dam & pup WHAT IS A
WELSH TERRIER?

LOOKS AND GROOMING

The Welsh is small, square and solid, measuring about 15 inches at the shoulder, with males weighing 20 to 22 pounds. The coloring is always black and tan, but the black may be grizzled, and the tan ranges from wheaten to a deep reddish brown; the latter shade is preferred. The markings are standard: a black jacket (it does look like a short-sleeved jacket with the collar turned up) and tan head and legs. It should be noted, however, that puppies are born almost entirely black. As they mature, the black recedes and the tan takes over.

They have small dark eyes that look right at you. The ears have a natural fold just above the top of the head. The tail is docked when the whelps are 3 or 4 days old. Very little is removed, and at that age the end of the tail is soft cartilage.

The coat is double, with a wiry layer on top, a woolly one beneath. This must be hand-stripped, or plucked for the show ring. For those who enjoy doing it, and who have time, patience and aptitude for it, the pet may also be hand-stripped until it becomes too much for the older dog. Most of us live in a faster lane, however, and electric clippers are the way to go. About four or five clippings a year will keep a pet looking trim. The adult coat doesn't shed, so a good brushing and combing are necessary once a week to remove dead hair.

The weatherproof coat is water repellent and insulated against heat and cold. Except when trapped by a skunk or a similar catastrophe, these dogs should not be bathed too frequently because it destroys the wiry texture and the natural oils. Many Welsh Terriers go a lifetime with only two or three baths - and without doggy odor!

FRIENDLY AND ADAPTABLE

As a breed, Welsh Terriers make excellent companions and are happy to call home an apartment, house or condo, in town or country. They are sensible dogs. When raised without pampering, they take life pretty much as it comes without undue stress. This laid-back attitude allows adult dogs to adapt well to the life of a "latchkey" pet for the family that's away at work and school all day.

Like all of the terriers, the Welsh is a perfect candidate for crate training. It also needs to be walked on a leash, to be protected by a fenced yard or rectangular run (for those yucky days when its owner isn't up to a walk).

TRAINING

The Welsh is more easily taught or shown, than trained by force. Because this is an eager-to-please breed, the owner's job is to show the dog how great things are when the dog is co-operative.

The bitches are the hunters, and perhaps because of the expert hunting ability of the females, there are distinct differences in personality between the sexes. The bitches are (generally) more alert, quicker to learn and have more of the "I can do it myself" approach to life.

They are sometimes even dominant in their love of people. By the same token, they may be more scrappy toward other dogs than are the males. They are definitely more vocal, but that comparison is relative, because the Welsh Terrier is not a yapper.

The males tend to be easy-going, devoted, friendly companions, and are more challenging than aggressive. They are often steadier, quieter and quicker to enjoy the fun in life than the bitches. The Welsh Terrier is not an aggressive dog and should not be allowed -- or worse, encouraged -- to become one.

The Welsh has typical terrier quickness. It is quick to make friends with man or beast, quick to race after a squirrel or mouse, quick to react to your moods, quick to switch from sun-napping to super watchdog. All this quickness can be the dog's undoing, however, if it has not been taught right from wrong. For the Welsh (as with all dogs), the first life-saving lesson to be learned at 6 to 8 weeks (and reinforced daily forever after) is "Come!" The second is "Stay".

The Welsh Terrier is typically funny, mischievous, and either all innocence or endearingly apologetic. It is easy to train as long as the trainer is clear about what is wanted, firm in maintaining discipline, gentle in making any correction understood, and quick to realize when it's time to quit and have fun. Training the Welsh requires a light hand, a gentle voice and the firm conviction on your part that no matter how long it takes, you, as the leader of this pack, are right. Rough treatment, harsh corrections, teasing, yelling or shouting are definitely not for the Welsh Terrier; any or all of these approaches will only bring on "terminal deafness" or even snarling -- through very large teeth. Prevention is a better teaching tool than punishment. The Welsh considers itself a gentleman and should be treated as such.

FULL OF PERSONALITY

wrestling pups

Welsh Terrier puppies are spunky, funny, playful, sweet and very intelligent. They are born knowing that they are all of these things, which can make it difficult for the unwary new owner. They learn quickly and easily, and in less time than it takes to say, "Good dog", they have discovered exactely how to get their own way. For this reason, they do not make good pets for people who really wanted a baby or a pet to pamper. The right owner is the person who wants a rugged, healthy dog: a bright but quiet companion that's easy to housetrain, somewhat more difficult to obedience train, but full of terrier spunk should a stranger knock on the door.

Welsh are generally good with children, although an older dog may feel out of sorts if the first baby arrives after many years of "Welsh goverment" in the household. Toddlers do not make good owners of any breed of dog, and Welsh are no exception to this rule, although the adult dogs can be more patient than some other terrier breeds. For older, responsible children, the Welsh is a fun-loving, playful and faithful companion. The Welsh is calm (for a terrier) and sturdy.

When considering the price of a Welsh Terrier, bear in mind that the dog will live to be 12 to 15, is a hardy dog and is generally free from breed-specific ills. But Welsh are not kept "on the shelf" ready for instant purchase. Be prepared to go on a breeder's waiting list.

Also be prepared to be asked by the breeder to have your pet spayed or neutered.

The Welsh Terrier is a basic terrier with basic needs. Those needs are training and controlled "hunting" (for mental stimulation), walks on leash and play (for physical exercise), normal veterinary care (mostly preventative medicine), a good diet (to keep it healthy and at a good weight) and grooming (to keep it handsome). It needs an owner who cares about all of these things -- and someone who has a sense of humor to fully appreciate that with a Welsh, life won't be cut-and-dried!


Written by Bardi McLennan and reproduced with her permission
First published in Dog Fancy July 1988

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