The Sealyham Terrier is a small terrier breed from Wales with a wiry double coat, white fur, short legs, and long facial hair that grows in tufts above the nose and under the chin. Once exceedingly popular, the Sealyham is now one of the rarest terrier breeds. These dogs are notably calmer than other terriers. Known for their fun-loving and playful personalities, their terrier traits shine through their spirit, courage, and sometimes stubborn nature. While they may be difficult to find, Sealyham Terriers are unique dogs that make great family pets.
Height: 10.5 inches
Weight: 23 to 24 pounds
Coat: Wiry, medium-length double coat with a soft undercoat
Coat Color: White; sometimes includes lemon, tan, chocolate, blue, or badger markings
Life Span: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Alert, friendly, courageous, outgoing, calm
Characteristics of the Sealyham Terrier
Given the Sealyham's hunting background, it's no surprise that these dogs are known for being brave, adaptable, spunky, and full of character. They were also known for having companionable personalities toward their owners, and these loyal, affectionate traits remain present in the breed today. Sealyham Terriers love to play, and they can be very goofy and endearingly humorous. This is one of the traits that enthusiasts of the breed fall in love with.
While Sealyham Terriers do enjoy the company of their people, they can be reserved and sometimes suspicious of strangers. They often make excellent small guard dogs, although care should be taken not to let this characteristic get out of control. Like other terriers, they can be noisy alert barkers and are known to guard prized possessions and food. Sealyham Terriers may do well with respectful kids, but socialization is essential to prevent dominant temperament when these dogs are raised with other pets.
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History of the Sealyham Terrier
Originating in Wales, the Sealyham Terrier was once one of the most popular terriers. It is not clear why its population has increasingly declined, but these dogs are now considered an endangered breed despite their previous popularity as hunting companions and family pets.
Sealyham Terriers were first bred in the mid-1800s by an army captain named John Edwardes. Edwardes was looking for a small, robust, and brave dog that could support his Otterhound pack by flushing the animals out of their lairs. Otters were viewed as pests that drastically decreased fish populations in his estate rivers.
It is thought Edwardes may have crossed breeds like the Bull Terrier, West Highland Terrier, and possibly even Dandie Dinmonts and Corgis to create the Sealyham. There are, however, no official records to confirm their ancestors.
The breed got its name from the Sealy Ham estate that was owned by Edwardes. The original breed was thought to be slightly smaller and more feisty than its modern-day generations. The English Kennel Club officially recognized these terriers in 1910.
By the early- to mid-1900s, the breed became extremely popular in the United States. Sealyham Terriers were regular winners of high-profile dog shows and a favorite breed among famous movie stars. Some well-known owners included Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, and even the Royal Family.
Sealyham Terrier Care
Sealyham Terriers are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to exercise, but their grooming and training needs mean that this breed is best for experienced owners. With the proper care, these dogs can be very well-mannered and happy companions.
Your Sealyham Terrier will do best with about an hour per day of moderate exercise. These dogs aren't the most energetic of the terrier breeds, so activities like walks, play sessions, or short jogs are typically sufficient to keep them in shape. Since they can be prone to digging, owners may also benefit from placing a sandbox in the backyard. This gives your dog an outlet for its instincts while allowing it to exercise on its own (and it also keeps your favorite flower beds safe).
Sealyham Terriers have thick double coats with water-resistant qualities. These dogs don't shed much, but their coats can become matted and tangled if not brushed out regularly. Regular hand-stripping or fur trimming is also recommended.
These terriers are known for the large quantities of hair that grow forward from their forehead. While this signature tuft is a staple of the breed's look, it can also impede the dog's eyesight when left untrimmed. Owners should keep up with facial hair trimming as well as nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning to keep their Sealyham Terriers healthy.
Sealyham Terriers are intelligent and respond very well to gentle training techniques involving positive reinforcement. Basic training can begin when puppies are about eight weeks old. Owners may need to put in additional training work for recall, digging, and minimizing problem barking.
To prevent resource guarding or other undesirable behaviors from surfacing, Sealyham Terriers need to be socialized from an early age. Care should also be taken when introducing them to other small animals. This breed's hunting background means it can have a high prey drive. At home, these terriers enjoy the affection of their owners, but they are also quite independent. They're known to have a typical terrier stubbornness about them, so working on obedience lessons throughout the dog's life is usually necessary.
Common Health Problems
The Sealyham Terrier is generally regarded as a healthy breed, but it's still prone to a few inheritable health conditions. Ask your breeder to provide the litter's medical history and the results from any genetic tests to help increase the chances of your dog living a long, healthy life.
The following are common conditions associated with Sealyham Terriers:
- Allergies: This breed is known for having skin atopy allergies, although these are usually relatively mild and can be well-managed.
- Eye problems: Responsible breeders will perform ophthalmic screening tests on potential parents, as Sealyham Terriers are prone to a number of eye conditions including Glaucoma, Cataracts, Dry Eye, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): This condition causes discs to press on the spinal cord, and it can lead to paralysis. Owners should be on the lookout for signs like difficulty jumping, walking, or even dragging the back legs in severe cases.
Diet and Nutrition
Feed your Sealyham Terrier a diet of high-quality dog food, either commercially made or home-prepared under the supervision of your veterinarian. This breed is prone to weight gain, so it's important for owners to monitor their dog's weight by measuring portions and giving treats in moderation.
If your dog has food allergies, consult your veterinarian about the best types of food to maintain its health. Your vet can also help you determine a meal schedule based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Sealyham Terrier
Because Sealyham Terriers are a very rare dog breed, it's not likely to find these dogs in most shelters. However, breed-specific rescues exist to help them find forever homes. You can also visit your local shelter to meet similar terrier breeds waiting for families in your area.
If you plan to adopt a Sealyham Terrier as a puppy, research responsible breeders and ensure you're provided with your new puppy's medical history. These dogs typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000, but prices can vary based on pedigree and availability. Owners should prepare to join a waiting list or travel to adopt from reputable breeders.
The following resources for the national breed club, breed-specific rescues, and the AKC can help you start your search:
Sealyham Terrier Overview
Affectionate and playful toward owners
Especially calm breed among terriers
Tends to be stubborn
Not always suitable for homes with other pets
May need extra training to discourage resource guarding, barking, or digging
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you love the Sealyham Terrier, you may also like these similar terrier breeds:
There are plenty of different dog breeds out there that can join your family. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!
Are Sealyham Terriers Good Family Dogs?
Sealyham Terriers can be great family dogs for the right people, but this breed is known for being stubborn and may not get along with other pets. These dogs do well with respectful children and owners that can provide proper socialization.
Do Sealyham Terriers Bark a Lot?
Sealyham Terriers are prone to barking excessively, which may require specific and ongoing training to discourage. However, not all dogs will respond to these methods, so owners should prepare for a vocal dog if the Sealyham Terrier is their breed of choice.
Are Sealyham Terriers Hard to Train?
Like most terriers, Sealyham Terriers can be independent and follow their own desires despite their owner's wishes. These dogs are calmer than many similar breeds, but they still need consistent training to become well-mannered companions.
"History". The American Sealyham Terrier Club, http://sealyham.org/history/.
"Sealyham Terrier". American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/sealyham-terrier/. Accessed 26 Aug 2021.