Welsh Terrier Club

History of the Breed

Historians believe that the Welsh Terrier is one of the oldest pure bred terriers; evidence indicates that he has changed very little from the all round working terrier developed several hundreds of years ago in the high mountains and hidden valleys of Wales. Late in the nineteenth century when improved methods of transportation opened that part of Britain to travellers, the breed was seen by hunters and fanciers from all over the world who recognised and admired its possibilities.Some confusion resulted when the English Kennel Club admitted the breed for registration on a joint basis with the Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan Terrier, now thought to be a hodge podge of other breeds which resembled the Welsh Terrier. In any event, the Black and Tan no longer exists while the Welshman remains a testimonial to the sound requirements set up by his breeders.

The function of the Welsh, common to all terriers, is that of an "earth stopper", or dog that will go to ground or into caves after game. Terriers were used with packs of hounds which drove the quarry to a spot where the terrier could corner and seize it, or force it once more into the open for the chase. Because they usually became involved in physical combat with such deadly animals as otter and badger, terriers were bred for courage far greater than was needed in hounds or pursuit dogs. In the Welsh, strength combined with small size was desired and developed. A surprisingly good ability to scent game was also an important part of the Welsh character which increased its value as a working terrier.

At first glance, the Welsh Terrier might be mistaken for a black and tan Wire Fox Terrier or a miniature Airedale, but he is neither of these. The head of a Welsh, in proportion to his body, is more powerfully made than either the Fox Terrier or the Airedale, being boxy rather than wedge shaped. He is bred for power and endurance instead of speed which gives him a broader, compact "cobby" shape. Since early fanciers used terms familiar to breeders of the horse, it would be appropriate to compare the Welsh to a working horse, while the Fox Terrier is more like a hunter or racer. The Breed Standard is a word picture of the ideal Welshman which has been adopted by breeders and registry associations.

Often described as the least quarrelsome of the Terriers, the Welsh has all the gaiety, fire and courage of a true terrier combined with the common sense and dignity of the larger working breeds; this happy blend of temperaments makes him easy to train and ideally suitable as a family companion or children's pet.