Patterdale Terrier

Written by: Jamie
Updated: April 7, 2020

Need to know more about the Patterdale Terrier? We’ve done our research and explain all our findings in this guide.

Patterdale Terrier in the park

Height: 25-40cm at the withers
12-15 years
Pedigree Breed?:

Positives and Negatives of the Breed


  • Devoted and loyal family pets
  • Great for people who live an outdoor lifestyle
  • Low maintenance grooming
  • Robust, healthy dogs


  • Need a lot of exercise
  • Not ideal for first-time dog owners
  • High prey drive
  • Can suffer from separation anxiety

Patterdale Terrier puppy


The Patterdale terrier comes, as you might imagine from its name, from Patterdale in the Lake District.

Here, they were highly-prized for their abilities as a hunter thanks to their keen senses and small size.

Over time, the Patterdale dog, also known as a fell terrier, became more popular as a family pet and companion dog due to their friendly, loyal natures.

Patterdale terriers haven’t been recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed, but they are recognised by the American Rare Breed Association and UKC.

They certainly aren’t a vulnerable breed though, since Patterdale dogs have many fans all over the world who love them for both their working skills and as family pets.

They have also become a common choice for producing other popular Patterdale cross breeds such as the Patterjack cross Jack Russell, otherwise known as the Patterjack.


The Patterdale is quite a new entrant to the dog world having first been bred around 100 years ago.

During the 1960s, a breeder called Brian Nuttall used Breay and Buck bloodlines to produce the Nuttall bloodline that is still regarded as one of the country’s best, with Patterdale puppies with this lineage attracting high prices.

Originating from the Lake District, an area of the UK known for its hilly environment and harsh climate, this breed was needed for its hardiness and robustness to protect flocks of sheep in this challenging terrain against predators like foxes.

One unique ability possessed by this breed is being able to compress its chest to get into small holes and burrows.

They can also lie flat on their belly with their hind legs outstretched and front legs forward to reach prey which has gone to ground.

Unlike other types of terrier that are taught not to kill their prey, Patterdales are trained to kill their prey.

Sometimes known as Black Fell terriers, you’re most likely to find a Patterdale terrier puppy that is black in colour, however, chocolate Patterdale puppies also exist.

They are popular family pets and companion dogs these days because of their alert yet kind natures and charming good looks.

Patterdale Terrier in the park


The typical Patterdale terrier temperament is confident, energetic and independent, just like many other terriers.

They are loyal and affectionate while around people, but they are also good around livestock and other dogs. Despite the Patterdale terrier size being on the small side, it has a strong prey instinct and a very loud bark.

They also enjoy digging, so that’s something to be aware of if allowing your pet to play freely in a fenced back yard.

If left alone for extended periods, the Patterdale may also become quite destructive, digging through carpets and furniture, and barking incessantly. With appropriate mental stimulation and daily exercise, though, they can easily adapt to living in even an apartment.

Patterdale terrier staring

They are a good fit with anyone who loves the outdoor life and who prefers an active lifestyle. While walking outside, though, you’ll need to be aware of any small animals since Patterdales have a strong prey drive.

Patterdale terriers are great around children of all ages, but they may not be the best choice for a new dog owner since they need some experienced handling by someone who is familiar with terrier breeds’ needs. They are very playful and are very good at canine sports like agility and flyball.

Even though Patterdales are small in stature, they make good watchdogs. Very protective of their family and territory, they bark loudly at strangers, but because they so often bark, false alarms may occur frequently.

When it comes to getting on with other family pets, if they have grown up with cats in their household, they may get on well, but they will certainly chase a stranger’s cat or other small pet.

Typically, they get on well with other dogs as long as they have been properly socialised, but they may play quite rough with other canines.


The average Patterdale terrier lifespan is around 12-15 years.

There are also few known Patterdale terrier health problems since they are healthy and robust pets, but they may suffer from Primary Lens Luxation (or PLL) and eye issues like conjunctivitis.

If your dog has any signs of swelling or irritation in their eye they will require veterinary attention.

These conditions can be treated, but PLL is a genetic condition and a responsible breeder should have ensured that both parents were fully tested for this condition before allowing them to produce a litter.

These terriers may also develop allergies to common irritants such as mould or pollen, but again, this can be treated by a vet.

Recommended Next: Loyal and affectionate, the Goldador breed is a wonderful family companion.

Patterdale terrier posing in a garden


As you might expect from any terrier, Patterdales are high energy dogs, despite their small size.

They are also very intelligent and this means that you have to dedicate enough time every day to giving them as much vigorous exercise as they require to be well-behaved and well-rounded pets.

When allowed to spend too much time alone, they find ways of entertaining and amusing themselves and this could end up being very destructive, with biting, chewing and digging at furniture and carpets being common problems.

Patterdales are also prone to separation anxiety if they don’t have company for extended periods, so for this reason, they are best suited to homes where someone is around for most of the time and where someone is willing to take them out for long walks on a regular basis.

Although Patterdales can live in an apartment, they will be happiest if they have a securely fenced yard for them to run around freely in, but remember to ensure that the fencing is very secure.

Patterdales can dig out of a garden, or find weaknesses in fence panels that allow them to escape, especially if they scent prey.

Recommended Reading: As Estrelas are very loyal, they will usually be very protective of children in their family and will enjoy playing with them.

Patterdale Terrier 1


The Patterdale Terrier is a very intelligent dog, and since they also love pleasing their human family, this makes them relatively easy to train. However, there is a caveat to this.

Their training and socialisation must begin at as early an age as possible. It must also be carried out consistently and firmly so that these terriers understand where their place is in their human pack, and who to look to as their alpha.

For this reason, it may be best for Patterdales to have an experienced owner who knows how to train a terrier breed.

When in the right hands and when given the right training, Patterdales can easily learn all kinds of tricks. They can also excel in canine sports thanks to their tenacious natures.

The most important command to teach your Patterdale at a young age is “come” since their strong prey drive means that if they see something that they want to chase, they will run after it and without good recall, they will simply not listen to their owner. Usually, they do come back of their own accord, but this will be in their own good time.

Recommended: The Japanese Tosa is known to be very loyal to its owner and very sensitive to their owner’s tone of voice, paying very close attention to any commands.


If you’re looking for a relatively low maintenance pet that requires only minimal grooming, the Patterdale Terrier could fit the bill.

With their tight, short coats, they only need brushing once a week to keep their coat tidy and to get rid of any shed and dead hairs.

Twice per year, they’ll need hand stripping, but this is something that a professional dog groomer can do for you.

In between your twice yearly grooming parlour trips, you should have no difficulty in managing your dog’s coat care yourself.

You’ll also need to remember to check your pet’s ears regularly for any debris or parasites and to keep them clean so excess wax build up can be prevented.

Since wax causes painful infections that are hard to treat, it’s definitely best to ensure that you’ve kept on top of ear cleanliness.

You’ll also need to remember to trim your pet’s claws around once a month – if you can hear them clicking on a wood or tiled floor their nails are too long and require a trim – and you’ll need to brush their teeth once a week to keep tartar, plaque and bacteria build up to a minimum.

Your vet will be able to show you the best ways to protect your pet’s dental health.

Next Article: More recently, Kooikerhondje dogs have been imported to the UK from Denmark and in 2013 it was recognised as a utility dog by the Kennel Club in 2013.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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