This little terrier has its roots in the North West of England’s Lake District and while it has a band of enthusiasts as owners and breeders, it is not yet recognised by the UK Kennel Club as a pedigree breed.
The Patterdale Terrier, often referred to as the Black Fell Terrier, was bred to be a working dog over 100 years ago in the north of England and south of Scotland, (manly in the Lake District areas and Yorkshire) where weather conditions and the terrain is difficult. The Patterdale Terrier was primarily breed as a working dog for remote regions, where horses and larger hunting dogs struggled to get to.
Its agility, and ability to lay completely flat with the hind legs stretched outwards and front legs stretched forward, coupled with a small chest made it the perfect dog for retrieving rodents, rabbits and foxes from their tight underground dens. They were prized for their boundless energy in the field.
Average height to withers: While there are no formally recognised KC breed standards, the average Patterdale’s height is between 12-15 inches for males and females.
Average weight: The average weight for is between 5-6.5 kg for both males and females.
While the Patterdale is not formally recognised as a pedigree breed in the UK, it has an enthusiastic band of followers who breed these tough little terriers. However, the size, weights and appearances can vary widely depending on the breeding line. This is a dog which is sturdy and strong with very straight legs and back. The skull shape is generally square with dark, intelligent eyes and flopped ears of a moderate size. The coat can either be smooth or wiry (also known as broken coated) but either way it is thick to withstand a day’s work in the field. The majority of the dogs (an estimated 95%) are black in colour but other colours are found – red, liver, black and tan and bronze. White markings may occasionally be found.
Patterdale Terriers are bold, confident and independent little dogs. As a terrier they have a high energy temperament along with a strong prey drive and a surprisingly loud bark. Due to the strong prey-hunt drive, it is not uncommon for a Patterdale to be cat/small animals aggressive. However as with all breeds, early socialisation will help this.
Patterdales display a unique belly crawl which was used in the field to stalk quarry. This originates from their inbred ability to compress their lungs to fit into small spaces, in search of their prey.
Like all Terriers Patterdales are intelligent and can be trained. Those which are not trained, or are not exercised regularly enough, may start to display undesirable behaviours, one of which is excessive digging and vocalisation.
The Patterdale which is not used as a working dog can still be content to be a house dog as long as they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They can be good companions for children and many enjoy playing football and such games with the family. When indoors, they are social animals and enjoy the company of the family, and will relish a comfy lap and lap up any attention you give them.
Patterdales are generally very healthy and robust animals and will live a long life up to the age of 15 years plus. There are very few hereditary diseases the owner needs to worry about.
The thick coat of the Patterdale will require attention at least once a week and will benefit from a stripping or pulling from a professional groomer to minimise shedding. The owner of this high energy dog must also schedule walking time into their routine at least twice daily.