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A black Patterdale terrier outside.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Terrier Group (United Kennel Club)
  • Height — 10-15 inches
  • Weight — 10-13 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Short, smooth, wiry or broken
  • Coat color — Standard colors are black, red, liver, grizzle, black and tan, or bronze. Some black markings around the muzzle and/or white markings on the chest and feet are common.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — High
  • Life span — 10-12 years
  • Temperament — Lively, good-natured, strong-willed, and affectionate
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — England

Patterdale terrier fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Patterdale Terriers King; Rico is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Patterdale Terriers love Bella, then Luna.

  • The Patterdale terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1995. The breed has so far yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or The Kennel Club of the UK.
  • Patterdale terriers were originally bred for vermin control. They’ve been used to combat badgers in the UK and groundhogs and raccoons in the United States.
  • As a working terrier breed, Patterdale pups are known to be especially high-energy. In fact, a popular search term among owners includes “do Patterdales ever calm down?”
A brown Patterdale terrier standing outside.

Patterdale terrier temperament and characteristics 

Patterdale terriers are sturdy, active little terriers with bold and fearless temperaments. Originally bred for their working abilities rather than their looks, the appearance of one Patterdale terrier to another can vary greatly. They’re also known by two names: Patterdale terrier and fell terrier. Their strong neck and wedge-shaped head made them perfectly suited for entering the den of foxes or other ground animals.

Patterdale terriers have a strong prey drive and are likely to display predatory behaviors toward small animals. You should anticipate that your Patterdale will run after things with laser focus, so it’s best to keep them on a leash or under tight voice control. The Patterdale is known to be very vocal, though with a more robust bark than some of its terrier brethren. Patterdale terriers are loving and playful toward their families and are likely to be found in a warm place. Tiny but mighty, they combine a terrier’s toughness with a lap dog’s cuddle factor. Their high energy and inclination to chase small things make them better suited for older children.

They’re excellent watchdogs and can be naturally apprehensive with outsiders and other animals, so training is needed from an early age. Because of their incredible drive to work and high energy levels, Patterdales aren’t suited for apartment life or more sedentary families.

Common Patterdale terrier health problems

Patterdale terriers are an overall healthy breed with few health problems. Like any animal, there are certain conditions they are more prone to that pet owners can be aware of.

  • Obesity. Patterdale terriers are more prone to obesity than others, particularly if their high exercise needs aren’t met. Obesity can lead to or worsen other conditions like joint problems and hip dysplasia.
  • Allergies. Skin allergies in Patterdale terriers are common. Your pup’s feet, belly, and ears may become itchy as early in puppyhood and worsen over time. Many treatment options are available.
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) . Although not specific to this breed, IVDD affects many dogs with long backs and short legs, like the Patterdale terrier. The condition occurs when the cushion between vertebrae slips, putting pressure on the spinal cord and causing moderate to severe pain for your pup. Treatments vary, ranging from rest, pain medication,  or emergency surgery.
  • Eye problems. Patterdale terriers can inherit or develop eye problems like glaucoma, cataracts, or primary lens luxation (PLL) . Glaucoma and PLL can be pretty painful for your dog, so watch for signs like squinting and watery or cloudy eyes, and see your veterinarian immediately.

Cost of caring for Patterdale terrier

Patterdale terriers are a generally low-maintenance breed with minimal health problems. Still, pet owners will want to consider the cost of a high-quality diet to prevent obesity and the high likelihood of allergy medication. Emergency surgery may be required to restore your pup’s health if ruptured vertebrae due to intervertebral disc disease or glaucoma. For owners of any breed, health insurance may be a good idea to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, particularly when your pet is signed up early. Other options, such as a pet savings account or monthly budgeting for your pet can be good alternatives.

A Patterdale terrier resting.

History of the Patterdale terrier 

The Patterdale terrier, or fell terrier, originated in Northern England, where the tall, bare hills are known as fells. Fell terriers were more of a general group or type of earth-working terrier rather than a specific breed. The Patterdale terrier didn’t truly emerge as  a distinct breed until around the 1950s.

The original use for a fell terrier was to protect sheep from predators like foxes. Fell terriers didn’t stop at driving a fox away, but instead hunted them down to the foxhole and doggedly completed their task. Even today, this active little terrier retains the instinct to dig and keep their faces low to the ground to sniff out any holes.

Though the breed is as yet unrecognized by the American Kennel Club, the Patterdale Terrier Club of America formed in the early 1990s, followed by recognition from the United Kennel Club in 1995.

Other UKC terrier breeds

The Patterdale terrier is currently classified in the UKC Terrier Group, having been recognized in 1995. Some other commonly known breeds in this group include:

Caring for your Patterdale terrier

Becoming a new puppy parent can be overwhelming, especially as a first-time dog owner. You’ll be thinking of scheduling that first trip to the vet and making sure you have all your dog’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for things you may not even think about, like teething.

No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but Patterdale terrier owners should especially consider the possibility of their prey-driven pup bolting. FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case they catch a scent before you can react! Here are some other basics specific to the Patterdale terrier.


Patterdales are active dogs that are incredibly high-energy and need a minimum of one to two hours of physical exercise daily, as well as proper mental stimulation. They can be very destructive if their energy isn’t channeled, making them a better choice for seasoned, active pet owners.

Patterdales are best suited for large acreage like a farm or an expansive fenced-in yard. They’re strong, athletic, and adventurous and would make excellent hiking companions–as long as you’re prepared for your pup to try and go after every squirrel.

Their ancestors hail from a rough terrain in Northern England, giving them a strong tolerance to heat or cold, rain or shine. Whether it’s long walks, runs, hikes, or dog sports, you’ll likely tire out long before your Patterdale terrier does.

A Patterdale terrier exercising with a ball.


Patterdale terriers have variations in coat types, and all require little grooming.  All coats are generally short, with the rough coat being the longest.

Smooth coats require the least amount of attention but shed the most. Patterdale terriers with smooth coats will have dense, straight hair that would benefit from a weekly brushing. Broken coats are wiry and wavy, and rough coats are moderate length and coarse, with longer guard hairs. Broken and rough-coated Patterdale terriers often sport a noble beard and mustache, and only need occasional brushing. Baths are only needed every three months or so.

Complete your pup’s full body pampering with consistent nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing.

Diet and nutrition

Pup parents should consider their Patterdale terrier’s high activity level and energy requirements. A nutritious diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is essential for any dog breed. There are no special nutritional requirements for Patterdale terriers, so dog owners can choose wet, dry, or raw food as they prefer. Patterdale puppies will need more food than adult terriers and are better suited to four small meals per day. As your Patterdale terrier grows, it’s important to remember the breed’s propensity toward obesity. Talk with your vet about food portioning, but generally, an adult Patterdale terrier will need one cup of food per day, divided into two separate meals.

Training your Patterdale terrier

Patterdale terriers can be difficult to train, but it’s entirely possible to do it. The breed is highly intelligent and eager to please, which will work in a trainer’s favor. They also have a shorter attention span and drive to chase anything that moves.

Dog owners should start training and socializing their Patterdale terrier as early as possible. The breed responds well to someone they have an established bond with, as well as positive reinforcement and plenty of patience!

A Patterdale terrier in training.

Breeds similar to the Patterdale terrier

Not quite sure that a Patterdale terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Boston terrier. Boston terriers are slightly more child-friendly (more tolerant) and better suited for first-time dog owners. Both the Boston and the Patterdale are very easy to groom, but Bostons may bark a little less.
  • Bull terrier. The bull terrier is loving and affectionate, but can also be apprehensive and jealous toward strangers. Of the two breeds, bull terriers are less vocal, and both are easy to groom.
  • Rat terrier. Rat terriers are comparable in size to Patterdale terriers. They are great with kids of all ages and are much less vocal than the Patterdale. Rat terriers are also fairly calm for a terrier breed.

Frequently asked questions

Are Patterdale terriers rare?

Yes, and they’re even recognized by the American Rare Breed Association. Even though they’re a rare breed, they’re quite popular in some circles around the world.

Do Patterdale terriers ever calm down?

Like a lot of breeds, they calm down some as they get older, however the best way to keep your Patterdale from bouncing off the walls is to make sure they get enough exercise.

Do Patterdale terriers bark excessively?

Terriers are a vocal breed, but how much your Patterdale terrier will bark can depend on a few factors. When your dog is bored, experiencing separation anxiety, or has pent up energy, they will be prone to bark more.

Are Patterdale terriers good with kids?

They can be. Because of their high energy, they can be overwhelming for small children. If your Patterdale terrier is raised with children from the beginning, they will adapt. Generally, they’re best suited for older children.

Are Patterdale terriers stubborn?

Yes. Patterdale terriers are naturally independent, bold, and intelligent. They can be quite stubborn and tricky to train, but persistence will pay off for owners with the right attitude.