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Patterdale Terrier

Patterdales are a type rather than a breed though they’ve been around since the late 1800s as a hard-working terrier. Their original job involved fearlessly going to ground, down tight holes underground, as well as following quarry above ground. This meant they needed a tough weather-proof, thorn-proof coat, a decent length of leg, narrow chest and powerful jaws.  

Today’s Patterdale is typically a robust terrier, with a smooth hard coat, or a tight rough coat, or occasionally a mix between the two. They are brimming with mischief - and are lightning-fast at decision making and reacting which can make them a challenge to train and live with. 

10 – 12 years
5 – 6 kg
25 – 38 cm
The Patterdale terrier colours are usually chocolate, black, and tan plus different shades and mixes of these colours. No white markings or patches.
Kennel Club Group
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Patterdale terrier breed can be prone to: 

  • Patellar luxation 
  • Primary lens luxation, a condition in which the lens moves from its normal position in the eye, which will result in vision loss and can cause pain. 

Patterdale Terrier Appearance 

Robust and compact, the Patterdale Terrier is the small, all-terrain dog for the countryside. In profile they should form a square or slightly rectangular outline, with moderately long legs, narrow chest, strong shoulders and strong head. Coats may be smooth, rough or wire, or broken (a mix between smooth and rough), all should be hard, never silky or soft. Patterdales commonly come in black, black and tan, red or brown, but shouldn’t have white markings or patches.  The Patterdale head should be moderately broad (they do have Border Terrier ancestry) but never looking as though they’re related to bulldogs or Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Ears are neat, and tightly tipped forward over the face when alert, and reasonably small. 

Patterdale Terrier Personality 

The Patterdale is all business - this is a dog who wants to work so much they will vibrate with anticipation. Work for a Patterdale means hunting, and killing small furry animals, and no true Patterdale is more than a couple of generations away from a long history of working dogs. They can be affectionate and even cuddly on their own terms (and usually only after a hard day’s work) but they live for the opportunity to hunt squeaky beasts of all kinds (real or alternatives provided by you)!  Expect lots of energy, sharp reactions and quick decisions - they don’t hang about and if you’re not there to provide guidance the Patterdale will sort things out for themselves. Clever and extremely determined, Patterdales are an acquired (often beloved) taste for those who truly love working terriers. 

Vet Rating

History and Origins

Ideal Owner

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Patterdale Terriers

Training Patterdale Terriers

Are Patterdale Terriers Good Family Dogs?

Patterdale Terrier Fun Facts 

  • The creation of the breed can be traced back to Joe Bowman, a Border terrier breeder who used a blue-black Border terrier and a black and tan Fell terrier to create the Patterdale terrier. 
  • Patterdale terriers were bred for their endurance and strength rather than their appearance and so the way they look can vary from dog to dog. 
  • The breed only gained notability around the late 1950s when Cyril Breay further refined the Patterdale terrier that we know today. 
  • The word ‘terrier’ comes from the French ‘terre’ which means ‘earth’, pointing towards the fact that these breeds were designed for hunting and catching vermin. 


What two dogs made Patterdale terriers? 

There’s conflicting information regarding the origins of the Patterdale terrier. While some argue that it was the result of a cross between a Fell terrier and a Border Terrier, others say that it’s actually a cross between the Northumberland Pit terrier and the Old English terrier. Both are strong possibilities.  

How big do Patterdale terriers get? 

Considering that the Patterdale Terrier size is medium, this breed can reach a maximum of 38 cm in adulthood. 

Do Patterdale terriers bark a lot? 

Yes, Patterdale terriers can be quite chatty and make a lot of barking noises so if you’re planning to bring them into an apartment, be aware that they would need training to become less yappy. 

Are Patterdale terriers cuddly? 

Patterdale terriers are extremely affectionate and can grow very fond of their owners so even though they prefer an active lifestyle, they are sure to go in for the occasional cuddle as well. 

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