The Sealyham Terrier by Janice Jones
|Last Updated 12-1-2022
Originally developed to hunt badger, otter, and fox in the
1800s, the Sealyham Terrier has nearly disappeared in the 21st
Considered almost extinct in
the U.K., this alert, cheerful, fearless terrier is more calm and laid-back
than most other terriers. They are quiet
indoors but make excellent watchdogs.
Being relatively friendly, they won’t provide
much in the way of protection, but will try their best if the need arose.
Sealies, as they are often nicknamed, are
lovable and loyal, but have a dominant personality that requires an
active, consistent owner willing to assume
the alpha role.
They are adaptable and
will equally enjoy a brisk walk or a nap in front of the television.
They do have a
high energy level, but most of that energy can be worked out through
daily walks, and play sessions.
If not given an outlet for their
might find they discover their own particular pastime, Terriers like to dig and chase. They do not do well
off leash as they have a high prey drive that will set into motion
should a squirrel or rabbit happen to cross their path. A fenced in area is also a must.
They make excellent
family pets. They are good with
children, especially older, respectful kids and their devotion is real.
they are a sturdy breed, they can handle some rough play, but it is always
advisable to supervise any transactions between children and dogs.
fairly well with other pets, if socialized
and trained at an early age, but small pocket type pets may be in trouble due
to that strong prey drive.
Their ability to adapt makes them a good candidate for
apartment living, but they also do just fine in a suburban home or in a rural
They tend to run, so a securely fenced area is necessary to keep them safe.
They are not a breed that you can
reliably leave off leash.
They have a short, sturdy, body, longer than they are tall.
They have a long, broad, powerful head and
their body is flexible enough to maneuver in tight quarters.
Typical of most terriers, they have a weather
resistant coat that consists of a soft,
dense undercoat and a hard, wiry outer
Shedding is minimal and the coat
does require clipping or stripping in addition to regular brushing and combing.
With all their positive traits, it is odd that they have
fallen so out of favor. Once a very
popular breed, they are now ranked at 163rd in popularity out of 178
recognized breeds with the American Kennel Club, even though they have been recognized since 1911.
Other Names Used: Sealies
Affiliation: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI, KC, NZKC, UKC (Terrier)
Height: 10-12 in (25-30 cm)
Weight: 18-20 lb (8-9 kg)
Coat Type: Double coated with a thick undercoat and hard, wiry outer coat
Colors: White with the following markings:
Country of Origin: Wales
Activity Level: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 11-14 years
Good with Children: Yes
Good with other pets: OK with other dogs if socialized early
date back to antiquity, but the Sealyham Terrier can trace his roots to 1850
because it is at this point and onward through 1891, Captain John Edwards of
Sealyham Estate, Haverfordwest,
Wales began to develop the breed.
interested in producing a terrier that could hunt badgers, foxes, and otters. The breeds
used to create the Sealyham is a mystery,
but some suggest that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, English
White Terrier and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi may have played a role.
Edwards wanted a dog that had a wiry coat that could withstand the elements, a dog with a strong jaw that could catch prey, and white coat which could be easily recognizable. Not only did he produce a great working dog, but the dog’s appearance was a hit in the show ring as well.
The breed gained popularity in England because of their ability to face badgers, otters, and foxes. They were shown for the first time in 1903 and people soon discovered that their smart appearance made them a hit in the show ring as well as the field.
The Sealyham Terrier Club was created in 1908 and the breed was recognized in 1911 by the Kennel Club in Great Britain and the American Kennel Club.
Sealyham Terrier Club was formed in 1913.
After World War I,
the breed’s popularity grew. Interest in
the breed grew primarily in the early Hollywood film industry.
Many well-known actors including Humphrey
Bogart, Bette Davies, Elizabeth Taylor and writer, Agatha Christie owned
One of the more famous Sealyham Terriers
was owned by Alfred Hitchcock, who used him in his film, Suspicion. Sealyham Terriers
can also be seen at the start of his 1963 movie, The Birds.
The first Sealyham
Terrier to win Best in Show at Westminister was Ch. Barberryhill Bootlegger, in
1924. “Bootlegger” was just one of many
dog names created by owners during the time of Prohibition. Guess who Bootlegger’s sire was? “Gin Ricky.”
In the 1960s,
Maurice Sendak, the well-known children’s author featured his own Sealyham
Terrier, Jennie in his book, Higglety
Not only were they
a hit in the United States, but they were also
equally popular on the other side of the Atlantic with the British Royal
King George V owned one named
Jack and Princess Margaret had a couple of Sealies
named Pippin and Johnny.
Their popularity continued to soar through the first
part of the twentieth century, but by the 21st century, they were considered to be a rare
breed throughout the world.
Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
Here’s a little help in understanding them
- Playfulness: Most Playful = 5 Least Playful = 1
- Affection: Most Affectionate = 5 Least Affectionate = 1
- Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5 Least = 1
- Good With Children: Great= 5 Not Good with Children = 1
- Good With Dogs: Great = 5 Not Good Around Dogs = 1
- Good With First Time Owners: Fine=5 Not Appropriate = 1
- Exercise Required: Extensive Daily Exercise = 1 Minimal = 1
- Ease of Training: Very Easy = 5 Difficult = 1
- Watch Dog: Excellent Watch Dog = 5 Minimal = 1
- Grooming: Time Consuming = 5 Minimal = 1
- Shedding: Heavy Shedder = 5 Minimal = 1
- Cold Tolerance: Well Tolerated = 5 Poor Tolerance = 1
- Heat Tolerance: Well Tolerated = 5 Poor Tolerance = 1
Sealyham Terriers love to be around people, but they are one
breed that will do well if left alone for periods of time. They are totally devoted to their families
and love playing with children. Still
friendly, they are more reserved around strangers.
They have big personalities that are all
ready for an adventure, whether it is investigating a new smell, digging or
chasing something that moves.
once a working breed, ridding their owner
of vermin and hunting fox and otter.
Today, they are a companion breed, but their earlier instincts have not
died. No mouse or rat is safe in a home
occupied by a Sealy.
While not as feisty as most terriers, they are still
independent and self-willed. This independent, stubborn streak makes it difficult
to train them.
Housetraining may be an
issue. A consistent schedule is
important and many people report that crate training makes the housebreaking
task much easier.
Early training and socialization are important in this breed and a positive,
friendly approach to learning commands and manners is crucial.
Terriers tend to be strong-willed and will
take over the household if given the chance.
They also do not take well to harsh discipline methods.
If a Sealy thinks he’s been unfairly
punished, he is likely to let you know in the form of a growl or nip. The ideal
owner will be firm but kind. Patience and
consistency are the keys to having a well-trained terrier.
Grooming the Sealyham Terrier
Sealies have a long, weather resistant coat that consists of a dense, soft inner layer and a harder, wiry
They do not shed very much
so brushing and combing are essential to prevent mats from forming.
Brushing 3 times a week with a pin brush
and/or combing with a stainless steel comb will prevent mats from forming.
The beard gets dirty quickly so it should be combed
daily to remove any food debris from mealtime.
The coat will also need to be clipped or
professionally striped. Hand stripping
involves pulling out dead hair a little bit at a time using a stripping
Clipping softens the coat which is fine for a pet who spends most of their
time indoors and doesn’t require that harsh weather resistant outer layer.
pet owners opt for the clipping method as it is easier and cheaper. All of these services can be done by a
professional groomer or the owner can learn to do them on their own.
Beyond coat care, the
rest is essential to all dogs. Their nails will need to be trimmed about
every 2 to 3 weeks and their teeth should be brushed as frequently as is
This is a very healthy breed with few breed specific genetic
problems. The life expectancy for this breed is 11-14 years, but some have been
known to live as old as 18 years old.
But will all dogs, Sealies develop some issues?
Most will not, but it is good to know what has been identified for the
breed so you can become familiar should a problem arise. If genetic tests are available, it is also important to ask your breeder which clearances she has done with the breeding dogs.
lens of the eye becomes displaced when the fibers holding it in place
begin to weaken.
First, the lens moves from its normal position (subluxation). Then, if
the fibers break the lens slips back
inside the eye.
the lens moves back, it will block the
flow of fluid in the eye and cause the pressure to rise resulting in
damaging the optic nerve.
If the optic
nerve is damaged, then vision is impaired and eventually lost
can include excessive pus-like matter in
the eyes, pain, and changes in the appearance of the eye.
surgery may be an option, but
in severe cases, the eye may need to be removed. There is now a
breed-specific DNA test that can be done on the adults to check for this
This can come on suddenly, so knowing what to expect ahead of time is important so you can take immediate action.
This developmental malformation of the retina is usually mild with little
loss of vision. It usually poses no problem in the dog, but
affected dogs should not be bred.
Breeding dogs can be checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
- Calmer than most terriers
- Doesn’t require a lot of exercises
- Affectionate, loyal, happy
- Good with children
- Extremely rare, expect to spend a lot of time finding one
- Digging and Chasing are two common behaviors
- Stubborn, independent, and hard to train
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References and Further Reading
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