The border country of northern England and southern Scotland is a unique area that has given birth to several breeds of earth working terriers. The terrain is rugged, the weather harsh and the people tough. Life is primarily on remote farms with sheep being the main farm commodity, and for centuries, they have been protected from fox predation by aggressive hound and terrier work. Dogs suited to this inhospitable climate have weatherproof coats and may be larger than their southern cousins.
Patterdale terriers are native to the Lake District of northern England where the tall, bare and beautiful hills are called Fells. The weather is cold, wet and windy. The fells are steep, rocky and filled with foxes. Even 20th century farmers depend on organized fox-hound hunts to diminish the numbers of foxes that prey on their sheep, and the fox-hounds depend on fell terriers to extricate foxes from deep crevices in the rock.
The Fells are so rough that horses can not be used for hunting, so the Huntsman, his assistants, the hounds and terriers may cover miles walking on a mountainside in a day. The Huntsman and the Whipper in each keep a pair of terriers at their side to be instantly available when the fox goes to ground. Only the toughest of terriers can keep up all day, then go to earth and rout out a hill-fox under the worst of conditions. The Patterdale is that type of terrier. They are all of working terrier lineage and have a definite stamp of type. Fell and Patterdale Terriers are well known as hard-bitten terriers, willing to work any place, at any time.
While the Fell Terrier type has been known since the 1700s, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that the Patterdale Terrier had been developed as a breed as the result of the selective breeding efforts of two breeders, Cyril Breay and Frank Buck. During the 1960s, work by Brian Nuttall helped to further develop the breed.
In its country of origin, the Patterdale Terrier remains a working breed and is seldom shown. The first time that the Patterdale Terrier was recognized as a breed was actually in the United States when the Patterdale Terrier Club of America was founded in 1993. The United Kennel Club (UKC) accepted the breed on January 1, 1995.