Welsh Terrier Breed Standards
I am sure that you are asking why I pluralized this section - it's a Welsh Terrier, of course there is only one definition of the breed! Wrong. As with many breeds, different countries have different interpretations, or use different language to describe the various characteristics of the correct example of the breed. From a famous quote, "the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from"! All joking aside, for our breed the differences are mostly nuances, some with more descriptive language. As a breeder, especially one that actively participates in conformation showing, these nuances are important to identify and understand. And, something to keep in mind is that the older standards were written when different language than today was more commonly understood for it's meaning - with some things being just "understood without being written down" by the old time breeders of the 1800's. Some standards, like the AKC standard, has gone into great detail to try to explain what different characteristics mean, in addition to providing a very nice annotated standard in pictures.
1. The Kennel Club (United Kingdom):
The Welsh Terrier, as it's name suggests, originates in Wales. The Kennel Club that oversees the Breed Standard in the 'country of origin' is The Kennel Club (in England). This is a fairly old breed standard (modified recently to account for non-docked tails), and as such it is fairly minimal and succinct.
In the UK, this breed is one of the Vulnerable Native Breeds (click here to learn more about this).
Some key things from their standard on appearance, characteristics and temperament include:
- Smart, workmanlike, well balanced and compact.
- Affectionate, obedient and easily controlled.
- Happy and volatile, rarely of shy nature. Game and fearless but definitely not aggressive although at all times able to hold his own when necessary.
- Height at shoulder not exceeding 15.5 inches
How they specifically look is described in the standard. Something to keep in mind is that when the standard was written, it was compared against other types of terrier breeds, and dogs like the Welsh Terrier, where their purpose was to work on their own to rid farms of vermin (so, for example, the obedient characteristic is very different than what one would expect in a sporting dog that was selectively bred to work for humans - listening & watching intently for their command).
2. The Welsh Terrier Club of America (US):
In the US, the Welsh Terrier is part of Group 4 (Terrier Group) and was first recognized by the AKC in 1888. The Welsh Terrier Club of America (owner of the breed standard in the US) went through a fairly extensive process to provide much more explanation about the various characteristics of the breed. This is clearly seen in how each section is written. There is much more detailed information for those not intensively involved in the breed, as well as an annotated breed standard (each section has pictures drawn of the correct characteristic, and the common faults seen that are not correct). During the exploratory process of expanding the language in the breed standard, a survey of Welsh Terrier Club of America members was held, that included asking them what words best describe Welsh Terrier Type? The top 5 answers include:
- Coat is wire-coated and Black & Tan in color
I spent many years working in senior management, in a Bank, and one of my early mentors told me that people needed their 'elevator story' ...what they wanted to get across in the time of an elevator going between floors. While the above few points clearly does not fully describe what the Welsh Terrier is, to me, the above would be a great start on my elevator story about them!
The AKC Standard - General
The Welsh Terrier is a sturdy, compact, rugged dog of medium size (15 to 15.5 inches) with a coarse wire-textured coat. The legs, underbody and head are tan; the jacket black (or occasionally grizzle). The tail is docked to length meant to complete the image of a "square dog" approximately as high as he is long. The movement is a terrier trot typical of the long-legged terrier. It is effortless, with good reach and drive. The Welsh Terrier is friendly, outgoing to people and other dogs, showing spirit and courage. The "Welsh Terrier expression" comes from the set, color, and position of the eyes combined with the use of the ears.
For the full standard click here: AKC Breed Stanadard
In Canada, the Welsh Terrier is in Group 4 - Terriers. The CKC standard is the least descriptive of these three for the breed (United Kingdom, US, Canada). There is no general overview section, and it does not provide guidance to judges about a number of specific characteristics. It is also the only one to have specific disqualifications. The other standards provide more clarification on what is correct, and direction that any deviation to that should be considered a fault (and judges would simply withhold ribbons for examples that would lack merit).
When I provide judges education seminars in Canada, of course I address the CKC standard, however because of the additional clarification language, I always go through the AKC Annotated Standard to help clarify what we really want to see as a correct example of the breed.
When judging in Canada, it should be noted that the following are disqualifications for the breed:
Nose white, cherry, or spotted to a considerable extent with either of these colours.
Ears prick, tulip, or rose.
Undershot jaw or pig jawed mouth.
- Black below hocks or white to a considerable extent.
4. How does the Welsh Terrier compare with it's closest examples in the Terrier Group - the Lakeland Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier?
Will come soon!