Breed Type: Terrier
Country of Origin: Wales
Popular Names: Welsh Border Terrier, Cowley Terrier
Height: (At the withers) Maximum 30 cm
Weight: Males 9 kg, Females 8 kg
Best suited as: Pet for experienced owners or as working Terrier
Lifespan: 15 years
Once one of the most popular Terrier breeds, the Sealyham Terrier is now rare and the UK Kennel Club lists it as a Vulnerable Native Breed.
The Sealyham Terrier is small, white, and wiry-haired. It has a double coat – the outer layer is weather-resistant and wiry, while the undercoat is thick and dense. They may have some coloured markings on their face in badger (mix of brown and black), blue, brown, black, or lemon. Some may have markings on the body but if shown, those dogs lose points. The Sealyham is quite low to the ground and as a result, can get quite muddy. It is traditional to dock the Sealyham’s tail, to help pull it out of holes when stuck during hunting. This breed has small, dark eyes, a large black nose, and bushy beard and eyebrows that make it look distinguished.
Captain John Edwardes developed the breed sometime between 1850 and 1891 for use in pest control. He mixed Fox Terrier, English White Terrier, and the Welsh Corgi to come up with the first Sealyhams. He particularly wanted the dogs to be white for ease of identifying the dog in the field. The small dogs were used to hunt badgers and other vermin, as well as small game.
The breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1911and gained popularity with British royalty and movie stars shortly after WW1. Hollywood stars such as Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock all had Sealyhams. The rise in popularity of “designer dogs,” the ease of obtaining foreign breeds, and the banning of tail docking (which reduced the Sealyham’s effectiveness as a working dog) has caused a huge drop in this breed’s popularity. As of 2011, only 49 pups were registered with the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom.
Unlike many other Terriers, the Sealyham doesn’t mind being left alone at home. They are more likely to sleep on your couch until you return than to cause any trouble. In fact, the older they get, the more likely the Sealyham are to become total couch potatoes.
Sealyhams are somewhat difficult to train, and any training you use should never be harsh. They need early and consistent training. This is a dominant and stubborn breed that may develop food or toy aggression. This means that they do best in a home with no small children. Early and regular socialization with other dogs and situations can help reduce any canine aggression issues. They do well with other dogs and even cats when raised with them, but can be aggressive towards strange dogs. Because of their Terrier instincts, small pets like birds and rodents are not safe around Sealyhams.
These small dogs are very adaptable and do well in country or city, apartment or house. They love to cuddle with their owners and are very playful and affectionate. They do tend to bark at strangers, so make a good watchdog, but if you’d rather a very quiet dog, make sure you enforce barking rules from the beginning.
Care and Grooming
The long coat combined with the low body means that the Sealyham tends to get quite dirty during muddy seasons. Use hand stripping grooming technique to keep their coat wiry and not too soft.
To keep their coats looking like a traditional Sealyham, they should be groomed twice a week, with coat shaping done every 12 weeks or so. A Sealy has hair that grows between its pads. Make sure you trim this hair when it gets too long.
Proper dental care is essential. If you cannot brush your dog’s teeth, have a professional pet salon that offers dental care do it for you when you take it to be groomed.
Sealyhams need less exercise than some other Terrier breeds, but they still do need exercise. A couple of short brisk walks a day at minimum is usually enough. Do make sure that any walks are on-leash, or in a fenced-in area. If you plan on allowing your dog near other dogs, make sure it has been socialized and ensure it has good recall to avoid problems.
When indoors, the Sealyham Terrier tends to be fairly inactive and relaxed. It may engage in brief bursts of play with family members if so inclined. When outdoors, a Sealyham in good health will tolerate between 20 and 40 minutes of exuberant exercise before it loses interest. Like all Terriers, the Sealyham loves to dig, so make sure you have a designated “digging area” in your fenced-in backyard where he knows it’s okay to dig.
Activities a Sealy tends to enjoy include den trials, flyball, scent hurdles, and conformation shows.
The Sealyham enjoys fairly good health and usually lives to about 15 years of age. Only a couple specific health issues seem to afflict this breed: canine degenerative myelopathy (CDM) and lens luxation. CDM causes the dog to become paraplegic through degeneration of the spinal cord. Lens luxation leads to glaucoma and, sometimes, irreversible damage to the optic nerve. CDM and lens luxation show up through DNA testing, so conscientious breeders should never breed dogs that have these conditions. The only major other concern with Sealyhams is that because there are so few of them, there is a general lack of genetic diversity in the breed.
Suitability As A Pet
These dogs make excellent ratters and mousers, and love to work. Families or single owners who can put these dogs to work will enjoy a vermin-free house and barn. Families with small children should think twice about acquiring a Sealy as a pet, mostly because of their aggressive tendencies to snap if cornered or threatened. Families with older, more considerate children will do well with this breed.
Novice owners will have a hard time with a Sealyham Terrier, mostly because of their stubbornness and difficulty when it comes to training. A patient, calm, and firm owner will do best when it comes to training a Sealyham Terrier.
Sealyham Terrier Organisations in Australia
West Australian Terrier Club Inc
Sealyham Terrier Organisations in the UK
MIDLAND SEALYHAM TERRIER CLUB
Sealyham Terrier Organisations in the US
American Sealyham Terrier Club – National Breed Clubs
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