Groomed to a similar modern outline to the Fox Terrier (Wire), the Welsh Terrier is often regarded as a small Airedale Terrier. In character this is somewhat true as many modern Airedale enthusiasts have Welsh Terriers as well! Today his smart black or grizzle coat with his rich tan head and legs, give him his distinctive appearance.
The History of the Welsh Terrier
Welsh Terriers c 1904
It appears that the Welsh Terrier is not uniquely Welsh in origin at all! In 1886, its first entry in the English Stud Books was under the name "Welsh or Old English wire-haired black and tan terriers"! Common as far south as Devon, with the largest numbers found at Shows in Liverpool and Birmingham it was described as
"as grand-looking a lot of working terriers as man need desire to see".
Around this time, there was evidence to prove that this identical dog of comparatively pure blood had long flourished in the north of England, and in some districts was still to be found unaltered.
The Welsh Terrier becomes a Pure Breed
In England, at first the same type of dog could be dual registered in the Kennel Club Stud Books as a 'Welsh Terrier' as well as an 'Old English hard-haired black and Tan Terrier'. But as the English fanciers failed to establish a club, in 1888 a group of Welshmen persuaded the Kennel Club to drop the English name. So, entries in the English Stud Books have been under the name Welsh Terrier ever since![1a] Also in 1888, he was taken to the United States where it was recognised by the American Kennel Club also as the Welsh Terrier.
History of Welsh Terriers in Australia
Welsh Terrier 1966
The Welsh Terrier was introduced until 1966 when Strongfort Kennels introduced the dog pictured on the left, Ch Felstead Pioneer (Imp UK) from one of England's most famous Welsh Terrier Kennels. This dog was later joined by a female and laid the foundation for others to follow. A small band of enthusiasts have kept the breed alive ever since, with Welsh Terriers regularly appearing in our Australian show rings and gaining high awards.
The Welsh Terrier Today
The Welsh Terrier has altered in conformation and today outwardly appears like a black and tan version of a Fox Terrier (Wire) or Lakeland Terrier with construction like the long-legged terriers. This is possibly because Breed Standard requires the Welsh Terrier to be smart and workmanlike, yet retain his game and fearless temperament.
He has a flat skull of moderate thickness, and around the same length as his foreface. He has a slight stop and deep and powerful jaws housing a normal scissors bite. Like a typical terrier he has small eyes and ears set on fairly high and carried close to the cheeks.
He has a short back, his forelegs having ample bone with upright pasterns and small round cat-like feet. He has strong hindquarters with good angulation to match his front. This enables him to move with fore and hind legs carried straight forward, the elbows working free of the sides to facilitate the specialized terrier front of a working terrier. He has a hard, wiry broken coat with undercoat. He is always black and tan or grizzle and tan, free from black pencilling on the toes or below the hocks. He weighs around 20-21 pounds and should not exceed 15.5 inches.
Comparison between Fox, Welsh and Lakeland Terriers
These 3 Terriers are directly compared here because although they appear alike, they differ not only in origin but also in several physical aspects. So it is important to compare these differences.
|Terrier||Fox Terrier (Wire)||Welsh Terrier||Lakeland Terrier|
Fox Terrier (Wire)
|Background||Old English White Terrier (rough coated)||Old English Black and Tan Terrier (rough coated)||Terrier of the Border Region|
|Head Proportions||Little difference in length between skull and foreface||Medium length from stop to end of nose. Jaws rather deep.||Length of head from stop to tip of nose not exceeding that from occiput to stop|
|Ears||Top line of folded ears well above level of skull (Button Ears)||Set in fairly high and carried forward close to cheek||Set neither too high or too low on head|
|Chest||Deep not broad||Good depth and moderate width||Chest reasonably narrow|
|Body Proportions||Back short||Back short||Back moderately short|
|Height and Weight||Dogs not exceeding 15.5 inches at shoulder, bitches slightly less. Ideally 18 lbs.||Not exceeding 15.5 inches at shoulder. 20 - 21 lbs.||Not exceeding 14.5 inches at shoulder. Dogs 17 lbs, bitches 15 lbs.|
|Colour||White predominates with black, black and tan or tan markings||Black and tan or black grizzle and tan||Black and tan, blue and tan, red, wheaten, red grizzle, liver blue or black|
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References and Further Reading
 Rawdon B. Lee, "Modern Dogs" of Great Britain and Ireland (Third Edition) London:Horace Cox, "Field" Office, Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, E.C. 1903 Chapter X, Pages 264
[1a] Ibid.,Page 266