Is the Patterdale Terrier a pleasant or problematic pet to have?

Last Updated on April 27, 2023

Also known as the Black Fell Terrier, Patterdales are small terriers that are adorable yet fearless.

If you’re looking for a compact dog that’s laid back, intelligent, and has excellent hunting skills, then you might be in the right place. Here’s every information that you need to know about the Patterdale Terrier.

Origin: Where do Patterdale terriers come from?

The Fell Terrier is an English breed that descended from Northern terriers of the early 18th century.

There’s no clarity about the Patterdale Terrier’s history as various breeders created them for so many years. But some said that a breeder named Joe Bowman is the one who first produced a litter of this terrier type. 

Patterdales are believed to be the offspring of crossbreeding the extinct Northumberland Pit Terrier and the Old English Terrier. Some say it’s a cross of a black and tan Lakeland Terrier and a blue-black Border Terrier.

Our four-legged star was named after a village from the Lake District, but it did not gain notability until Cyril Breay. Most of the Patterdale Terriers now are thought to be from dogs bred by this huntsman.

This breed is a result of mixing working terrier breeds that are indigenous to Ullswater that are known for their hunting and digging skills.

Like the Smooth Fox Terrier, Lucas Terrier, and Airedale Terrier, this little pooch originated from England and was later brought to the US in 1978, which makes them a fairly new breed.

What were Patterdales bred for?

Patterdale Terriers were bred exclusively for its hunting ability and for being less yappy compared to other terriers and hunting dogs.

The word “terrier” came from “tere,” which means earth. It refers to the function of these dogs and their purpose in catching vermin. They even hunt down foxes by forcing them out of their dens.

Patterdales have the perfect size for hunting as they’re more agile and useful. They were also used for chasing away badgers, groundhogs, nutria, and raccoons.

Aside from being excellent hunters, they were also helpful for farmers in doing predator control.

You can see here how Rebel and Tara are doing what Patterdale Terriers do best:

The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes this dog under the Terrier Group around 1995, but they’re not yet AKC and KC registered.

What does a Patterdale Terrier look like?

This type of terrier has deceivingly cute physical traits! They have small heads with V-shaped ears that fold forward. Its eyes should be in harmony with the color of its coat and never blue. They mostly have a black nose, but liver-colored Patterdales have a reddish nose.

Teeth should be level or scissor bite, but since the Patterdale Terrier is a working dog, any broken teeth aren’t taken against the dog.

Patterdales have muscular neck, long, sloping shoulders, and forelegs that are strong. They have sturdy frames and a tail that’s carried high and curling over the back.

Traditionally, this breed would always have their tails docked to prevent injuries during their work. But today, it’s illegal to do tail docking, not unless it’s for medical reasons.

Overall, this little canine has a fierce look, but they’re really friendly.

A curious and alert chocolate-colored Patterdale Terrier

The ideal height and weight for Patterdale Terriers

UKC states that the standard height for Patterdales is between 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm), and their weight is around 11 and 13 pounds. Some of this breed can weigh as heavy as 30 pounds!

Although, if you’re planning to buy a Patterdale Terrier as a working dog, then you’d prefer a fit four-legged buddy who can squeeze through underground passages to pursue their prey.

Since responsible breeders’ primary concern is the practicality of the breed, a Patterdale in working condition has the flexibility, endurance, and ability to hunt underground.

A lot of people would think that small dogs would be fine living in small homes like apartments, but not all. One of those breeds is the Patterdale Terrier, as they’re active and would often look for something to do. So, a house with a yard is more suitable for them, or in rural areas and farms.

Patterdales’ coat comes in three

Patterdale Terriers are double-coated canines, and they have three types of coat – smooth, broken, and rough.

Smooth and short-coated Patterdales have glossy hair with an undercoat that’s also short and lies close to their body.

A close-up photo of a black Patterdale Terrier
Source: @happyjustwandering / IG

A Broken fur means coarse, where whiskering on their muzzle and chin is sometimes visible. They can also have hair around their head, body, and legs, or a combination in these areas.

A rough-coated Patterdale has long hair all over, including their ears, face, and muzzle. They have very thick fur that’s coarser and harsher than the other variations.

No matter what type of hair a Patterdale has, it’s weatherproof and helps them to brave different weather conditions while working or hunting.

For colors, a Patterdale Terrier may come in black, black and tan, red, chocolate, liver, liver and tan, bronze, grizzle, and the occasional brindle. And they’re not supposed to be entirely white.

If you see this breed in any other color or larger patches of white away from their chest, it may indicate crossbreeding. They have black coats most of the time, but some white patches on their chest and feet are acceptable. In fact, it creates a unique pattern that’s desirable for some owners or hunters.

And no, Patterdales aren’t hypoallergenic. But since they have less hair, they’re considered as low shedders and would require minimal grooming.

Temperament: What is a Patterdale Terrier like?

Patterdales are excellent family pets, and since they love interacting, they’d enjoy playing games with kids! Be sure to supervise all playtime where the dog is involved. You wouldn’t want your pooch or your kiddo hurt because play got too boisterous.

When it comes to other pets, Patterdales are quite tolerable if they grew up together. But with a natural instinct to chase, expect these pups to give in to the urge suddenly.

If they’re around small pets, whether inside the house or while taking a stroll, their high prey drive might kick in, so it’s best to keep them on a leash. Even if they’re friendly, they may get too rough with other dogs. But there’s nothing that can’t be solved with socialization and early training.

An owner of a Patterdale Terrier made a funny and cute video of what it’s like to own this breed:

Like other terriers, they tend to be confident and bold beyond their capabilities. The downside of this is that Patterdale Terriers can be stubborn. Yet, they can also be biddable.

Patterdales can be sweet. They just have an abundance of energy. Your task as its owner is to have all that drive exerted positively. A simple solution is to let her do fieldwork or join canine sports.

Otherwise, this your fido will get bored that will eventually lead to destruction.

Aside from occasionally showcasing their guarding behavior, Patterdale Terriers are prone to developing Small Dog Syndrome.

Their intelligent and strong-willed qualities are good, but behavioral problems can be stopped from developing by being a consistent and firm owner. You canine pal should never doubt who’s boss without being cruel to her.

However cute and cuddly they may look, they may have trouble socializing due to being too energetic. This makes them unsuitable for sedentary household life.

Your Black Fell Terrier should be able to run, play, and fetch every day. Make things more interesting by hiding her favorite balls or toys around the house and let her search and chase for them.

Problems you may experience with Patterdales

Better watch out for this breed while they’re still young. Patterdale puppies are more energetic and headstrong. Expect them to get into all sorts of trouble! So as early as possible, get your pup into different kinds of training – socialization, obedience, and more.

Since Patterdale Terriers form a strong bond with their human and family, which means they don’t really like being left alone. If left for a long time, it can lead to your dog having separation anxiety. The only way they know how to relieve stress is by being noisy and destructive.

A Patterdale Terrier dog barking

And speaking of barking, Patterdales love the sound of their own voice! They’ll bark at absolutely anything.

It can be quite challenging to stop them from being too vocal, but you can gently nip the problem in the bud while they’re still young.

If the barking gets excessive, the first thing you need to do is find the source of that undesirable behavior. Some of the solutions are exercise, socialization, toys like puzzles, and teaching the “quiet” command. And don’t respond to your pup’s barks. Wait for her to be quiet before giving her what she wants.

Patterdale Terriers are prized hunters

When it comes to hunting, this terrier has strong instincts about it.

They’re highly adept, and their instinct will kick in whenever there’s prey around. If you’re not an owner who hunts, you need to secure your home all the time. Even if you’re just taking her out to pee at night, keep your Patterdale on a leash so that she doesn’t chase a raccoon or a rat.

Black Fell Terriers are low key and calmer compared to Yorkies and Jack Russells, but they have a strong will and can be stubborn.

Caring for Patterdale Terriers

Training this breed may demand effort, but it’s the opposite when it comes to maintenance and caring for them. It won’t consume a lot of your time.

You can pay attention to their physical and mental stimulation, then.

Grooming Fell Terriers are simple

As Patterdales require very little grooming, their coat only needs to be brushed once a week and be given a bath every 2 to 3 months or when needed. They’re low shedders, so occasional vacuuming wouldn’t be much burden.

Do a weekly check of your dog’s ears and clean it when necessary. For dental care, it will depend on what’s her diet, but generally, you should brush your canine friend’s teeth thrice a week.

One grooming step that you have to remember is hand stripping. Your Patterdale Terrier will need to be hand stripped twice a year. It will be easier if you let a professional groomer, but here’s a video on how to do it:

Diet: Feeding your Patterdale

Even if your Black Fell Terrier is like every other dog that needs to be fed a well-balanced diet to stay healthy, there are factors to consider. She should be eating food that’s appropriate for her age, size, health, metabolism, and activity level. For Patterdales, opt for dry kibbles for small, active breeds.

They need lots of protein and carbohydrates for energy, omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin, as well as vitamins and minerals for their immune and digestive health.

Some say that ¾ to a cup of dry kibbles is sufficient for Patterdale Terriers, but the ingredients and serving suggestions for each bag of dog food are different. It’s better if we base the amount to feed our pets on calories.

Here’s an example of a 20-pound adult Patterdale’s daily caloric intake.

Active and working dogs: max of 730 calories

Average adults: up to 660 calories

Less active and senior dogs: max of 590 calories

Don’t always fall for expensive and known dog food brands as it doesn’t always mean high-quality. Read the ingredients before purchasing a pack and stay away from products that are chock-full of fillers such as soy, wheat, and corn.

Keep your Patterdale in tip-top shape with exercise

This breed’s nature is running through woods freely to chase and dig, so you have to give your terrier friend room to run and long walks as they need fresh air for at least 30 minutes a day.

What you can do is give her a short stroll in the morning, then have a jog in the afternoon. Maybe give your canine friend a time to run around on her own in your securely fenced yard.

Since they’re a working breed, don’t forget mental stimulation. Merely giving her a task or playing indoor games can keep her sharp and from getting bored.

Health problems a Patterdale Terrier may get

Black Fell Terriers are generally healthy. They have a life expectancy of 11 to 13 years, but some of them were able to enjoy a lifespan of up to 15 years!

Although, we have to face the fact that all dog breeds have health issues that they’re prone to.

One of the ailments you have to watch out for if you have a Patterdale is eye problems like conjunctivitis and cataracts.

A Patterdale Terrier with no right eye

Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is where the tissue across the front part of an eye is infected and gets inflamed. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and most of the time, it’s due to allergies.

Speaking of, they can develop skin problems too, such as atopic dermatitis. 

Another eye illness Patterdales may get is glaucoma. If you notice symptoms on your dog like eye itching or head shaking, redness, white or blue cornea, watery eyes, bulging or squinting, or a milky eye appearance, bring your terrier to the vet or emergency clinic right away. This disease hurts, and it will lead to blindness if not treated as soon as possible.

Aside from those, have your Patterdale Terrier be checked with a liver panel to avoid the development of PSS or Portosystemic Shunt.

And as with most terriers, they are susceptible to getting knee problems such as Patellar Luxation. If it only involves one leg, it means it’s mild and would be treated with arthritis medication. For severe cases, surgery is needed for realigning the kneecap so that it doesn’t pop out of place.

Finding Patterdale Terrier puppies for sale

If you think you can handle all that just to have a cute and busy Patterdale of your own, then let us help you start your search.

The first thing to keep in mind when looking for a four-legged friend is by not purchasing any dog from pet stores. Rely on breeders or kennels who think and want what’s best for the puppies and their parents.

Request to visit where the dogs live so you can make sure that they’re all raised in good condition, and that they’re treated well by a friendly owner who they bonded with. Go for a pup based on qualities, and not because it’s cheaper.

And while we’re on the topic of price, a Patterdale Terrier puppy can cost around $400 to $800.

A Patterdale Terrier puppy chewing on its cage

Patterdale breeders

Compared to other terriers, the Black Fell is relatively new, which means they’re quite rare. Unlike the Jack Russell breed, who’s been around for over 200 years.

Patterdale Terrier breeders aren’t as abundant in the US as well. So if you’re really interested in this particular pooch, be prepared to travel in any state and to pay a higher amount breeders may ask.

Visit these kennel websites to see if you can find a Patterdale that will make you fall in love at first sight:

  • Lost Lake Farm (Paisley, Florida)
  • Roughneck Kennels (Erick, Oklahoma)
  • MQH Patterdale Terriers (Riverside, California)

Patterdale Terrier rescues

If you want to do a noble thing, you can find Patterdales for adoption from rescue groups. A good sign that you’re looking at a respectable organization is if they’re associated with the Patterdale Terrier Club of America.

For now, there are no rescues that focus on Patterdales but feel free to scroll through the page of Abandoned Terrier Rescue Association in Somis, California, and check out other terriers and mixes.

We also found a rescue group called Patterdale Terrier Rescue that is based in Surrey England

A list of Patterdale Terrier mixes

Patterdales may be fairly new to the canine world, but there are already a few other purebreds that are crossed with them. These are just a few of their hybrids:

  1. Pocket Pitbull (American Pit Bull Terrier & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  2. Patton Terrier (Boston Terrier & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  3. Chatterdale (Chihuahua & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  4. Patterland (Lakeland Terrier & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  5. Patterjack (Jack Russell & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  6. Patterbea (Beagle & Patterdale Terrier mix)
  7. Patterpoo (Poodle & Patterdale Terrier mix)

Are you ready to welcome a Patterdale Terrier to your home?


There’s no denying that Patterdale Terriers or Black Fell Terriers are attractive and wonderful dogs. They may not be as active as other terrier types, but they’re also energetic and would prefer to have a task to do.

Overall, Patterdales are calm and make an excellent addition for active families.

We don’t recommend this breed for first-time or novice pet owners. They need to be taken care of by someone who is outdoorsy and has experience handling dogs that are intelligent and tough.

Black Fells may have the urge to chase a squirrel or a raccoon from time to time, but you can depend on their courageous and protective traits.

If you want to share what your Patterdale Terrier is like, just type it all in the comment box below.

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