The Sealyham Terrier, also known as the Pembrokeshire Terrier and the Sealy Ham Terrier, is a smart and sassy little dog whose small size belies its strength and typical terrier temperament. Bred to hunt badger and other small game, it has a strong-willed, bold and active disposition. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911 as a member of the Terrier Group and had its American show debut in San Mateo, California, that same year.
The mature Sealyham Terrier should stand about 10½ inches at the withers and weigh about 20 to 25 pounds, with bitches being a bit lighter. The white coat of this breed requires regular care, including brushing, plucking and clipping. The tail is normally docked. The most important thing to the wellbeing of this breed is that it is allowed to accompany its owners wherever they go.
This unique little terrier is named for Sealyham, which was the Welsh estate of the man who developed the breed, retired army Captain John Edwardes. His estate at Sealy Ham, on the Seal River in the southwest corner of Wales, was rich with small game. From 1850 to 1890, he developed a type of small, white, hardy terrier that excelled in quarrying badger, otter and fox. The dog had to be tough enough and small enough to do the job both above and below ground, but fast enough to keep up with hounds and horses. Captain Edwardes reportedly crossed Bull Terriers, Cheshire Terriers (now extinct), Staffordshire Bull Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers and even Welsh Corgies to create the novel breed designed to be more courageous, assertive and fearless than any other terrier. Breed authorities cannot agree on the precise combination that went into creating the Sealyham Terrier, but they do agree that Captain Edwardes created a delightful dog that was game enough for almost anything.
After Edwardes died in 1891, others took up the cause of continuing to refine and perfect the Sealyham Terrier. The breed made its dog show debut in 1903 in Haverfordwest. In January of 1908, the Sealyham Terrier Club of Haverfordwest was formed by a group of Welsh fanciers of the breed. The Kennel Club (England) recognized the breed in 1910, as did the American Kennel Club in 1911. The American Sealyham Terrier Club was founded in 1913.
Today's Sealyhams are active in conformation shows as well as in agility, obedience, tracking and other working and performance events. They also are wonderful therapy dogs and entertaining family pets. For a fairly small dog, Sealyhams have a big bark and are good watchdogs. This is not a common breed, but despite its rarity, it does extremely well in the show ring. It has become less aggressive and much friendlier with its introduction to the companion dog world.
The average life span of a Sealyham Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include back problems, congenital deafness, lacrimal punctual aplasia, glaucoma, lens luxation, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and dystocia in pregnant bitches.
Sealyham owners tell people, "Once you go Sealy, you'll never own a different breed." These little dogs pack a giant personality, and they aren't afraid to do anything for a laugh. Sealyham Terriers are less active than other terrier breeds and are also less confrontational and yappy. They do bark, but they are less likely to provoke other dogs than their terrier cousins. Sealies make great companions for families of all sizes. They are perfect for the elderly, as they don't require a lot of exercise and are not high strung. Sealies can live with single people, as they are independent enough to be left alone during the day, but they are also fantastic family dogs, happy to curl up on the nearest available lap.
Sealyhams can adjust to any living arrangement, be it a small apartment or a sprawling estate. They need to be exercised daily, but a brisk walk around the neighborhood will cover their activity requirement. Sealies are less active than other terrier breeds, often called the "couch potato of terriers." They do not have the drive or athleticism or endurance to jog or take long hikes, however, so they are well suited for a more indoor-oriented family.
Sealyham Terriers are not for softies who are prone to bend the rules. Training should begin early and should be conducted with excited praise and lots of treats in order to keep him interested. Harsh discipline will cause a Sealyham to simply disregard you and your rules. Absolute consistency is a must in order to raise a well behaved Sealyham Terrier, as they see rule-bending as an open invitation to take over.
Sealyham Terriers are possessive of their food and toys, which makes them less than ideal for familes with small children. Toddlers who pick up a Sealyham's toys or approach while he is eating can be snapped at or even bit. They are much better suited for home with older children who understand how to respect a dog's personal boundaries.
They also have a strong desire to chase, so they don't do well in homes with cats or other small animals. Outdoors, Sealyham should be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard at all times, both his safety and the safety of other animals. In the yard, however, your Sealyham should always be supervised as these dogs like to dig and can make quick work of your flowerbeds.
Sealies can be dog aggressive. They can do just fine living with another dog, as long as they are raised together, but strange dogs can expect to be greeted with a lot of barking and grousing, and they aren't afraid to pick fights with larger dogs.
The Sealyham should be the embodiment of power and determination, ever keen and alert, of extraordinary substance, yet free from clumsiness.
At withers about 10½ inches.
23-24 pounds for dogs; bitches slightly less. It should be borne in mind that size is more important than weight.
Long, broad and powerful, without coarseness. It should, however, be in perfect balance with the body, joining neck smoothly. Length of head roughly, three-quarters height at withers, or about an inch longer than neck. Breadth between ears a little less than one-half length of head. Skull - Very slightly domed, with a shallow indentation running down between the brows, and joining the muzzle with a moderate stop. Cheeks - Smoothly formed and flat, without heavy jowls. Jaws - Powerful and square. Bite level or scissors. Overshot or undershot bad faults. Teeth - Sound, strong and white, with canines fitting closely together. Nose - Black, with large nostrils. White, cherry or butterfly bad faults. Eyes - Very dark, deeply set and fairly wide apart, of medium size, oval in shape with keen terrier expression. Light, large or protruding eye bad faults. Lack of eye rim pigmentation not a fault. Ears - Folded level with top of head, with forward edge close to cheek. Well rounded at tip, and of length to reach outer corner of eye. Thin, not leathery, and of sufficient thickness to avoid creases. Prick, tulip, rose or hound ears bad faults.
Length slightly less than two-thirds of height of dog at withers. Muscular without coarseness, with good reach, refinement at throat, and set firmly on shoulders.
Well laid back and powerful, but not over-muscled. Sufficiently wide to permit freedom of action. Upright or straight shoulder placement highly undesirable.
Forelegs strong, with good bone; and as straight as is consistent with chest being well let down between them. Down on pasterns, knuckled over, bowed, and out at elbow, bad faults. Hind legs longer than forelegs and not so heavily boned. Feet - Large but compact, round with thick pads, strong nails. Toes well arched and pointing straight ahead. Forefeet larger, though not quite so long as hind feet. Thin, spread or flat feet bad faults.
Strong, short-coupled and substantial, so as to permit great flexibility. Brisket deep and well let down between forelegs. Ribs well sprung.
Length from withers to set-on of tail should approximate height at withers, or l0½ inches. Topline level, neither roached nor swayed. Any deviations from these measurements undesirable. Hindquarters - Very powerful, and protruding well behind the set-on of tail. Strong second thighs, stifles well bent, and hocks well let down. Cowhocks bad fault.
Docked and carried upright. Set on far enough forward so that spine does not slope down to it.
Weather-resisting, comprised of soft, dense undercoat and hard, wiry top coat. Silky or curly coat bad fault.
All white, or with lemon, tan or badger markings on head and ears. Heavy body markings and excessive ticking should be discouraged.
Sound, strong, quick, free, true and level.
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Sources: American Kennel Club