About the Patterdale Terrier

by Elizabeth Muirhead
    Patterdale terriers originally were bred to protect sheep herds from foxes.

    Patterdale terriers originally were bred to protect sheep herds from foxes.

    Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    The Patterdale terrier is a rare working dog, sometimes classified as the fell terrier, although breeders often consider the Patterdale to come from the fell. This hunting and companion breed is not recognized by all kennel clubs, with breed standards existing to make a better hunter.

    Origin

    The Patterdale terrier originated in Northern England and was named after a village in Cumbria. This region is where they are more commonly found today. These dogs were developed to protect sheep herds by hunting vermin such as fox, which prey on sheep, even chasing them into burrows. They also have been used to hunt rabbits. The rocky terrain of its origin culminated in a need for an agile pet that was an equally capable hunter above and below ground. The first known occurrence of Patterdales in the United States was in 1978.

    Characteristics

    Because of their hunting nature, the United Kennel Club, or UKC, does not penalize show dogs for injuries that occur while working, including scars and broken teeth. These terriers are 10 to 15 inches high at their shoulders with proportionate weight, and they typically have a full, rather than docked, tail. Their ears are tipped or folded close to their heads. The Patterdale coat is coarse and wiry, even in its smooth form. Patterdale terriers should never be downy. Breed standards allow for colors including black, red, tan or black and tan; white markings only are allowed on the chest or feet.

    Behavior

    Patterdales are active dogs, and most work hard to please their owners. They may be stubborn, but they should never be vicious or shy. Because they may dispatch their prey independently, Patterdales not typically are used in hunting where the goal is to make prey bolt from their den. While they often work well with other dogs, their hunting nature makes them less compatible with other types of pets. With plenty of exercise outside, they typically are inactive in the home, but they are not recommended as apartment dogs.

    Care

    Patterdales should be given regular, daily exercise for both their health and to appease their instincts. Activity can range from jogging and hikes to hunting. These dogs should not be unsupervised in a fenced yard because they may dig out readily. Grooming needs are minimal; infrequent brushing is all most Patterdales need for a healthy coat. They generally are healthy dogs, with few genetic predispositions.

    Photo Credits

    • Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.

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