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Welsh Terrier

Oliver Jones

The Welsh Terrier is a small purebred from Wales (part of the UK) and was bred hundreds of years ago to hunt rodents, badger, fox and otters. It has been known by other names including the Black and Tan Wire Haired Terrier, the Old English Terrier, the Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan Terrier and the Welsh Black and Tan Rough Coated Terrier. As with any terrier it is fierce, energetic and bold with a strong personality but it is more well mannered than most terriers and a bit less stubborn! Today as well as being kept as a show dog it also does well in events such as tracking, obedience, agility, earthdog and flyball and can be trained to be a therapy dog and to work in search and rescue. It is also a great companion dog with the right owners.

The Welsh Terrier at a Glance
Name Welsh Terrier
Other names Old English Terrier, Black-and-Tan Wire Haired Terrier, Old English Wire Haired Black-and-Tan Terrier, Welsh Black-and-Tan Rough-Coated Terrier
Nicknames Welshie, WT
Origin Wales, UK
Average size Small
Average weight 17 to 21 pounds
Average height 15 to 16 inches
Life span 10 to 14 years
Coat type Harsh, rough, wiry, dense
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Tan, red, black, grizzle
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 111th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – understands new commands with 25 to 40 repetitions
Tolerance to heat Moderate – not good in anything over moderately warm!
Tolerance to cold Moderate – also not good in anything cooler than that!
Shedding Low – not prone to a great deal of hair loss, not a lot of hair should be left in the home
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – can gain weight but not especially prone
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – brush regularly
Barking Frequent – training to control it will be needed
Exercise needs Very active – will need owners committed to daily activity and exercise
Trainability Moderately hard – can be stubborn, may be a little easier with experience but still a gradual process
Friendliness Excellent – very social
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Very good with socialization
Good apartment dog Good if given daily exercise outside but best in a home with a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy, a few issues include epilepsy, allergies, hypothyroidism and eye problems
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $495 a year for toys, license, basic training, grooming and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1005 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Several including the Welsh Terrier Club of America
Biting Statistics None reported

The Welsh Terrier’s Beginnings

The Welsh Terrier can be found depicted in paintings and images dating back to hundreds of years ago. In fact recent testing and research suggests that it is one of the oldest dog breeds still in existence in the UK today. It has not changed much either from how it was bred all those years ago. It was developed to be good at going to ground, meaning it hunted den animals like otters, badgers and fox and could get them out of their lairs. It was bred to have legs long enough so it could keep up with hunters on horses and brave and tenacious enough to deal with its prey. It is thought in it breeding are dogs such as the Black and Tan Terrier, the Lakeland Terrier, the Airedale Terrier and the Irish Terrier.

In the early 19th century it was known by several names such as the Old English Terrier or the Black and Tan Wire Haired Terrier and was spread through several areas of England. When not being used by hunters on horseback it was kept hunt and kill other vermin such as rodents. In the late 1800s dog shows became popular but being a working dog it was later than some breeds to enter the show ring. It was first exhibited in the mid 1880s at the Carnavon Dog Show and was recognized in 1886 by the Kennel Club in England.

New Lease on Life

The dog came to the US sometime in the late 19th century. In 1888 Prescott Lawrence brought in a pair from Britain and they appeared in the Madison Square Garden dog show in the US. In 1900 the Welsh Terrier Club of America was started and slowly its popularity grew. It was recognized by the AKC in 1888 and ranks 111th in popularity today. In the UK it is listed on the vulnerable native breed list as less than 300 puppies are being registered each year.

Welsh Terrier

The Dog You See Today

The Welsh Terrier is a small dog weighing 17 to 21 pounds and standing 15 to 16 inches tall. It is sometimes mixed up with the Lakeland Terrier but in fact it has a bigger head and different coat and looks more like an Airedale Terrier but smaller. It has a compact strong body that is rectangular in shape, level topline and its neck is somewhat thick and slightly long. It has round feet like a cat, small and straight front legs. Dewclaws are removed in some places and the tail is docked in places where it is still allowed. It has a double wiry coat that is dense with a soft under coat and hard outer coat that is waterproof. It is usually born all black and then the coat lightens to reveal its markings. Colors are always black and tan though that black may be more grizzle. Some females can be tan all over.

The Welsh Terrier’s head is rectangular shaped and long with a muzzle that is squared giving a face that looks like a brick though some show dogs that is smoothed out into more of an oval shape. It has bushy eyebrows, a mustache and a beard and its eyes are almond shaped, small and dark. They are set somewhat wide apart. Its ears are v shaped and fold a bit to the side of its head.

The Inner Welsh Terrier


This breed is one that can be fine for new owners to take on, though being a terrier it will require a firmness in handling and experience would make it easier. It is an independent dog, energetic and playful, smart and also alert. It will bark to let you know of an intruder but it needs training to control that barking and to stop it on command. It has the typical terrier spunky attitude but it is a little more sensible than most terrier types, it prefers to have fun over picking fights and can be a friendly and loving companion. It makes a good family dog able to get along with parents and children and has a strong personality, very spirited, hard working and eager to please.

With the right owners it is a happy and confident dog that is friendly with others and enjoys life. It can be determined, has a lot of stamina and each day is about fitting in as much fun as possible. It loves to dig, play games, be out and about and if left to be bored can be destructive, loud, hard to live with and hyper active. It can also be protective of its belongings. It is affectionate and devoted to its owners and has an curious nature that makes it want to investigate things. With clear rules and plenty of exercise it is well balanced and happy, without them it can be more unsure, snappy and stubborn.

Living with a Welsh Terrier

What will training look like?

The Welsh Terrier is moderately easy to train for those with experience but can be harder if you are a first time owner due to their independent side. Expect results to be gradual and start training as soon as you have it home. Use a positive approach, encourage it, praise and motivate it and reward it with treats. Be prepared for times when it decides not to listen to you, be patient, firm and consistent. When terriers think there is something in it for them in terms of training they are more likely to go along with it! Make sure you keep its training sessions short and interesting, remember they are all about having fun, if the training is fun they are more motivated. Make sure included in the training is a command to stop barking. Having been bred to be somewhat independent hunters they can be assertive and may test the rules even when you think training is complete.

House training may be a bit trickier but crate training can help and setting a very regular schedule that you stick to. Early socialization is another important aspect of their care. It needs exposure from a young age to different people, animals, sounds, places and situations so it knows how to deal with them appropriately.

Welsh Terrier

How active is the Welsh Terrier?

The Welsh Terrier is a fairly active dog so it needs regular outdoor exercise to keep it calm, happy and healthy. Committed owners who are active themselves are needed, this is not a dog happy with a bit of indoor or yard play and then to sleep the rest of the day. It needs a couple of good length walks each day, and then as well as that daily play time, trips to somewhere safe it can play and run off leash like a dog park, time in a yard, toys and puzzles to keep it mentally stimulated and such. It may be small but it has a lot of energy and stamina. While it could adapt to apartment living its frequent barking could be a problem, and it needs lots of outdoor time. Yards need to be well fenced in and it would also enjoy chasing things, going swimming, playing with the family on outings and such.

Remember if you let it play and act rambunctious with you inside the home it will mean at other times when you are not with it, it will still see indoors as a place it can be very active. Jumping from backs of couches, running down halls, leaping onto a table and so on. At least 60 minutes a day of proper activity should be expected. That could be 30 minutes of play and 30 minutes of walking, or however you mix it up. Make sure it also gets plenty of mental stimulation.

Caring for the Welsh Terrier

Grooming needs

Due to its wiry coat the Welsh Terrier is a low shedding dog so not a lot of hair will be left around the home, and it could be okay for people with allergies, though that should be tested before you buy. However it will need professional stripping for show dogs and trimming if a companion dog and is moderate to high in terms of grooming and maintenance. Give its coat a brush at least two to three times a week and give it a rake regularly too. Coats that are not properly cared for can fade and start to thin out. Only bathe it when it is especially dirty or smelly and really needs one. Bathing too often can dry out the natural oils it needs and that can lead to skin problems. Also only use a proper dog shampoo for the same reasons.

Other regular care will include keeping its nails to an acceptable length, brushing its teeth and checking and cleaning its ears. The latter will need to be done on a weekly basis. Look first to make sure there are no infection signs such as irritation, redness, swelling and then if they are fine you can give them both a clean by just wiping what you can reach with a damp cloth or cotton balls with dog ear cleanser. Do not insert anything into them at all as that can cause pain and actually do damage. Its nails may be worn down naturally with its activity, but if not they will need a trim when they get too long. Some owners have a groomer or vet do it and some do it themselves. Use proper dog nail clipper and make sure not to cut too far down as that can cause bleeding and more pain. Its teeth should be brushed two to three times a week for good dental and gum health.

Feeding Time

Expect to feed it about ¾ to 1½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much your Welsh Terrier eats compared to others can vary slightly depending on its size, age, health, level of activity and metabolism. Always ensure your dog has access to water at all times and that you keep that water fresh.

How is the Welsh Terrier with children and other animals?

The Welsh Terrier with socialization can be very good with children, its energy, love of fun and playfulness mean together they can play for hours and help tire each other out. However it is best with older children, while some can learn to play more gently it can have a habit of tugging at clothing during play and that can knock over toddlers. It also does not usually deal well with being teased and accidental clumsiness that leads to pulling ears or tails and such. With other small animals it may seem them as prey to chase. Socialization is important again in its interactions with other dogs. While it is not a dog that will challenge others for no reason, if it is challenged it will not back away from that. Good socialization and training means it can get along with other dogs more so than some other terriers.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Welsh Terrier has a life span of between 10 to 14 years and is fairly healthy in general though there are some issues that can come up such as epilepsy, eye problems, skin problems, hypothyroidism and nail problems.

Biting Statistics

When looking at North American reports of dogs causing bodily harm when attacking people over the last 35 years, there is no mention of the Welsh Terrier. It is not a dog known for being especially aggressive towards people and is not likely to be a problem but as with any breed the potential for an off day is there. Ways owners can lessen the chances of such incidents include choosing a breed that properly fits in with their commitment and lifestyle, exercising and feeding it properly, loving it and giving it the attention it needs and of course making sure it is well socialized and trained.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Welsh Terrier puppy can cost around $800 from a decent breeder with a good reputation, or more than that if you opt to use a breeder of top show dogs. It is important to do your homework on breeders before you make a purchase from them, as not all are experienced, have real knowledge and are good to their animals. Avoid puppy mills, pet stores and backyard breeders and if your dog is to be a companion not a show dog consider checking out local shelters and rescues. For an adoption fee of $50 to $400 you can get a dog that will be loyal, loving and eternally grateful at the new chance and homes you can offer it.

The initial costs of getting a new dog will cover things like health needs and items you might want to start out with at home. The latter includes things like a crate, collar and leash, bowls and carrier and can come to about $120 for a Welsh Terrier. When you have your dog home it should be taken to a vet as soon as possible for a physical exam, blood tests, deworming, shots, spaying or neutering and micro chipping. These initial health concerns will cost about $260 though some may have been taken care of by the breeder or shelter.

There are also yearly costs to prepare for as a pet owner. Basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and then pet insurance will cost about $435 a year. Miscellaneous costs like toys, license, basic training, grooming and miscellaneous items will cost about $495 a year. Then dog treats and a good quality dry dog food to feed it with is going to be at least $75 a year. This gives an annual estimated starting figure of $1005.


Looking for a Welsh Terrier Name? Let select one from our list!

The Welsh Terrier is a great dog for people with experience who are active and looking for a dog with the spunk and personality of a terrier but a little more easy going and friendly. It is an affectionate dog who after getting enough mental and physical exercise will be happy to have a snuggle with its owners. It is very loyal and cheerful and that love of life and having fun can be wonderfully contagious. It is small but not delicate, it does not shed a great deal and usually gets on well with children. It does need some extra effort for its grooming though, it does like to bark and it is a typical terrier when it comes to digging.

Popular Welsh Terrier Mixes

Welsh Terrier and Poodle Mix
General Information
Size Medium
Height 14 to 18 inches
Weight 20 to 50 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Quite sensitive
Barking Occasional to frequent
Activity Fairly active
Breed Traits




Welsh Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer Mix
General Information
Size Small to medium
Height 12 to 15 inches
Weight 10 to 25 pounds
Life span 12 to 15 years
Touchiness Somewhat sensitive
Barking Occasional to frequent
Activity Fairly active
Breed Traits

Friendly dog
Quite intelligent
Great companion


Can be

Featured Image Credit: IIRaZZoRII, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.