America's first and only Irish Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, also brought the first and only Welsh dog breed into the White House: Charlie, his daughter Caroline's Welsh Terrier. (Charlie's own religious leanings have been lost to the annals of history.)
Though the Welsh Terrier is a bit more laid-back than some terriers, their energy levels and tendencies toward playful mischief are true to their group. Originally bred as small-game hunting dogs, today's Welshes are cherished canine companions and eager competitors in earthdog trials.
Originally from — you guessed it — Wales, this small-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to an average of 20 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Terrier group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting
Breed Group: Terrier
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 89
AREA OF ORIGIN Wales
DATE OF ORIGIN 1700s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION otter, fox, badger, and rat hunting
TODAY'S FUNCTION earthdog trials
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 15-15.5 Weight: 20
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: <15-15.5 Weight: 20
OTHER NAME none
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Shy
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A WELSH TERRIER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Don't let their (comparatively) mild manner fool you — Welsh Terriers are every bit as full of spunk and spirit as other terriers. These dogs are friendly, courageous, and intelligent. And like many other terriers, these dogs live to chase small furry creatures like squirrels, rabbits, and the cat next door. They're generally good with kids, though their level of joie de vivre could be a bit overwhelming for a toddler.
WHAT IS WELSH TERRIER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a somewhat active breed. Welsh Terriers don't need to run for miles every morning, but regular daily exercise is non-negotiable. An unsupervised Welsh is going to re-landscape your yard and drive the neighbors bonkers with her barking. With enough exercise, however, a Welsh Terrier can be a calm, alert housedog.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A WELSH TERRIER?
Welsh Terriers are people-pleasers who respond well to training. She can be a bit stubborn — what terrier can't? — but patience and consistency will go a long way with this pup. These dogs are intelligent but easily distracted, so keep training sessions short and fun. Early, frequent socialization is essential. Reward good behaviors with praise, play, and treats.
There is no amount of training that is going to convince your Welsh Terrier not to chase squirrels or chipmunks, so this breed is not a great candidate for off-leash play outside a well-fenced area. This breed is also sometimes slow to housetrain.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO WELSH TERRIERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Welsh Terriers are seasonal shedders who will require weekly grooming. With proper upkeep, their coats don't shed much. Show coats will require plucking at least every six months. Otherwise, regular clipping and twice-weekly combing — especially those beards — should do the trick. Bathe as needed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO WELSH TERRIERS HAVE?
As a breed, Welsh Terriers are generally healthy. Some are susceptible to eye disease and slipping kneecaps.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE WELSH TERRIERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Welsh Terriers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as small as a Welsh Terrier! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A WELSH TERRIER'S BEST DAY?
Welshes are #BasicTerriers: this dog wants to run around, explore, chase cats and bunnies, and dig holes straight through to the People's Republic of China. (Check her passport before you let her play unattended in the backyard, just in case.) Make sure she's got a safe, well-fenced area to play in, and let her follow her nose.
SHOULD I ADOPT A WELSH TERRIER?
Welsh Terriers are equally comfortable in warm and cold weather. They definitely need regular exercise, but you won't need to plan your day around two or three hours of walks or runs. Unless you're planning to show yours, she won't need expensive grooming. If you're up for sharing a home with a little dog with more swag than you, a Welsh Terrier might be just the ticket.
Have you decided that a Welsh Terrier is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.