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.
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
|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 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.
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.
Easy to train with docile demeanor
Gets along well with children
Less high-strung than other terriers
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:
Gritten, Julie. "History Of The Cesky Terrier". American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association, https://americanceskyterrierfanciersassociation.org/history-of-the-cesky-terrier.
"Cesky Terrier Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/cesky-terrier/.