Sealyham Terrier

During the middle and late 19th century, various areas within Great Britain saw the development of a number of “go to ground” breeds of dogs designed to meet the perceived needs of the sportsman.


Captain Edwardes was no different. He wanted a plucky dog which would be powerful and yet small enough to go into the badger sett and prevent the badger from tunneling away before the sportsman could dig it out. The dog needed to be able to hunt by sight and scent and to “give tongue” when the quarry — be it badger or fox — had been cornered. Most importantly, having witnessed the fate of brown dogs which emerged from forest earth at the jaws of the pack hounds, he determined that it should be mainly white.

To achieve his new terrier, Edwardes combined a number of breeds and, although there are no specific records. Given this background there was great diversity in type and color in the early years but by the twentieth century, the low slung, big-headed, strong-boned dog which is now expected had emerged. Body color was still evident, but by the period between the wars white bodies predominated. The fascination of the American buyer for all-white dogs had its effect on the breed but, for many exhibitors today, head markings are part of the breed’s appeal.


The need for a terrier to hold a badger or fox has basically disappeared but the Sealyham Terrier has instead gained a firm metaphorical hold on owners through the many other attributes which Captain Edwardes imparted into it. Sealyham Terriers are devoted and faithful companions, while at the same time remaining independent personalities. They have unflagging tenacity and remain the sworn enemy of rabbits and mice. Bred to be quiet while working but to give tongue once the quarry was sighted, this terrier is far from quiet and yet barks only when it sees the necessity.


The Sealyham Terrier should not form the square picture so desired in many terrier breeds but rather should appear oblong. An average height of 10 1/2 inches/26 cm with a weight of between 23-25 pounds/10-11 kg is typical. However, a sense of power comes not from its height or weight but from its bone and strength of jaw.

The head should be long, broad and powerful without coarseness. The long lean head so prized in some other terriers is not a characteristic of this breed. Powerful, square jaws are essential. A black nose, dark eyes and at least some pigment around the eyes is important to the proper expression. The variety of markings which are acceptable on the head add to the charm and individuality of this breed, but extensive body markings or undercoat ticking is to be discouraged.

The body should be strong, substantial and well-muscled but without any indication of coarseness. This is a sporting terrier, strong and agile enough to do its work. Good legs and feet are necessary to the breed to ensure that it retains the characteristics for which it was bred. Its action should be strong, quick and free. There should be a good reach of neck which is about two-thirds the height at the withers blending smoothly into the shoulders at the withers. Shoulders are well laid back.

The Sealyham Terrier is a working terrier which should always be able to carry out its original purpose in life — although today its quarry is more likely to be a small rodent than a badger.


The breed is generally healthy although eye problems are known to occur. The Sealyham Terriers are particularly prone to skin allergies, and should be kept free of fleas. Deafness is also known in the breed. Stock should be bought from breeders of good reputation who test for heritable defects.

Special Care and Training

The Sealyham Terrier’s true hard white coat requires regular care and constant grooming is essential if it is to look its best. This may require professional attention. The breed should not be clipped on its body but should be plucked, like all hard-coated terriers.


The breed’s relatively small size and large personality make it an ideal dog for the urban dweller who wants a large dog in a small package. The Sealyham Terrier must have good walks on a leash if kept as a city dog and good exercise off a leash in the country, once it has learned to come when called. It enjoys exercise and this is very necessary for its well-being.

Gallery of Sealyham Terrier