ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Sealyham Terrier

Sealyham Terrier dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The small sized Sealyham Terrier originally was used in Wales as a working dog. This now “vulnerable” breed was once extremely popular among the British Royals as well as Hollywood stars after the First World War Great for first-time dog owners, this breed is happy with company or all alone, and makes a great companion due to being highly adaptable and very friendly!

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Working Dogs
Height:9 to 10 inches tall
Weight:18 to 20 pounds
Life Span:12 to 14 years

Nicknamed “Sealies”, the Sealyham Terrier dog breed are happy, curious, and very confident! The breed gets its name from the estate of Captain John Edwardes, who developed the dog breed between 1850 and 1891.

The breed’s purpose was to be used to hunt smaller game and to free the area of any vermin, mostly badgers, and they were also used as working dogs. Today, they are on the list of vulnerable dog breeds, with only 49 puppies registered in 2011 in the United Kingdom.

You may have seen them in some older films, during the height of their popularity, such as two of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Suspicion and The Birds. Many stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, and Agatha Christie owned a Sealyham Terrier. The British Royal Family were very keen on this breed as well, with Princess Margaret enjoying breakfast with two of them each morning.

This small breed has a strong head and has muscle! They are a white, double coated breed that has a dense undercoat, with the top coat feeling wiry, but that only helps to resist weather. You may see markings on the dog, which can come in lemon, brown, black, and other colors. These dogs are eager to please their owners, get along great with other pets, and have a huge personality!

Many people who get one dog of this breed, often want another. They are very happy and fun to be around, so having two is just twice the fun! Though hard to find, once you do own this pup, you will be happy with your choice!

The good outweighs any bad for this breed, as you may experience occasional stubbornness and barking. But with all of the love they give, you will not mind at all! Some can experience health issues, especially if they become overweight.

If they are not familiar with a stranger or animal, they can become aggressive, so training them will keep this to a minimum. Overall, they make great watchdogs and family members and will do anything to keep you happy!

Main Highlights
  • First things first, this breed can be terribly hard to find. Many people who do find a breeder will wait several months for a pup. Expect to do some research in order to find one.
  • If they are being introduced to strangers or new animals, you might see them exhibit aggressive behavior. Keep the dog on a tight leash if this happens until they can see the people or animals are not a threat. Of course, training will quell this, too.
  • They can gain weight easily, which could cause health problems. Monitor their food intake and be sure not to leave food out for them to graze.
  • Because of their days as vermin eradicators, they still like to chase down birds, rabbits and sometimes cats and other dogs. Using a leash is necessary unless he is secured in a yard or safe area.
  • When it comes to potty training your pup, they might take a bit longer to latch onto the idea because they are stubborn! For this reason, you should crate train them to avoid any accidents on the floor when you are not around.
  • The breed gained popularity after WWI, with both the British Royal Family and celebrities alike! Many celebrities owned a dog of this breed like Agatha Christie. It is now considered a rare breed by the United Kingdom.
  • The first Sealies were brought to the United States in 1911, and were sent to California. It was not long before they became fantastic show dogs, winning many awards like Best in Show four times at Westminster.
Breed History

Between 1850 and 1891, Captain John Edwardes developed the Sealyham Terrier breed at his estate, Sealyham House. He first bred them to catch small game and to eradicate vermin nearby, and because he wanted a white dog breed that was small, because it was easy to see when out hunting.

Therefore, the Fox Wire Terrier, English White Terrier, and Welsh Corgi were used in the makeup of this breed. Edwardes worked on this breed until his death in 1891. Following his death, a man named Fred Lewis actively promoted these pups.

Then, in 1903, the dog was shown for the first time and people became more aware of them. It was not long before the Kennel Club in the UK recognized them and the first club was made for them. In the 1920s, Sir Jocelyn Lucas decided to upgrade the breed to be a better hunter, so he cross bred his dog with a Norfolk Terrier, which was better at killing rabbits and vermin.

After World War I, the breed skyrocketed in popularity, where they became a beloved companion to the Royal family. Many of Hollywood stars saw them as fashionable to have, so many of them were owned by Agatha Christie, Bette Davies, Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor. Author Maurice Sendak included the breed in his children’s book “Higglety Pigglety Pop!”.

Currently, the breed is considered rare as other “designer” dogs have come into fashion. As of 2011, there were only 49 registered new puppies, which has many dog lovers trying to save the breed.

Size

Generally, this breed does not grow more than 10 inches tall, with 12 inches being the absolute maximum for them. Males should weigh no more than 18 pounds, while the females should weigh no more than 20. They can gain weight so keep an eye on what they are eating and how much. They do have a lot of energy and need exercise each day to tire them out.

Personality and Character

Training them while pups, is imperative as they can be stubborn so getting them used to rules as soon as you can is very helpful. Otherwise, they are considered one of the best dogs to have as a companion and part of the family.

They bond with everyone in the home and are so full of love and eager to please their family, plus they can enjoy their own alone time without anxiety. Not only that, but they have a curious nature about them, love to chase animals and make wonderful guard dogs.

The breed is extremely friendly, has a big personality and sense of humor, plus if you train them, they will perform their trick or task happily. They especially respond to positive reinforcement, so if you give them a treat to go potty, they are more likely to go outdoors, though potty training can get tough at times with them.

They are at their best when they have been socialized well, as they can understand noises, sights, and people.

Health and Potential Problems

You can expect few health problems with them, but they are prone to a couple of things that are hereditary and unavoidable. Be sure to do research on them and know any signs or symptoms of ailments that may need to be brought up to your vet.

  • Lens luxation is a condition that occurs in the eye, where the lens goes out of its position because of weak fibers that are supposed to keep them where they are supposed to be. It also blocks fluids to the eye, which can cause blindness.
  • Retinal dysplasia is an irregularity in the retina that your pup will be born with. Most of the time, your dog will keep his vision. This occurs when there are folds in the tissue of the retina, which may cause blind spots, but most of the time, your dog cannot even tell.
  • Cataracts occur in the eye, in which the lens become cloudy and can cause your dog to experience blurry vision. Usually, this is genetic and can require surgery or the dog will lose all sight eventually.
  • Diabetes is a disease where sugars cannot process as they normally would in the body, making insulin levels high or low. Signs to look for would be increased thirst, an increase in their appetite, and urinating more often. Insulin and diet are two key things to keep in mind with a diabetic dog.
  • Parvo is a virus that is highly contagious and can be prevented by vaccination, easily. Your dog will either experience cardiac parvo or intestinal parvo, with muscles in the heart being affected for cardiac and vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss with the intestinal type. This can and does lead to death.
  • Seizures can occur if your dog has been exposed to any pollutants, or have had any trauma, especially in the head. If your dog has any brain abnormalities or issues with organs, they may experience seizures. There is no cure but this can be kept under control with medication.
  • Food allergies can occur during and after they are puppies. Signs your dog may be allergic to a food can include vomiting, diarrhea, becoming swollen, or worse. Always monitor your dog’s food and intake. If you must switch dog foods because of this, consult your vet on what option is best for your dog.
  • Urinary tract stones can develop within this breed, which causes extreme pain like when a human has a kidney stone. Symptoms can include being tired or having no energy, vomiting, and excessive or not enough urinating. The stones will destroy the lining in the urinary tract and can cause blood in the urine.
  • Ear infections are caused by bacteria, allergies, yeast and mites. You should use an ear cleaning solution to swab the dog’s ears gently without going into the canal. Signs and symptoms include your dog scratching their ear a lot, an odor, redness swelling, and more. If your dog has an infection, consult your vet for medication and treatment. It is good to check your dog’s ears every week in the case of an ear infection.
Care Features

One of the good things about this dog breed is that they can live almost anyway, be it an apartment or out in the country. When indoors, they know how to stay calm, but they will have fun outdoors, especially in a big, secure yard. When outside, in busy areas, your dog needs to be leashed as they can become aggressive with people or animals.

With a firm but fair leader, this dog will flourish, instead of digging holes and barking. They respond very well with treats and love during training, or with anything. They can be hard to potty train, but keeping them on a schedule can help, along with positive reinforcement.

Be sure to walk them daily, especially if you live in a busy area where your dog cannot run around freely. Since they love their family, they can exercise with you by playing fetch, or running around.

Feeding Schedule

Once your dog is an adult, you will need to feed them 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 cups of food twice per day. They should eat once in the morning and once at dinner time, and occasional treats are fine. Be sure to give your dog plenty of fresh water so they stay hydrated. If you are concerned that your dog may have a food allergy, consult your vet for other food options for your pup.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Your dog’s coat will be weather resistant due to the wiry feeling of the top coat. They do have a double coat, with the bottom being soft and somewhat dense. You can expect to see hair on the muzzle as well. All of these terriers have a white coat but will have different colored markings that include lemon, badger, tan, black and blue. These will be on the head and the ears.

Some owners will clip their dog in order to have a softer and shinier top coat that does not shed as much as it would without being clipped. Otherwise, you will need to brush your dog three times per week to prevent matted hair and to rid the body of dead hairs and debris.

Their teeth need to be brushed at least twice per week in order to prevent gum disease and tartar. Nails will need to be trimmed once a month or two, or when necessary. Check their body each week or sores, scrapes, cuts or abrasions on the body, in order to prevent infection. Always inspect your dog’s ears, eyes, nose and mouth for anything unusual.

If you need to clean the ears, use an ear cleaner and gently swab the ear, but do not go into the ear canal. Be sure to get your dog used to you touching these areas as a pup so they will not squabble while you inspect them. If you have any concerns, contact your vet for a checkup.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

While terriers can be excited and hyper, they love children and can learn how to be calm with them. Children need to be taught how to handle a dog without hurting it, which will allow them to not provoke the animal and get hurt. Small children should always be watched with dogs around in case of injury.

This breed gets along well with other pets in the home, especially if they are raised with them, just like the children. They will play and bond with any cats or dogs in the home, though you may see them chase each other occasionally.

However, with animals and people that they do not know, they can become aggressive around them, so they need to be watched or kept away from them at times. If you are out in public, keep your dog on a leash and restrain them when they feel aggressive around people or animals.

In conclusion, the Sealyham Terrier has some quips, but they are a beloved dog, that is great for first-time dog owners. They have a ton of energy, love and devotion to give out and are good for comic relief!

You won’t have to worry about your dog being alone, as they are content without people for a while, but will come snuggle with you when you get home. Hard to find, once you get a pup, you will fall in love instantly!

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.

  • Kathrine Roland

    This white fury ball of happiness is the right choice for the owners who are not at home all the time. It’s not fair to buy/adopt a dog who will moan after you leave, and be sad most of the day. On the contrary, this dog knows how to amuse itself while you’re gone :)

    • John Walton

      The Sealyham Terrier is probably one of the most independent terriers a pet parent can own. Very independent, intelligent, and yes it does find a lot of ways to keep itself entertained.

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