Patterdale Terrier

Written by Natalie Decker
Patterdale Terrier dog in an autumn garden

The Patterdale Terrier is a small, compact hunting dog specialised in badger and fox hunting.

The Patterdale Terrier originates from northern England, where it was bred for fox and badger hunting. It has a strong hunting instinct and the typical terrier stubbornness, which is why the “Patti” is not suitable for beginners.

Appearance: Small, compact dog

The Patterdale Terrier, also known as the Fell Terrier or Black Terrier, is a small dog with a rectangular, muscular build.

What size and weight can a Patterdale Terrier reach?

It reaches a shoulder height between 25 and 38 centimetres and a weight of 6 to 12 kilograms. Since the “Patti” has always been bred for functionality over beauty, its appearance can vary significantly.

This hunting dog’s short fur can be either smooth or rough. The most common coat colour by far is black. Occasionally, puppies with brown, reddish-brown, or black and tan coats are born.

White markings on the chest or legs may occur.

Strong muzzle, triangular folded ears

The breed features the terrier-typical triangular folded ears. With its dark eyes, the Patterdale Terrier looks attentively into the world.

The heads and muzzles of these sturdy small dogs are robustly built. The high-set, stiff tail that stands stiffly backwards can sometimes be docked for hunting purposes.

Patterdale Terrier black © Travis/
The Patterdale Terrier is primarily found in black colour, but also in various shades of brown.

Character of the Patterdale Terrier: Confident hunting dog

The alert and vigilant Patterdale Terrier was originally bred for hunting foxes and badgers; hence, its fearless and independent character.

This little dog has a strong hunting instinct and is highly active.

Once it hits a scent trail, holding it back is often impossible. It might even ignore its owner’s commands when fulfilling its purpose, making training rather challenging.

Who is the Patterdale Terrier suitable for?

Due to its tremendous self-confidence, which can sometimes turn into stubbornness, the Patterdale Terrier needs experienced dog owners.

Training this intelligent and energetic companion requires a lot of patience and loving consistency to become a pleasant family member. This breed is not recommended for beginners.

It’s advisable to seek the help of a dog trainer, attend dog school or obedience classes. Additionally, proper socialisation of the puppy is crucial. Typically, the Fell Terrier is compatible with other dogs when socialised properly.

Are Patterdale Terriers good family dogs?

When appropriately exercised, the Patterdale Terrier displays a balanced demeanor at home. They are fond of children, so essentially, they can be suitable family dogs.

However, cats or small animals like guinea pigs or rabbits could trigger their hunting instinct, so it’s better if they do not share the household.

Affectionate and vigilant four-legged friend

Fundamentally, the Fell Terrier is a people-friendly dog that becomes closely attached to its owner. It doesn’t like being left home alone for too long and prefers to be part of every activity.

The black terrier is cautious around strangers but never unnecessarily aggressive, making it an excellent watchdog.

Caring for a Patterdale Terrier: A very lively dog that craves exercise

The Patterdale Terrier is a highly agile and energetic dog that requires plenty of exercise.

If not used for hunting, it must be physically and mentally stimulated through suitable dog sports such as agility, dog frisbee, or mantrailing, to avoid boredom and behavioural problems.

An energetic buddy needing ample exercise

Long walks tick all the right boxes for this lively furball – at least two hours a day is recommended. Moreover, this breed excels as a jogging or cycling four-legged companion.

Thanks to its compact size, the Fell Terrier can in principle be kept indoors, although it should ideally be in a rural area with access to a garden.

The Patterdale Terrier loves to dig

In the garden, the “Patti” can romp to its heart’s content. However, owners should be aware that it loves to dig – after all, it was bred to burrow in search of badgers and foxes.

Care and Diet: Checking the ears, teeth, and skin

Maintenance for the English dog’s short coat is low, but regular brushing is advised as the Patterdale Terrier tends to shed a fair amount.

The breed’s floppy ears are prone to painful ear infections, hence routine inspection and cleaning is essential. The teeth, claws and skin also require frequent checks.

If the “Patti” hunts in the forest, a thorough check for parasites is advisable.

High-quality dog food for the “Patti”

When it comes to diet, this breed isn’t fussy. It’s not prone to obesity or food allergies.

Nonetheless, the Patterdale Terrier should be offered high-quality food to ensure it receives all essential nutrients. Whether the bowl is filled with dry, wet or raw food is up to the owner’s preference.

Health: Few hereditary diseases known

The Patterdale Terrier is a robust little fellow. Since its breeding has always focused on functionality rather than appearance, hereditary breed diseases are rare.

Occasionally, a vascular malformation known as portosystemic shunt (PSS), also known as liver shunt, has been observed.

This can be a congenital or acquired anomaly affecting liver circulation, potentially leading to symptoms such as stunted growth and abdominal ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen).

Various skin and joint diseases may also occur in this breed.

How old do Patterdale Terriers get?

This tough Brit has a relatively high life expectancy: on average, a “Patti” can live for 12 to 14 years.

History: Brave protector of British sheep

The breed emerged around 1800 in Northern England, named after the town of Patterdale in the Lake District National Park. Many sheep lived there, often preyed upon by foxes.

Thus, a robust working dog was bred to effectively protect the sheep from these predators. Alongside fox hunting, the Fell Terrier is also used in the hunting of badgers, racoons, and rats.

Not recognised by the FCI

From around 1978, the British breed made its way to America, where it has become hugely popular. Outside the USA and the UK, however, the Patterdale Terrier remains relatively unknown.

It has not been recognised by the FCI, nor by the KC, the umbrella organisation for British dog breeders. Only the American United Kennel Club (UKC) has recognised the Patterdale Terrier as a separate breed since 1995.

Breeding and Purchase: How much does a Patterdale Terrier cost?

A puppy of this breed generally costs between £200 and £550. Aside from the British Isles and the USA, the Patterdale Terrier is not so widespread.

Due to the lack of recognition by some major canine federations, finding a reputable breeder of this breed can be challenging.

The only breeding registry is the “Patterdale Terrier Club of America” (PTCA). Even outside the USA, there are a few trustworthy breeders registered with this club.

Visiting the animal shelter

If a pedigree Patterdale Terrier isn’t essential, a visit to the local animal shelter is also advisable. Many terriers and terrier mixes there are looking for a second chance.

Owners often become overwhelmed with them because terriers are quite headstrong and are not among the most obedient dogs.

Conclusion: A highly motivated working dog for active owners

The Patterdale Terrier is a highly motivated, determined hunting dog best led by an active hunter. As a spirited, persistent working dog, it requires plenty of exercise and stimulus.

Only when regularly worn out will the “Patti” show its affectionate, people-friendly side at home.

Quick Facts about the Patterdale Terrier

Distinctive Features:The Patterdale Terrier is a small hunting dog that was originally bred for earth hunting of foxes and badgers
Character:stubborn, confident, intelligent, child-friendly
Height at Withers:25-38 cm
Weight:6-12 kg
Coat:short fur, smooth or rough; mainly black but also brown, reddish-brown or tan; sometimes with white markings
Coat Care:low maintenance
Exercise:enthusiastic about activity, needs lots of stimulation
Beginner Dog:no
Barking:vigilant, barks frequently
Life Expectancy:12-14 years
Typical Diseases:robust health, rare skin or joint diseases
Price:approx. £200 to £550
FCI Group:not recognised

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Natalie Decker
Profilbild Natalie Decker (mit Pferd)

"A life without a pug is possible, but pointless," Loriot once said. I would unreservedly agree and add: "A life without horse, cat and rabbit as well!" My heart beats for all animals big and small and I have the great fortune to be able to write about my passion as a freelance author. With my articles I would like to raise awareness for animal welfare and give useful tips to animal lovers.

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