Patterdale Terrier – Breed profile, characteristics and facts

Featured image by © / Radomir Rezny

What is a Patterdale Terrier?

The Patterdale Terrier is, without a doubt, a hard-working, caring, and courageous breed. They’re dense but flexible enough to squeeze through tight areas without hassle. Patterdales have a strong muzzle and a powerful head. Though they are a tough and determined breed, Patterdale terriers have quite a laid-back attitude. Nevertheless, they’re great hunters and watchdogs.

Patterdales hail from Northern England. Huntsman Joe Bowman initially conceptualized them in the lake district of the United Kingdom. They’re direct descendants of the Fell Terrier, which farmers used to control vermin populations on sheep farms. Being associated with hunting over the years has given them a reputation as being tenacious. They also have been noticed as considerable athletes. In 1995, they were accepted by the United Kennel Club.

Is the Patterdale terrier the right breed for you? Keep reading to learn more about this courageous companion.

Patterdale Terrier Characteristics

  • Strong
  • Brave
  • Reliable
  • Clever
  • Safeguarding

Patterdale Terrier Appearance

The Patterdale terrier is a short dog with smooth or rough hair (usually black) and a strong head. Their ears tend to drop, and their tails are typically docked. Their build is tight and compact, which allows them to chase small animals and squeeze through hard-to-reach areas. The Patterdale has straight legs that are sturdy and keep the dog well-balanced.

Height and Weight

The height of a Patterdale terrier ranges from 10-15 inches. Their weight is proportionate to their height. You won’t find many Patterdale terriers that weight more than thirteen pounds, or less than eleven.


The majority of Patterdale terriers are black with small white patches. You can also find some with red, liver, tan, chocolate, and bronze. You’ll almost always find a white spot on the chest of this breed.

Coat Texture

Their coats tend to be smooth or rustic. The thickness of the coat can vary per dog. However, you can always expect it to be smooth.

Grinning patterdale terrier posing © / drussbear
Grinning patterdale terrier posing © / drussbear

Patterdale Terrier Personality

If you plan on getting a Patterdale terrier, be ready for high energy levels. That being said, they have a great sense of control over their energy and aren’t rambunctious. They’ve been known as pleasers and always seek your approval before making a move. They’re loving, dependable, intelligent, and protective of their owners, which makes them good pets.

These dogs know when to be serious and when to be playful. Many people in the United States adore their laid-back attitude. Other terrier breeds are more extroverted and vocal than this dog breed. The Patterdale is more about companionship, but they are also welcoming to friendly outsiders. This breed isn’t among the pitbull family, even though that’s a common misconception.

Remember that this breed has a higher prey drive than other breeds. That means a lot of physical and mental challenges are required to keep this dog stimulated. Keeping them in a confined in a small space wouldn’t be ideal and could cause a wide range of behavioral issues. Since they are natural-born hunters, it’s not wise to trust them around any smaller pets (hamsters, birds, mice, etc.). They may not be able to control their instincts and can snap into hunting mode at any time.

Don’t let their size fool you. The Patterdale terrier needs a firm, bold, and authoritative leader. That is why experts don’t recommend them for average dog owners. If you’re outdoorsy and have a significantly sized property, this breed may be a suitable pet.

Are They Aggressive?

Understanding the Patterdale mindset can be tricky. When approached by people or other dogs, they give off a somewhat “ready to attack” vibe. However, the majority of the time, they are more willing to meet and communicate with the stranger, rather than attack or bite. That’s why it’s essential to completely understand this breed’s mindset and mannerisms as a Patterdale owner. They aren’t necessarily aggressive, but they can be a bit intense.

Do They Get Along with Cats?

There’s always an uncertain tension between cats and dogs. The Patterdale Terrier is curious by nature, so to determine its relationship with cats, it would also depend on the cat’s personality. The Patterdale is bred to chase down animals, so if your cat is skittish and likes to run away, your Patterdale might chase them. If your cat is more docile, you’ll have a better chance of them getting along. There is no right answer here, as there are too many variables. It’s recommended that you properly introduce the two first before considering them as roommates.

How to Train a Patterdale Terrier

There’s no room to sugarcoat it – training your Patterdale is going to be hard work. It’s of the most complicated dog breeds out there, but rest assured there’s a way to turn this high-energy hunter into a loving, compassionate life partner. As long as you have the patience, you and your pooch are bound for success.

The goal is to use their determination as an advantage. This hard-working terrier breed loves challenges. Physical and mental stimulation is how these dogs use their energy efficiently to prevent behavioral problems. Such dogs are also heavily influenced by a hierarchy. If they get a sense that you’re not the one in control, they will walk all over you. That is why we only recommend this working terrier for experienced dog owners.

The typical Patterdale in the park © / Radomir Rezny

Health Problems

Here are some of the common health issues associated with the Patterdale Terrier:

  • Hypothyroidism – Problems with the function of the thyroid hand. Hypothyroidism can stunt the growth of a Patterdale Terrier puppy.
  • Hip Dysplasia – A genetic condition where the hip socket doesn’t connect properly with the hip joint. Surgery can treat this condition.
  • Cranial Cruciate Disease – This can cause issues with dogs’ stability. Over time, Cranial Cruciate Disease can be painful if left untreated.
  • Patellar Luxation – A split in the knee caps that’s one of the most common knee problems for dogs in the terrier breeds.


If you’re noticing any abnormal behavior or physical differences in your dog, bring them to a veterinarian right away.

Life Expectancy

Patterdale Terriers typically live around 10 – 12 years.


Since the terrier Patterdale coat is smooth and relatively thin, you won’t need to have them professionally groomed throughout the year. It’s recommended that you use a coat brush whenever you notice the coat getting messy. They do shed some hair, but regular brushing cuts down on shedding. Their guard hairs tend to be wire-like and can tangle after some time. All the different coat types require a different grooming regiment; the longer the coat, the more you’ll need to brush. If you have any more questions or concerns, you may reach out to us at our email address. You can also learn more about other dogs by browsing through our navigation menu.