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Welsh Terrier

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Welsh Terrier

  • History

    Although the history of the Welsh Terrier is not completely clear, we can ascertain from paintings and prints that the breed is quite old and may have been one of the first Terriers.

    He was originally known as the Black-and-Tan Wire Haired Terrier or the Old English Terrier. Although associated with Wales, he lived in many parts of England during the 19th century. He was commonly used to hunt foxes, otters, and badgers, and he excelled at eradicating vermin.

    He was commonly shown and categorized as an Old English Terrier, a category under which many Terrier breeds were classified. It wasn’t until 1885 that he was classified as a Welsh Terrier by the Kennel Club of England.

    Welsh Terriers began arriving in the United States in 1888, though their importation was erratic. By 1901, however, the Welsh Terrier finally established a footing in the United States, and his popularity grew at a steady pace.

  • Size

    The Welsh Terrier is a medium-sized dog. The average height is 15 to 15.5 inches, females being slightly smaller than males. The average weight is usually 20 pounds, but weight should be in proportion to the height and bone density of each individual dog.

  • Personality

    The Welsh Terrier is a cheerful, intelligent dog who loves to have fun and is always affectionate. He’s energetic and has a playful nature. Loyal and devoted to his family, he can nevertheless be quite the social butterfly.

    He loves to amuse both himself and his family, and he’s not as hot-tempered as some other terrier breeds. His loving disposition and energy makes him an excellent family companion who’s great with children.

    The Welshie can be independent, which may lead to some training difficulties (especially with inexperienced owners). But this is usually offset by what most people love best about the Welsh Terrier: his happy, fun-loving zest for life.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner.

    Always meet at least one of the parents–usually the mother is the one who’s available–to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, the Welshie needs early socialization–exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences–when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Welshie puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Welshies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Welshies will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed. If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Welshies, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Welsh Terrier is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog’s diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
    • Epilepsy: This is a neurological condition that’s often, but not always, inherited. It can cause mild or severe seizures that may show themselves as unusual behavior (such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding) or even by falling down, limbs rigid, and losing consciousness. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It’s important to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis (especially since seizures can have other causes) and treatment.
    • Glaucoma: This is a painful disease in which pressure in the eye is abnormally high due to improper drainage of normal eye fluids. This causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma may be hereditary, or it may be the result of some other problem in the eye, such as inflammation, a tumor, or injury. The affected eye will be red, teary, squinty, and appear painful; the front of the eye will have a whitish, almost blue cloudiness. Vision loss and eventually blindness will result, sometimes even when treated with surgery or medication.
    • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It’s thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
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  • Care

    Training a Welsh Terrier can be a study in who is more determined, the trainer who’s trying to get the Terrier to listen, or the bored Terrier who’s ignoring the trainer. The Welshie is known for having a mind of his own and he’s not the most obedient of breeds–he’s no sunny Golden Retriever–so he will often test limits. Train him with positive reinforcement and consistency. Harsh corrections can shut down any chance at getting through to him.

    The Welsh Terrier can also become bored easily, so he requires an interesting training routine. Breaking training up with fun games, keeping it free of repetition, and giving him something to work for are excellent ways to get him more interested in training. Socialization is important with a Welsh Terrier. He can be combative with other dogs and animals, but this trait can be corrected with proper training and early and ongoing socialization. In fact, Welsh Terriers generally do well with other dogs once they’re socialized. A Welsh Terrier is a high-energy dog. Even with a vigorous exercise routine, you should expect some of that energy to be converted into room-crashing escapades that range throughout the house. He should have a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, which can be accomplished by playing in a yard or dog park (as long as he isn’t too dog-aggressive to go to the dog park), playing in the house, or going on a long walk. Letting him hang in the yard by himself is not going to be enough–and he’ll probably jump the fence.

    The Welsh Terrier is very fond of toys and will burn off ample energy playing by himself with his favorite squeaky toy. He can also make an excellent jogging companion, though his high prey drive means you should keep him leashed on walks.

    Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Welshie doesn’t have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn’t. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Welshie accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.

    Never stick your Welshie in a crate all day long, however. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he’s sleeping at night. Welshies are people dogs, and they aren’t meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.

    Although it’s not ideal, the Welsh Terrier can live in an apartment. He will bark, though, and this can become a problem in buildings with noise restrictions. A house with a small, fenced yard is better. Also, he needs to live indoors with the people he loves.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference–the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

    Keep your Welshie in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise. For more on feeding your Welshie, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    Sporting two coats to waterproof himself, the Welsh Terrier has an outer coat that’s hard and wiry and an undercoat that’s soft and short. He only has one color pattern: tan and black.

    A non- to light shedder, the Welshie still requires a fair amount of grooming. He should be brushed at least once per week, although it’s frankly better to do it every other day. Unless he’s clipped, that wiry coat will need to be stripped several times a year to remove any loose or dead hair and to prevent it from matting.

    Brush your Welshie’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding–and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Welshie to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently–dogs are touchy about their feet–and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    The Welsh Terrier is a loving dog who can be patient when he needs to be. Add to that a hardiness that allows him to enjoy a fair amount of roughhousing, and you’ll find that he makes a wonderful companion for children.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    He’s also basically compatible with other dogs and can do well in homes where he isn’t the only canine companion. He is a Terrier though, and he may be dog-aggressive if not properly socialized or trained. He’s not recommended for homes with small pets that might be viewed as prey, because all Terriers have a strong prey drive and will give chase.

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