The Welsh Terrier, also known as the Old English Terrier, the Black-and-Tan Wire Haired Terrier, the Old English Wire Haired Black-and-Tan Terrier and the Welsh Black-and-Tan Rough-Coated Terrier, is thought to be a very old breed based upon paintings and pictures from long ago. He was (and continues to be) used in Wales to flush otter, badger, marten and fox. All terrier through and through, the Welsh Terrier is fearless, lively and game, but he may be better mannered, easier to handle and less quarrelsome than some other terrier breeds. Welsh Terriers can be a bit difficult to housetrain. They do enjoy chasing small animals so should be supervised during social outings. The American Kennel Club first recognized the Welsh Terrier in 1888. It is a member of the AKC's Terrier Group.
The mature Welsh Terrier stands 15 to 15½ inches at the withers and typically weighs about 20 pounds. Its double coat is hard, wiry and dense. It is black and a deep reddish tan and should be hand-stripped or plucked several times a year. The Welsh Terrier is often confused with the Lakeland Terrier; however, the Welsh has a broader head and different coloration. He actually looks more like a small Airedale Terrier.
The Welsh Terrier has changed little in coat, color or characteristics over the centuries. The breed was developed in Wales as a sporting dog particularly well-suited to "go to earth" to hunt otter, marten, fox and badger in their lairs. His legs are sufficiently long to let him keep up with a hunter on horseback and a pack of hounds, and he is tenacious enough to corner and kill badger in their den without assistance. His ancestors are thought to include the old broken-coated Black and Tan Terrier, the Airedale Terrier, the Lakeland Terrier and the Irish Terrier. In the early 1800s, the breed was referred to by a number of names that included "Welsh," "Wire Haired," "Black and Tan" and/or "Old English." At the Carnavon Dog Show in the mid-1880s, the Welsh Terrier finally was exhibited in a class of its own, although even as late as 1886 The Kennel Club (England) had a single class for "Welsh or Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan Terriers." All that changed when a terrier named Dick Turpin came onto the scene in 1888. He did so much winning that the English wanted to call him an English Terrier, while the Welsh rightfully claimed him as one of their own. The Kennel Club (England) sided with the Welsh, and Dick Turpin became the foundation sire for the Welsh Terrier as we know it today.
The Welsh Terrier crept onto the American show scene in 1888, the same year that Dick Turpin was doing so much winning and stamping himself into the breed's history in England. That year, Prescott Lawrence imported a pair of Welsh Terriers from Britrain and exhibited them at Madison Square Garden in the Miscellaneous Class. The Welsh Terrier Club of America was founded in 1900. By 1901, the Westminster Kennel Club recognized a class for Welsh Terriers separate from other terriers, and several competed in that class. The breed has steadily risen in popularity in America since that time.
Today's Welsh Terrier remains a spirited and efficient working terrier. He is active, alert and playful, and makes a wonderful companion as well. This is an especially eager-to-please breed that for some reason has never achieved great popularity in this country. Among its fanciers, however, the Welsh Terrier is prized as a sporty and stylish friend, a talented hunting companion and a terrific watchdog.
The average life span of the Welsh Terrier is 13 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include epilepsy, glaucoma, lens luxation, skin problems and thyroid disease.
Welsh Terriers look like miniature Airedales at first glance, but once you get to know this breed, you realize they have a personality all their own. Welshies are full of energy and maintain that classic spunky terrier attitude, but they are also a bit more sensible and with a different set of priorities than other terriers. Welshies are party dogs – they just want to have fun. They don't see the sense in picking fights or barking constantly when they could be chasing balls, playing tug of war or hide and seek. Welshies are good family dogs, as they will romp with kids in the yard (or around the house if you let them) and then solicit mom and dad for belly rubs in the evening. They are easy to train and make an excellent choice for first time dog owners.
Welsh Terriers need plenty of vigorous exercise in order to maintain health,happiness and an even temperament. They should be walked several times a day and allowed to run as much as possible. They are small enough to live in an apartment or condominium, but a commitment should be made to allowing your Welsh to run as much as possible.
Welshies are highly intelligent and need to work their brains as much as their bodies. They bore easily and will find ways to entertain themselves – which usually involves a great deal of mischief. At home, hide and seek games can keep him occupied, as can problem-solving toys. If at all possible, you should enroll your Welsh Terrier in agility or flyball. He will appreciate the extra exercise, the opportunity to think and will eat up the extra bonding time.
Welshies are easy to train, once you get going. They are terriers, and terriers have independent streaks and some just won't listen no matter what you do. Welshies are smart, however, and if they think there is something to gain from a training session, they will participate whole heartedly. Start your Welsh Terrier early so that he is more amenable to the training process. Keep sessions short and vary the activity as much as possible. Be ready with a lot of treats – Welshies don't much care about pleasing you, so excited praise is good, but doesn't act as a motivator but they do speak the language of food.
Welsh Terriers assume they are the household leader and will make you earn your position as head of the household, which can be frustrating. Always exhibit leadership and never let your Welsh Terrier bend or break the rules. Consistency is important when establishing your position because if you give a Welsh an inch, he will take a mile.
Welsh Terriers are excellent watch dogs who will alert you to any approaching strangers. They will also, however, alert you to every other sight or sound they take in. Training should include commands to stop barking, otherwise a Welsh can drive you and your neighbors crazy.
Welshies are less likely to posture toward other dogs for no reason, but if they are challenged they will not back down, regardless of the other dog's size. Poorly socialized Welsh Terriers, however can be dog aggressive. In order for your dog to develop the proper Welsh Terrier attitude, you must socialize him early and often to understand that strange dogs are not always threatening.
The Welsh Terrier is a sturdy, compact, rugged dog of medium size with a coarse wire-textured coat. The legs, underbody and head are tan; the jacket black (or occasionally grizzle). The tail is docked to length meant to complete the image of a "square dog" approximately as high as he is long. The movement is a terrier trot typical of the long-legged terrier. It is effortless, with good reach and drive. The Welsh Terrier is friendly, outgoing to people and other dogs, showing spirit and courage. The "Welsh Terrier expression" comes from the set, color, and position of the eyes combined with the use of the ears.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Males are about 15 inches at the withers, with an acceptable range between 15 and 15½. Bitches may be proportionally smaller. Twenty pounds is considered an average weight, varying a few pounds depending on the height of the dog and the density of bone. Both dog and bitch appear solid and of good substance.
The entire head is rectangular. The eyes are small, dark brown and almond-shaped, well set in the skull. They are placed fairly far apart. The size, shape, color and position of the eyes give the steady, confident but alert expression that is typical of the Welsh Terrier. The ears are V-shaped, small, but not too thin. The fold is just above the topline of the skull. The ears are carried forward close to the cheek with the tips falling to, or toward, the outside corners of the eyes when the dog is at rest. The ears move slightly up and forward when at attention. Skull--The foreface is strong with powerful, punishing jaws. It is only slightly narrower than the backskull. There is a slight stop. The backskull is of equal length to the foreface. They are on parallel planes in profile. The backskull is smooth and flat (not domed) between the ears. There are no wrinkles between the ears. The cheeks are flat and clean (not bulging). The muzzle is one-half the length of the entire head from tip of nose to occiput. The foreface in front of the eyes is well made up. The furnishings on the foreface are trimmed to complete without exaggeration the total rectangular outline. The muzzle is strong and squared off, never snipy. The nose is black and squared off. The lips are black and tight. A scissors bite is preferred, but a level bite is acceptable. Either one has complete dentition. The teeth are large and strong, set in powerful, vise-like jaws.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is of moderate length and thickness, slightly arched and sloping gracefully into the shoulders. The throat is clean with no excess of skin.
The topline is level.
The body shows good substance and is well ribbed up. There is good depth of brisket and moderate width of chest. The loin is strong and moderately short. The tail is docked to a length approximately level (on an imaginary line) with the occiput, to complete the square image of the whole dog. The root of the tail is set well up on the back. It is carried upright.
The front is straight. The shoulders are long, sloping and well laid back. The legs are straight and muscular with upright and powerful pasterns. The feet are small, round, and catlike. The pads are thick and black. The nails are strong and black; any dewclaws are removed.
The hindquarters are strong and muscular with well-developed second thighs and the stifles well bent. The hocks are moderately straight, parallel and short from joint to ground. The feet should be the same as in the forequarters.
The coat is hard, wiry, and dense with a close-fitting thick jacket. There is a short, soft undercoat. Furnishings on muzzle, legs, and quarters are dense and wiry.
The jacket is black, spreading up onto the neck, down onto the tail and into the upper thighs. The legs, quarters, and head are clear tan. The tan is a deep reddish color, with slightly lighter shades acceptable. A grizzle jacket is also acceptable.
The movement is straight, free and effortless, with good reach in front, strong drive behind, with feet naturally tending to converge toward a median line of travel as speed increases.
Any deviation from the foregoing should be considered a fault; the seriousness of the fault depending upon the extent of the deviation.
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Sources: American Kennel Club