Welsh Terriers

He's a medium-sized, workmanlike, sturdy tan dog with a black saddle, upright docked tail, and folded-down ears, pretty much the dog most people would see in the street and say, "yup, that's a terrier," even though they couldn't say which kind. And looks aren't deceiving, because the Welsh Terrier has all the charm, stubbornness, and cocky attitude of the truest of terriers: He’s not great with other dogs and yes, he's going to dig in the garden and chase the cat. But you’ll never have a dull moment with a Welsh Terrier in your home.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Weighing in at 20-22 pounds, the Welsh is an independent, somewhat stubborn breed. He's extremely cute as a puppy and seems to know just how to work that cuteness to get his own way. But what's adorable in a ball of fur you can hold in your hand turns into tyranny in an adult dog, so be careful not to spoil your little charmer. Be careful of the opposite, too; although he's bold and confident, the Welsh Terrier needs affection and a light touch in training or he'll become defensive and simply start ignoring you.

As with virtually all terriers, a bored Welsh Terrier will find his own fun, which means barking while chasing small, furry creatures and tunneling to the center of the earth. All that can be prevented with consistent training starting at a young age to channel this breed's inquisitive nature and on-the-go attitude into activities which won't involve noise or destructiveness. The American Kennel Club's Earthdog events offer one such possibility; agility or other active sports are others.

Exercise isn't optional, either. He'll need regular leash walking to help keep him from indulging in a little free-range hunting. He'll be much more likely to settle down happily at home if you've given him plenty of exercise first. And although Welsh Terriers tend to like older children, they aren't great with younger ones.

While the show dogs get more careful grooming, pet Welsh Terriers simply need to be combed once a week and clipped a few times a year, along with the occasional bath to look their best.

Health Issues Common to Welsh Terriers

Welsh Terriers are a very healthy breed, but can have some genetic health problems. Glaucoma does occur in the breed, so your puppy's breeder should have written documentation from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her breeding dogs have had their eyes tested within the last year, along with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) clearances on their thyroid glands.

The breed also has problems with allergies, itching, and epilepsy. Even though there are no screening tests for those and other conditions that can affect the Welsh Terrier, your puppy's breeder should be willing -- eager, in fact -- to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives, and discuss how prevalent those particular health concerns are in his lines.

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Welsh Terrier Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Welsh Terrier Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Welsh Terriers. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Although they're rarely available, if you do find one, consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Welsh Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Welsh Terrier can live to be 12 years of age or older, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Welsh Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of glaucoma.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Welsh Terriers

Pet insurance for Welsh Terriers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Welsh Terriers are somewhat more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Welsh Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Welsh Terrier is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.