The Welsh Terrier is an easily recognized breed, sporting all the traits you’d associate with the spunky terrier family.
Affectionate and endlessly playful, the dogs, known as a black and tan terrier, a Welshie, or WT, are loyal and vigilant.
Made famous by royals on both sides of the Atlantic (the Windsors and the Kennedys have owned the breed), this small but mighty pooch is a popular contender on the dog show circuit. However, a Welsh Terrier only once won Westminster Best In Show in 1944.
The American Kennel Club describes the breed as “sturdy” with “a jaunty beard” and “bred to do battle.”
This dog will be your first mate, hunting partner, and best friend. At the same time, like any beloved family member, your Welshie can be stubborn and feisty.
Make sure you have plenty of space for these dogs to run.
Welsh Terrier dog breed information
Welsh Terriers have the classic terrier breeds look.
You can easily spot the breed by its square head, long and scruffy snout, folded ears, and handsome black and tan coloring.
The dog stands around 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs just 20 pounds.
People originally bred terriers for hunting small game; with cat-like paws and strong back legs, the Welsh Terrier is an agile, dedicated chaser and can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour.
These dogs are bright and independent but respond best to a calm, natural authority figure.
Terriers can trace their roots to the 18th century in Northern Wales.
Hunters employed these furry partners to chase badgers, foxes, and other small creatures.
Despite their small stature, Welsh Terriers are fearless and possess a wicked bite; they have no qualms chasing after even the most vicious prey.
Terriers were also helpful in removing rodents from the household, which was particularly practical when these pests carried dangerous diseases.
However, by the late 19th century, Welsh Terriers pursued a new career path — dog shows.
The breed was entered into the English Kennel Club’s stud book as early as 1885, though it was named the Old English Wire-Haired Hack and Tan Terrier then.
Soon after, in 1888, the American Kennel Club accepted its first Welsh Terriers. The dogs have dominated the Terrier group among U.S. dog shows ever since.
Welsh Terrier dog training
Welsh Terriers prefer structure (unsurprising given their success in the dog show ring), but their obedience requires their owners to be confident and authoritative.
Understand terrier behavior to train this breed. The dog is testy, curious, and brilliant, so you don’t want to be insecure or nervous around these dogs.
Ultimately, Welsh Terriers are quick learners who desire praise and boundaries.
Start crate and potty training as soon as they are eight weeks old.
They love to chase and play, so make sure you bring plenty of energy to their training.
Despite their preference for clear boundaries, they can adapt to new situations quickly and love meeting new people.
Owners should socialize their pups early; this helps puppies develop patience and self-control around other dogs.
Even if well-trained, antsy Welsh Terriers can get bored and push against your boundaries — they need at least one daily walk and plenty of outdoor space to play throughout the day.
Never leave a Welsh Terrier loose when small critters are around; a pet hamster or rat won’t last long in your home with this dog’s high prey drive.
If a well-trained Welsh Terrier has walked for at least an hour and has plenty of stimulation and toys, you can feel comfortable leaving it at home while you’re at work for the day.
But the breed is prone to excessive barking and digging if they don’t exercise enough.
Welshies are a naturally independent breed, so they don’t tend to develop separation anxiety. But they do benefit from mental stimulation, so consider providing puzzle toys or feeders.
Still, if they don’t have easy access to the outdoors, don’t leave them inside for more than eight hours.
Welsh Terrier health concerns
The dogs live between 12 and 15 years, though they can live longer and don’t suffer many health problems; as the AKC described, it is a sturdy dog.
Some terriers suffer from hip dysplasia, but this can affect many other breeds and is not specific to the Welsh Terrier.
Dogs can be sensitive to a particular food and environmental allergens.
If your Welsh Terrier suffers from an allergy, you’ll probably notice an itchy rash develop somewhere on its body. Other symptoms could include frequent ear infections or vomiting.
Luckily, if your Welshie suffers from an allergic reaction to something, it’s usually treatable by simply removing the allergen from your home.
Eye diseases, while not expected, can affect Welsh Terriers.
Older Welshies may develop Glaucoma, a condition that can lead to blindness. You’ll notice your dog’s eyes becoming cloudy or irritated. Other minor eye concerns include cataracts and lens luxation (when the lens dislocates).
If your Welsh Terrier is frequently blinking, pawing its eyes, or having trouble with its vision, be sure to visit your veterinarian immediately.
Many of these eye concerns are treatable with early medical intervention.
Welsh Terriers are hypoallergenic and relatively easy to groom.
You can bring your Welshie to the groomer every three months for a quick haircut or let its hair grow longer during the colder months.
The terrier coat is wiry and can become matted if not cared for. The dog’s coat must be hand-stripped weekly to remove dead hair and prevent matting.
Check its eyes and teeth, and regularly trim its nails.
Other traits to consider
A Welsh Terrier might push your buttons if you’re a first-time dog owner. This breed demands a confident trainer.
However, with a solid structure and plenty of time to exercise, Welshies make excellent, friendly pets. It would be best to have a home with a fenced-in yard; Welsh Terriers do not make good apartment roommates.
This breed does well with children and other dogs but not with cats and small animals. Remember, Welsh Terriers have a long lineage of chasing their prey.
Finding your Welsh Terrier
If you have your heart set on a Welsh Terrier puppy, you can start your search through the American Kennel Club’s marketplace.
A purebred Welsh Terrier puppy can be expensive; AKC-registered breeders must meet additional standards and undergo frequent inspections.
Purebred terriers can suffer from specific genetic medical concerns, and AKC-vetted breeders can provide extra information regarding a puppy’s lineage.
You can also go through the Welsh Terrier Club of America (WTCA) for additional information and tips for finding a Welsh Terrier puppy.
The WTCA has founded a rescue branch committed to re-homing Welsh Terriers.
If you’re not attached to pedigree or age, consider the ASPCA’s nationwide search database for adoptable dogs; you can filter by breed and location to find a Welsh Terrier in your area who needs a new family.