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Patterdale Terrier Breed Guide

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Loyal, loving and easy to train, the Patterdale Terrier is an excellent family pet but does require a significant amount of exercise. Healthy and robust dogs, they don’t tend to suffer from serious hereditary health issues and can live up to fifteen years.

Which breed group is The Patterdale Terrier in?

Breed group: Terrier

Terriers were originally bred for hunting vermin. “Terrier” is derived from the Latin word Terra which means earth. This group of dogs tend to be very hardy and have been selectively bred for bravery, determination and toughness. They will pursue prey both above and below ground and have been kept in the UK since the Middle Ages.

Patterdale Terrier breed history

Also known as the Black Fell Terrier and Patterdale, the Patterdale Terrier was first bred around 100 years ago in the hilly environment of the Lake District. Farmers in this region looked for robust, hard-working dogs to protect their livestock from foxes and the Patterdale was bred to meet these needs.

Patterdales have been bred and then trained to kill their prey if it fights back and can do this efficiently. They possess the ability to compress their chests and to lie flat with their legs extended and this unique trait enables them to access small burrows.  However, hunting with such dogs was banned in England and Wales by the Hunting act 2004. Patterdales are now popular family pets and while not recognised as a breed by the UK Kennel Club, they are recognised by the United Kennel Club in America.

Patterdale Terrier breed characteristics

Incredibly loyal and friendly, Patterdale Terriers are excellent pets which love children but can be demanding. They need a copious amount of exercise and stimulation and will require training to eliminate their tendency to dig as this could extend to destroying household carpets or excavating their way out of the garden! They don’t cope well with being left alone and their tendency to bark must be tackled from a young age.

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Height: up to 40cm
  • Weight: up to 14kg
  • Strong, powerful looking heads
  • Broad muzzles and muscular necks
  • Squared bodies, muscular backs and slightly arched loins
  • May have a smooth, rough or broken coat
  • Can be chocolate, red, tan, liver, black and tan or grizzled in colour
  • Regardless of their colour, Patterdales have white paws and some white on their chests
  • Loyal, friendly, playful and devoted pets
  • Very active
  • Robust and healthy
  • Don’t require intensive grooming
  • High prey drive
  • Don’t like being left alone
  • Can be stubborn
  • Loud bark
  • Tend to be very vocal
  • Love digging
  • Like water

 

Health issues

Patterdales are not prone to serious hereditary conditions but can suffer issues with their eyes including Primary lens luxation and conjunctivitis.

What is the Patterdale Terrier bred for?

Patterdales were bred to seek out and capture vermin which posed a threat to livestock. As such, they are strong, active and persistent dogs which require careful training. They have been bred to dig and to wriggle into small holes to capture prey which has run to ground. Their tenacious natures, loyalty and robust health made them the perfect hunting dogs for farmers.

What sort of owners does the Patterdale Terrier suit?

Energetic, confident, gregarious and independent, Patterdale Terriers are best suited to experienced owners with active lifestyles. They appreciate time outdoors and love challenging walks, swimming and playing. They are suitable for families as they love children but should not be kept with small animals due to their prey drive.

Patterdale Terriers are not the best choice for owners with close neighbours as they tend to bark a lot and will chase cats which do not belong to their household. They don’t like to be left alone and so would not suit owners who work unless they work from home. It might be necessary to supervise a Patterdale while in the garden as they may try to dig their way out. These dogs are not ideal for first time owners as they require stringent training and can be demanding or even destructive. They are, however, excellent watch dogs, although their love of barking can lead to many false alarms!

Intelligent, adaptable and eager to please, Patterdales are highly trainable but their training should begin early to eliminate potentially troubling behaviour.  Good recall from a young age is particularly important due to this breed’s prey drive and Patterdales need to understand their boundaries from the get-go.


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