Patterdale Terrier

The Friendly Patterdale Terrier is a Type of Fell Terrier Who Excels in Difficult Hunting Conditions

"Fell Terriers" are not a specific breed of dog. Instead the label refers to a type of working Terrier with long legs that was developed to work the rough "fells" of northern England. One of these Fell Terriers is the Patterdale Terrier, a common breed within this dog category.

Cuddly and cute as it may look, this breed is no lapdog – except at the end of a long, active day. The Patterdale Terrier is loyal, protective, energetic and intelligent – and needs to stay occupied at all times to be satisfied.


This little dog has had an extensive history as a working animal. Home to several different kinds of breeds of hardy, working Terriers, the border country of southern Scotland and northern England has rugged terrain that matches the harsh climate and tough people who live there. Consisting mostly of remote farms with sheep as the major source of income, these people have been protected for centuries from predators, including fox, by aggressive working Terriers and Hounds. The Fell Terrier is one of these breeds, tough enough for the harsh climate – yet with an energetic and lovely personality that makes it an excellent companion as well.

One of the specific breeds of the Fell-type Terrier is the Patterdale Terrier. This dog is native to the northern England Lake District. Here, tall, beautiful and barren hills are called "fells." With wet, windy, and cold weather year-round, these fells are rocky, steep, and filled with predatory fox. Even in the 21st century, farmers depend on fox hound hunts to manage the fox population and thus protect their herds of sheep. The Patterdale Terrier is an excellent hunter that can extricate the wiliest fox from deep crevices in those fells.

In fact, the Patterdale Terrier is so agile that it easily outdoes the horse, which can't be used for hunting in this rough environment since there is no solid footing. Hunters and their companions, Terriers and Hounds, can cover miles walking these hills during the day. Terriers are constant companions to the hunters so that they can go to work instantly and take a fox when it goes to ground. The Patterdale Terrier can withstand these conditions all day long, then go to the ground and rout out a fox even in the worst of conditions. These hard-bitten and eager-to-work Terriers can and do go to work at any time, on a moment’s notice.

The development of the Patterdale

The Fell Terrier has been around since the 1700s, but it wasn't until the early 1950s that the Patterdale Terrier was developed as a breed, thanks to selective efforts by breeders Frank Buck and Cyril Breay. In the 1960s, Brian Nuttall helped with further refinement.

In the border country, the Fell Terrier line in general and the Patterdale Terrier in particular are each still considered a working breed. As a result, these dogs are not shown very often. The Patterdale specifically was first actually recognized as a breed in the United States; then, the Patterdale Terrier Club of America was established in 1993. The United Kennel Club accepted the breed in January of 1995. It remains a rare breed outside of Great Britain.


Strong, powerful, and with a wedge-shaped head, the Patterdale Terrier is tiny, standing just 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulders and weighing between 11 to 13 pounds. Ears are triangular and eye color complements the coat, whose colors can include grizzled, liver, red, black, black and tan, or bronze – with minimal white markings considered acceptable on the chest and feet. The coat texture is smooth, broken, or rough.


Those who have adopted the Patterdale Terrier have called this little dog a "big dog in a little dog's body." Incredibly active, Patterdales need lots of exercise and are wonderful companion dogs. Loyal, full of energy, and fun, your little pet will be extremely protective of and devoted to you as long as you provide more than just a little discipline and guidance. You will find that your pet is also a very good watchdog – but you must be on the mark yourself, as well, because although your pet is incredibly laid-back and not very "barky," it is most definitely a hunter at nature and can be incredibly independent. Be careful around non-canine pets with your new little pet, and make sure you maintain a consistently firm, confident air as the pack leader. If you do this and you keep your Patterdale in line, it will grow up to be quite obedient. If you don't take a firm hand with this dog, however, it could certainly develop Small Dog Syndrome, the tendency for little dogs to become spoiled rotten brats who can even be dangerous if they bite.

Stay strong-minded and firm, consistent with your discipline, and you'll find very few problems as long as you set limits right away – as soon as your puppy comes home.


The Patterdale is a very hearty, healthy dog, and you should find that your pet will live a long healthy life of about 13 years with proper veterinary care. No genetic health conditions are associated with this breed. However, if your pet is to be used for hunting, it will of course be susceptible to any injuries that would be experienced on the job.

Proper living environment

Although small, do NOT subject your pet to apartment living. These dogs need daily exercise with room to run and play. If you don't take your dog to actually hunt, you’ll need to involve your pet in vigorous exercise every day. Boredom is a serious problem for these very intelligent dogs, and your pet may misbehave not because it is insolent or disobedient, but simply because it has excess energy and needs something to do. In addition, because Patterdales don't tend to be obedient just as a matter of course, you'll need to stay vigilant about its behavior most of the time. Make sure to walk and vigorously exercise your dog regularly.


Bathe only when needed, such as after a hunt. The coat is stiff and short, and shouldn't need to be groomed otherwise.


Fell Terrier. Retrieved January 12, 2015. Learn about the Patterdale Terrier, its temperament and more….

Retrieved January 12, 2015.

Patterdale Terrier.

Retrieved January 12, 2015.

Patterdale Terrier (Black Fell Terrier).

Retrieved January 12, 2015.

Patterdale Terrier Dogs. h


Retrieved January 12, 2015.

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