Sturdy, compact, and rugged, with a tight-fitting black-and-tan coat and a rectangular head featuring folded ears and a jaunty beard, Welsh are constructed along the classic lines of Britain’s long-legged terriers. They stand about 15 inches at the shoulder, a little larger than the but much smaller than the mighty . All three breeds, however, share a family resemblance: An ancient breed called the Old English Black and Tan Terrier is thought to be the granddaddy of these and some other British terriers.
It’s impossible to say when Welsh Terriers came into being, but the breed as we know it was taking shape sometime in the 1700s. They were bred to hunt fox, otter, and badger in the remote mountainous region of northern Wales. Badgers, especially, are dangerous adversaries, and digging them out of their lairs was no job for sissy dogs. Welsh Terriers, with their powerful forequarters and punishing jaws, along with typical terrier courage, were equipped for the task of going head to head with sharp-toothed, razor-clawed prey.
The Welsh Terrier is a sturdy, compact, rugged dog of medium size with a coarse wire-textured coat. The legs, underbody and head are tan; the jacket black (or occasionally grizzle). The tail is docked to length meant to complete the image of a “square dog” approximately as high as he is long. The movement is a terrier trot typical of the long-legged terrier. It is effortless, with good reach and drive. The Welsh Terrier is friendly, outgoing to people and other dogs, showing spirit and courage. The “Welsh Terrier expression” comes from the set, color, and position of the eyes combined with the use of the ears.
The Welsh Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Care of the Welsh Terrier’s coat is similar to that for other broken-coated terriers. The hair can be plucked by hand, commonly referred to as hand-stripping. This type of grooming is a continual process and an art that takes years to master. Pet grooming for a Welsh Terrier is not complicated. The dog should be clipped every 8 to 12 weeks, leaving the coat longer in cold weather. The nails should be trimmed at least weekly, and the dog brushed once or twice a week. Usually bathing between clippings is not necessary, but if it is, use a good shampoo that contains moisturizers.
Welsh Terriers are high-energy dogs. They enjoy getting exercise by doing activities with their owner such as playing ball or catching a flying disc in a fenced yard. They should have lots of running time in an enclosed area, as well as a long walk every day or so. Once the dog is an adult, and only if he is in good health, let him run and play until really tired out, but not exhausted.
Welsh Terriers are friendly and outgoing, but puppies need to be adequately socialized by their owners to encourage polite behavior around other dogs. All Welsh should be taught to be under control and tolerant of other dogs when walking on lead. Lots of exercise and attention help this energetic dog become the affectionate, well-behaved companion he was born to be.
Welsh puppies are generally hardy, thrive with regular care, and don’t seem to be as fragile as many other puppies. Welsh who reach 15 to 18 years of age are not uncommon, but the average lifespan seems to be 12 to 14. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as allergy problems, hip dysplasia and Legge-Calve-Perthes disease.