This unique little terrier is named for Sealyham, which was the Welsh estate of the man who developed the breed, retired army Captain John Edwardes. His estate at Sealy Ham, on the Seal River in the southwest corner of Wales, was rich with small game. From 1850 to 1890, he developed a type of small, white, hardy terrier that excelled in quarrying badger, otter and fox. The dog had to be tough enough and small enough to do the job both above and below ground, but fast enough to keep up with hounds and horses. Captain Edwardes reportedly crossed Bull Terriers, Cheshire Terriers (now extinct), Staffordshire Bull Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers and even Welsh Corgies to create the novel breed designed to be more courageous, assertive and fearless than any other terrier. Breed authorities cannot agree on the precise combination that went into creating the Sealyham Terrier, but they do agree that Captain Edwardes created a delightful dog that was game enough for almost anything.
After Edwardes died in 1891, others took up the cause of continuing to refine and perfect the Sealyham Terrier. The breed made its dog show debut in 1903 in Haverfordwest. In January of 1908, the Sealyham Terrier Club of Haverfordwest was formed by a group of Welsh fanciers of the breed. The Kennel Club (England) recognized the breed in 1910, as did the American Kennel Club in 1911. The American Sealyham Terrier Club was founded in 1913.
Today’s Sealyhams are active in conformation shows as well as in agility, obedience, tracking and other working and performance events. They also are wonderful therapy dogs and entertaining family pets. For a fairly small dog, Sealyhams have a big bark and are good watchdogs. This is not a common breed, but despite its rarity, it does extremely well in the show ring. It has become less aggressive and much friendlier with its introduction to the companion dog world.
The average life span of a Sealyham Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include back problems, congenital deafness, lacrimal punctual aplasia, glaucoma, lens luxation, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and dystocia in pregnant bitches.