Although relatively small in stature, the Patterdale Terrier has an unmistakably big personality. Independent and wilful, it is not uncommon for the Patterdale Terrier to assert itself and occupy the position of “top dog” in the family.
Historically bred for hunting, it is robust and energetic with a high endurance level; however this tough exterior cannot entirely mask the Patterdale Terrier’s sharp mind and loving nature, which have captured the hearts of so many dog lovers in recent years.
Height: 12-15 inches (30-38 cm)
Weight: 11-13 pounds (5-6 kg)
Average Litter Size: Three to six puppies
Life Expectancy: Up to 13 years
Good with Children: Yes
Kennel Club Classification: N/A – the Kennel Club doesn’t currently recognise the Patterdale Terrier
The Patterdale Terrier can vary widely in colour. Typically, the Patterdale Terrier is black with white markings on its chest and feet, but other colours can include bronze, chocolate, grizzle, liver, black and tan, and red and tan.
The coat of a Patterdale Terrier can be either smooth or rough, and both types feature a dense undercoat. The hairs are generally stiff and coarse, and it is quite common for rough-coated Patterdale Terriers to have longer hairs on their faces, giving them shaggy eyebrows, moustaches and/or beards. Compared to other dog breeds, Patterdale Terriers are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, requiring a brush only once or twice a week to keep their coats smooth and remove any excess hairs.
Patterdale Terriers are renowned as healthy, robust little dogs on the whole. However, the Patterdale Terrier’s eyes are its weakest point and it is prone to a variety of conditions such as conjunctivitis, glaucoma and cataracts. In addition, they sometimes develop allergies which can include seasonal and/or skin allergies, although these can often be treated with medication from your vet.
The Patterdale Terrier is often described as having a “typical Terrier temperament”, although compared with some of its cousins, such as Jack Russell Terriers or Yorkshire Terriers, it is generally a little quieter and calmer overall. It is strong-willed, confident and tenacious with an exorbitant amount of energy and stamina. A true hunter at heart, the Patterdale Terrier has a high prey drive; yet its significant intelligence and desire to please enables it to turn its talents to various other tasks as well. Looking past its sturdy physique and stubborn attitude, you will find a devoted and loving companion in your Patterdale Terrier. Tending to get along with livestock and other dogs as well as people, the Patterdale Terrier thrives in a family environment.
It should be noted, however, that the Patterdale Terrier’s instincts for chasing and digging are very strong and can sometimes result in impromptu escapes from gardens and flights while off the lead. As such, this behaviour should be discouraged as early as possible to prevent it from becoming a problem later.
Training your Patterdale Terrier is sure to be an interesting challenge. Although its high intelligence level means that the Patterdale Terrier is eager to learn and capable of understanding new commands quickly, its innate tenacity may cause some hiccups when it comes to obeying those commands. It is exceptionally important, when training your Patterdale Terrier, to be firm and consistent so that you constantly occupy the role of pack-leader in your Patterdale Terrier’s eyes and you will find that your dog responds well to positive reinforcement. As well as obedience training, the Patterdale Terrier has been known to excel at a variety of canine sports, including hunting, racing and agility.
Highly energetic and extremely smart, the Patterdale Terrier requires a considerable amount of both physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent it from becoming bored and turning to more destructive forms of behaviour. Ideally, the Patterdale Terrier should be taken for several walks each day and given access to an outdoor space (the larger the better) in-between walks. Due to its impressive stamina, the Patterdale Terrier is almost always on the go and shouldn’t be confined to the indoors for long periods of time.
Originally bred as a working dog, the Patterdale Terrier will rarely be content to laze around with nothing to do and should not be left alone for too long. You should try to include your Patterdale Terrier in your day-to-day life as much as possible and keep its mind occupied with little jobs and tricks whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The Patterdale Terrier originates from Cumbria in England, deriving its name from the small village of Patterdale. The Patterdale Terrier as we know it today is descended from the black Fell Terrier and various other breeds of Northern Terrier, and is thought to have been first bred in the early 20th century by a Joe Bowman.
Originally, the Patterdale Terrier was bred as a hunting dog, and was used to flush prey (including rabbits, foxes and other small creatures) from their burrows, chase and kill them. Patterdale Terriers are able to compress their chests, which enables them to squeeze into small gaps and holes in pursuit of prey and, although relatively small, their jaws are very strong. Having retained many of its hunting instincts, Patterdale Terriers are still used today by farmers and hunting enthusiasts, although they have also proved themselves to be useful guard dogs.
The Patterdale Terrier was introduced in the USA in 1978. Although it remains as yet unrecognised by the American Kennel Club, the breed has gained recognition by the American Rare Breed Association. The United Kennel Club officially recognised the Patterdale Terrier in 1995, but the Kennel Club in the UK does not currently recognise it as a breed. These dogs do not often appear in showrings as breeders often concentrate more on their working ability and hunter traits.
In recent years, the Patterdale Terrier has built on its reputation as a faithful and affectionate family pet, and its popularity as such has spread far beyond the UK and across the wider world.