Patterdale Terrier

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1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Introduction
4. History
5. Appearance
6. Temperament
7. Intelligence / Trainability
8. Children and Other Pets
9. Health
10. Caring for a Patterdale Terrier
11. Grooming
12. Exercise
13. Feeding
14. Average Cost to keep/care for a Patterdale Terrier

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #45 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Patterdale Terrier breed is also commonly known by the names Patterdale, Black Fell Terrier.
12 - 15 years
Pedigree Breed ?
No - Not Currently KC Recognised
Males 25 - 40 cm
Females 25 - 40 cm at the withers
Males 7 - 14 kg
Females 7 - 14 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£289 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


Patterdale Terriers were first bred in the Lake District where they were prized for their hunting abilities thanks to their small size and keen senses. Over time, these little terriers became a popular choice both as companion dogs and family pets with many people here in the UK and in other areas of the world and for good reason because these little terriers boast having loyal and friendly natures. However, the Patterdale is not recognised as a breed in their own right by The Kennel Club although they have been recognised by the UKC and the American Rare Breed Association.


Often referred to as a Black Fell Terrier, the Patterdale was first bred over a 100 years ago in northern England and southern Scotland although these little terriers were more often seen working in the Lake District and Yorkshire. They were bred to be hardy, little dogs capable of working over rough terrains and in challenging conditions where foxhounds and horses found it that much harder to cope with. These little terriers, however, took these terrains in their stride.

Patterdales have a quite unique ability which is to compress their chests and this enables them to get down small burrows and holes. They also have the ability to lay completely flat on their bellies with their back legs outstretched and their front ones stretched forward which also helps them reach prey that goes to ground. Patterdales were bred to be as "hard as nails" which paired to their courage makes them formidable hunting dogs.

Today, Patterdale Terriers are kept more as companion dogs and family pets thanks to their charming looks and kind, albeit very alert natures. They have not been recognised here in the UK by The Kennel Club, but Patterdales are a recognised breed by the United Kennel Club.


Height at the withers: Males 25 - 40 cm, Females 25 - 40 cm

Average weight: Males 7 - 14 kg, Females 7 - 14 kg

Patterdales are attractive little terriers that boast having all the usual "terrier" traits which includes a lively, alert eye. They are nicely proportioned compact dogs that present a well-balanced appearance. As previously mentioned, they have the ability to compress their chests which allows them to squeeze down the smallest of holes to reach any quarry they have tracked down.

They have strong, powerful looking heads which are well proportioned in relation to the rest of their body. Heads are trapezoidal or wedge shaped when seen from the front. Muzzles are strong and quite broad for such small dogs. They boast having a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones although a level bite is also allowed under the UKC breed standard rules.

Their eyes are set squarely and nicely apart on their heads and should match a dog's coat colour. Ears are triangular in shape and can either be small or moderate in size folding neatly just above a dog's head with the tips pointing to the outside corner of a dog's eye. Their noses are black except when the coat is liver/chocolate in which case a dog's nose can be brown.

Their necks are well-muscled and moderately long, widening from the nape down to a dog's shoulders so they blend in nicely. Shoulders are sloping, well laid back and long with dogs have strong, straight front legs that show lots of bone. Patterdales boast having compact, nicely squared bodies with strong well-muscled backs and slightly arched loins. Bellies are moderately tucked up which adds to the Patterdale's athletic appearance. Chest are firm and deep yet moderately wide and oval shaped.

Their hindquarters are well muscled and strong with dogs having muscular back legs that show they can achieve a quick turn of speed when needed. Feet are compact with firm pads and tails are set high which these terriers always carry gaily.

When it comes to their coat, the Patterdale Terrier can have either a smooth, rough or broken coat with a dense undercoat. When their coat is smooth, the hair is dense, stiff and coarse to the touch. Dogs with broken coats have longer guard hairs and these are that much coarser to the touch. A rough coat can be slightly wavy with terriers often having eyebrows, a beard and moustache with dogs having coarse and longer hair all over their bodies which includes on their face and their ears. The accepted UKC breed colours include the following:

  • Black - with or without lighter hairs in their coat
  • Red - all variations
  • Liver/chocolate - very dark chestnut to a much lighter brown
  • Grizzle
  • Black and tan
  • Bronze

Dogs can have solid coats or they can have some white on their feet and chests.


True to their terrier traits, the Patterdale is an energetic, confident and quite independent little dog by nature. They have an extremely strong prey drive and for such a small dog, they boast having a surprisingly loud bark. They have perfected the art of crawling on their bellies, which is extremely useful when they need to get to any prey that goes to ground. They are also capable of compressing their lungs so they can get down the smallest of holes to reach their quarry which is something that needs to be taken into account when a Patterdale is allowed to run free in a garden.

With this said, the Patterdale cannot resist digging and will happily dig their way out of a garden if the mood takes them. If left at home on their own for long periods of time, they are likely to dig their way through furniture and carpets too. They also like the sound of their own voices and if barking issues are not nipped in the bud at an early age, it can turn into a real problem. With this said, if a Patterdale is given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation, they are highly adaptable terriers and do just as well in an apartment as they do in a country environment.

They are extremely people-friendly and love nothing more than being in a family environment, getting on well with children of all ages which is why they make such great family pets. However, they are not the best choice for first time owners because these little terriers need to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the needs of the breed or similar type of terrier and who therefore understands how to train and handle them.

Intelligence / Trainability

Patterdale Terriers are very intelligent and this paired to the fact they love to please their owners makes them highly trainable. However, their socialisation and training has to start as early as possible and it has to be consistent for these terriers to understand their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in a household.

In the right hands and with the correct amount of training, a Patterdale can be taught to do all sorts of things which includes taking part in many canine sports because they are so very tenacious by nature. However, particular attention has to paid to the "recall" command when a Patterdale is still young because of their high prey drive which in short means that if they spot something in the distance without a strong recall, they are more likely to take off after their prey turning a deaf ear to their owners.

Children and Other Pets

Patterdale Terriers do make great family pets and love nothing more than playing interactive games with the children which includes activities that involve balls and other objects. However, any interaction between dogs and children should be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with a child getting scared or hurt.

If a Patterdale has grown up with a family cat in a household, they generally get on well together. However, these little terriers would think nothing of chasing a neighbour's cat if and when they get the chance to. Care has to be taken when they are around smaller pets because of their high prey drive. If well socialised, these little terriers generally get on well with other dogs although they can play a little too roughly even with other dogs.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Patterdale Terrier is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Patterdale is known to suffer from very few hereditary health issues being a robust and healthy litter dog. The condition that seems to affect the breed the most is as follows:

  • Eye issues - mainly conjunctivitis

Caring for a Patterdale Terrier

As with any other breed, Patterdales need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Patterdale Terriers have short, tight coats and as such they need to be brushed once a week to keep things tidy and to remove any dead and shed hair. They also need to be hand stripped at least twice a year which is best left up to a professional groomer. This makes it a lot easier to keep on top of things in between visits to a grooming parlour.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Patterdales true to their terrier roots, are high energy little dogs and because they are also bright, they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise combined with as much mental stimulation as possible for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and well behaved characters. If they are left to their own devices and not given enough to do, these little terriers will find innovative ways to amuse and entertain themselves which could result in them developing some unwanted behavioural issues. This includes being destructive around the house and suffering from separation anxiety.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these lively, energetic and inquisitive little terriers in because if they find a weakness in the fence or find they can easily dig their way out, they will soon escape and get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, Patterdale puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this very reason.


If you get a Patterdale puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Patterdale Terrier

If you are looking to buy a Patterdale Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £200 to  over £350 for a well-bred puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Patterdale Terrier in northern England would be £18.12 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Patterdale and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Patterdale would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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