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The Welsh Terrier, or Welshie, is best suited to experienced pet parents who understand the value of training and, of course, have the time to invest in it. This breed thrives in an active household and needs a home with plenty of backyard space to contain their antics. While friendly and devoted, the Welsh Terrier is better in the company of kids older than 6 who know when to give space to this feisty little ball of energy.
Welsh Terrier Traits
What makes the Welsh Terrier a Welsh Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.
Welsh Terrier Temperament
The Welsh Terrier dog breed is affectionate with the people they love. They’re outgoing, spirited and highly alert. No wallflowers here! On the flip side, they’ll likely chase and bark after any little critter that moves.
Welshies are not naturally aggressive, nor do they have strong biting tendencies, but as a hunting breed, untrained dogs (and sometimes even the trained ones) will chase after small animals, including cats, and fight back if challenged by other dogs. Pro tip: If buying or adopting two dogs at once, try to get one of each gender for a smoother transition.
A Welsh Terrier’s fun-loving temperament can make them great pets who can co-exist beautifully with active parents. Raising a Welshie with kids is more of a mixed bag. The best chance for happy cohabitation depends on the young children’s age at the time the dog enters the home (older than 6 is your best bet), and whether there’s diligent supervision and socialization.
A medium- or large-sized home with plenty of indoor and outdoor space—a big fenced yard, for example—to speed around in is ideal. They definitely need room to get the zoomies out. Some say that small apartment living is fine too, but due to their high energy and natural hunting tendencies, Welshies tend to jump on furniture to make room for play and should always be on a leash when out in public.
Welsh Terriers are bred to hunt vermin, so once they’ve caught a whiff of an unfamiliar or desirable scent, they will fearlessly go after what they want. If that’s a treat or toy, yay, everybody’s happy! If it’s the unsuspecting family cat, yeah, not so much.
This breed isn’t the best choice for first-time dog parents as Welsh Terriers’ intelligence and high energy levels demand above-average physical exercise as well as a ton of training and mental stimulation for them to thrive. Regardless, if a Welsh Terrier puppy has already won your heart, make sure they come from a reputable breeder and invest in a certified trainer to end up with the best Welsh Terrier qualities and a devoted forever friend.
How to Care for a Welsh Terrier
The Welsh Terrier breed may look like a huggable, wiry-haired stuffed prize you won at the fair, yet surprisingly, they don’t need a lot of brushing to keep them looking their cuddly best. They do, however, require plenty of daily activities and mental stimulation, a balanced diet, plus regular nail trimming and teeth brushing routines to keep them happy and healthy for a lifetime.
Welsh Terrier Health
Welsh Terriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years and, in general, are a healthy breed. Still, Welshies can be prone to a number of health problems. It’s important to be aware of some common Welshie health issues that may affect your beloved pooch.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint isn’t formed properly and causes pain. As a small breed, Welsh Terriers don’t experience it as severely as larger breeds. Regardless, responsible breeders are required to conduct testing with a recognized certification organization. Treatments for the condition include lifestyle changes, joint supplements, medication, and in more severe cases, surgery.
- Ocular Conditions: Eye conditions range from minor, easily treated infections such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) to more serious corneal traumas that require ongoing care, to genetic (lens luxation) or age-related conditions (glaucoma) that may ultimately require surgery. Breeders are required to do annual evaluations and DNA testing to avoid inherited conditions in future offspring.
- Allergies: As lovers of the great outdoors, Welsh Terriers are prone to allergenic conditions such as atopic dermatitis, an itchy skin disease resulting from an allergic reaction to inhaling pollen. Treatment includes a course of immunomodulatory, antibiotic or antifungal medications.
- Legge-Calve-Perthes Disease: This degenerative hip joint condition, which primarily affects small breeds, eventually results in a collapsed hip and arthritis. Mild cases can be treated with therapy, while more severe situations require surgery.
Welsh Terrier History
Welsh Terrier origins date back to the 1700s. Originally bred to mercilessly hunt and kill vermin, including rodents, foxes, otters and badgers, Welshies later ran in dog packs during fox hunts and were eventually primed up to compete in dog shows.
The Welsh Terrier’s history of having a hardwired instinct to chase small prey is still a large part of the modern Welsh Terrier personality. They excel at keeping pests at bay on a farm, but at home, they are affectionate pets who adore spending time with their loved ones or chasing pests in the yard.
Things got official for the Welsh Terrier during the 19th century. The Kennel Club in London, United Kingdom, recognized Welsh Terriers as a breed in 1887 and, following the first exports in 1885, the American Kennel Club gave Welshies full recognition in 1888.
So, where is the best place to find the Welsh Terrier breed today? You can find a list of reputable breeders at the American Kennel Club’s Marketplace or Welsh Terrier Club of America. Depending on the breeder, Welsh Terrier pup prices average between $800 to $1,200. For this cost, you’ll typically get a Welsh Terrier who’s been responsibly bred to avoid temperament and health issues. You can also contact Welsh Terrier rescue organizations to adopt a dog, or search for the breed at your local animal shelter.
Do Welsh Terriers shed?
Welsh Terrier shedding is practically non-existent. They are considered hypoallergenic dogs, meaning they produce very little dander, those pesky skin flecks causing most allergic reactions to canines. As a result, many people who experience bad allergic reactions to other dogs live in perfect harmony with a Welsh Terrier. Hooray!
Are Welsh Terriers good family dogs?
Under the right circumstances, Welsh Terriers can be good family dogs. They are fun-loving and social, but they have an intense prey drive, so they are not ideal (or recommended) for families with small children and/or small pets, like cats, unless closely monitored.
Are Welsh Terriers aggressive?
Welsh Terriers are rarely aggressive towards people, but they can pick up bad habits toward other dogs when they feel threatened (whether the threat is real or not). Avoid this possibility, and any other naughty behavior, by starting their socialization training as puppies. They ‘re also prone to chase small animals like rabbits, mice and sometimes even cats.
How long do Welsh Terriers live?
Welsh Terriers have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years with the ideal diet, social, physical and mental conditions.
How big do Welsh Terriers get?
The Welsh Terrier doesn’t get very big; they’re a small-sized dog, about 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs about 20 pounds—small enough to join you in some plane cabins but too big to carry in a tote bag.
Do Welsh Terriers bark a lot?
Welsh Terriers do bark, but there’s usually a reason for it. Their alertness and high prey drive make them quick to bark at any unfamiliar sight or sound. You can curb this behavior with early positive reinforcement training.
What are the most popular Welsh Terrier names?
Some of the most popular Welsh Terrier names include Angel, Leah, Vicki, Venus, Flora, Tasha, Baby, Cleo, Sammy, Juno, Misty, Lady, Honey, Bella, Empress, Oscar, Bandit, Pepper, Beau, Sparky, Lucky, Pluto, Scout, Max, Buddy, Toby, Josh, Sam, Shadow and Rusty. Get more dog names here.
What are the most common Welsh Terrier mixes?
The most common Welsh Terrier mixes are:
Welsh Terriers are affectionate, lively pets who make fantastic family dogs for experienced and active pet parents. Indoors or out, the sporty Welshie may need training and socialization to keep them out of trouble, but one look at that devoted scruffy face and you’ll quickly realize that it was well worth the effort.
Expert input provided by DiAnn Flory, AKC Breeder of Merit, AKC judge and owner of MoorGreen Terriers, veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture, Amber Walker, KPA-CTP, zoologist, and owner of Animal Intuitions and Mary Thompson CPDT-KA PMCT1, certified professional dog trainer at Happy Hound University.