Patterdale Terrier

Originally bred to hunt rabbits and foxes, the Patterdale Terrier is a small dog breed that is quite popular in the United States. Spunky and energetic, this charming pooch forms strong bonds with his people. He needs a lot of loving and attention making him ideal for large households, so he is never lonely. 


This small dog got its name from a village in England where it was developed and is closely related to the Fell Terrier. The Patterdale was bred to hunt rats, badgers and fox hunting. 

His origins were through the cross-breeding of the Old English Terrier, Northumberland Pit Terrier, which is now extinct, and Red Fell Terrier. 

Burrowing into tunnels to bolt game was easy because the dog had a small body and was confident in his abilities. 

The Patterdale Terrier was recognised by the United Kennel Club in 1995.

Physical Characteristics

The Patterdale has a rustic appearance with short straight legs. He has a well-defined muzzle, floppy triangular ears and his tail is normally docked. 

Coat types include smooth, broken and rough. The smooth coat is short and shiny, the broken coat is coarse with longer fur around the chin and face, and finally, the rough coat is long-haired with a thick double coat. 

The traditional coat is a solid color in the following varieties:

  • Pied
  • Black
  • Red
  • Chocolate 
  • Black and tan
  • Bronze 


Mature Patterdales can be smaller or bigger than average but the breed usually grows to stand 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38cm) at the shoulders. The dog can weigh between 11 to 13 pounds (4 to 6kg). 

Character & abilities

The Patterdale is a terrier and comes with a big dog personality. He is fun, outgoing and lively. As a working dog, he enjoys being put to any small or big task.

This dog loves children and can keep up with them at all ages. Because he can get rowdy, he needs to be properly supervised when playing with smaller children. 

This terrier can be reserved among strangers but can be friendly with proper socialization. He is not noisy but might bark when something unknown happens. 

He loves games and is content when tossing around a ball or playing fetch with his family. He is fearless and loves to explore. Taking him out for hiking and other outdoor adventures would be quite enjoyable. 

This terrier gets along well with other dogs but like others in his group has a strong prey drive. He is not to be trusted around small pets like hamsters and birds. 

Trainability & Intelligence

This small dog is trainable even though he can be wilful. Training sessions should be kept short and interesting. Positive training techniques are recommended.

Early socialization of the Patterdale Terrier is necessary to help him become a well-rounded companion. This includes exposing him to different situations, people, sights and sounds. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This spirited dog is active and needs physical and mental stimulation. Thirty to sixty minutes of a walk is good but when not possible, a few active play sessions and shorter walks in between. 

Notorious for loving his food, the Patterdale Terrier should maintain a meal routine, avoid table scraps and limit dog treats. This will prevent excessive weight gain.

His dietary needs vary in every stage of his life, from puppyhood, adulthood to elderly years. 

The ideal diet is high-quality dry dog food that is formulated for small active dog breeds. For home-made meals consult with the veterinary or animal nutritionist to ensure the dog gets optimum nutrition.    


From an early age, the Patterdale Terrier should be accustomed to being touched and handled for regular grooming practices. One of the challenging processes includes trimming the nails once or twice a month, which can be delegated to a professional groomer. 

Daily oral care involves brushing the teeth with vet-approved dog toothpaste. Using human toothpaste can cause internal problems and illness. Pet toothpaste is formulated with enzymes to break down plaque and reduce the time spent brushing. 

It is important to clean the Patterdale Terrier’s floppy ears regularly because the breed is prone to ear infections. Use a good quality ear cleaner with antibacterial properties and remove wax build-up. 

This breed is a light shedder but will shed excessively when stressed. His coat is easy to maintain and requires regular brushing to keep it in top form. 

Baths with dog shampoo are given when necessary. It is important to maintain the condition of the natural skin oils which help the coat tolerate extreme hot and cold weather. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

Being left alone for long periods can result in the Patterdale Terrier being destructive. He needs to be around people all the time to fight the feeling of isolation and separation anxiety

The Patterdale is quite versatile and can tolerate extreme warm and cold weather. He however is not meant to live outside and belongs in the home with his family. 


Although generally healthy, this breed is prone to health conditions. Reputable breeders practice careful breeding with health screening of the parents of every litter. Failure to screen is taking unnecessary risks for the dogs and their prospective owners. 

Patterdale Terriers might develop health issues like:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lens luxation
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Dry skin
  • Ear infection

Like with other pets, the Patterdale Terrier should keep up his regular appointments with the veterinarian to stay healthy. This ensures he gets all the necessary vaccinations and any illnesses can be caught early for treatment and management. 

The Patterdale Terrier has a life expectancy of 11 to 14 years. 


Though not recommended for allergy sufferers and inexperienced owners, the Patterdale Terrier is good-natured and affectionate with lots of energy and independence. With appropriate exercise for this dog’s high energy level, it is easy to keep off excess weight gain and help him live a long and healthy life.  

Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds provides detailed small dog breed descriptions to help you find the right companion. Adopting a puppy or adult dog is a big step. It is important to get it right.


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