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The Welsh Terrier

A Welsh Terrier stands on a rock in a field of green grass and trees

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Welsh Terrier

“The Welsh Terrier is as alert and spirited as any self-respecting terrier, but a bit calmer than most— “game, not quarrelsome,” as breed fanciers say. The Welshman was bred to do battle with badgers, otters, and other dangerous opponents,” AKC.

The playful, yet mild-mannered Welsh Terrier, also known as the Old English Terrier originated from Wales. This dog breed belongs to theAKC/UKC, Terrier Group. The Welsh Terrier came into existence during the 1700’s and was used to fox hunt, catch badger, and otters.

The Welsh Terrier is one of the only two terriers that are native to Wales, and was thought to have come from a mix of theold Black and Tan Rough Terrier. This dog breed was extremely popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Brief History

There was a distinctive dog breed during the late 1700s that was known as the Ynysfor in northern Wales, as well as the Old English Broken Haired Terrier in northern England. These strains had plenty of similarities, and they were classified together when shown in the show ring, resulting in this dog breed eventually being recognized as the Welsh Terrier dog breed. This dog breed was bred to hunt fox, otter, and badger in northern Wales. A courageous dog breed with a mean sharp-toothed grip were great at hunting dangerous adversaries.

By 1886, the English Kennel Club recognized the Welsh Terrier. Selective breeding took place to improve the Welsh’s bloodlines, and also to breed both crosses to the Wire Fox Terrier. This dog breed resembled the miniature Airedale Terrier. Today, this dog breed is a competitive show dog breed, yet has never reached the levels of success in the show ring that the smaller, and similar, yet more long-legged terriers have achieved.

Physical Description

TheWelsh Terrier is a squarely-proportioned dog breed, with a compact body. It is a medium –sized rugged looking dog breed that is square looking, and capable of running long-distances. With a rectangular head, square muzzle, and small almond-shaped eyes, the Welsh Terrier has large teeth that are powerful for gripping.

The jaws are strong, and can grip and kill tough quarry.

The Welsh Terrier has a coarse, wire-textured outer coat with a soft, short undercoat that aids in insulation. The muzzle is half the head length, and is powerful and strong. The nose is black and square shaped. The tail is docked and carried high. The ears are V-shaped and folded forward. The legs, underbody, and head are tan in color. The jacket is black or grizzle, with a tan base. The movement is forward moving. The temperament is playful, and playful.


18-21 inches


20-28 pounds

Life Expectancy

10-14 years


The independent Welsh Terrier makes for one of the best companions out! Playful, curious, energetic and intelligent, the Welsh Terrier is also calm enough to be a good house companion around family and friends. This inquisitive dog breed may be reserved with strangers, and also difficult around other dogs and pets, but with socialization and positive dog training is friendly and outgoing.

As usual, positive dog training and socialization during puppyhood will allow for a well-balanced dog that is pleasant to have at home. This dog breed loves to dig, bark, and escape. That said, because this dog breed is also super sensitive, training needs to be tailored to the dog’s temperament. The Welsh Terrier does well with lots of interactive dog toys for mental stimulation, and to prevent boredom and unwanted behaviors.

Activity Level:


Special Needs

The Welsh Terrier needs an active home. This breed does well with plenty of regular exercise, positive dog training and socialization. The Welsh Terrier breed needs to be socialized from puppyhood, and should never be isolated from people, other dogs and animals. This breedbonds closely with all family members, including children, and does well withpet vacays at pet friendly resorts, and trips to Starbucks for a Pawpuchino!

Possible Health Concerns

The Welsh Terrier is a healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Legg-Perthes Disease. This is the deterioration of the top of the femur that is often seen in smaller dog breeds like the Welsh Terrier. It is characterized by a lack of blood supply and destruction of the blood vessels of the bone. It is a hereditary condition in some terrier breeds. The sudden loss of blood supply to the femur leads to the collapse of the top of the femur bone. Veterinary treatment usually involves the surgical removal of the affected femoral head and neck, and physical therapy so as to stimulate limb usage.
  • Dental Problems. The Welsh Terrier needs proper dental care, including preventative methods like daily tooth brushing, which will help prevent gum disease, periodontitis and endodontic disease.
  • Skin Allergies:The Welsh Terrier may be prone to Atopic Dermatitis. This is caused by an abnormal immune system response. There are many allergies which can affect the skin, and are caused by fleas, dog food and other allergens like pollen in the air. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog suffers from intense itching.
  • Hip Dysplasiais the abnormal development of the hip joint in large dog breeds like the Welsh Terrier. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. The Welsh Terrier should be fed a high-quality diet that is geared towards their life stage. A puppy Welsh Terrier should only be fed high-quality puppy dog food. Excessive growth, types of exercise, nutritional factors, and hereditary factors all come in to play with hip dysplasia. Ask your vet for the best nutritional advice for active dogs like the Welsh Terrier.
  • Epilepsy is an inherited disease that causes seizures. The Welsh Terrier will generally require treatment with anticonvulsants from their veterinarians.
  • Lens Luxation (PLL) This is an inherited disease that affects the eye. It is associated with the disintegration of the zonule fibers that hold the lens in place. It is painful, and may result in blindness.


The Welsh Terrier enjoys daily exercise by way of fun dog walks on a leash a few times a day. You’ll need to be careful with all off-leash work to ensure your dog’s safety because the Welsh Terrier enjoys running after children, other pets, and smaller animals like squirrels.

Ensure that gardens and backyards are safe and that all fencing is secure before you let your Welsh Terrier out. This dog breed tends to hunt, and is good at digging beneath fencing to escape. Off-leash romps are best in secured dog parks.


A high- quality dog food formula will help your Welsh Terrier fight disease, grow correctly, focus properly when training, exercise appropriately, and age well. Because each dog breed will have different nutritional needs, it’s important to examine your dog’s breed type, coat type, skin sensitivities, digestive sensitivities, age, and other health issues.

You’ll need to find a high-quality dog food formula that works for your dog’s life stage and health issues. Work together with your veterinarian so as to determine your dog’s nutritional requirements, and also to discuss which supplements your dog may do best on.

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The Welsh Terrier’s coat should be kept longer or unclipped in colder weather. Canine sweaters and jackets are available in numerous sizes to keep your dog warm if clipped in the winters.

Opting for a professional dog groomer helps with maintaining coat health at all times. If you’re going to clip your dog, this will need to be done every 8- 12 weeks. You can also hand-strip your dog’s coat by hand, but this takes years to master.

Routine daily grooming will keep the Welsh Terrier’s coat in superb condition. This breed is one of the easiest breeds to groom. A short- bristled brush or mitt should be used to maintain a shiny and healthy coat. This dog breed enjoys frequent baths, and having his teeth done daily.

Pet parents to this breed can either visit a professional groomer for expert clipping or learn how to clip at home. Opt for bathing between a professional clipping, and leave your dog’s coat unclipped during the cold winter months.

Twice yearly visits to the veterinarian for dental hygiene maintenance is a must. Ears need to be regularly wiped out, and nails trimmed regularly. If your dog does not enjoy having his nails trimmed, try out a nail grinder.

Adopting a Welsh Terrier

It’s important to look at a dog breed’s history to determine if this is the type of dog breed that you’re looking for. By looking at a dog breed’s specific uses, you’ll see what makes up a breed- from distinct features, temperament, and how behavior and temperament all come into play.

A dog with a hunting history will naturally have plenty of energy, and will need lots of exercise and dog sporting activities. That said, when adopting your new best friend, you’ll need to take into consideration the breed’s original function, which dog breed group it belongs to, where the breed originated from, and so forth. 

Keep in mind that every dog breed can be awesome with children if raised correctly, and if socialized with children during puppyhood. You’ll need to check if your dog breed becomes easily excited by children’s activities, or if your dog breed is an independent dog breed that may not do as well with small children. That said, as usual, as with any dog adoption, make sure that you have the time and resources to take good care of the wonderful Welsh Terrier!

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Meet The Author 

Claudia Bensimoun author of The Welsh Terrier

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.

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