Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Patterdale Terrier Dog Breed: Pictures, Traits, Care & More!

Patterdale Terrier Dog Breed: Pictures, Traits, Care & More!

portrait of brown Patterdale Terrier dog

Patterdale Terriers are small, working dogs that originated in Northern England. More specifically, they were named after the small village of Patterdale, Cumbria, which is nestled in the eastern part of the beautiful Lake District. Joe Bowman (a breeder born in Patterdale) crossed a black and tan Fell Terrier with a blue/black Border Terrier, which resulted in the first Patterdale Terrier sometime in the 1920s.

Breed Overview


10 – 15 inches


12 – 15 pounds


11 – 14 years


Black, red, brown

Suitable for:

Active families, house with a yard


Active, energetic, loyal, independent, stubborn affectionate, intelligent

Patterdales are small and stocky dogs with triangular ears that fold over and a long, strong tail. Their coats are short but can be smooth or rough, and they might have a bit of facial hair to give them a beard, mustache, and eyebrows. Patterdale Terriers are usually black but can be brown or red and can come in pied or bicolor.

Patterdale Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

divider-dog paw

Patterdale Terrier Puppies

Black Patterdale Terrier Puppy in the spring grass
Image by: Sorrel Ireland, Shutterstock

Patterdale Terriers have a ton of energy! They are overall quite healthy dogs and have the usual long lifespan of most terriers. They are social with people, but training might be a bit of a challenge due to their typical terrier stubbornness. When you bring a Patterale Terrier home, have puppy food, water bowls, a comfy bed, and tons of toys and treats to make your puppy feel welcome.

Remember that taking care of your dog’s health is very important. Regular vet checkups must be on your calendar, as well as grooming sessions, vaccinations, and having your dog spayed or neutered. Keep reading the Patterdale Terrier’s full care guide to know what food, exercise, and grooming they need to grow into happy and healthy dogs.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Patterdale Terrier

Patterdale Terriers are typical terriers in that they are feisty, stubborn, tough, loyal, and dependable dogs. They are also an affectionate and loving breed that tends to be friendly with most people, and they are also full of energy!

Patterdales are highly intelligent and have large personalities. They can be protective, and they tend to be a little less yappy than some other terrier breeds and are generally hardworking dogs. They don’t make good apartment dogs because of how energetic they are and will do much better in a house with a fully fenced backyard or on a farm.

Patterdale Terrier by the lake
Image by: SteUK, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Patterdale Terriers are great dogs with children and make tremendously fun companions to play and run with. However, they can be relatively rambunctious dogs, so they will do better with older children. You should be sure to teach your children to treat their dog with respect (and of course, any other dog they interact with).

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Patterdale Terriers tend to get along quite well with other dogs, but since they have a high prey drive (like most terriers), they are more likely to go after smaller animals. So, they would do best in homes without cats, birds, rabbits, or small rodents like hamsters.


Things to Know When Owning a Patterdale Terrier

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Patterdales should be fed with high-quality dog food that is meant for your dog’s current age, weight, and activity level. You can follow the guidelines on the food bag to help you determine the amount that your terrier needs every day, but you can also speak to your vet if you’re unsure. These dogs are prone to obesity, so be sure to stick with the right amount of daily food and avoid giving your pup too many treats and people food.

Exercise 🐕

Exercise for Patterdale Terriers is super important! These dogs are absolutely full of energy, so they need plenty of walks, exercise, playtime, and other activities to keep up with their needs. They will do best with two long walks a day, but be sure to keep them on a leash while you’re out and about because they will chase anything that crosses their paths. If they don’t get enough exercise and playtime, Patterdales will become bored and destructive.

Patterdale Terrier playing with a ball in meadow
Image Credit: Vanitytheone, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

Patterdales are both easy and difficult to train. They are highly intelligent and devoted. They enjoy being involved in activities, so it should go quite well if you make the training interesting. However, they are also stubborn like most terriers and easily distracted, so you’ll want to make the training sessions short and enjoyable. Early socialization and positive reinforcement are essential for the Patterdale.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming Patterdales is easy. They need brushing only once, maybe twice, a week, and while they aren’t huge shedders, they are not hypoallergenic. They rarely need a bath, but when they do, be sure to use a good dog shampoo.

The Patterdale’s nails should be clipped every 3–4 weeks, and you should brush their teeth maybe two or three times a week. Their ears need cleaning around once a week.

Portrait of young Patterdale Terrier in a garden
Image by: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Patterdale Terriers are robust, strong dogs that tend to have few health conditions. Just be sure to take your dog to the vets yearly for checkups, and you’ll have your pup for many years.


Male vs. Female

There aren’t any discernable differences between male and female Patterdales. In some cases, the males might be slightly larger and heavier than the females, like most dog breeds, but typically, they are about the same size.

The only other actual differences are what you’ll find with every dog. Surgery for spaying the female is a more complex operation, so it requires a longer recovery time and will be more expensive than neutering the male.

As far as temperament, it is believed that males tend to be more affectionate but harder to train than females, but the real differences are dependent on the dog’s upbringing. How a dog is socialized, trained, and treated throughout their life will be the true determinant of their behavior and personality.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Patterdale Terrier

1. The Patterdale Terrier is not an American Kennel Club-recognized breed

They are purebred but are currently only recognized by the United Kennel Club. Still, there are a few clubs devoted to them, like the Patterdale Terrier Club of America.

2. The Patterdale Terrier is often called a Fell Terrier

However, Fell Terrier refers to a branch of working terriers that hail from Northern England and are not a specific breed. Both the Patterdale and the Lakeland Terriers are considered Fell Terriers.

3. The Patterdale Terrier was bred for fox hunting

These dogs were bred to be tough and energetic for the chase and small enough to enter the burrows of foxes.


Final Thoughts

When you start looking for one of these dogs, you must find an excellent breeder. Check on social media, but if there isn’t one close to your location, you’ll need to think about having a puppy flown out to you.

You can also consider adoption. Finding a Patterdale in an animal shelter would be a lucky break given how rare they are, but you never know! You could also look for breed-specific rescues, such as the Patterdale Terrier Rescue based out of Surrey, England, that rehome this breed.

Patterdales are not for everyone. If you’re looking for an active and high-energy dog that will go with you on long hikes or runs and enjoy a good cuddle at the end of the day, perhaps Patterdale is actually the right breed for you.

Featured Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets