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 > Welsh Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Welsh Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Welsh terrier standing in the yard

The Welsh Terrier is considered by some to be the oldest dog breed in the UK. In Welsh, the breed is known as Daeargi Cymreig and was bred for hunting and killing small but powerful game like rats, foxes, and badgers.

Breed Overview


Up to 15 inches


Up to 20 pounds


12 – 15 years


Black and tan, grizzle and tan

Suitable for:

Active families, dog sports, hunting small game, ratting


Loyal, intelligent, joyful, energetic, fun-loving

Although it has primarily been bred for show in the last century or so, this breed is still just as excited about and dedicated to hunting and its master as it was a century ago. It’s not uncommon for the Welsh Terrier to be confused with some other types of dogs, but this breed is as individual as any other. Here’s everything you need to know about the Welsh Terrier.

Welsh 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

Welsh Terrier Puppies

Welsh Terriers are active and require an owner who can take the time to exercise them and play with them.

These puppies do not come cheap and are not likely to be available through rescues and shelters. Since Welsh Terriers are a relatively rare dog breed, you may find you need to be on a waiting list for a breed for quite a while.

They tend to be barkers so think carefully if you live in an apartment and you are considering a Welsh Terrier.

Welsh Terrier outside
Image By: IIRaZZoRII, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Welsh Terrier

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Welsh Terrier can be a wonderful family dog. They tend to be loyal and fun-loving, making them ideal for families with children. They also tend to be tolerant of the antics of children, but children should still be respectful of the boundaries of the dog. Terriers can be nippy if pushed beyond their comfort level, but with proper training of the dog and respect from the children, the Welsh Terrier could be an excellent addition to your family.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

When it comes to other dogs, the Welsh Terrier can be hit or miss. Generally, with proper socialization and introductions, the Welsh Terrier will do well in a home with other dogs. This breed may not be ideal for visits to dog parks and public places with other animals.

Use caution when allowing your Welsh Terrier around small animals, though. Since they were bred as hunting dogs, they may be prone to chase or even injure other pets, like rodents and cats. Care should be taken when introducing a Welsh Terrier to small animals and they should not be left together without direct adult supervision.


Things to Know When Owning a Welsh Terrier:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As a breed that isn’t prone to obesity, this isn’t going to be a major risk for your Welsh Terrier. However, you should still carefully measure your dog’s food to ensure you are feeding an appropriate amount every day. A high-quality dog food is the best way to ensure you are meeting your dog’s dietary needs without added fillers. Your dog’s vet will be able to help you determine how much food your dog should be offered every day. Dogs that are active every day or that regularly participate in sports will need more food than less active dogs.

Exercise 🐕

The Welsh Terrier is an active dog that will likely enjoy any sport or game you include it in. They are great dogs for various types of dog sports and jobs, and need some form of exercise every day. Earthdog and agility competitions are great options for this breed, and they would love a hunting-related job as well, which makes them ideal for ratting. Without adequate exercise, Welsh Terriers are likely to become destructive and may become anxious.

Training 🎾

This is a breed that should be trained from a young age to prevent some of the more hard-headed terrier tendencies from showing through. Balanced training techniques can help your dog learn confidence while quickly learning boundaries and obedience. It is important to ensure that all members of the household are on board with your dog’s training, though. With a Welsh Terrier, it may only take one person allowing the dog to break rules to undermine the training efforts.

Grooming ✂️

This is a low shedding breed and the wiry coat takes minimal maintenance. Plan to brush your Welsh Terrier weekly to maintain a healthy, tangle-free coat. Every 8 – 12 weeks, your Welsh Terrier should be groomed to maintain the health and length of the coat. A professional groomer will be well-versed in the care and maintenance of wiry coats. Routine brushing and grooming will help keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy and may lead to a decrease in the chance of your dog having skin allergy complications. Maintaining clean, healthy skin through grooming can reduce allergens on the skin and the buildup of hair and skin cells that may lead to or increase irritation.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Skin allergies
  • Dry eye
  • Hereditary footpad hyperkeratosis
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Legge-Calve-Perthes
  • Glaucoma
  • Lens luxation
  • Addison’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancer

Male vs Female

Female Welsh Terriers are more commonly viewed as independent but protective dogs. They may be more wary of strangers than males. Males, on the other hand, are often considered more loving and welcoming of strangers. Females tend to be easier to train, especially while young, than males. Males tend to be easier to train and focus better on training exercises as they age, so you may find your male becomes easier to train as he ages. Your female, though, may become more challenging to train with age and may exhibit more independent, stubborn behaviors.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Welsh Terrier

1. The Welsh Terrier is at risk of going extinct.

This breed is listed on the AKC’s list of rare dog breeds. This means the breed has low registration and is at risk of becoming extinct without careful breeding programs. Annually, there are fewer than 300 – 400 Welsh Terrier pups registered. Breeding programs are working hard to maintain the breed’s numbers without creating health conditions that are related to inbreeding and poor breeding practices.

2. The Kennedys had a Welsh Terrier.

When the Kennedy family entered the White House, they brought their loyal Welsh Terrier, Charlie, with them. Charlie had been gifted to John F. Kennedy by Jacqueline Kennedy while he was campaigning for the presidency. Although the Kennedys acquired other dogs along the way, none bonded with the President so closely as Charlie. In the evenings during his presidency, Kennedy and his wife would sneak out to walk Charlie and Clipper, their German Shepherd. The Secret Service was close behind them once they realized the President and First Lady had slipped out.

3. Welsh Terriers are classified into a specific terrier type.

Welsh Terriers fit into a subcategory of terriers because they are considered “long-legged” terriers. Also included in this grouping is the Airedale, which is the larger cousin of the Welsh Terrier, and the Lakeland Terrier, which is the smaller cousin of the Welsh Terrier.

divider-dog paw


The Welsh Terrier may be easy to confuse with the Lakeland Terrier or Airedale because of their similar appearances, but the Welsh Terrier is a breed all its own. This dog breed has been around since as early as the 1400s, and they have been developed into a generally healthy, hardy dog. They are lovely dogs that can brighten any home they enter. The Welsh Terrier is a great working dog and will happily join you in participating in sports. They’re also happy to participate in a job and can be beneficial to homes requiring assistance with rodents.

These dogs have been in the works for a long time and it would be a shame to see the breed disappear. Responsible and reputable breeding programs may be able to save the breed, but this does require people to continue committing to growing and bettering the breed. With care, the Welsh Terrier can be around for a long time to come, bringing their joyful nature to many homes.

Featured Image Credit: korolenok, 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