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Never heard of the Patterdale terrier? You're not alone. While she's one of the less common terrier breeds, her compact size, outgoing nature, and eagerness to please make this working dog an ideal match for experienced dog owners who want an active four-legged companion to tag along on outdoor adventures.
Patterdale terriers are small dogs, reaching 10-15 inches tall and weighing less than 13 pounds but have the exercise needs of much larger breeds. They were bred as working dogs and benefit from an on-the-go lifestyle that includes running and hiking, preferably as the only dog in the household.
They're affectionate, eager-to-please pups, and with the right amount of exercise and consistent, rewards-based training, Patterdale terriers make wonderful companions.
As working terriers bred to hunt vermin, Patterdale terriers were bred for their strength and stamina-not their looks. This means there can be significant variations in their appearances.
All Patterdale terriers are compact dogs, standing just 10-15 inches tall and weighing less than 13 pounds. They're sturdy, have long legs, and their triangular ears fold down. But when it comes to their coat length, texture, and color, Patterdale terriers look completely different.
These dogs are a double-coated breed with a short, dense undercoat. Their top coat can be smooth, rough, or wirehaired (also called broken), and provides protection against the elements. A smooth coat consists of coarse, dense, and stiff hair; the hair on a broken coat is longer as well as coarse and wiry; rough coats are the longest and coarsest of all.
Her coat colors include black, red, liver, chocolate, grizzle, black and tan, and bronze. Patterdale terriers of all colors can also have white markings on their chests and feet.
The Patterdale terrier temperament is best described as bold: These determined little dogs will work tirelessly to complete a task and run for miles in pursuit of prey. They are also dogged in pursuit of affection and approval, seeking out their owners for praise and treats as a reward for their efforts.
Although the breed is highly intelligent and eager to please, the Patterdale terrier is active, independent, willful, and mischievous-and it takes the right amount of training and exercise to keep her engaged and out of trouble.
"Patterdale terriers are very smart dogs who enjoy learning and having a job to do," says Marissa Sunny, CPDT-KA, a canine behavior specialist at Best Friends Animal Society. "It's important to keep them active and engaged."
The breed benefits from an experienced dog owner who can commit to providing regular exercise-and a lot of it-along with mental stimulation and positive reinforcement training that Patterdale terriers need to thrive.
In exchange for an active home, Patterdale terriers reward their owners with loyalty and affection.
Think twice before bringing a Patterdale terrier puppy home to a small apartment. Though these pups are little, Sunny notes that the breed is too active to be confined to four walls, and their propensity toward excessive barking is sure to annoy the neighbors.
Instead, Sunny says the feisty terrier is best suited to a home with a big yard and lots-and lots and lots-of opportunities for exercise. Patterdale terriers are ideal hiking, walking, and running partners and will happily keep the pace for miles.
"Patterdale terriers have a high energy level; they will need lots of physical and mental exercise to keep them stimulated, happy, and healthy," she says. Sunny also suggests training games and dog puzzles to provide mental stimulation to this active breed.
Some Patterdale terriers get along well with other dogs, but their strong prey drives could cause them to chase smaller animals. A house without cats, rabbits, gerbils, or other animals that could be perceived as prey is best, Sunny says. And their desire to chase means a secure, fenced yard is a must.
Although Patterdale terrier puppies' high energy levels mean they can have a tendency to overwhelm small children-the Patterdale Terrier Club of America doesn't recommend the breed for families with children under 7 years old-they can make an excellent addition to an active family with older kids.
"Patterdale terriers love being with their families," Sunny says. "It's always important to socialize your dog and make sure they have a positive experience with as many new things as possible to help ensure they are comfortable with all kinds of people, including children."
Patterdale terriers require very little grooming. Their short, dense coats should be brushed about once per week (more often in the summer, when the dogs shed) and their coats require no trimming-it's a DIY process. Bathing a Patterdale terrier once a month is enough to keep any doggy odor away.
Like all breeds, Patterdale terriers require high-quality diets, regular vet care, and preventive medications to protect against fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.
When it comes to caring for a Patterdale terrier, exercise and training are your biggest investments of time and effort. These are working dogs that love having jobs to do, Sunny says. Focus on fast-paced, interactive games that provide physical and mental stimulation to help Patterdale terriers master basic cues and learn new tricks.
"It's important to use positive reinforcement when training so they feel they have earned a reward," Sunny says. "I always recommended starting training as early as possible with them."
Patterdale terriers have a lifespan of 10-12 years and, during that time, the breed is susceptible to some health issues.
Obesity: Without sufficient exercise, Patterdale terriers are prone to packing on the pounds. Obesity is linked to health conditions ranging from osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes to heart disease and a shorter lifespan. Practice portion control and provide plenty of exercise to keep Patterdale terriers at a healthy weight.
Eye problems: The breed is prone to several eye problems, including glaucoma, which is caused by increased pressure behind the eye. The symptoms include squinting and watery eyes and can progress to blindness. Medication and, in severe cases, surgery, can help ease pain and preserve vision.
Patterdale terriers are also susceptible to lens luxation. This hereditary disease causes the lens to move from its ideal position between the iris and retina; it can shift toward the back of the eye (posterior luxation) or forward (anterior luxation). It's a painful condition that increases the risk of blindness. Surgery, which can include removing the eye, is the only treatment.
Joint problems: Patterdale terriers are prone to several joint diseases, including hip dysplasia, a painful condition that occurs when the hip joint doesn't fit into the socket, causing a painful grinding in the joint. In most cases, hip dysplasia can be treated with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications, but surgery may also be necessary.
The breed is also at increased risk of intervertebral disc disease or IVDD. It's a degenerative spinal condition that results from loss of cushioning or herniation of the material between the discs. IVDD causes pain, impairs movement, and, in severe cases, can cause partial paralysis. Treatments range from medication to surgery.
The Patterdale terrier hails from Northern England where she developed a reputation for her tireless work ethic and skill controlling vermin that would attack sheep. The dogs moved across rugged terrain in harsh climates, chasing vermin from their dens and to protect their flocks.
While some believe the breed was developed by crossing the Old English terrier and the Northumberland Pit terrier (both now extinct), others insist that the Patterdale terrier is a cross of the blue-black border terrier and black and tan Fell terriers. (Fun fact: Fell terriers aren't a specific dog breed. Rather, the term references small working terriers developed in Northern England).
Regardless of her origins, there is agreement that the Patterdale terrier is a tenacious hunting dog-but Sunny notes that, like most terrier breeds, the Patterdale terrier is not just a working dog.
"Patterdales are wonderful companions," she says.
Although other terrier breeds are common, the Patterdale terrier is lesser known. The breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1995 but still isn't officially registered with the American Kennel Club.
- Patterdale terriers are sometimes referred to as "Fell terriers." But this term refers to long-legged working terriers from Northern England and isn't a unique dog breed. Lakeland terriers are also considered Fell terriers.
- Though other terrier breeds, such as the Russell, are pretty popular pets, the Patterdale terrier is a relatively rare breed.