The Sealyham Terrier dog breed was originally bred to hunt otters, foxes, and badgers. Today these clowns of the terrier family are primarily companion dogs and a good choice for the novice terrier owner.
The Sealy peers out at the world from beneath bushy eyebrows, ever curious about the goings-on around him. Although he certainly has the look of a feisty terrier, the Sealyham Terrier doesn’t have the typical attitude. He’s a very mellow, laid-back dog, with modest exercise requirements and a clownish spirit. He even gets along well with other dogs. All these traits serve to make him a good pet for someone who loves the high-style look of a terrier but isn’t enamored with or capable of handling that in-your-face kind of dog. The Sealyham Terrier is all terrier on the outside, with the scruffy charm of his cousins and the white color of his ancestor, the West Highland White Terrier. But on the inside he’s a very different dog. Originally bred to hunt badger, he’s better described as a lover, not a fighter. He’s a playful dog with a big sense of humor, and while he has a tendency to bark a bit more than most people might like, at only 20 to 25 pounds he is the perfect size for an apartment. He’s a light shedder, inclined to be child-friendly and dog-friendly, and doesn’t even have an overwhelming desire to chase cats. Highlights
If your Sealyham Terrier becomes overweight, he can develop back problems. Be sure to monitor his food intake and give him regular exercise to keep him in shape.
Sealies are independent and can be stubborn when it comes to housetraining. Crate training is recommended.
They are reserved with strangers and make good watchdogs. Their bark is surprisingly loud and deep, but they can be trained to be quiet on command.
Sealies are fond of chasing rabbits, birds, and even other dogs and cats. Be sure to keep your Sealyham Terrier on leash when he’s not in a secure area.
Because of their unusual looks and small size, they could be targets for dog thieves. Although Sealyham Terriers do well outdoors when it’s cool (they don’t like heat), they should be kept in your house when you can’t supervise them.
Sealyham Terriers are a rare breed. It may be difficult to locate a reputable breeder, and even when you locate one, you may have to wait several months for a litter to be born.
Sealyham Terriers can be aggressive toward dogs they don’t know, even dogs much larger than they are. Keep your Sealyham Terrier under control until you know that both he and the other dog are friendly to each other.
Although loyal and affectionate with their families, Sealyham Terriers can be a bit reserved around strangers.
Sealyham Terriers are happy little dogs, but they can have a dominant personality if not kept in check by a firm, consistent master.
Sealyham Terriers have an independent, stubborn streak. Successfully training them requires firm, consistent handling. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play.
Never buy a Sealyham Terrier from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn’t provide health clearances or guarantees. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and who breeds for sound temperaments.
Other Quick Facts
The Sealyham’s long, broad head and rectangular body are two of the features that differentiate him from other terriers.
The Sealyham’s double coat can be all white or white with lemon, tan or badger markings on the head and ears. “Badger” is a mixture of white, gray, brown and black hairs.
The Sealyham Terrier derives his name from Sealyham, the estate of Captain John Tucker Edwards, in Haverfordwest, Wales. Captain Edwards developed the breed in the mid-1800s to hunt for small but tough game such as badgers, otters, and foxes. He crossed various breeds and tested the offspring for gameness and hunting ability.
As word got out about the little white terriers, they became popular in England. In 1903, the breed made an appearance in the show ring, and the first Sealyham Terrier club was formed in 1908. In 1910, the breed was officially recognized by England’s Kennel Club. The breed’s first champion in England was a dog named St. Brides Demon. He achieved his championship in 1911.
Sealies were especially popular in the early 1900s. They stood out in the show ring, and show entries often were in the hundreds. At the Pembrokeshire Hunt Hound Puppy and Sealyham Terrier show in Slade, Pembrokeshire, in 1914, , there were 600 Sealyham Terriers entered, with 71 in the Open Dog Class and 64 in the Open Bitch Class, numbers that have never been equalled since.
Sealyham Terriers were also recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911, shortly after the first Sealies were imported into the U.S. The American Sealyham Terrier Club was formed in 1913.
Since their show debut in San Mateo, California, in 1911, they have remained a popular show dog. Among the breed’s many honors, a Sealyham Terrier has won Best in Show at Westminster four times.
They have not, however, ever become a very popular dog with the general public. Despite his excellent companion dog credentials, the Sealy today is a rare breed, ranking 149th among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC.
An independent dog, the Sealy is perfectly fine with being left alone while his humans work but he is also thrilled to snuggle up on their laps when they get home. This breed does tend to be relentless barkers however; they are not quite as bad as other terrier breeds. Their personalities and clown-like antics will keep the family laughing for hours.
The Sealy might be small but he doesn’t understand the concept of this. Because he can be food and toy aggressive, this breed is not appropriate for families with young children. Considering his strong instinct to chase, he should not live with cats or other small animals. If raised with another dog in the home, the Sealy will get along famously with it, but can be aggressive toward strange dogs.
This is a hardy breed with few breed specific health problems. The main hereditary problem highlighted by the American Sealyham Terrier Club is an eye condition called lens luxation, for which there are DNA tests. Lens luxation is a condition in which the lens slips out of position in the eyeball due to the weakening of the fibers that holds it in place.
This in turn blocks the flow of fluids in the eye, leading to a painful increase in intra-ocular pressure glaucoma and often irreparable optic nerve damage, leading to visual field loss and eventual blindness.
As of November 2011, the Kennel Club has not highlighted any specific concerns regarding the breed’s health to conformation show judges. Due to the low numbers of the breed, two of the most prevalent problems facing the breed today is the popular sire effect and the general problem of genetic diversity within the breed.
The Sealyham Terrier’s small size and robust build make him a good choice for city or country dwellers. He’s relatively inactive indoors and can adapt to life without a yard as long as he’s walked daily. If he does have a yard, it should be fenced to prevent him from chasing other animals or wandering off to go hunting.
Sealyhams are rather low-key, not “busy” like most terriers. Due to their size, their loyalty to their families, and their preference for cool temperatures, they do best as housedogs.
Like most terriers, Sealies likes to dig and bark. This dog is an independent thinker and requires firm and consistent handling, but he responds well to training with positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play.
Sometimes Sealies can be difficult to housetrain, but patience and a regular schedule usually brings success. Crate-training is recommended.
Good for apartment living. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do okay without a yard. Prefer cool weather.
Sealyham Terriers are feisty and strong-willed dogs. They require an assertive but kind family that won’t let the dog walk all over them. The Sealy needs regular training sessions to keep him from misbehaving. Consistency, along with loads of praise and treats, is best when working with a Sealy. Training should begin from the time you get the new puppy. This should go on throughout the dog’s life to ensure that he never forgets his place within the family.
Sealies were bred to hunt small animals so they do remarkably well at Earthdog competitions. Being the mellowest of the terriers, this breed can be wonderful therapy dogs as well as family companions. Of course, with a lot of hard work, the Sealy can do well in obedience trials as well as in the breed ring.
This breed needs a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. The breed is a low-energy dog that makes a good walking companion. The overriding characteristic about Sealyhams is that they are low energy, couch potatoes. They are not “busy,” not “active” and therefore make a low-key companion.
The Sealy has a long, weather-resistant double coat that doesn’t shed much but requires stripping or clipping in addition to regular brushing or combing with a slicker brush, pin brush, or stainless steel Greyhound comb. Be sure you brush or comb all the way down to the skin. The beard requires daily combing to keep it clean.
The Sealy doesn’t shed much at all, but his hard terrier coat may need special care. If the show ring is in his future, the Sealyham’s coat will have to be “hand-stripped,” a labor-intensive task that involves pulling out dead coat a little bit at a time, using a special tool. Dogs whose career involves your sofa and garden will simply need to be kept brushed and occasionally clipped for neatness and to minimize shedding and matting of the coat. Clipping will soften the texture of the coat, so think about whether that’s important to you before you have it done.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
All Terriers are rambunctious, even the laidback Sealyham. This breed is best suited to families with older children who understand how to handle and interact with dogs.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Sealies are generally good with other pets, including cats, especially if they’re raised with them. They can be aggressive toward dogs they don’t know.
Did You Know?
The Sealyham is named after the estate of the man who developed the breed, Captain John Edwardes, who lived in Wales.