a young age to channel this breed’s inquisitive nature and on-the-go attitude into activities which won’t involve noise or destructiveness. The American Kennel Club's Earthdog events offer one such possibility; agility or other active sports are others.

Exercise isn't optional, either. He'll need regular leash walking to help keep him from indulging in a little free-range hunting. He’ll be much more likely to settle down happily at home if you've given him plenty of exercise first. And although Welsh Terriers tend to like older children, they aren't necessarily great with younger ones.

While the show dogs get more careful grooming, pet Welsh Terriers simply need to be combed once a week and clipped a few times a year, along with the occasional bath to look their best.

Other Quick Facts

  • The compact and sturdy Welsh Terrier has a square body, a rectangular head, small almond-shaped eyes that are dark brown, small V-shaped ears with tips that fold forward, and a docked tail that is carried upright.
  • The Welsh Terrier struts his stuff in a tight black jacket of hard, wiry, dense hair with deep reddish-tan markings on the legs, belly and head. Occasionally his coat is grizzle, sort of a bluish-gray.
Next: History ›

The History of the Welsh Terrier

Many old paintings and prints of terriers show a black and tan wirehaired terrier that looks much like the Welsh Terrier of today. The breed originated in Wales, where the dogs pitted their wits against badger, fox, and otter.

Dog shows became popular in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1884 there was a class for “Welsh or Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan Terriers,” a description that still fits the dogs of today. Dogs could be shown under either or both names.

Welsh Terriers were first brought to the United States in 1888 by Prescott Lawrence, who showed them at the Westminster Kennel Club show. They were recognized by the American Kennel Club the same year. The Welsh Terrier Club of America was established in 1900. Today the dogs rank 105th among the breeds registered by the AKC.

‹ Previous: Overview

Welsh Terrier Temperament and Personality

The dynamic and sturdy Welsh Terrier is a friendly and spirited breed. He is highly intelligent, quick to bark, quick to chase, and makes for a lively companion. He can be stubborn and persistent, but he does desire to please his owner. He is a good watchdog and thrives on protecting his family.

The Welsh Terrier is an active breed, and he needs plenty of activity. He is well suited to an active family with children, though his boisterous nature can be overwhelming to very young children. However, he is unlikely to be hyperactive and is known for his steady temperament. 

The Welsh Terrier likes to give chase — cats, rabbits, squirrels — so he shouldn’t be let off leash except in an enclosed area. He also enjoys digging, so don’t be surprised if you find potholes in your lawn.

Training should begin right away for the Welsh Terrier puppy. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of learning good manners. Never wait until he is 6 months old to begin training, or you will have a bigger, more headstrong dog to handle. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, 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. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog. He can be difficult to housetrain, so it is important to be very consistent and patient.

Talk with a reputable, experienced Welsh Terrier breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion, 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. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.

‹ Previous: History
Next: Health ›

What You Need To Know About Welsh Terrier Health

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Steer clear of any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and how often they occur in her lines.

Welsh Terriers are a very healthy breed, but can have some genetic health problems. For example glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, and lens luxation can occur in the breed, so your puppy's breeder should have written documentation from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her breeding dogs have had their eyes tested within the past year. Hypothyroidism has also been reported, so Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) clearances on their thyroid glands is also recommended.

The breed also has problems with allergies and patellar luxation (a condition in which the knee caps pop out of normal position). Even though there are no screening tests for those and other conditions that can affect the Welsh Terrier, 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 the incidence of those particular health concerns in his lines.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Welsh Terrier at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.

‹ Previous: Personality
Next: Grooming ›

The Basics of Welsh Terrier Grooming

The Welsh Terrier’s handsome good looks come naturally, but regular grooming is important. Expect to groom (do it yourself or better yet, hire a professional groomer) your Welsh Terrier every six to eight weeks, especially if you wish to keep the coat trimmed. Regular brushing every week between stylings will keep the breed’s double coat in good condition. Regular tooth brushing with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste helps keep the teeth and gums healthy. 

The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once every few weeks. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleanser recommended by your veterinarian.

There is a difference between grooming a Welsh Terrier for the show ring and grooming a family pet. A show dog may require hand stripping, rather than clippering, by a professional groomer and handler.

It is important to begin grooming the Welsh Terrier when he is very young. An early introduction teaches him grooming is a normal part of life, and teaches him to patiently accept the handling and fuss of the grooming process.  

‹ Previous: Health
Next: Finding ›

Finding a Welsh Terrier

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.

Choosing a Welsh Terrier Breeder

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. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.

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. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.

Look for more information about the Welsh Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Welsh Terrier Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the WTCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for breeders to help place dogs of their breeding if owners can’t keep them.

Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer 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. Those things 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 an Welsh 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) and, ideally, working 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.

Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Welsh 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 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.

Adopting a Dog from Welsh Terrier Rescue or a Shelter

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 Welsh 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 Welsh Terriers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org 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 Welsh 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

Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Welsh Terriers love all Welsh Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Welsh Terrier Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Welsh Terrier 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 Welsh Terrier home with you 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 dog. 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 Welsh 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, take your Welsh 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.

‹ Previous: Grooming

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