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Welsh Terrier laying down in the backyard.
©Arthur Kattowitz -

If you live with a Welsh Terrier, you know all about the breed’s wonderful traits. Welsh Terriers are outgoing, friendly, affectionate, and playful, and they great traveling companions. Whether you’re a breed fancier, considering adding a Welshie to your family, or just curious about this Terrier Group breed, there are some things you should know.

Welsh Terriers Have Descendants in Common With Other Terrier Breeds

Larger than the Lakeland Terrier, but much smaller than the Airedale, the Welshie shares a familial resemblance with its terrier cousins. All are thought to be descended from the ancient Old English Black and Tan Terrier.

Welsh Terrier laying down on a garden bench.
©14ktgold -

The Breed Is Thought to Have Been Around for Over 500 Years

Although the specific breed was evolving in the 1700s, there’s a record of a Welsh Terrier as early as 1450, when a Welsh poet wrote about a “good black and red bitch to choke the brown polecat.”

The Welsh Terrier Has an Extremely High Prey Drive

Bred to hunt, chase, and kill badgers, fox, and vermin, Welshies are relentless in their quest. They’ll go after anything that moves and will chase prey whatever the terrain and no matter how long it takes. With their powerful build and jaws, they can even take on badgers, which have dangerously sharp claws and teeth.

Welsh Terriers Are Considered Long-Legged Terriers

Rather than burrow into holes or dens after prey like their shorter-legged counterparts, Welshies dig … and dig and dig. They face forward and toss the earth back under their bodies and through their rear legs. Speaking of digging, if you have a fenced yard, check it often to make sure your dog hasn’t found a vulnerable spot in which to dig an escape route.

Welsh Terrier laying down in the backyard.
©Arthur Kattowitz -

Like Many Terrier Breeds, the Welshie Has That “Terrier Fire”

They can be independent, feisty, and brave, sometimes to the point of recklessness. With all that energy, Welsh Terriers need a great deal of physical and mental exercise to keep them content.

Dog Sports Are a Great Way for Welshies To Burn Energy

Both Earthdog and Barn Hunt events make excellent use of the breed’s instinctual hunting talents. With their instinctive love of the chase, Welsh Terriers can excel at Coursing Ability Tests, too.

Black and Tan Is the Sole Color Combination for the Welsh Terrier

The tan is typically a dark reddish shade, although according to the breed standard, lighter tans are acceptable. Interestingly, puppies are born almost completely black.

Welsh Terrier head portrait outdoors.
©buglibu -

A Welsh Terrier Was Once First Dog Under JFK

During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, the family had a Welshie named “Charlie.” Jacqueline Kennedy gave Charlie to her husband during the presidential campaign. Charlie bonded so closely to JFK that Mrs. Kennedy called him “Jack’s dog.” Charlie sometimes swam laps with the president and took long walks with the First Couple at night, trailed discreetly by the Secret Service.

Welshies Have Been an AKC-Recognized Breed Since 1888

The breed was the 45th to earn full AKC recognition, and has been a staple in conformation shows ever since. While several other Terrier breeds have won Best in Show over the years, that honor has never been awarded to a Welsh Terrier at the AKC National Championship, presented by Royal Canin. However, Welsh Terrier “Dazzle” (GCHG CH Brightluck Money Talks (“Dazzle”) took the Terrier Group in 2019. He was bred by Janet McBrien (Brightluck Welsh Terriers) of Brightwood, Virginia and is owned by McBrien and Keith Bailey (Bayleigh Welsh Terriers) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Welsh Terrier
Tadeusz Przyby?/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The “Stink Eye” Is Well-Known to Welsh Terrier Owners

If your Welshie is displeased with you or annoyed after not getting their way, you’re going to get the trademark “stink eye.” The phrase is so universal that Welsh Terrier Rescue (WTCARES) holds an annual fundraiser in Greenville, South Carolina called the Stink Eye Walk and Social. For three days, the city is transformed into Welsh Terrier central.

Related article: Welsh Terrier History: A Dog Down for the Hunt
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