patterdale terrier breed facts

Patterdale Terrier: Breed Facts & Temperament

Patterdale Terrier.

Have you ever come across this breed of dog? If not, how about the term Black Fell Terrier? Well, both these names are interchangeable, and don’t let that confuse you.

Patterdale Terrier belongs to an English breed of dog and is cousins to The Lucas Terrier, The Airedale Terrier, and The Smooth Fox Terrier. Interestingly enough, the word Terrier comes from a Latin word “Terr”, which means Earth.

So, are you one of those proud parents of a Patterdale Terrier, who are eagerly looking forward to knowing more about them? Don’t worry we have carefully detailed out the facts about this dog breed in this article so that you could provide your pet Terrier with the best.

Scroll down to learn more facts about this dog breed:

Quick Facts:


  • Tough
  • Intelligent
  • Reliable
  • Protective
  • Courageous

Gets Along Well With:

  • Experienced dog handlers
  • Outdoorsy types of parents
  • Active singles

History of The Patterdale Terrier

The descendant of Patterdale Terriers can be dated back to 20th century, where they were bred originally in the North of England. As a matter of fact, they can be directly traced back to the Lake District.

Joe Bowman, the Ullswater Hunts master, bred them more than 100 years ago. He saw the need for these dogs, who were capable of hunting red foxes in the enormous countryside.

The Patterdale Terriers took over when the traditional digging dogs were not able to perform this task adequately. Their keen sense of smell led them to excel at this task.

Besides hunting foxes, the Patterdale Terriers were also used to cull badgers all over rural Britain. Gradually, they moved to the United States, where they were used primarily for killing groundhogs, foxes, and raccoons successfully.

What do They Look Like?

Patterdales do not have a set breeding standard, but dedicated breeders are diligently working on establishing one. However, both the American Dog Breeders Association and the United Kennel Club have listed the following characteristics of the Patterdale Terriers:

  • Their height is between 9.8 – 15.7 inches or 25 – 40 centimeters.
  • Their neck is very strong
  • A compact and balanced image
  • Their ability to squeeze through the tiniest passages. They have an amazing ability to compress their chests which allows them to fit into small spaces.
  • They weigh between 11 to 13 pounds, which is about 5 – 6 kgs. However, some specially bred Patterdale Terriers could be as heavy as 30 pounds or 13kgs.

However, if you are worried about your pet’s weight, you should consult the vet to get an overview of their health and make sure that there are no underlying causes behind this.

Other Common Features:

The Patterdale Terriers are born with a small head, short muzzle, and deep, dark eyes. Adorably, their ears are always folded into a V-shape. In fact, this is their trademark feature, which makes their face look so much cuter.

Normally, they boast a rich black coat, but rarely, they are also bred in some of these colors:

  • Red
  • Bronze
  • Tan
  • Chocolate Brown

The rarest among all these colors are blue with a dark grey nose. If you have ever seen one, consider yourself to be extremely lucky. You have, in fact, seen a hen’s teeth!

Also, some of them may have white patches over their feet and chest. In whatever way, it indicates a cross-breeding with a Jack Russell.

What’s Their Fur Like?

The Patterdale Terriers coats can be categorized into three types:

  • Smooth

This type of fur usually sits close to their body for being very short.

  • Broken

Rough and coarse, but you will see long whiskers on their chin and muzzle if your Patterdale Terrier has this type of fur.

  • Rough

Long-haired Patterdales have this type of rough fur; particularly on their ears and face.

Despite these types of furry Patterdale Terriers, their coats are usually very glossy, dense and kind of harsh to touch. But the good news is, these few characteristics make their coat weatherproof, which by the way, is one of the several reasons they are so pro at hunting.

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Things You Should Know

The Patterdale Terriers are more of a working dog. If you look back into their history, they were typically bred for their energy level to hunt preys tenaciously. This makes them fantastic at fetching things. Considering everything, these canines make the perfect pet for those who enjoy staying outdoors and having an active life.

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So, we have divided this section into two categories; the good and the bad. Read ahead to know what’s good about them and what’s bad.

brown patterdale terrier

Good Things About ‘Em

  • They are not yappy:

This is by far the most pleasing characteristics about Patterdales that they are not yappy.

  • They are powerfully loyal:

At the very beginning, we mentioned how reliable Patterdales are. This makes them an ideal pet if you are looking for a devoted companion.

  • They are extremely intelligent:

Patterdales can practically find anything that you would throw for them, and of course, they will go nowhere but bring it back to you. As you may have already read, they are traditionally hunting dogs by born, and you can test out their smartness with a simple game of catch.

Bad Things About ‘Em

The good things about them may have already made you want to adopt them right away. However, before you do so, take a look at the downsides too. You need to understand what you are getting yourself into if you are serious about owning one.

  • You have to socialize them early:

They are independent and so are they jealous in nature. For this reason, it could be a little challenging for you to socialize them with other dogs; let that be another breed or of a different age. Know that you need to train them early; otherwise, they might bring back severe problems for you later.

  • They might be a bit too much to handle:

They are incredibly energetic, and they get bored very quickly. And when they get bored, they might become destructive as a way to use their energy. If you have a busy household and none of you has much time to dedicate to them, owning them might be a bad idea.

You might need to say goodbye to your favorite furniture and pristine wardrobe. Nonetheless, they are not the right breed for first-time dog owners.

  • Their hunting nature can be a pain:

Their hunting instincts kick in very often when they are taken out for walks – especially if there are raccoons at a nearer distance. Unfortunately, raccoons are very well known to attack Terriers back, and thus the result can be fatal.

  • They hate being alone:

Generally, most dogs hate being alone, but Terriers are an exception. They suffer from terrible separation anxiety even when they are left alone for a couple of hours. If you have a hectic work life or a manic social life, Terriers are not your type of breed.


Patterdale Terriers have a versatile personality. Even though they are similar to other terriers but at the same time, have their own set of unique features too. Weird, huh?

Just like other terriers, the Patterdale Terriers are very confident in nature as much as they are lively and strong-willed. They can be quite stubborn at times, but if trained right, can be very obedient too.

These bursts of energy are very playful; running and fetching is just in their blood. They will find out the most discreet objects in your house like no other. Most Terriers are adorable dogs, and so are the Patterdale Terriers.

However, apart from all the good and the bad, Patterdale Terriers are outstanding guard dogs. They display incredible guarding behavior towards their parent. So, make sure that the one you plan on owning belonged to friendly parents so that it’s easy for you to socialize thoroughly.

Patterdale Terrier Training

The stubbornness, strong energy, powerful will and hunting instincts of the Patterdale Terrier makes it difficult for you to train him properly. If you already had a Terrier as a pet, or if you have seen your friend petting one, then this might seem like an understatement.

Since they are calmer in nature and a bit low-key than any Jack Russell or a Yorkshire, it makes them easier to train than them. It is always advisable to teach them with positive reinforcement.

In tune to that, scientific research has confirmed that a bit of training to the Patterdale Terrier results in lesser behavioral issues down the road.

Health Problems in Patterdale Terriers

Now that you have read this far, it means that you are quite determined about owning one. This means that you should know further about their potential health issues that may appear in their lifetime.

It is essential for you to keep informed about their potential health conditions, which will help you assess if they are an ideal pet for you. Hence, the good news is, Patterdale Terriers are linked to very few health problems.

One thing that they are prone to having is pink eye, or commonly known as conjunctivitis. Basically, when a dog suffers from conjunctivitis, their tissues in the eye covers the front part of their sight. This tissue becomes infected and inflamed and causes several different types of allergies and bacterial infections.

Moving on, Patterdales are also prone to developing allergies. Not just eye infections, but also skin infections. If they build dermatitis all over their body, chances are they might be catching allergies. And this is something you should talk to your vet about immediately.

Not to forget about another one of those eye conditions; glaucoma. Patterdale Terriers are likely to develop glaucoma as well as cataracts. They might be showing some signs of it beforehand, and for that reason, you must make an appointment with your vet. The symptoms include:

  • Bulging
  • Milky/white appearance in the eyes
  • Squinting
  • Teary eyes
  • White cornea
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Head shaking
  • Eye itching

Portosystemic Shunt

Some Patterdale Terriers may develop a disorder known as the Portosystemic Shunt or PSS. PSS occurs when the blood that is meant to travel to the liver circulates around the organ instead. When this happens, the dog’s body lacks blood, oxygen, and nutrients.

PSS is diagnosable through a blood test. Make sure that your pet dog is conducted a liver panel during his yearly visit to the vet. If the problem is detected early, it can still be treated through proper medication and diet. Else ways, if it gets too late, surgery may be required, although it is sporadic for Patterdale Terriers to go through one.

Knee Problems in Patterdale Terriers

Yes, this is a common problem in Terriers, not just in the case of Patterdales.

This problem is called patellar luxation. The dog’s knee cap skids out of its place, which may sound awfully painful, but in reality, is actually not.

If the Patterdale Terrier suffers from patellar luxation, you will notice that they are kicking the leg to the side of their body. The patella shifts back into its position and the dog is able to walk again normally. This issue may come and go, but it is advisable for you to see the vet when this happens.

In some cases, dogs may need to go through a surgery to realign their knee cap in order for it to stop slipping out of its place.

Bottom Line

Patterdale Terriers are amazingly attractive and energetic dogs. These terrier breeds share almost the same traits, while the Patterdales are unique in their own way. Having very fewer health problems and being on the calmer side, Patterdale Terriers make wonderful pets for active families.

Picking your new furry friend could be tricky, but if you’re looking forward to welcoming a Patterdale Terrier, you’re in luck!

Do you or any of your friends have a Patterdale Terrier? Would you like to share some of your stories about this rambunctious pup? Go ahead! Comment in the box below! We’d love to know.


  1. Patterdale Terrier – Wikipedia
  2. Fell Terrier – Wikipedia

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