When I first looked into Welsh terriers, my natural inclination was to read the breed profiles in books or online. I found the descriptions to be brief, and encouraging. The hidden language in these descriptions is telling to the experienced eye: words such as "spirited," and phrases such as "excellent watch dogs" come to mind. But to the average person wanting to know a little bit about the challenges that a highly specific breed might bring to the role of "pet" - these descriptions aren't strong or clear enough. Nor are the warnings of responsible breeders or owners of such dogs. Often, the warnings of these kind people are taken to be exclusionary and even "snobby." I assure you, most people are incredibly in love with the breeds they spend their lives with, and mean nothing more than to help new people understand what makes these breeds unique and different.
One of the best ways to face reality about a breed, and how it fits into life as an average "pet," with all we expect of "pets," is to look at the profiles of rescue dogs of the breed. One need look no further. You can find these through kennel club listings -- for example, here is the Rescue Website for the Welsh Terrier Club of America. You can also do a search on PetFinder for the breed you are curious about, leaving the "location" setting loose in order to view as many profiles as possible.
While there are always going to be difficult personalities in life (dogs, sometimes, people, quite often!), the dogs on rescue sites aren't "bad dogs," although some may be traumatized or damaged, and will require extra TLC and rehabilitation. These are dogs that were failed by situation, and/or in some way or another, by the people who chose them as pets. Maybe the people tried their best, but didn't realize what they were in for. Maybe the people didn't find a suitable breeder, a suitable trainer... The list goes on. What is left is one or two pictures, a positive description, and typically, several telling sentences that shed light on why the dog was not a good fit for the people - and even more so, vice versa. The dogs that result from bad combinations of an ill-fit can tell prospective owners a great deal about the breed.
As someone who has met and worked with many Welsh terriers, and as someone who has spoken with countless prospective, new, and seasoned owners, and as someone dedicated to the breed, I am always amazed at how I see my own beloved dog in each and every rescue listing for his kind. Miles is well-matched to me, well-adjusted, happy, and well-trained, but, every time I look through the current rescue listings for Welsh terriers, it is clear to me he could have easily become one of any of these unfortunate dogs, had he been improperly matched to a different and unsuitable home. Miles is as wonderful as they come - but he too could just as easily be listed on a rescue site at five years old, with a laundry list of difficult behavioural problems, looking for a new home with little luck.
If you are interested in a unique breed of dog, read as much as you can, and talk to as many experienced people as you can with an open mind and a tough skin. Don't seek what you want to hear - listen to people who know. And, additionally, I urge you to read as many rescue profiles as you can. You can learn a great deal from reading why specific types of dogs are put up for adoption. There are so many stories of misunderstanding, and improper fit of such rare/working/unique breeds.
Further Related Reading About Welsh Terriers:
- Prey Drive
- "Are Welsh Terriers Small Airedales?"
- Sitting Still in Exciting Environments: A Simple & Positive Exercise for High-Drive Dogs
- Setting the Right Pace in Stressful Moments
- High-Drive Dogs and Children