The Ultimate Patterdale Terrier Guide

Height:25-38 cm
Weight:4.5-6 kg
Lifespan:12-15 years
Temperament:Loyal, Intelligent, Full of energy
Pedigree Breed?No
Colours:Black & Chocolate Brown
Hair Type:Short and straight
Most Suited to:Large families with an active lifestyle


  • Loyal companions that make great pets
  • Minimal grooming needs
  • Intelligent creatures able to learn skills and tasks
  • Healthy dogs who lead long lives
  • Lots of energy for activities


  • Sometimes stubborn, especially when bored
  • Require lots of physical and mental exercise
  • A high-prey drive that can’t be unlearned
  • Not the best choice for first-time owners
  • Their devotion leads to separation anxiety

What is a Patterdale Terrier?

A small dog with a big heart and a robust muscular appearance; Patterdale Terriers are a unique breed. 

The Patterdale Terrier is a feisty, lovable character. While the Patterdale is popular all over the world, they originally stem from Northern England, where it gained popularity as a working breed.

Even though they earned their name as working dogs, most Patterdales today are more commonly bred as pets. They are loyal and devoted companions that enjoy the company of their owners.

The bonds they build with their owners are incredibly strong, especially if you prove that you are their leader. Unfortunately, this can lead to difficulties with separation anxiety if they are forced to spend too much time alone. 

As well as this, Patterdales can be difficult to socialise with other people and with other dogs. They build close bonds with their family but see outsiders as a threat if they’re not properly socialised from a young age. 

The Patterdale Terrier is also sometimes referred to as a Black Fell Terrier. This is due to their appearance as they are almost always black in colour with a uniform look.

Overall, they are sturdy and reliable with rarely any health problems – if they are looked after correctly. They do require a lot of physical exercise to exert their high energy levels, as well as mental stimulation to keep them fulfilled.

However, with proper training, exercising, and lots of love, Patterdale Terriers can make the perfect companion. 

The history of the Patterdale Terrier

The history of the Patterdale Terrier breed is somewhat muddled, with confusion surrounding their initial appearance. However, most Patterdale fans agree that the breed was first popularised in the 1950s.

Cyril Breay and Frank Buck, two well-known terrier breeders of the time, created the Patterdale Terrier through selective breeding. Breay and Buck designed the Patterdales to be the ideal working breed for fox hunting.

The breed’s initial and primary purpose was to protect sheep farms across the Lake District, which were, unfortunately, dwindling in size due to a high population of foxes. 

The Patterdale Terrier’s name comes from the village Patterdale in Cumbria, UK. A village historically well known for hunts. 

From here, the word spread of their intelligence and hunting ability, leading to their popularity across the UK and even over to America. 

As well as fox hunting, their high prey drive came in useful for farmers facing difficulties with rats on their land, also increasing their recognition and worth as a breed.

Patterdale Terrier Appearance

The Patterdale Terrier has a very charming appearance. Their confidence and high energy levels definitely show through in their expressions and the way they hold themselves.

Overall, they are compact but perfectly balanced dogs. Unfortunately, because the Kennel Club doesn’t officially recognise the Patterdale Terrier, they don’t have a definitive breed standard. 

This means there is some variation from dog to dog, but let’s take a closer look at the typical Patterdale Terrier appearance.


Of course, weight is dependent on several factors, including diet and amount of exercise. However, on average, the Patterdale Terrier weighs between 4.5-6kg.

Dog breeds are usually categorised using their average weight value. This figure means that Patterdale Terriers are classed as small dogs – along with all other dogs breeds weighing less than 10kg.


Historically, size has always been an essential factor in the breeding of Patterdale Terriers. Traditionally used for fox hunting, Patterdales needed to be small enough to fit into narrow fox dens.

While this necessity is no longer relevant in the UK today, the size of Patterdales has barely changed over the years. On average, Patterdale Terriers stand at the height of between 25-38cm. 

Colour types 

Patterdale Terriers are sometimes referred to as ‘Black Fell Terriers’. So it may come as no surprise to you that the most common coat colour on a Patterdale is black.

Most Patterdales you see will be black, with a completely uniform appearance. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t variations. For example, the second most common coat colour on a Patterdale is chocolate – again, most likely a block colour with no markings. 

You may find some Patterdales with white markings, particularly around the face, but a uniform colour is most common.

Hair types

Being a terrier breed, you might expect Patterdales to have wiry fur. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, Patterdale Terriers usually have a very short and straight coat that is still relatively thick. Surprisingly, Patterdale Terriers shed a moderate amount.

Some Patterdales have what is referred to as a ‘broken’ coat, meaning they have primarily straight fur, but they have extra feathering around their faces. The long haired Patterdale can often make them appear as if they have a beard!

Patterdale Terrier Personality

Despite being a small dog, the Patterdale Terrier’s personality is far from small. Overall, they are confident and incredibly lively dogs that will certainly keep you busy. 

Being working dogs, they have tonnes of energy that comes out in playful bursts throughout the day. They are loving creatures that build strong bonds with their owners; however, that can cause some behavioural issues down the line such as trouble socialising with others.

That being said, with adequate training, a Patterdale can be incredibly friendly and sociable. 

Their intelligence and confidence can sometimes turn into stubbornness, which can be a pain during training sessions, but keeping them busy and fulfilled is a great way to avoid this!

Working Patterdale Terriers

Working breeds have been around as long as dogs have been man’s best friend. They are dog breeds with a specific purpose: hunting, guarding, searching, caring, etc. 

In order to carry out their designated tasks effectively, each breed has carefully selected traits and physical qualities to make them perfect for the job. 

In the case of the working Patterdale Terrier, their purpose is hunting foxes and, more recently, ratting.

Patterdales have a powerful prey drive as a terrier. Everything in their nature makes them determined to chase and catch small animals, making them perfect dogs for hunting and ratting.

Their size was an important factor in their creation, as they needed to be small enough to enter into narrow fox dens yet large enough where a fox wouldn’t overpower them. This is why they are roughly the same shape and size as a fox.

Since 2004 in the UK, Patterdale Terriers are no longer used for hunting foxes. The Hunting Act 2004 made hunting wild mammals with dogs illegal, meaning Patterdales needed a new purpose.

Working Patterdale Terriers are now used for ratting and are typically employed by pest control companies for this exact purpose – just like my own Patterdale, Buster. Their high prey drive makes them ideal candidates for the job.

You will be able to easily spot a working Patterdale Terrier today as they will usually have a docked tail and possibly scarring or wounds around their face. 

Docking a dog’s tail was made illegal in 2007 unless the dog is a working dog and the surgery is carried out before the dog is five days old. So, if you see a Patterdale Terrier with a docked tail today, it’s highly likely that they work in pest control or a similar line of work.

Patterdale Terrier Temperament

The Patterdale Terrier’s temperament can make them a challenging dog to work with, which is why they’re not usually recommended for first-time owners.

Their working dog background means they can get bored easily, and this combined with their stubborn nature means that if they don’t want to do something, then they’re definitely not doing it.

Read more: My Patterdale Terrier is Out of Control

Unfortunately, if their high maintenance needs are not fulfilled, i.e they haven’t had enough exercise or mental stimulation, or they’ve been left alone, this can result in destructive and aggressive behaviour. 

Patterdale Terriers are not the best around other dogs, however proper training and socialisation from an early age with dogs you trust can improve this. 

The same goes for children; if your Patterdale has been raised around children who appreciate boundaries, then you should be all good. 

That being said, it’s important to remember their strong prey drive. Smaller dogs and little children running around could very easily trigger this, and it could end badly. 

Patterdale Terrier Health

Overall the Patterdale Terrier is a pretty healthy dog. With proper care, they can lead long lives of up to 15 years on average and rarely suffer from inherited health complications.

As with all dogs, it’s important to keep an eye out for health problems like ticks, fleas, and worms. However, these are all issues that can be easily solved using over-the-counter treatments.

Due to their high energy levels and active lifestyles, Patterdale Terriers are more prone to joint issues more commonly associated with larger dogs. 

Eye conditions like glaucoma, conjunctivitis and lens luxation are also prevalent in Patterdales. It’s advised to regularly check your Patterdale’s eyes for redness or signs of inflammation and visit your vet immediately if a problem occurs to avoid total loss of vision.

To prolong your Patterdales life and keep them healthy, it’s vital to provide them with plenty of exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of mental stimulation too. 

Many owners find that raw diets have a positive impact on the health of their Patterdales, but it’s best to find what works for both you and your dog.

Patterdale Terrier Trainability

As an intelligent and hard-working dog breed, you may assume that the Patterdale Terrier would be an easy dog to train. However, you would be wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re definitely not the hardest breed to train – it is still very possible. Plus, once you’ve trained them something they will remember it for life. 

It’s just the initial teaching and training that can cause problems. Patterdales are particularly stubborn and if they lose interest during a training session, it can be difficult to re-engage them.

Keep your training sessions short and often for positive results. As well as this, Patterdale Terriers are highly food driven, so make sure you incorporate food into your training via hand-feeding.

Patterdale Terrier Cost

Patterdale Terriers are a rather affordable dog breed considering their lifespan, yet prices have seen an increase during the pandemic. On average, you can find a Patterdale Terrier puppy on sale for between £500 to £800. 

Of course, you will find breeders selling for cheaper than the market average, but just remember if it seems too good to be true, it usually is! 

An adult Patterdale Terrier price varies depending on the circumstances for the previous owner giving them up. The current price for an adult Patterdale ranges from £200 all the way up to £1000 for an experienced working dog. 

Unfortunately, due to their need for lots of exercise and an experienced owner, many Patterdales end up in shelters as their owner didn’t read up on the breed beforehand. 

Rehoming is a brilliant way to have a Patterdale of your own; you get to save money and rescue a dog at the same time! Of course, different shelters will charge different amounts, but you can rescue a dog for as little as £130.

Patterdale Terrier Crossbreeds

The Patterdale Terrier’s unique personality and intelligence have made them a popular dog breed for crossbreeding. Let’s take a look at the most common Patterdale crosses:

  • Patterjack – A Patterdale crossed with a Jack Russell Terrier
  • Patterland – A Patterdale crossed with a Lakeland Terrier
  • Patterbea – A Patterdale crossed with a Beagle
  • Patterpoo – A Patterdale crossed with a Poodle
  • Chatterdale – A Patterdale crossed with a Chihuahua
  • Patterdale Whippet – A Patterdale crossed with a Whippet 

After reading our Ultimate Guide to Patterdale Terriers, it’s easy to see why they are loved all over the world. 

If you’re still unsure if a Patterdale Terrier is the right dog for you, check out our complete guide to terrier breeds.

9 thoughts on “The Ultimate Patterdale Terrier Guide”

  1. Hi my male patterdale is 2 end of August. He has all of a sudden sniffing and digging the garden any ideas why.

  2. My patterdale was very obedient also very sociable with all dogs.She lived to be 15and half, was great companion.

  3. Love my patterdale buddy to bits he has so much energy it’s unreal I use to have two Dobermans before my buddy. If patterdale dogs were as big as Dobermans heaven knows how strong they would be he’s as strong as one know wow and so loving when he’s not being a little devil

  4. I have a patterdale rescue called Jimmy. I adore him he is a wonderful companion and house dog. He is always on a short lead and loves his walks twice a day, one of which is accompanying me to the allotment. Unfortunately I realised early on that he does not tolerate other dogs running up to him and will bite and hold on although never draws blood. I would definitely have another one but they do have a reputation.

  5. I have a 3 year old patterdale. Had him from 6 months old. We have been told by vets we have a rare one, as he is great with other dogs and even cats that we have bort in to our house hold. Hes not fussed by other smaller animals whilst out either only ever wants to play. He has come from working parents aswel

  6. We looked after a Patterdale terrier for. Couple of months( she had not been trained at all.
    She would escape as soon as she could .
    We were trying to catch her at 10pm I only caught her when she ran into a gate)


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