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Welsh Terrier Dog: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

female Welsh Terrier posing on a log pile in the woods

Welsh Terrier Dog: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

The Welsh Terrier, or Welshie, hails from Wales and is the perfect combination of sweet and sassy. Known for their rectangular body and long muzzle, Welsh Terriers have an independent, feisty nature that rings true to the terrier spirit but are equally loving and playful. However, there is a lot more to this dog than meets the eye.

Breed Overview

Height:

15 inches

Weight:

19 to 22 pounds

Lifespan:

12 to 15 years

Colors:

Black and tan (or grizzle and tan) with a black jacket and tan base

Suitable for:

Active families or singles with experience in dog ownership

Temperament:

Intelligent, affectionate, lively

Also known as Black-and-Tan Wirehaired Terriers, Welshies have spent the last 500 years hunting foxes, otters, and badgers—and not much has changed about the breed since!

Unlike short-legged terriers who burrow into ground nests, Welsh Terriers use their long legs to dig, dig, and dig. Welshies don’t stop until the job is done and they feel they’ve put in a good day’s work. Sometimes, getting a Welshie to stop working is the hard part.

Welsh Terrier Characteristics

Energy
+
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.
Trainability
+
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.
Health
+
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.
Lifespan
+
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.
Sociability
+
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.

Welsh Terrier Breed Puppies

Welsh Terrier puppies are born almost completely black until they grow into their tan and black jacket coloring, and the tails are traditionally docked short. Welsh Terrier Puppies are generally easy to come by if you’re buying from a breeder. The Welsh Terrier Club of America has a long selection of qualified breeders who will happily match you with the perfect Welshie.1

Because Welshies are difficult to train and require lots of mental stimulation, they often end up in rescues and shelters. You may even find an available Welshie through a local rescue or shelter for this reason. If you can’t find one in your area, try searching America’s Non-Profit Welsh Terrier Rescue for the closest rescue near you.2

Welsh terrier puppy lying on the grass
Image By: Szymon Mucha, Shutterstock

Welsh Terrier Breed Origin & History

It’s difficult to say how old the breed is, but there is a record of a Welsh poet writing about a Welsh Terrier in 1450. In this document, the poet describes his Welshie as “a good black and red bitch to choke the brown polecat.”

Like all terriers, Welshies are thought to be descendants of the Old English Black and Tan Terrier. Welshies proved to be excellent hunters for the farm. They diligently caught foxes, otters, and badgers and kept the farm clear of vermin. By the 1700s, the breed started to settle into what it is today, and in 1887, the Kennel Club in London wrote the official breed standards.

In 1885—only 2 years earlier—Welsh Terriers were imported to the United States, where the AKC quickly recognized the breed in 1888.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Welsh Terrier

Welsh Terriers are lively, outgoing dogs who need a job to do. They’re highly intelligent workers and hunters who require plenty of exercise and training to keep their minds occupied. The terrier spirit really shines through in the breed. Welshies often shoot owners their infamous skeptical stink eye as if they’re saying, “You wouldn’t dare,” so have some patience when dealing with their stubbornness. Despite their desire for control, Welshies make excellent family pets for active families who’ve had experience raising dogs. Welshies are playful, talkative, and protective. They love children and other dogs and adapt very well to change. Welshies do well in the suburbs or country as long as they have plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Welsh Terriers make excellent family pets. Because of their stubborn nature and need for constant stimulation, Welshies do best in active families who’ve had experience raising dogs.

Woman playing or training a Welsh terrier dog
Image Credit: Dragon_Fly, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Welsh Terriers love other dogs and like to be the ringleader. However, Welsh Terriers are extremely prey-driven and may not do well with cats or other small animals. Some owners successfully raise their Welshies in homes with cats but don’t expect this with every Welsh Terrier.

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Things to Know When Owning a Welsh Terrier:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Welsh Terriers do well on a high-quality dog food or homemade diet. If you choose to offer homemade food, talk to your veterinarian to ensure your dog receives all of the necessary nutrition. Regardless, your Welshie’s diet should be appropriate for their age and activity level.

Welsh Terriers are very active but can still fall victim to obesity if not given proper exercise and a balanced diet. Follow the 10% rule with treats and offer fresh water always.

Exercise 🐕

Welsh Terriers are high-energy dogs and require lots of exercise—about an hour per day. They love trying out activities and enjoy fun games like playing fetch and tug of war, but they also need a healthy dose of cardio. Daily walks are a must (the longer, the better), as well as time to run in an enclosed backyard or park.

Training 🎾

Welsh Terriers must go through obedience training to grow into well-mannered terriers. Because of their determined personalities, training may take longer than usual and requires some patience from the owner. The hardest part for Welshies is learning control and restraint.

Thankfully, Welshies are eager to please and enjoy trying new things, so training is a great opportunity to tire your Welshie out. Once your pup’s graduated from obedience school, you can try tracking and hunting training to refine those keen hunting skills.

Welsh terrier running outdoors
Image Credit: AntonMaltsev, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Welsh Terriers have a double coat that is soft on the bottom and wiry on top. Their coat is medium in length but they hardly ever shed. The fur should be clipped every 8 to 12 weeks (it can be kept longer in the winter) and brushed once or twice a week. Welsh Terriers don’t require frequent bathing, but if you wash your dog’s fur, opt for moisture-retaining shampoo.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Welsh Terriers are known to be long-lived dogs, reaching 12 to 15 years of age at times. They’re hardy dogs who generally don’t have serious ailments.

Terriers tend to have skin problems and develop sensitivities to environmental allergies. Issues with the eyes can also occur and, in more serious cases, lead to blindness. The AKC recommends a primary lens luxation DNA test to find out if your terrier is a carrier.

Typical health problems like obesity, dental disease, and flea and tick-borne illnesses, but vaccine-preventable diseases can occur as well. Regular vet visits, exercise, and a balanced diet can help prevent these.

Minor Conditions
  • Glaucoma
  • Skin allergies
  • Thyroid problems
  • Primary lens luxation

Serious Conditions
  • Epilepsy
  • Obesity
  • Hip dysplasia

Male vs. Female

Male and female Welsh Terriers have no major differences except that males can be proportionally larger than females.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Welsh Terrier

1. The Welshie Made It to the White House Under JFK

JFK had a Welsh Terrier named Charlie, whom he loved dearly, and Charlie’s feelings were mutual. The two had an inseparable bond and often took long late-night walks.


2. Nigwood Nailer Became the First Welshie AKC Champion

In 1901, Welsh Terrier “Nigwood Nailer” won the 30 Guineas Challenge Cup for the best Welsh, Irish, or Fox Terrier for the Birmingham National Dog Show, making him the first Welsh Terrier to win an AKC Championship.


3. South Carolina Holds an Annual Special Fundraiser Spotlighting Welshies

Remember that famous skeptical stink eye that Welshies are so fond of showing? South Carolina turned it into an opportunity for a Welsh Terrier rescue fundraiser. The annual event includes dozens of Welsh Terriers and their owners enjoying play dates, costume parties, and more.

female Welsh Terrier dog lying down in a vintage barn
Image Credit: MaCross-Photography, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Welsh Terriers are spirited, independent dogs who have no problem calling your bluff. These dogs are brilliant and require lots of exercise, so they need a patient owner willing to take them on long walks, jogs, and trips to the dog park. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, your Welshie will return the favor with lots of love, protection, and a mice-free home.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: MaCross-Photography Shutterstock

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