Originally published in the AKC GAZETTE – May 2016
Welsh WAG - May 2017

Breed standards are designed to describe what the good representative of the breed should look like, but it cannot do so in minute details. It needs to give the breeder and the judge a description that is clear but allows for some variation within the breed.

The Welsh Terrier standard has a short description, but it doesn't go into detail, nor does it explain why the shoulders and upper arm structure need to be as described. The standard also does not discuss the subtle differences between the shoulder structure of the long-legged breeds such as the Fox Terrier, Welsh, Lakeland, or Irish Terrier, and why they are not the same, nor should they be.

The different long-legged terriers have slightly different fronts depending on what type of work they were bred to do. Their fronts are also quite different from the fronts of the short legged terriers. Because of their short legs, Sealys and Scotties need to have more return to the upper arm to put their feet properly under the body. This requires a keel which is more pronounced on the Scottie than on the Sealy but should be present in both breeds. Long legged terriers do not require a keel to help place the feet properly under the body but the shoulder- upper arm joint must never be in front of the fore chest. As viewed from the side it should represent a straight line across. Shoulder- upper arm placement in front of the fore chest is a very common fault. While this may make the dog appear more up on his toes, such a front seriously inhibits proper movement as well as digging ability.

The shape of the rib spring, and the placement of the top of the shoulder blades also vary breed to breed. Fox terriers have slightly more length of leg than a Welsh Terrier should have, and a little less spring of rib. This combination allows for a little more lay back than a Welsh Terrier has. Lakelands and Irish have less rib spring where the ribs approach the vertebrae, so they can have more lay back. However, generally speaking the Lakelands have about the same lay back as the Welsh, and the lay back is more pronounced in the Irish Terrier. The Welsh is the most compact and the stockiest of the long legged terriers. Welsh should also have slightly less length of neck to balance the assembly. Since it is common to see judges prefer more length of neck on a Welsh than is proper, breeders often select for longer necks and less ribbing than is correct. This distorts type and makes a more generic terrier, than the nothing exaggerated look proper on a Welsh.

The shape of the upper arm is also important in proper front assembly structure. Foreleg action should angle have to be right, but the curve of the upper arm itself must allow the dog to move with his elbows close to his chest but not inhibiting the free movement of the upper Newsletter May 2017 arm so the dog has ample foreleg extension. Welsh Terrier action is free and powerful but not exaggerated. usually result in a slightly shorter stride. Often handlers move the dog with the front feet barely touching the ground to make the dog appear to have more reach, as that makes for a more showy side action even though it is not correct for a Welsh. As viewed from the front, the legs should move parallel to each other, with a slight inclination toward single tracking at a faster speed. A tendency toward single tracking is correct, single tracking is not correct, however.

Because the Welsh has more spring of rib than the fox terrier or Lakeland, the shoulders are not quite as laid back, but the differences are subtle. When you put a Welsh, Lakeland, and fox terrier, all with excellent shoulder structure, on the table next to each other, your hands should be able to determine the differences. Even if the differences are not noticeable by casually looking at the dog, particularly when expertly groomed, the differences should be discernible.

These differences of body shape, the Welsh having the most spring of rib the deepest legs and the shortest legs of the three, are subtle, minute things that take a while to really understand. However, they are important parts of breed type. A typey dog has an overall look that says “Welsh” Lakeland” or “Fox Terrier”, If he does not, then he is a generic terrier, interchangeable and incorrect.

— Diane Orange,

Welsh Terrier Club of America

AKC Gazette – May 2016
Welsh Terrier Column
Reprinted with permission from the AKC Gazette