Originally published in the AKC GAZETTE – August 2019
Welsh Wag - November 2019

The Welsh Terrier is a great breed deserving more attention as a companion, show dog, and obedience and performance participant. However, for those people who would like to participate in these activities with their Welsh Terrier, or who want to add a Welsh to their family but need help finding one that they can learn to groom and show for themselves and/or train to compete in obedience and rally, the situation is often frustrating.

Unfortunately, the Welsh has become a handler’s breed for conformation, and if you want to do performance work, you will usually be told that the Welsh are too much of a challenge for most people, and you would be better off with a “more trainable” breed.

Yes, learning to groom any of the hard coated terrier breeds is a challenge, but it’s not an impossibility. However, finding someone to teach you to groom is another story. When I and many others were learning to groom, there were people like Michael Kemp, George Ward, and Doug McClain willing to help. Michael Kemp has always been a gentleman and very willing to help, but he is not very active anymore. George and Doug are long gone. These three and others like them were real dog men, they understood terriers, inside and out. Not only could they make a dog look its best, but they knew what made them tick, and they could show you how to get a particular dog to focus and show you what subtle changes in how you hold the lead would get the dog to move out or help his timing on the down and back. They weren’t just handlers, they were Dog People and Terrier Men, and sadly they are a vanishing breed.

So, who and where are the old-timers, and why don’t the new people seek out help from the longtime, established breeders?

Unfortunately, many of the newer fanciers are too interested in instant success so that when help is offered and they realize that work and effort are required, they seek instead the instant results by using a handler. It is so easy to bypass the years of struggle, hand the dog to an excellent handler, and bask in the glory of an outstanding show career.

Unfortunately, when the old-timers, often with more than half a century in terriers offer to help, if it doesn’t result in success immediately, newer exhibitors give up or take the easy way out and use the services of a handler, rather than learn through the struggle. Yes, they may end up with wonderful show records, and often produce, with guidance from their handler, some very nice dogs. However, without the background learning through success and failure, their mark on the breed is short lived. Welsh Terriers, particularly good ones with proper breed type, rather than generic terriers that happen to be black and tan, are in short supply. If we don’t share our knowledge and ideas, the fate of our wonderful breed is uncertain at best. We are all in this together.

Hopefully we want the breed to be strong, and the good ones plentiful. Therefore, sharing our knowledge with others is vital to the breed’s survival.

Diane Orange

Welsh Terrier Club of America

AKC Gazette – August 2019
Welsh Terrier Column
Reprinted with permission from the AKC Gazette