The Welsh terrier is a very old breed and a direct descendent of the Old English Black and Tan terrier. An early Welsh manuscript from the fifteenth century speaks of a “good black and red terrier” and early prints depict this terrier. These early terriers were bred to be working terriers used by Welsh farmers to do battle with and rid their lands of fox, badger and rodents. From the 1700’s hunters in West Wales bred Welsh terriers to run with the hounds and bolt the fox. From this we know the Welsh Terrier was not only game, but able to work alongside other dogs and horses.
Welsh terriers came to America in 1885 and fanciers started the Welsh Terrier Club of America in 1900, which remains to the present day devoted to the protection of the breed.
The Welsh terrier of today has changed little over the last hundred years.
While its appearance has evolved slightly from the rather scruffy earthdog of its forebears to the handsome, sturdy compact dog of today, it remains a rugged dog of medium size with the same coarse and wire-textured coat and black and tan coloring. It has a rectangular head featuring folded ears and a jaunty beard. Welsh Terriers are constructed along the classic lines of Britain’s long-legged terriers. They stand about 15 inches at the shoulder, a little larger than the Lakeland Terrier but much smaller than the Airedale.
The Welsh Terrier is as alert and spirited as any self-respecting terrier, but a bit calmer than most.
They were always required to be steady, affectionate and easily controlled since the dogs lived with the family, played with the children, had to get along with other animals on the farm and still maintain their prey-drive in the pursuit of vermin. Welsh Terriers are independent thinkers, physically very tough and active with the stable temperament that serves them well on the farm or as family pets.
The Breed standard calls for the Welsh Terrier to be a game dog, in other words alert, aware, spirited but at the same time to be friendly and show self-control. Aggressiveness or shyness are not only undesirable but are uncharacteristic traits. “Sensible and even playful” are often words used in describing this breed. He is also a good watch dog, loves people and makes himself right at home wherever home happens to be, thus older dogs change homes easily.
A Welsh terrier will fit into many individual family situations where firm, consistent guidance from puppyhood can be given.
Responsible children will find a perfect companion in a Welsh Terrier. Although the Welsh Terrier is intelligent and has a great loyalty to those around him, obedience training takes patience and consistency on the part of the owner. Maintaining a sense of humor helps too! The Welsh loves the country, adapts well to city life and is happy with daily walks and playtime. But he will be ecstatic if given the chance to demonstrate his natural expertise in earthdog tests and experience the fun of agility training and other active events. He requires a leash for safety, or a securely fenced area at a minimum. Electronic fences are generally not recommended due to the breed’s natural curiosity, speed and prey drive.
Welsh Terriers are friendly and outgoing. Puppies need to be adequately socialized by their owners to encourage polite behavior around other dogs. All Welsh should be taught to be under control and tolerant of other dogs when walking on lead. Lots of exercise and attention help this energetic dog become the affectionate, well-behaved companion he was born to be.
Welsh Terriers are a hardy breed with a lifespan of 12-15 years.
Generally, very healthy, potential buyers are still encouraged to discuss health with their breeder.
The Welsh Terrier coat maintenance is similar to other broken coated terriers. The hair on such terriers can be “plucked” by hand, commonly referred to as hand stripping. Welsh competing in AKC conformation classes must have their coats hand stripped. This type of trimming is a continual process and is an art that requires time to master. Hand stripping is required for the conformation ring because this technique is the best way to maintain the texture of the wiry coat and furnishings that is required by the breed standard. Pets and dogs competing in AKC performance events usually have their coats clipped and scissored. Pets should be clipped and bathed every few months. This, in addition to weekly brushing and combing will keep your Welsh Terrier looking his best. With proper coat maintenance the Welsh Terrier does not shed.
Welsh Terriers participate in and are eligible for many American Kennel Club events that include but are not limited to the following: conformation classes; earthdog tests; obedience; agility; junior handling; and other performance events.
As with all pure-bred, purpose-bred dogs recognized by the AKC, there is an approved Breed Standard for Welsh Terriers which is a written description of how the ideal Welsh Terrier should look, move and behave. All responsible breeders strive to produce dogs that conform to the Breed standard.