There is a big debate that seems to be going on in every Patterdale terrier Facebook group that I visit lately – are Patterdale terriers working dogs or pets? Many people who work their dogs are against Patterdales as pets. But, the true answer is that they can be both, as long as they get what they need.
Those who ‘work their Patts’ often take them hunting, which mainly including bushing for rats as fox hunting is banned in England these days. The Patterdales do love it – it’s what they are bred for, and this is what working owners feel that they are deprived of as pets. Many farmers have patterdale terriers to keep their farm free of rats and vermin.
When they are working Patterdales, they get a great deal of exercise and their hunting instinct is satisfied. It takes a lot of training to ensure that they are safe off lead for recall. However, many of them have been reared from puppies which is easier than training an adult rescue dog.
The down side to working Patterdales is that they are illegally used for fox hunting or killing badgers. Not everyone is a responsible owner.
People who don’t work their Patterdales often get concerned about working Patterdales having docked tails. But there is a reason for this – working Patterdales can have tail injuries when they are working, and docking prevents this. It is important that a Patterdale is docked by a vet before 5 days old and he should have a certificate to prove that it was a legal docking.
If you are offered a pup that hasn’t got this certificate, the docking could be illegal and personally I would avoid that breeder. i would also avoid breeders who dock the tails of Patterdales who are to be sold as pets – there is no need for this.
Patterdale terriers make excellent loving and loyal pets. They enjoy human contact and will often find a place on your lap. They will need socialisation and training of course. If you need help with that, read this article on Patterdale terrier training.
Of course, it’s fine to have a pet Patterdale terrier, but if they are not a ‘working dog’ you will need to ensure that they get the same exercise as one who is working. That means at least two walks a day plus off lead time.
They will also need mental stimulation such as sniffing games, training and puzzles. I’d recommend that you get your Patterdale a snuffle mat and some Nina Ottosson dog puzzles. You pet Patterdale will also enjoy training and learning new tricks.
So – Are Patterdale Terriers working dogs or Pets?
The bottom line is that they can be both, but if you work your Patt be aware of the hunting laws in the country that you operate in, and if you have a Pet Patt make sure that he/she gets as much exercise as a worker! All Patterdale terriers need a great deal of time and energy spent on them – so manke sure that you can provide him or her with this before you get one.