The Welsh Terrier loves fun and pursues life to the fullest.
- Dog Breed Group
- 1 foot, 2 inches to 1 foot, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
- Up to 20 pounds
- Life Span
- 10 to 14 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
See All Characteristic Ratings
The Welsh Terrier's zest for life is contagious, and he always enjoys himself to the fullest. Bred to hunt independently, with all the self-determination and intelligence that entails, the happy and lively Welshie rarely gets tired and wants to spend his days having fun, fun, fun. His joy, his attitude, and his brains all add up to one wonderful package: He's a true terrier.
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He may look like a small Airedale, but the Welsh Terrier has his own personality. It's certainly a strong personality, and no wonder--he was bred to hunt badgers, foxes, and otters. Although not many folks hunt badgers these days, hunting cookies in the yard is a solid alternative.
Smart as can be, this party boy excels in agility, flyball, tracking, earthdog, and obedience competitions. He's also been involved in both search and rescue work and therapy.
The Welshie is a lot of dog in a medium-sized package, and first-time owners would do better with a less independent breed. However, other dog lovers may wish to step up to the challenge of life with a freethinker whose prime desire has nothing to do with pleasing you. He's a problem solver, which can be wonderful and terrifying. Don't underestimate his problem-solving skills, because if he's bored, that's a problem to be solved.
He's not for the faint of heart, or for those looking for a quiet companion or for instant obedience. As a matter of fact, obedience might be a long time in coming--but it will eventually, with repeated effort. He needs intellectual stimulation, and if you can provide that in his training, there'll be no stopping him in competition.
First and foremost, this boy has to burn off steam every day or you'll be scraping him off the ceiling. He has a ton of energy and requires--not just needs--an hour of exercise every day. If you're looking for a jogging companion, he's your man; and he'll be up early brewing your coffee while waiting for you to get your running shoes on.
Regardless of how much exercise he gets, you should still expect to see some rough play in the house that can result in Welsh Terriers flying off couches or knocking over lamps. They're surprisingly tough when it comes to this kind of play (whereas some gentler canine souls dislike the wild play of children). The kids will have a great time with him as they roughhouse--and nap--together; Welshies are terrific with kids.
A word of caution: If you play with your Welsh Terrier inside the house, don't expect him to not race through the house at other times. It becomes an accepted behavior, and he'll launch himself off furniture whenever the mood hits. And that might be often, since he enjoys being in high altitudes and will frequently relax on picnic benches and tables.
A Welshie is intelligent, and while that helps him grasp concepts easily, he can be difficult to train. You won't get anywhere with boring, rote lessons--in fact, repetition is the best way to get a Welsh Terrier to ignore you. On the other hand, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish with fun, positive training that convinces him that you're the one in charge. He was bred to be freethinking, like a child of the sixties, so if you work with this trait instead of against it, you'll have more fun than you can imagine.
He can do well in homes with other dogs, but he needs to be properly socialized to keep him from being dog-aggressive. He's definitely not recommended for homes with small animals due to his strong prey drive.
Although it's not ideal, the Welsh Terrier can live in an apartment. He's a born watchdog and will bark when he sees or hears something suspicious--which can be a problem in buildings with noise restrictions. A house with a small fenced yard is better suited to his energy and noise, particularly if you don't mind a few holes in the lawn here and there. Like many other terriers, the Welshie has a great time digging and can easily make a mess of gardens and yards. Despite his hardiness, he does better living indoors with the people he loves rather than outside in a kennel.
The Welsh Terrier can be a perfect, devoted companion for an active family who has the time to care for him and meet his exercise requirements. He's independent enough to not yearn for or demand excessive attention, yet he's affectionate enough to enjoy time spent cuddling on the couch. He'll fill the house with the sounds of life and just might grace your furniture and tables. The Welsh Terrier is proof that life can be lived to the fullest and that not all good things come in big packages.
- A Welsh Terrier can do all right in apartments if properly exercised, but the ideal is a house with a fenced yard.
- As a low- to nonshedder, the Welshie can make a great companion for people with allergies.
- Expect a fair amount of grooming. Welshies need their coats brushed on a regular basis and also need their coats stripped about every eight weeks.
- Welsh Terriers can be difficult to train and require a consistent and fun training program. For this reason they aren't recommended for first-time owners.
- The Welsh Terrier is an independent breed not prone to separation anxiety. He will require toys and activities to keep him entertained, since a bored Welsh Terrier can become destructive.
- Welshies love kids.
- They like to be up in high places and will climb onto tables and other high furniture.
- Like many terriers, the Welshie has a strong prey drive.
- Welsh Terriers can be combative with other dogs and need to be properly socialized from an early age.
- Barking and digging are common traits.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Although the history of the Welsh Terrier is not completely clear, we can ascertain from paintings and prints that the breed is quite old and may have been one of the first Terriers.
He was originally known as the Black-and-Tan Wire Haired Terrier or the Old English Terrier. Although associated with Wales, he lived in many parts of England during the 19th century. He was commonly used to hunt foxes, otters, and badgers, and he excelled at eradicating vermin.
He was commonly shown and categorized as an Old English Terrier, a category under which many Terrier breeds were classified. It wasn't until 1885 that he was classified as a Welsh Terrier by the Kennel Club of England.
Welsh Terriers began arriving in the United States in 1888, though their importation was erratic. By 1901, however, the Welsh Terrier finally established a footing in the United States, and his popularity grew at a steady pace.
SizeThe Welsh Terrier is a medium-sized dog. The average height is 15 to 15.5 inches, females being slightly smaller than males. The average weight is usually 20 pounds, but weight should be in proportion to the height and bone density of each individual dog.
The Welsh Terrier is a cheerful, intelligent dog who loves to have fun and is always affectionate. He's energetic and has a playful nature. Loyal and devoted to his family, he can nevertheless be quite the social butterfly.
He loves to amuse both himself and his family, and he's not as hot-tempered as some other terrier breeds. His loving disposition and energy makes him an excellent family companion who's great with children.
The Welshie can be independent, which may lead to some training difficulties (especially with inexperienced owners). But this is usually offset by what most people love best about the Welsh Terrier: his happy, fun-loving zest for life.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents--usually the mother is the one who's available--to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, the Welshie needs early socialization--exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences--when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Welshie puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Welshies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Welshies will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Welshies, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Welsh Terrier is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
- Epilepsy: This is a neurological condition that's often, but not always, inherited. It can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behavior (such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding) or even by falling down, limbs rigid, and losing consciousness. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment.
- Glaucoma: This is a painful disease in which pressure in the eye is abnormally high due to improper drainage of normal eye fluids. This causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma may be hereditary, or it may be the result of some other problem in the eye, such as inflammation, a tumor, or injury. The affected eye will be red, teary, squinty, and appear painful; the front of the eye will have a whitish, almost blue cloudiness. Vision loss and eventually blindness will result, sometimes even when treated with surgery or medication.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It's thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
Training a Welsh Terrier can be a study in who is more determined, the trainer who's trying to get the Terrier to listen, or the bored Terrier who's ignoring the trainer. The Welshie is known for having a mind of his own and he's not the most obedient of breeds--he's no sunny Golden Retriever--so he will often test limits. Train him with positive reinforcement and consistency. Harsh corrections can shut down any chance at getting through to him.
The Welsh Terrier can also become bored easily, so he requires an interesting training routine. Breaking training up with fun games, keeping it free of repetition, and giving him something to work for are excellent ways to get him more interested in training.
Socialization is important with a Welsh Terrier. He can be combative with other dogs and animals, but this trait can be corrected with proper training and early and ongoing socialization. In fact, Welsh Terriers generally do well with other dogs once they're socialized.
A Welsh Terrier is a high-energy dog. Even with a vigorous exercise routine, you should expect some of that energy to be converted into room-crashing escapades that range throughout the house. He should have a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, which can be accomplished by playing in a yard or dog park (as long as he isn't too dog-aggressive to go to the dog park), playing in the house, or going on a long walk. Letting him hang in the yard by himself is not going to be enough--and he'll probably jump the fence.
The Welsh Terrier is very fond of toys and will burn off ample energy playing by himself with his favorite squeaky toy. He can also make an excellent jogging companion, though his high prey drive means you should keep him leashed on walks.
Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Welshie doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Welshie accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.
Never stick your Welshie in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night. Welshies are people dogs, and they aren't meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.
Although it's not ideal, the Welsh Terrier can live in an apartment. He will bark, though, and this can become a problem in buildings with noise restrictions. A house with a small, fenced yard is better. Also, he needs to live indoors with the people he loves.
Recommended daily amount: 3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference--the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Welshie in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Welshie, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
Sporting two coats to waterproof himself, the Welsh Terrier has an outer coat that's hard and wiry and an undercoat that's soft and short. He only has one color pattern: tan and black.
A non- to light shedder, the Welshie still requires a fair amount of grooming. He should be brushed at least once per week, although it's frankly better to do it every other day. Unless he's clipped, that wiry coat will need to be stripped several times a year to remove any loose or dead hair and to prevent it from matting.
Brush your Welshie's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding--and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Welshie to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently--dogs are touchy about their feet--and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
The Welsh Terrier is a loving dog who can be patient when he needs to be. Add to that a hardiness that allows him to enjoy a fair amount of roughhousing, and you'll find that he makes a wonderful companion for children.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
He's also basically compatible with other dogs and can do well in homes where he isn't the only canine companion. He is a Terrier though, and he may be dog-aggressive if not properly socialized or trained. He's not recommended for homes with small pets that might be viewed as prey, because all Terriers have a strong prey drive and will give chase.
Welshies are sometimes bought without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. These dogs may end up in need of adoption or fostering.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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