Cesky Terrier: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

cesky terrier in the grass

Pixabay

The Cesky terrier is a canine of contrasts. Small but sturdy, lively but laidback, driven but docile—this dog is a well-rounded hunter that also makes a lovable family dog. As you might expect, such a treasure is hard to find, with the Cesky being one of the rarest dog breeds in the world.

Also known as the Bohemian terrier, this is the national dog of the Czech Republic. Cesky is pronounced like “chess-kee” and the word literally means Czech—which is fitting since the breed’s beginnings were a product of one Czech man’s vision and determination. Cesky terriers are longer than they are tall and sport a long, silky coat that comes in varying shades of gray. A distinctive plume of fur cascades from the forehead and over the eyes.

Breed Overview

Group: Terrier

Height: 10 to 13 inches

Weight: 14 to 24 pounds

Coat: Long and silky

Color: Varying shades of gray (from black to platinum)

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Cesky Terrier

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Cesky Terrier

It might seem like a far-fetched idea to design your ideal dog, but Frantisek Horak, a hunter from the city of Prague, had a vision in mind for a new dog breed. In the mid-1900’s, Horak decided to embark on a breeding program to produce a terrier that would be an adaptable hunter but an easy-going and trainable companion canine.

Some terriers, while tenacious hunters, tend to be headstrong and dominant. The goal for the Cesky was to breed a small terrier that wouldn’t lose the ability to hunt independently or with a pack but would also be more easygoing and obedient.

To achieve his vision, Horak started selectively breeding Scottish terriers and Sealyham terriers that had the ideal type and traits for this new breed. While it isn’t well-documented, some speculation exists that the Dandie Dinmont terrier and wirehaired dachshund were also contributors to the Cesky gene pool. This isn’t a stretch to believe, since Dandie Dinmonts are known for their docile temperament—a top concern for Horak, while dachshunds have the long and low body type with the ability to hunt game large and small. 

Despite the setbacks that many breeds experienced in the face of World War II when breeding populations were low and resources were limited, Horak saw to it that the progress he had made with the Cesky terrier wasn’t halted. In 1963, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) granted the breed official recognition.

About two decades elapsed before the Cesky terrier was first imported to the United States in the 1980’s. It would take several more decades before the breed achieved AKC recognition—which occurred in 2011. Today, this Bohemian terrier is on the AKC’s list of rarest dog breeds, making it all the more special to find one.

Cesky terrier winning at MyDog show
Svenska Mässan / Flickr / Wikipedia Commons

Cesky Terrier Care

The Cesky makes a great companion and is up for adventure or amicable to couch cuddling. They're a great choice for apartment dwellers, but do enjoy a backyard or regular play time outdoors. Keep in mind that as a terrier, they have an intelligent nature that needs to be channeled properly or mischief may ensue. But, in comparison to many other strong-willed terriers, you’ll find the Cesky to be more obedient and submissive, making them a well-rounded pet.

Their willingness to please makes this breed particularly easy to train. They typically grasp the basics of house training and obedience relatively easily. Be on the lookout, though, for subtle stubbornness. As a terrier, they’re still prone to an independent attitude if you’re not active with training and maintain good pack order. Their intelligence level means that they also love to learn new tricks and it can be a good opportunity to give their mind much-needed exercise while strengthening your bond.

As a small but active dog breed, you can expect the Cesky to be ready for a good, long walk each day and he can even join you for a jog. If you enjoy hiking or backpacking, this terrier will be right there with you—just be aware that his short stature means he might have some limitations when it comes to scrambling up rocks or negotiating river crossings.

When enjoying the great outdoors with a Cesky, remember that this dog was bred to be an avid hunter, so they can be very prey driven. It’s best to keep your dog on a leash to avoid a wild chase and the chance of disaster. 

These dogs are known to be affectionate and loyal with family members, but more reserved with strangers. They’re not particularly standoffish or even aggressive—just wary until they feel comfortable with the newcomer. A big bark in comparison to the Cesky’s relative small size serves as a good warning of intruders but that’s about all this breed has to offer in terms of watchdog abilities.

The breed does well with well-mannered children and can be taught to cohabitate with other animals. Proper socialization is key, especially with cats and similarly sized dogs since the Cesky can be domineering. It’s important to avoid letting your Cesky freely mingle with pocket pets like gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, etc., since these small creatures can easily trigger the Cesky’s prey drive.

Fittingly, the Bohemian terrier has a free-flowing and silky coat. It will require rather bathing, since the fine texture of the hair tends to hold dirt. Additionally, a good brushing every few days will keep tangles at bay and curb shedding, which owners say can be considerable. About every 6 to 8 weeks (depending on your dog’s coat), you’ll need to get your dog professionally groomed. The Cesky’s coat should be groomed with clippers, rather than hand stripping.

Cesky terrier puppy in wooden box
 @vitatassar
Three Cesky terriers with varying coats
 @teoamiral
Cesky terriers on hay bale
@life_of_my_sweet_dogs 

Common Health Problems

Springing from careful breeding of pedigreed pooches, the Cesky is known as a healthy breed with few common health problems. Breeders that are committed to helping the Cesky continue to thrive and grow in popularity are key to continuing the longevity and healthy nature of this breed.

Occasionally, these dogs deal with Scottie Cramp—a disorder inherited from the Scottish terrier bloodlines used to develop the breed. While it causes muscle spasms and cramps, Scottie Cramp in its milder forms isn’t life-threatening or debilitating; an episode usually passes in about 30 minutes or less.

While there are few other genetic health conditions to be concerned about, keep on the watch for the following canine health problems:

Diet and Nutrition

Feed the Cesky a balanced diet, without overfeeding at mealtimes or with treats. These dogs can be very food-oriented, so it’s important to keep them on a routine and not allow them to overeat. The breed isn’t known for suffering from many food allergies, so they generally do well on any high-quality food formula.

Pros

  • Easy to train with docile demeanor

  • Gets along well with children

  • Less high-strung than other terriers

Cons

  • Can be dominant or aggressive with smaller animals

  • Strong prey drive

  • Can be stranger shy without proper socialization

Where to Adopt or Buy a Cesky Terrier

Since the Cesky terrier is such a rare breed, it can be a challenge to find a nearby breeder. Additionally, these coveted companions aren’t likely to be found in your local animal shelter. However, advocates for the breed are very much interested in seeing the Bohemian terrier become a more widely known family pet so they’re generally happy to be of assistance in any way possible.

Start you search for a Cesky terrier here:

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you’re considering a Cesky terrier, it helps to learn more about the breed’s heritage. Getting in touch with Cesky owners or breeders is a good place to start.

Other compact terriers to consider include: