Welsh Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

Although calmer than most terriers, the Welsh Terrier is still very active both inside and out. They are playful, mischievous, independent, and headstrong with great stamina, in short, very much a terrier. They will gnaw on a chew bone while you watch TV or work online but if not provided with activities, they will create them and it may not be what you would prefer. Exercise is important to the breed. They were bred to run and hunt. They need either a long walk or a vigorous play session every day. Access to a securely fenced yard also gives them a chance to exercise and explore. But make sure the fence is at least six feet tall. They also like to dig, so supervision is important for the yard proud. The Welsh Terrier is more accepting than most terriers of poor treatment from children, especially older generally well-behaved children. In fact, they seem to have a small preference for children over other members of the family. Welsh Terriers are predictably wary of strangers, but when combined with their quick bark, this makes them outstanding watchdogs. And with their terrier feistiness, they can be depended on as an outstanding guardian too. They are more accepting of other dogs than many terriers but will not back down if challenged. But owners with other pets beware- they will instinctively stalk and kill small animals, including cats. They can also be possessive of food or toys.

Physical Characteristics

The strong agile Welsh Terrier is a medium-sized, long-legged dog about 15 inches tall and weighing between 20 and 21 pounds. They look similar to the larger Airedale Terrier. Puppies are born with entirely black coats. Their coats then take a year to lighten to tan on the legs and head. Their coat is wiry with a soft undercoat. Although they shed very little, they need to be brushed regularly to keep their coat clean. They do equally well in both the heat and cold.

Trainer's Notes

Welsh Terriers need early and extra socialization to make sure their wariness does not become timidity and to try and reduce their animal aggressive behavior. The breed needs consistent training. With a curious, easily distracted and an independent nature with little or no desire to please anyone but themselves, they are not the easiest to train. Successful training needs to be fun and in short segments. They are best with experienced dog owners.

Photo © by Shleiderbmx available under the CC 3.0
Welsh Terrier

Welsh Terrier


A reasonably healthy breed, their most worrisome problem is that 15% suffer from Hip Dysplasia. Less frequently seen are Lens Luxation, Distichiasis, and Cataracts which affect their eyes. Other issues include Patellar Luxation, Epilepsy, Hypothyroidism, and occasionally skin problems. Welsh Terriers typically live 12 to 14 years.


Never as popular as other terriers, the Welsh Terrier ranks 90th of all American Kennel Club breeds. With about 750 dogs registered in a typical year, it is a relatively rare breed.

Breed History

Welsh Terriers are one of only two terrier breeds native to Wales. The Welsh Terrier probably descended from the old black and tan rough terrier that was popular in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. Like other terriers, Welshies were bred to stalk and kill small vermin on farms and in households. They could also hunt larger, more vicious animals like a badger, fox, and otter. The ability to take on such prey resulted in the development of the feisty, courageous nature of all terriers. By the late 18th century, a variety of terrier known as a Ynysfor was hunting with Otterhounds in North Wales. At the same time, a very similar dog, the “Old English broken-haired” Terrier, was being bred in northern England. The two dogs were so similar that when they were shown, the same animal could compete as either breed. As a result, they were grouped together and over time they both became known as Welsh terriers.

Additional Information

The National (US) Breed Club is the Welsh Terrier Club of America.

Is A Welsh Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

Recommended Articles

Three Mistakes Most People Make Looking For A Dog

Six Questions You Must Be Able To Answer Before You Can Find Your Best Dog


The Complete Dog Selection System