AKC Dog Breeds: Welsh Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height: 14-19 inches   Weight: 18-21 pounds  Color: deep tan with black or grizzle jacket

Welsh Terriers are good hunting dogs for fox hunting and bird hunting. Today, however, they are most often kept as family pets. Terriers are small dogs, but they are not lap dogs. They are energetic, intelligent and require stimulation. The Welsh Terrier is a compact and medium sized dog with a coarse wire haired cod. Their legs, head and underbody are tan and their jackets are black or grizzle. The word terrier is from the Latin word "terra" meaning "earth." Welsh Terriers originated in Wales around the 1800s. They descended from the Old English Black and Tan terriers that have been in existence in England since the 13th century. The breed has been officially recognized since 1886. Prior to 1900, Welsh Terriers were referred to as Old English Terriers or Black and Tan Rough Haired Terriers.

General Appearance

The Welsh Terrier looks like a small Airedale Terrier: compact and rugged-looking, with a wiry coat. The head is long, flat and rectangular, with bushy eyebrows, mustache and beard. The Muzzle is squared at the end, never pointed and is somewhat deeper than that of the Fox Terriers. The v-shaped ears fold forward. The nose is black and the almond-shaped eyes are small and dark. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite (scissors bite is preferred). The cat-like feet are small and rounded. The top of the back forms a straight, level line. Dewclaws on front and back legs are removed. The harsh wiry coat comes in black & tan and grizzle. Puppies are born all black. The extremities then lighten gradually, leaving a black "jacket." The tail is docked and carried gaily.


The Welsh Terrier is an active, playful dog with plenty of enthusiasm for everything he does. Spirited and alert, the Welsh Terrier has an outgoing personality, and is loyal and affectionate. These dogs are intelligent, with a high learning rate and an eagerness to please. However, they are also very independent and can be manipulative, which can make training a challenge. The Welsh Terrier needs an owner with confidence, assertiveness, and some experience in dog ownership and training. He is energetic and requires and fair amount of exercise. Play areas, where he is not on a leash, must be secured and safe, as he does have an inquisitive nature and could easily wander off. Early socialization is recommended with the Welsh Terrier to promote stability, and training should always be firm yet positive. The Welsh Terrier is a born digger, and also loves the sound of his own voice, so he is not the right choice for those looking for a quiet life. He does make an effective watchdog, and is cautious around strangers. These dogs will be fine around gentle, older children, but do not take to rough handling. They tend to chase smaller animals unless properly socialized with them, and although some can be accepting of other dogs they are not afraid to rise to a challenge. Possessiveness is a trait to look out for with the Welsh Terrier, and some can be very protective of their belongings and food. The Welsh Terrier will make a good pet or companion for a confident owner, with an active lifestyle and time to dedicate to a pet.


The Welsh Terrier should have at least weekly brushing to remove loose or dead hair. Regular bathing is not necessary, however a wipe down with a damp or dry washcloth should remove most dirt, if any. The beard of this breed should be cleaned regularly.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
Welsh Terriers are typically very hardy and healthy dogs. There are no specific medical defects noted in the breed, except that they are prone to luxated lens, a dislocation of the lens in the eye that can lead to secondary glaucoma and cause blindness. They also occasionally have epilepsy and thyroid conditions. In addition, some blood lines tend to be prone to minor skin and eye problems. The life expectancy of the Welsh Terrier is around 12-15 years.

Activity Level

You'll find few dogs more tireless than the Welsh Terrier. However, at the same time they don't require a great amount of exercise. If they're owned by an outdoor lover, they will be quite happy to run with them for as long as their owner desires. They love to chase things and will happily play fetch. However, since they are prone to chase whatever they see moving it's not wise to let them off their leash in an open area.


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