Patterdale Terrier

11-13 lbs
United Kingdom
Black Fell Terrier, Old English Terrier, Fell Terrier

Anyone who spends a day with a Patterdale Terrier is almost guaranteed to end it feeling happier. This is a fun-loving, people-pleasing, rabbit-chasing dog that will keep pet parents entertained and on their toes.

In this guide you’ll learn the basics of the Patterdale, including what to expect if you welcome one into your home, and any common health issues that might need you to check your pet insurance cover.

Read on to discover:

  • That the Patterdale Terrier has no major health complaints (hip dysplasia, eye infections and ear infections are all minor)
  • The breed heralds from England in the 1950s
  • Pet parents need to be active — the Patterdale needs more exercise than many other dogs
  • It’s great with kids, less so with smaller animals

Patterdale Terrier breed overview

What is a Patterdale Terrier? An easy-going dog originally intended for hunting, the Patterdale is a small terrier with big character. Trusted around kids, but trusted a little less around small furry household pets, this breed has a fascinating history and a wonderful temperament.

A Patterdale Terrier can be a super pet dog, in the right home and environment — as with all breeds. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the Patterdale; the background of the breed, its temperament, exercise and grooming needs, and how to take care of it.

If you’re thinking of introducing a dog to your family, it’s a big responsibility; it’s your job to keep your Patterdale happy and healthy. A comprehensive pet insurance plan is important in making sure your pup is covered for any health scares. Use Wag! Compare — a free service — to find top-rated pet insurance plans in seconds.

Give some thought, too, to the overall investment in owning a dog. With the average Patterdale Terrier lifespan between 10 and 12 years, it can cost approximately $500 to $1,000 in annual vet bills. That’s reasonably low for a dog, but information worth keeping in mind.

purpose Purpose
Hunting, Companion
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Black Smooth-Coated Fell Terrier

Patterdale Terrier Health

Average Size
Male Patterdale Terrier size stats
Height: 12-15 inches Weight: 11-13 lbs
Female Patterdale Terrier size stats
Height: 12-15 inches Weight: 11-13 lbs

Patterdale Terrier Breed History

The Patterdale Terrier has been a known breed since the 1950s. It was established, like many terrier breeds, in England. In the Patterdale’s case, its birthplace was the north of England, in the rural Lake District region but specifically the village of — you guessed it — Patterdale. A man called Joe Bowman — a Master of Foxhounds — was credited with the development of the breed, for it was he who perfected them as the ideal dogs to take on fox hunts. 

Smaller in build than other foxhounds, the Patterdale Terrier could squeeze into tighter nooks and crannies to pursue the fox even below ground, and into its burrow. 

It became an invaluable hunter of rabbits, foxes and other smell prey but, now that fox hunting is less common and working dogs are a little less essential, the happy and energetic Patterdale has pivoted to household pet — and is equally qualified for the job!

Patterdale Terrier Breed Appearance

This dog’s personality may be large, but its body is small. The Patterdale Terrier’s size tends to be about 12 or so inches off the ground — that fits into the petite class. However, that little body is deceptively powerful and well proportioned.

The Patterdale has a solid neck and a firm yet flexible chest that enables movement in those tight burrow-like spaces when in hunting mode.

With round eyes that are always amber or brown, this boisterous breed has a wedge-shaped head and triangular ears, perfect for getting out of the way when an excursion down a burrow is underway.

It has a short coat that can come in a variety of colors — black, red, brown, or pied. 

Similar breeds to the Patterdale Terrier

If the idea of bringing a Patterdale Terrier into your home appeals, you might be interested in breeds of dog that have similar qualities. Some of those breeds include:

Patterdale Terrier Breed Maintenance

You’ll probably be glad to hear that this is a fairly low-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming and care. As with most pups, you won’t need to bathe it more than several times a year. You’ll also probably largely get away with not trimming its nails - if, that is, it’s kept sufficiently active that it’s doing lots of scrabbling and scraping and scampering with them. 

Coat-wise you should only need to brush about once a week. Brush its teeth more than this, and make sure that you’re regularly checking and cleaning its ears because of its propensity to sustain ear infections.

Patterdale Terrier health risks

Bred to withstand tough winters in northern England, Patterdale Terriers are hardy little characters and the breed isn’t known to have any serious medical problems. Of course, that doesn’t mean a Patterdale won’t ever fall ill or suffer with injury, and there are minor concerns to be aware of. These include:

Hip dysplasia

Although the genetic disease hip dysplasia is an issue that’s diagnosed a little more commonly in larger dogs, the Patterdale Terrier could easily fall victim to it because it’s a pervasive condition in dogs in general. 

‘Hip dysplasia’ is a term that means the ball and socket of both hip joints are malformed in some way, causing the head of the dog’s femur to grind in the socket of the joint rather than gliding smoothly. 

It can be caused by malnutrition, injury or weight gain (though you should also be careful not to over-feed your pup, as this may exacerbate it as well) and will be noticeable as a result of your dog not moving smoothly, not jumping, or experiencing lameness in the hind legs. 

You should be aware, however, that the signs of hip dysplasia often don’t rear their head until dogs are a little older, so it’s less obvious to identify in a Patterdale Terrier puppy.

Ear infections

‘Ear infections’ is obviously an extremely broad spectrum but this is simply because there is no single condition to which the Patterdale is more vulnerable. An ear infection can occur in a dog’s inner, middle, or outer ear, and can be caused by a broad range of things: parasites, something lodged in there or allergens in the air. Only a vet will really be able to diagnose exactly what the problem is, so, if you notice your furry friend rubbing its ears, shaking its head a lot, or producing any discharge from the ear, send it off to the vet.

Once the vet has had a look and has made sure your pup doesn’t have any serious damage to the eardrum, they may clean the ear, remove anything physically causing a blockage or infection, and administer medication topically or orally. Don’t worry — ear infections tend to be easy to sort out with antibiotics or other common forms of medicine!

Eye infections

Because the Patterdale Terrier has a history of and fondness for burrowing, there’s a good chance that soil and other more unpleasant things from the ground might become lodged in their eye. Perhaps for this reason, the breed is a little more prone to eye infections than some dogs. When looking out for an eye infection in your dog, you’re looking for the tell-tale signs you would look for in a human: redness; swelling of the eye; discharge; your dog pawing at it to relieve the discomfort. 

Your dog might have picked up an eye infection from a variety of places: bacteria like staphylococcus or streptococcus, a kind of virus, a parasite, or perhaps a scratch that has now become infected with bacteria. 

A virus should pass in a few days, and a vet may well prescribe eye drops to soothe discomfort. A bacterial infection may require eye drops and antibiotics, especially if the vet is worried that other parts of the body might be vulnerable to infection.

Here, you can compare the best insurance providers to find the right quote for you and your furry friend. And, while you’re there, why not consider a wellness plan, which will cover the cost of your pup’s routine vet treatment and checks?

Feeding a Patterdale Terrier — what’s the best diet?

About one cup of food a day should be enough for your Patterdale Terrier. It’s an active dog, but also a very small one. It should go without saying, of course, that this cup should be full to the brim with high-quality, nutrient-rich food full of animal proteins that will keep your dog healthy and full of energy. 

Do your research and avoid harmful ingredients and things like fillers and E numbers. If you can afford it, favor dog food brands that are transparent about how they source their ingredients and what goes into each packet. Try, if possible, to avoid giving your Patterdale Terrier scraps from your plates — food tailored to dogs will always be preferable. 

If you want comprehensive information about the best dog foods out there, check out our friends at Dog Food Advisor — they have in-depth brand reviews that include ingredient analysis, so you know exactly what you’re feeding your pet.

Our guide to the best dog food for small breeds is full of recommendations, too.

Patterdale Terrier Temperament

Though they can be a little bit stubborn at times, the Patterdale Terrier’s temperament is, in the main, an absolute joy. As dogs who are used to working alongside humans for hours at a time, they have an instinctive desire to keep their pet parents happy. They’re loyal, cheerful, and full of fun.

This means that for children they’re also delightful — your kids will love trying to keep up with them as they scamper around the house. Patterdales and children will typically be best friends. 

They may not be as good with cats and other smaller pets, however; because hunting is so entrenched into their DNA, they’re likely to chase them and see them as potential targets.

Remember, the Patterdale likes to be mentally stimulated as much as possible, if you want to keep your furnishings free of the damage that a bored dog can inflict. They have bags of energy and need to burn that off — a bored or restless Patterdale can get into trouble, and if they don’t have an outlet for that energy they just might rearrange your garden, add some ‘design’ features to your furniture with their teeth, or chomp up whatever they can find.

Training and early socialization with children and other dogs is key to good behavior and obedience as the Patterdale matures.

Patterdale Terrier Activity Requirements

In the exercise department though, the Patterdale Terrier is as high-maintenance as they come: it will want regular exercise of both body and mind otherwise it will succumb to destructive habits. 

Expecting around 16 miles of exercise a week (more than two a day), it’s a breed whose hard-working roots are very apparent. This dog will not want to be cooped up in a small apartment; it needs room to stretch its eager little legs. 

Keep them on a leash when you take them out — their prey instinct is extremely high and they’re among the fastest dogs around, so we don’t really fancy your chances when it comes to a chase. 

Similarly, make sure that your garden area is thoroughly enclosed — the Patterdale will have its attention caught by almost anything so you don’t want it burrowing under flimsy wooden fences, for example.

This is one of the various reasons that it might be better to take on a Patterdale Terrier if you have a house, not an apartment: it’s a high-energy dog that deserves to have a lot of space to itself if possible.

Patterdale Terrier Owner Experiences

7 Months
1 People
I have two patterdales. One is 7 years old and Puff is 7 months old, both bitches. The older one is placid, mostly lazy and very affectionate but can run like the wind when the fancy takes her. The pup is lively, very affectionate, doesn't run very fast and loves to meet and greet other dogs and people. Both live with two cats who they love to bits.
4 years, 3 months ago
9 Weeks
1 People
House & Yard
Playing Ball
As he’s young it’s only in the garden just now so it’s training okay cuddles and socialise him with friends and family when I take him to they’re home with no dogs in a enclosed garden.
3 years, 8 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd