ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Welsh Terrier

Welsh Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

This breed originates in Wales (thus its name, Welsh Terrier) and is considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the U.K. They have been bred as working dogs, to hunt vermin like rodents, badgers and foxes, but during the last century, they have only been bred for dog shows. Despite this, they did keep their strong mind and stubbornness.

It was only in the 19th century when the Welshies came to the show ring and were registered as a breed by kennel clubs. Nowadays, they face the risk of extinction, with only 300 puppies being born each year in the U.K.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 2 inches to 1 foot, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Up to 20 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years

Being originally bred for hunting vermin on ranches, Welsh Terriers have developed and still keep a mind of their own and a strong personality. They are also very devoted to their owners, so they quickly gained popularity as companion dogs.

They are very energetic and need a lot of daily exercise, so these dogs are not the best to keep in an apartment. They do best in at least a small yard, where they can burn off some of their energy, but they still need some training or play sessions to keep them busy. Obedience is not their strongest asset, but with consistent training, you may achieve an obedient Welshie.

Even when they get enough exercise, Welsh Terriers would still engage in rough play around the house from time to time. They love climbing in high places and running around their home, so expect to have some knocked-down lamps. It may be a good idea to dog-proof the house before bringing a Welshie puppy home.

These dogs love to bark and are excellent watch dogs, but this behavior may become a problem when living in an apartment. Noises may not be accepted by neighbors, so you may want to curb this behavior by training. «No!» is the first command your Welshie should learn.

Main Highlights
  • Like all Terrier breeds, Welshies love to bark and dig. This behavior can be curbed with a lot of training, but you won’t be able to eliminate it. Distract their attention and keep them busy with what you want them to, instead of just leaving them alone in the yard;
  • They are very independent dogs and are not prone to separation anxiety. Yet, they still need toys to focus on, as they are very active and may become destructive;
  • Welshies like to climb high places, so you would often find them up on high furniture or tables. They are also very energetic, so expect them to jump off those furniture pieces;
  • Welsh Terriers love kids, who are as energetic as they are, and would make great playmates;
  • They may act combative towards other dogs or animals, so make sure you socialize them well from a very young age;
  • These dogs are stubborn and difficult to train, so they are not a good choice for novice or meek owners. Only use positive reinforcement techniques and keep training sessions short and fun. It may be useful to break them with fun games;
  • Welsh Terriers are suitable for allergic people because of their low shedding, reaching to almost no shedding throughout most of the year;
  • Although shedding is low, they still need a lot of grooming. They need regular brushing and constant stripping of the coat, about every 8 weeks or so;
Breed History

Originally shown in England in 1884, this breed was initially called Old English Terrier, Black and Tan Wire Haired Terrier, or Old Reddish-Black Wirehaired Terrier. The Welsh Terrier has a somewhat uncertain origin, but we can assume it may be one of the first Terrier breeds, due to very old prints and paintings depicting it.

The Welshie was initially bred for its hunting abilities, and was quite successful in catching foxes, badgers and otters. They usually hunted in large packs, and would drive out prey from their dens, to help hunters get it faster.

The breed was first brought to the U.S. by Prescott Lawrence in 1888, but they were only established around 1901, when they began gaining popularity.

Nowadays, the Welsh Terrier is highly appreciated for his agility, tracking and hunting skills, as well as being a great watchdog and a very loyal companion.

Size

Welsh Terriers are compact, medium-sized dogs, measuring about 15 — 15.5 inches, males being slightly larger than females at the same age. They usually weigh about 20 lbs, but it may vary according to each dog’s bone density and height.

Personality and Character

Welsh Terriers are true Terriers by definition. They may be lively, active, independent but shy at  the same time. They are usually really friendly with other dogs and people and may be devoted friends to any family. They are fierce defenders of their loved ones and won’t back down when they sense any threat.

They are independent dogs with a mind of their own, so obedience training is a must throughout their entire lives. It may be tricky to train these dogs because of their tendency to make their own decisions. This is why you may think they have a hard time learning, but in fact they just won’t have the will, so you might have to work on reinforcing a command or another at some point throughout their lives.

Like all Terrier breeds, Welshies love barking and digging. They quickly find a way of entertaining themselves if you don’t give them something to do, and you may not like your flower garden being re-designed by a bored Terrier. They also have a really strong prey drive, although most of them are now raised as family pets for generations. This means they will definitely chase away any small animals approaching their ground/

Health and Potential Problems

Most Welsh Terriers are very hardy and healthy towards their entire life and keep their good shape through intense physical exercise, but they may still be prone to a few diseases or health issues:

  • Glaucoma: is characterized by an abnormal pressure on the eye, which causes an improper drainage of the eye fluids. Your dog may blink too much, have a dilated or unresponsive pupil, or you may see the eyeball receding back into the eyeholes. Also, the blood vessels in the whites of the eyes may become excessively red. Left untreated, this condition may lead to blindness because of damaged optic nerve. Many dogs do become blind in about a year, regardless of the treatment they get;
  • Epilepsy: these dogs may be prone to epilepsy, a disorder that may cause seizures. Dogs may act strange (hiding, running frantically or staggering) or, the most severely affected specimens may even lose consciousness or fall down, with rigid limbs. It is incurable, though it may be kept under control with adequate medication. Immediately take your dog to a check-up at your vet whenever you notice something weird about your Welshie;
  • Hypothyroidism: this is a hormonal disorder, caused by the lack of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include obesity, infertility, low energy, mental dullness, coarse fur, or the skin becoming tough and dark. This problem may be kept under control with daily medication, which has to go on throughout the dog’s life;
  • Allergies: Welsh Terriers are predisposed to allergies, especially skin allergies. They may be caused by specific food stuff or external factors, like fleas or other parasites. Immediately take your dog to the vet if you notice your dog is itchy or shows any discomfort when you touch him gently, to determine the cause of the allergy and eliminate it. Some causes cannot be entirely eliminated but the allergies may be kept under control with proper medical treatment.

They are very active until very late in their lives if kept healthy and in good condition. Food is a very important aspect of a dog’s health, so always make sure your dog eats high quality food, to avoid digestive disorders or allergies.

Always make sure your puppy’s parents and better yet, grandparents, had already been tested for any genetic disease they may have. A responsible breeder should always have screening test results available for you to check out and will never breed any dog just to make some profit of him.

Care Features

Welshies are very energetic dogs, so they need a lot of exercise to keep their body and mind in good shape. If taken out sufficiently, they may adapt well to apartment living, but this is not ideal. A suitable home for this breed is a house with at least an average-sized yard, where he can run and jump, or a large ranch. Though, don’t assume that by running around in the yard will meet his exercise needs; he needs something to do, or he  will find himself some entertainment like digging holes (like all Terriers).

They are very good dogs for active families, that love outdoor activities like biking, jogging or swimming. A Welshie would be most happy as your jogging companion, but you always need to keep him on a leash while walking because of his strong prey drive.

Training can be a challenge with a Welsh Terrier, because of his strong mind. You need to keep training sessions fun and interesting, and maybe break them up with some challenging games, as Welshies tend to get bored quickly. Only use positive reinforcement and be very consistent. Some tricks or behaviors may need to be reinforced over time, as the dog would always try to challenge your authority and mind his own business. This is why Welsh Terriers are not at all suitable for novice owners.

Besides consistent training, Welshies need very early socialization, as they tend to act aggressively towards other dogs. This behavior can be curbed by introducing your young puppy to as many dogs, people, places and situations as possible, so that he doesn’t get nervous in the adult life.

They love toys, and would spend a lot of time playing by themselves and burn a lot of energy. Most of all, they like squeaky and moving toys that stimulate their prey drive.

Welsh Terriers love their families and are what anyone would call «a people’s dog». Although having a large yard, they are not outdoor dogs and should always be allowed indoors with their people. Be careful, though, not to give them full membership of the family. They must see people as pack leaders and you must always display firm leadership, or the dog would take over and rule instead of you.

Feeding Schedule

You can save a lot of money by feeding your dog high quality food that suits his particular needs. Energetic dogs, especially those from working lines, need a high-calorie diet, to help them keep up with their activities. Feeding an adequate diet will prevent them from developing food-related health issues like obesity (which is not a serious threat in this breed, though), allergies, hot spots, etc.

The recommended dry kibble amount an adult Welsh Terrier should eat every day is about 3/4 of a cup. Of course, it all depends on his actual age and health status, so you may have to adjust it a bit. Also, always check the feeding instructions on the food package, to make sure you’re not over feeding him a concentrated food.

Females that are pregnant in late stages or breastfeeding should be given as much food as they want, to allow for proper development of the puppies and to make sure they have enough milk. Puppy kibble is best for them during this time, as it holds more nutrients than regular adult food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Welshies have double coats to waterproof themselves while on a hunt. The undercoat is short and soft, while the outer coat is hard and wiry. They only come in one color pattern: black and tan. They are black or grizzle on their back, and tan colored on the legs, head and underbelly.

These dogs shed little to no hair, so they are great for people who are allergic to animal hair. Though, he does require a lot of grooming: at least one weekly thorough brushing and coat stripping at least once every 8-10 weeks, to keep it in good shape, especially in show dogs. Family dogs can have their coats clipped, as this is easier to do and requires less time.

Teeth should be brushed at least two or three times a week to prevent bacteria and tartar from accumulating and to avoid gum disease. Trim his nails as needed, usually once or twice per month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. Usually, you can guess the time to trim them when you hear them clicking on the floor as your dog walks by the house.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Welshies are very patient dogs and quite loving, so they are great for families with kids. They won’t care being carried around or taking part in noisy children’s rough play, so they are pretty safe to be let around them. Always supervise young children while playing with the dog to avoid accidental biting because of kids pulling their tails, paws and ears, especially in very young dogs. Teach them never to touch a dog while sleeping or eating, and especially to not try to take away his food, no matter how good friends they usually are. Food is food and dogs never bargain about it!

As for other dogs, the Welsh Terrier is really tolerant of other dogs and will live happily in homes with more than one dog. Though, due to their Terrier nature, they may act a bit territorial, so they need intense socializing from an early age to curb this behavior. Also, due to the Terriers’ strong prey drive, smaller pets may never be safe around them, as they may see them as prey and try to hunt them down. This is why you should avoid this breed if you already keep hamsters, birds or other rodents, especially if you usually let them roam free around the house.

There is no doubt Welshies are awesome dogs, and would always be loyal friends. They are great companions for active families and children’s best friends and playmates. Be careful, though, to always display a firm leadership and never let them take over. Like all Terriers, these dogs are quite stubborn and are not recommended to meek owners. Also, their strong prey drive may be a problem with other small pets in the house, or with neighbor’s cats. Keep them busy to make sure they focus their energy on something non-destructive, and you will have the most loving furry companion.

How would your home and family welcome a Welsh Terrier?

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.

0
0
Total
0
Shares