Breed of the Week - Welsh Terrier

The Welsh Terrier is an old breed seen in old paintings and prints. Originally called the Black and Tan Wire Haired Terrier, Old English Terrier and, at one point, the Old Reddish-Black Wirehaired Terrier, the Welshie was developed in Wales and was bred for its hunting abilities, particularly with badger, fox and otter. Commonly taken out with packs of hounds, the dogs would go down into dens to drive out prey for the hunter.

Two strains of these terriers existed, the Ynysfor and the Old English Broken Haired Terrier. Because these two strains were so similar, when they began to be shown, the same dog could compete as either breed and were even classified together. Due to the increase in dog shows, by 1885, Welsh Terriermen had enough with the name nonsense and with others, formed the Welsh Terrier Club. They were then recognized by the Kennel Club in 1886 and on April 5, 1887, the name battle ended., leaving the Welsh Terrier as the only recognized breed, regardless of their origin.

In 1888, the first Welsh Terrier was brought to the United States and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in the same year. Subtle changes were made to the dog’s appearance to make it more suited to the ring as more and more people began to see this breed not only as a hunter, but also a show dog. The Welshie was then bred with the Fox Terrier which produced what looks like the miniature Airedale we have today. The Welshie’s popularity grew after WWII. Maybe the most famous Welsh Terrier, Charlie, belonged to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Today, the Welsh Terrier is popular as a family dog because it is less pugnacious than most other terrier breeds.

The Welshie is a loving, intelligent and devoted breed that is usually patient with children and can withstand rough play. They are inquisitive, loyal, energetic, alert and need plenty of exercise along with strong, consistent leadership.

Welshies have a slightly lower energy level compared to some other hunting terrier breeds and enjoy swimming and digging. The more exercise they get, the better their behavior will be indoors. If they don’t get enough exercise, they may become yappy, and if bored, they may explore and potentially cause mischief and damage. Keep the Welsh Terrier entertained by giving them a challenge.

When young, your Welshie should be socialized with people, places, dogs and other animals. They should be trained with a constant variety of techniques but remain consistent towards doing this. Welshies respond well to positive training methods and rewards.

Welsh Terriers need more exercise than just playing games indoors and should be taken for a couple of brisk walks each day along with playing some energetic ball or Frisbee games. They should always be kept on a leash when being walked and need a fenced in yard so they don’t wander off and search for prey. With the right approach, Welshies can be trained to compete in sports such as agility and flyball. They are untiring and love to chase after anything that moves.

Grooming requirements differ depending on whether your Welsh Terrier is going to be a show dog or a companion dog. Show dogs will require hand plucking or “stripping” of the dead hair every few months. The longer hair at the feet, on the belly and around the face give the Welsh Terrier its typical appearance. Pets can be clipped and the bottom trimmed for cleanliness. Most owners will have their terriers professionally groomed every few months. Regardless of what title the Welshie is receiving, they should be brushed or combed on a regular basis. Teeth and ears should also be cleaned regularly. These dogs are low shedding and are said to be hypoallergenic, good for people with allergies.

Welsh Terriers are generally healthy and can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years. Some blood lines show inherited diseases like epilepsy, glaucoma, skin allergies and hypothyroidism. Prospective buyers should ask for the breeding parents’ Canine Eye Registry (CERF).

For more information about the Welsh Terrier, visit the Welsh Terrier Club of America.

written by Alexis Esty

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