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Welcome to! We are BIG terrier fans and here to tell you all about the Patterdale terrier, and to help you to decide if the breed is right for you. Patterdale terriers are high energy terriers that were bred in the lake district – in Patterdale, Cumbria to be exact. They are a cute and high energy terrier that were primarily bred as a working dog. However, a patterdale terrier can make excellent family pets provided that they are well trained and exercised.

Whether you are looking to buy a patterdale puppy or adopt a rescue patterdale, I hope that we can help you to make the right choice. Dog ownership is so rewarding but is a big decision. 

Patterdale Terrier – An Introduction

Most terriers are bred for hunting, and patterdales are no different. The Patterdale terrier is a British breed of dog through and through. Patterdales were originally bred for hunting vermin such as foxes, rabbits and rats. They also make good guard dogs and are considerably useful farm animals.

The Patterdale terrier was originally bred by Brian Nuttall in the early 1960s, and the dogs descend from various Northern Terrier breeds seen in the early 20th century. They are popular in canine sports. Although fox hunting is now illegal in UK, it still happens in Ireland. In England, many working terriers including the Patterdale and Jack Russell are used as ratters and vermin control.

working patterdale terrier hunting rats

What is the life expectancy of the Patterdale Terrier?

The life expectancy is 10-12 years. However, small dogs usually last longer than big dogs and I once knew someone who had a Patterdale terrier dog that lived until 21! Patterdales are one of the long lasting and sturdy dog breeds. You can read more here about the Patterdale Terrier Lifespan.

Patterdale Terrier Size and Appearance 

Patterdales are cute and rustic looking terrier dogs with straight legs and a defined muzzle and triangular drop ears. Patterdale’s can come in various coat types such as black, tan, red, liver and chocolate. Some have combination coats like black and tan. They can have a smooth or coarse coat. The typical Patterdale Terrier size is around 12 inches and around 6-7kg in weight. Being a small size, they also make a very cuddly lap dog.

Because patterdales were bred from a mix of terriers, it’s sometimes hard to tell if they are a pure patterdale. It’s likely that you could end up with a Jack Russell or border and Patterdale cross. The only real way to know if you have a patterdale is to get a dog DNA test.

Patterdale Terrier Character

Patterdale terriers are high energy and very intelligent dogs, meaning that they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. This means that they need early obedience training from their owners. They have a strong prey drive as they are bred to be hunting dogs. They are usually friendly with people and display a loyal and loving temperament.

Patterdale’s appreciate owners who walk daily and also go on weekend hikes and walking holidays. Someone who will engage in fun training activities such as agility and scent trails would be a great patterdale owner. Patterdales need an owner who is a firm leader and who will socialise them young to avoid aggression developing. If you get a patterdale, he will be sure to be your best friend! You can follow this link to read more about Patterdale Terrier Temperament.

Rescue Patterdale dog
Patterdale terrier Jack Russell cross

The Patterdale Terrier – All about the Breed

Patterdales are lovable and loyal dogs who are bags of fun, a bit like the Jack Russell terrier. Patterdale terriers are generally classed as a ‘small’ sized dog. It may surprise you that this popular terrier breed is not recognised by the kennel club. However, despite this they are now growing in popularity in the United States. They are popular as working dogs and farm animals but also make great pets for the right dog owners.

Patterdales are often referred to as fell terriers. However, the term fell terrier really refers to a specific group of dog breeds that come from Great Britain that are long legged working terriers. This could include the patterdale terrier, Lakeland terrier and the Scorrier terrier. Therefore fell terriers are a type rather than breed of dog.

Are Patterdale Terriers Aggressive?

The answer to this question is really the same answer for any dog – they can be. It depends on a lot of factors including their genes, upbringing and training. Patterdale terriers are stubborn, that’s for sure, and so if they have their heart set on running towards something, they are going to do that. Most terrier breeds have this inbuilt prey instinct and so unless you have your dog on a lead 100% of the time, you can’t be sure that it’s not going to kill rabbits, squirrels and foxes.

As patterdales have this prey drive, it can be a challenge to have a patterdale at home with other small pets such as guinea pigs or rats. Due to the patterdale temperament, you might find that they are aggressive towards joggers and bikes. This is something that should be trained out of them at a young age and is harder to train out of rescue patterdales.

Patterdales who have not been trained from puppies or who have experienced abuse in their life may become aggressive towards people. Our rescue patterdale Blake was aggressive to all strange men when he first came home. It took over a year to get this out of him by building up trust and positive reinforcement in his training.

If you have an aggressive dog, it’s really important that you seek professional help before it gets out of hand. Search your local area for a good and experience dog trainer who can do one to one sessions before progressing to dog training classes.

Read more on are Patterdales aggressive?

How Much Exercise Does a Patterdale Terrier Need?

Patterdales are an energetic breed and will need walking twice a day every day. They also need dog owners who can give them extended walks weekly such as countryside hiking or long beach walks of a couple of hours on an evening or weekend. Off lead running is also essential for Patterdales and so you need to be prepared to do recall training and/or allow them time to run free in large enclosed spaces. If you don’t do this, they will have a lot of pent up energy! Of course, every dog is different, even within a breed and so it is possible that your Patterdale Terrier will need slightly more or slightly less than this, but be prepared to provide this as a minimum.

patterdale terriers
Patterdale terrier in the snow!

Patterdale Terrier Grooming

You can get both smooth and coarse haired patterdales and the coarse haired one will need slightly more grooming. However, Patterdale terrier grooming is quite straight forward and these dogs are extremely low maintenance regarding grooming. Brushing weekly with a wire dog brush and bathing them every 3 months or as necessary is perfectly fine for a patterdale.

Where can I get a Patterdale Terrier?

There are two main ways to get your patterdale dog – get a patterdale as a rescue dog get a patterdale puppy. There are many rescue centres that will identify the breed on their website, such as the RSPCA and dogs trust. There is also a specific patterdale rescue based in England. If you have the training experience and the right kind of home, it can be a good idea to look at a few rescue dogs until you find the one!

Because the patterdale terrier dog breed is not recognised by the Kennel club, you won’t be able to get a registered kennel club breeder. Good patterdale terrier puppies are hard to find, but there are some Facebook groups which are a good place to start.

Patterdale terrier health

Cost of Owning a Patterdale

Before you become a proud Patterdale Mum or Dad, it is important that you consider the costs and make sure that you can afford the money as well as the time that dog ownership involves. As a small breed, food is relatively cheap. However, vets bills, boarding kennels and dog sitting costs can be high. Consider your budget for the following…

  • Food (dried or wet food plus treats – expect to pay approximately £5-10 a week)
  • Pet Insurance (Can be between £10-£30 a month for Patterdales depending on policy)
  • Dog Sitter (Expect to pay £15 per dog sitter visit or walk and up to £250 a week during holidays)
  • Vets – this can vary depending on your dogs health, but worming tablets, flea treatment, boosters and dental care are ongoing for every dog.
  • Trainer – From £10-£70 a session depending on whether it is a group session or 1-to-1. Patterdale terrier training can be a challenge!

Patterdale Terrier Health Conditions

Patterdale terriers on the whole have relatively few health problems compared to other dog breeds. The most common Patterdale terrier health problems are: fleas, obesity, eye problems, joint problems, hypothyroidism and hystiocytomas (benign skin growths). It’s important to seek vetenary advice as soon as possible if you suspect any health problem or eye issue with your patterdale terrier. Also something to be aware of is whether or not their dew claw is causing any health problems. This is the claw slightly higher on their leg above their paws and if it is causing discomfort, it can simply be removed at the vets.

Patterdale terrier health problems
Patterdale terrier with eye removed due to infection

Can They be Left Alone in the Day?

Patterdales are loyal and sociable dogs that do not like to be left alone and can be destructive if they are left alone for too long. Patterdales are a breed that is prone to separation anxiety and they can howl and bark for long periods when left. You should have seen the live video feed of our boy howling in the kitchen the first time that we left him! Ideally, you don’t want to leave your patterdale alone for more than 3-4 hours.

Should You Get a Patterdale if you Work Full Time?

The ideal living situation for a Patterdale terrier would be in a countryside setting with plenty of land, or a farm that could use and entertain a working dog. If you are getting a Patterdale as a family pet it would work well for a family where one or both ‘dog parents’ work from home. 

A Patterdale terrier is not really an ideal dog breed for someone who will be out working 9-5 and only return home in the evening. If you know that this will be the case, perhaps you should consider some other dog breeds.

If you work elsewhere such as go to an office normal full time working hours, that would be ok if you have another family member at home. If not, you would need to budget for dog sitter or doggy daycare. 

Great Britain – Where to Walk your Patterdale

There are some fantastic places to walk your patterdale in Great Britain. In Wales, don’t miss Snowdonia National Park. In Scotland, head to the Cairgormes. Patterdales were born and bred in the Lake District and this is the best place to take them in England, the Peak District being another good option. Plan some fun hiking holidays and your Patterdale will love you for it! Here are some ideas on dog walks in different UK destinations….

If you’re interested in owning a Patterdale terrier please read my blog on 10 reasons I LOVE to own a Patterdale terrier!

22 thoughts on “Patterdale Terrier”

  1. fox hunting underground with a terrier is legal in England , Scotland and Wales …Brian is a friend of mine he wasn’t the first person to bred them ,he got his stock from C.Breay and F.Buck

    • I just lost my lovely smooth black haired Alfie – Ime devastated – he was all but ten years old – he was my late daughters dog and I took him on from last year. I knew him from young . Very lively and could solve a hidden treat puzzle toy in seconds – he was slowing down in later years but just loved his walks and his food – very inquisitive and lively breed. I gave him a lot of love and he gave me same in return – I would easily want to take on another one – I so love this breed. Very unique type of dog.

    • No they ARE wonderful. Mine is 3 years old and not as well socialised as I would like as she was rescued during lockdown. She likes both of us but adores my husband and spends hours sitting at his feet gazing up at him. If we cuddle on the couch she pushes into the middle. We have two terriers so mine is the JRT and his is our tan Patterdale. She has a very strong prey drive and mice no longer invade the garden shed.

  2. Sorry. Can’t leave much of a comment as I’m on my 3rd trip of the day from Devon up to the Lake District to walk the dog.
    Oh dear Oh dear!!!

  3. I’m reading this with tears In my eyes , we lost our beloved Patterdale cross Roo in the summer after 14 fabulous years , I miss him dearly , he was the perfect doggie and friend , we are considering getting a pure breed Pattie when I retire next year !

  4. Our 7 yo rescue patterdale has just discovered hedgehogs. Sadly he has killed 2 & gives the larger one’s a good try. Along with this, he is forever eating acorns. Thinking of getting a muzzle to limit both activities. Any suggestions? Won’t be used on walks just in the garden. Thanks in advance. 🐾

    • Muzzles can be good at stopping them eating and with positive training and treats they get used to mules quite quickly. Our Patt has a Baskerville muzzle.

  5. The Patterdale Terrier is a charming and energetic breed. Their lively personality and compact size make them great companions for active families. They’re known for their intelligence and love for adventure, making them excellent outdoor partners.

  6. Hi there, I have a 4 year old Patterdale. She came to me at one year old. She is a wonderful dog in every way. My only complaint is that she has an odor about her that I cannot wash away. This odor is not a “normal smell”. It is above and beyond a normal “dog smell”. I have tried everything from bathing her with different gentle/sensitive dog shampoos, powders, chlorophyl in her water, organic dog food (no people food), Currently i have just started her on Wild Alaskan fish oil. Our family vet says she has skin allergies and prescribed Apoguel 16 mg once a day. None of this has helped her smell.

    I can actually give her a bath one day and the very next day she literally stinks. Our Patterdale lives in the house. She is always on a leash when outside (to keep her from eating cat poop) never loose. And I take her to my office during the day. She is never alone so she never rolls in anything smelly.

    I am at my witts end because there is so much bedding to wash constantly due to the rank smell.

    One think I will mention is that i do have her groomed on a regular basis having her hair cut short. Due to our hot weather and grooming her makes her look more manicured. I am wondering though if it is possible that this might be causing her to have bad BO?

    Any thoughts or insight you can give would be greatly appreciated. We absolutely love our Penny. She is the best dog we have ever had. Just trying to help her smell better ;))

    Jackie Griffith

  7. My Patterdale gets along well with the Tibetan mastiff. They play in the yard all day, even the cat keeps them company.


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