The Welsh Terrier has changed little in coat, color or characteristics over the centuries. The breed was developed in Wales as a sporting dog particularly well-suited to “go to earth” to hunt otter, marten, fox and badger in their lairs. His legs are sufficiently long to let him keep up with a hunter on horseback and a pack of hounds, and he is tenacious enough to corner and kill badger in their den without assistance. His ancestors are thought to include the old broken-coated Black and Tan Terrier, the Airedale Terrier, the Lakeland Terrier and the Irish Terrier. In the early 1800s, the breed was referred to by a number of names that included “Welsh,” “Wire Haired,” “Black and Tan” and/or “Old English.” At the Carnavon Dog Show in the mid-1880s, the Welsh Terrier finally was exhibited in a class of its own, although even as late as 1886 The Kennel Club (England) had a single class for “Welsh or Old English Wire Haired Black and Tan Terriers.” All that changed when a terrier named Dick Turpin came onto the scene in 1888. He did so much winning that the English wanted to call him an English Terrier, while the Welsh rightfully claimed him as one of their own. The Kennel Club (England) sided with the Welsh, and Dick Turpin became the foundation sire for the Welsh Terrier as we know it today.
The Welsh Terrier crept onto the American show scene in 1888, the same year that Dick Turpin was doing so much winning and stamping himself into the breed’s history in England. That year, Prescott Lawrence imported a pair of Welsh Terriers from Britrain and exhibited them at Madison Square Garden in the Miscellaneous Class. The Welsh Terrier Club of America was founded in 1900. By 1901, the Westminster Kennel Club recognized a class for Welsh Terriers separate from other terriers, and several competed in that class. The breed has steadily risen in popularity in America since that time.
Today’s Welsh Terrier remains a spirited and efficient working terrier. He is active, alert and playful, and makes a wonderful companion as well. This is an especially eager-to-please breed that for some reason has never achieved great popularity in this country. Among its fanciers, however, the Welsh Terrier is prized as a sporty and stylish friend, a talented hunting companion and a terrific watchdog.
The average life span of the Welsh Terrier is 13 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include epilepsy, glaucoma, lens luxation, skin problems and thyroid disease.