You might recognize the Welsh terrier by its distinct appearance: wiry black and tan fur with bushy eyebrows and a thick mustache and beard.
Cuteness aside, the breed has won over the hearts of many with its affectionate and energetic personality, making it a popular choice for families.
The Welsh terrier was originally from Wales, a small country of three million that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. Citizens of Wales are “Welsh,” meaning “foreigners” in Old English.
Humans have lived in Wales since the end of the last ice age, nearly 29,000 years ago. While the first classification of the Welsh terrier is noted in 1884, older paintings depict dogs that resemble the breed.
In fact, according to a study conducted by Julian Calder and Bruce Alastair, the Welsh terrier is the oldest existing dog breed in the UK. That being said, the breed is endangered in the UK, with fewer than 400 dogs registered each year.Bred as a sporting dog to hunt small foxes, rodents and badgers, the Welsh terrier hasn’t changed much throughout its history, looking very much the same as it did in photographs taken more than 100 years ago.
The Welsh terrier was brought to the United States in 1888 by Prescott Lawrence, who showed the breed at a dog show in New York City. By the early 1900s, the popularity of the breed began to increase in America as more of the dogs were imported—not to hunt, but as companions and show dogs, which is by and large their status today.
A generally friendly dog, the Welsh terrier also knows how to stand its ground if it feels threatened or intimidated. With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to make sure your Welsh terrier is well-trained and responds to your direction on obedience, particularly because this breed has been known to take decision making into its own paws if given the opportunity.
The breed can be stubborn, so regular training, socialization and positive reinforcement is recommended in order to establish healthy life-long habits.
A highly active and energetic breed, the Welsh terrier benefits from daily exercise; if left alone for too long, the breed is prone to yappy barking and potential mischief throughout the house and/or yard.
A good companion for children, the Welsh terrier usually responds very well to playtime, chasing balls and toys and even swimming. Again, it is important to make sure your dog has routine training so that he or she is well behaved with small children. As with any breed, dogs need to be taught how to play gently with children so as not to cause them unintentional harm due to their size and rough housing.
The Welsh terrier looks very much the same as it did more than 100 years ago: compact and medium-sized, with a tan and black coat. With the exception of its size, the Welsh terrier is often mistaken for a smaller Airedale terrier due to their similar appearance.
While the male terriers are usually always marked with the breed’s distinct tan head, legs and underbelly with a black back and tail, female Welsh terriers can be born with an all-over tan coat.
The breed usually weighs between 20 and 25 pounds. It is recognized greatly by its wiry, almost rough textured fur, which forms a mask of thick eyebrows, whiskers and a beard outlining the dog’s face.
The Welsh terrier’s fur coat serves a purpose: One of its two layers provides insulation while the other rougher, top layer protects against harsh weather conditions and dirt. Due to its wiry fur, the breed doesn’t shed, but still requires routine brushing and periodic trimming for maintenance.
Interesting fact: The Welsh terrier is one of the few dog breeds that perspire through sweat glands. As a result, your Welsh terrier can take on a noticeable odor if not bathed and brushed regularly.
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your Welsh terrier will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Atopy is an allergic disorder that causes itching, hair loss and infections of the skin and ears a strain of the herpes virus that happens to affect canines.
- Canine epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symptoms vary in severity but the dog usually foams at the mouth and appears to be chewing on something. Then he will have violent muscle contractions, lose bladder or bowel control and faint.
- Canine glaucoma happens when increased pressure within the eyeball damages the retina resulting in loss of retinal cells. This affects the optic nerve and results in a loss of retinal cells. Untreated or poorly managed glaucoma will damage the optic nerve and cause permanent blindness. The condition can be inherited (primary glaucoma) or a secondary condition to a variety of other eye issues including tumors or lens luxation.
- Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.
- Hypothyroidism is a condition caused by low thyroid hormone production of the thyroid glands. Lack of this hormone causes weight gain, lethargy, poor hair coat, infertility and susceptibility to chronic infections.