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Origin- Patterdales

Joe Bowman's Patterdale

Pictures provided by Helen Bowman Dixon great granddaughter of Joseph Dawson Bowman.

First picture is Joseph Dawson Bowman 1850-1938 and the other is of the Ullswater Foxhounds. Notice the other two

dogs that appear to be fell terriers.

Joe Bowman, the Ullswater Huntsman, from Foxes, Foxhounds & Foxhunting
by Richard Clapham, published in 1923.

Most of the folks that write books on dogs would like their breeds to be ancient and have romantic and mysterious origins. Pick up any book on Jack Russell Terriers, for example, and Trump will be presented as the first white foxing terrier on earth -- never mind that the young John Russell selected it for looks alone and had no problem finding another white foxing terrier to mate with it.

The Border Terrier folks have wrapped the story of their dog completely around the axle in an attempt to give it an ancient origin. In fact this breed was created at about the same time as the Kennel Club was created, and it was pulled on to the Kennel Club roles as quickly as could be.

As for the Patterdale Terrier, quite a few people claim one person or another created the dog, and yet all seem quite confused as to the shape of the head. Where did that come from?

In fact it is no mystery, and the true story of the Patterdale is not too deeply buried or very old.

In 1873, the Patterdale and Matterdale hunts were combined to form the Ullswater Foxhounds. In 1879 Joe Bowman (just 22 years old) was made master of the Ullswater, a position he held (with a few short interuptions) until 1924, when he was replaced by Joe Wear who held the position for then next 47 years. Joe Bowman died in 1940 -- one of the most famous huntsmen of all time (there is even a song about him)

Joe Bowman was an early Border Terrier breeder, and he was also the first person to cross up a blue-black Border Terrier with a black and tan Fell Terrier (also called a working Lakeland) to create what he called a Patterdale Terrier.

In Jocelyn Lucas' book, Hunt and Working Terriers, a table at the back notes that the United Hunt prefered a "Lakeland, Patterdale, from J. Boroman's strain (Ullswater kennels)."

In fact, "J. Boroman" is a typo, and the real man was Joe Bowman.

Lucas published his book in 1931, and the information in it was collected between 1925 and 1930. The Patterdale Terrier was clearly a type (if not a widely used type) by the 1920s, and it centered on the Ullswater Hunt and Joe Bowman.

With that knowledge, it was not too difficult a thing (but not too easy either!) to lay a hand on Foxes, Foxhounds & Foxhuning by Richard Clapham, published in 1923. Here we find not only a good picture of Joe Bowman (see top), but the picture reproduced below with caption.

"One of the 'Patterdale' breed."

Now we can see that the "Patterdale" name goes back to at least the Nineteen-teens -- a period just before the Border Terrier (which, like the Patterdale, started out as little more than what we would call today a Fell terrier topday) was pulled into the show ring. To see what Border Terriers looked like in 1915, click here.

At about the time that Joe Bowman was fading out of the dog breeding business, in the 1930s, a young Cyril Breay was stepping up. Breay, like Bowman, had been a Border Terrier breeder.

In the early 1930s Breay met Frank Buck, when Buck rescued one of Breay's dogs that had gotten stuck in a deep rock cleft and Buck -- an expert at dynamite -- had blasted it free.

Bucks own line of dogs at the time were descended from Ullswater terriers kept by Joe Bowman, and Breay and Buck soon became fast friends with Breay breeding black dogs from Frank Buck into his line, and Buck crossing tight Border Terrier coats into his. Over time, the dogs of the two men devolved to a type as lines were crossed and condensed.

Cyril Breay was always adamant that the Patterdale Terrier was not made by crossing in Bull Terrier, and he was not lying. The Patterdale head is no mystery to a border terrier owner - the same broad cranial outlines are evident in both breeds.

Brian Nuttal began breeding Patterdales in the late 1950s, and says that his dogs are very much like those his father kept in the 1930s. It would not surprise me a bit to find that Nuttal's father got his dogs from Bowman, or from intervening hands that had gotten their dogs from Bowman. What is clear is that the Patterdale Terrier was already a recognized type by the time Nuttal's father owned his dogs.

The fact that Joe Bowman started the Patterdale strain and named it takes nothing away from folks like Cyril Breay, Frank Buck and Brian Nuttal, all of whom did quite a lot to popularize the breed, maintain it as a working dog, and perhaps improve and stabilize its looks. It is an easy thing to name a new breed (it's done every day by puppy peddlers), but quite another to find a market and a following for the dogs based on their performance in the field.

I mention all of this (I have told the story before and it is in the book), because I found a rather interesting old obituary on the internet the other day. Note the byline. With some amusement I note that "Greystoke Castle" was (supposedly) the ancestral home of Tarzan:

September 1956
PATTERDALE - One of Ullswaterside’s oldest residents, Mrs. Esther Pattinson, Broadhow, Patterdale, died at the age of 85. Formerly Miss Bowman, Matterdale, she hailed from a noted hunting family — her uncle was the celebrated Joe Bowman, huntsman of the Ullswater foxhounds for 42 years, while her great-grandfather, Joe Dawson, was for many years huntsman of the one-time Matterdale foxhounds. Mrs. Pattinson was only 13 years of age when she was hired as a farm girl, later working at Lyulph’s Tower for Mr. James Wood, who was agent for Lady Mabel Howard, Greystoke Castle.

In the end, it turns out that Joe Bowman was born in High Row, Matterdale and died in Patterdale. It was, no doubt, an added bonus that Patterdale was also the old name of the Hunt that was both his employer and his passion. Finally, it should be noted that Patterdale was also the town where Joseph Dawson Bowman died, at the age of 88.


Breed Group:  Not AKC Recognized, Recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC)
Weight:  11-13 lbs (realisticly in the US 11-20 pounds)
Height:  12 inches
Color(s):  usually black, however other colors include red; liver (with a red nose); grizzle, black & tan; bronze
Coat:  The Patterdale Terrier, usually seen in black, has a short and broken coat. The coat should always remain coarse. There is also the wire variety.
Overview:  The Patterdale Terrier, sometimes called the "Black Fell Terrier," is not as high energy as some other terriers, but don't be fooled, he is still a lively fellow. This dog was originally bred for hunting or ratting so he still possesses those instincts, which makes him not for the average family.
Character:  The Patterdale Terrier is a hunting companion so does not do well with smaller animals. If you are not looking for a challenging breed that will chase at the sight of any mammal, this breed is not for you. He loves to dig and will go after anything that moves.
Temperament:  Willing to please, loyal, and intelligent, the Patterdale Terrier has a strong hunting instinct that regularly leads him off. This breed should always be kept on a lead or a fenced in area, as he can be difficult to catch when he gets going. Very independent, yet can be loving.
Care:  As this breed has such a short coat, minimal grooming is needed to keep the Patterdale Terrier in tiptop shape. Brushing with a firm bristle or rubber brush will remove excess hair. This breed does love to dig so be sure to clean his feet before coming inside.
Training:  The Patterdale Terrier can be very difficult to train. He has a very short attention span and if given the opportunity, will bolt at the first sign of movement. A firm and experienced handler is a must if this breed is to become properly trained.
Activity:  The Patterdale Terrier requires regular exercise, and should not remain without a fenced yard. If left in a yard unsupervised, he can dig underneath the fence. The fence should be firm in the ground, and high enough so he cannot jump it to find game.
Ownership: If you are looking for a patterdale terrier for sale from reputable breeders or to adopt a  Patterdale Terrier (Fell Terrier) from a patterdale rescue then make sure you understand as much about the dog breed you are interested in as you can. Every puppy breed is different. Begin your research by reading the breed information about the Patterdale Terrier (Fell Terrier) puppy above to determine if this is the breed for you. 

The Patterdale Terrier is a breed of dog native to the Lake District of Cumbria in Northwest England. The name Patterdale refers to a village a little south of Ullswater and a few miles east of Helvellyn. A patterdale is a type of Fell Terrier.


According to breed standards, this working terrier stands between 25.5 cm (10 inches) and 38 cm (15 inches) at the withers and weighs between 4.5 kg (10 pounds) and 11 kg (24 pounds). The preferred size depends on the quarry. In Great Britain, all sizes are in use, depending on the terrain and the quarry. Quarry here is mostly fox. In the eastern United States, smaller is preferred and 30 cm (12 inches) tall and 5.5 kg (12 pounds) is considered the maximum usable size for groundhogs (aka woodchucks). However, larger (9 - 12 kg) is preferred when hunting racoons in excess of 13 kg (29 pounds).

95% of the breed is black, but bronze (black that shines brown in sunlight), grizzle, chocolate, red, liver (with red nose)and black-and-tan are also acceptable. White feet and white chest markings appear in all coat colours. Coats are smooth, rough, or broken-coated.

However, this breed is rarely shown and breeders are more concerned with the practicality of the breed than with outward appearances. Practicality means strong neck, jaws, and teeth; staying power at bay; ability to squeeze into tight burrows; durability and endurance; and peaceful with humans, livestock, and other dogs.


Most Patterdale puppies are bold and confident beyond their capabilities. Many a bold pup has lost his life in a raccoon den while on a casual walk-in-the-woods in the States. They have great stamina and can work quarry all day, or play all day with the kids. The seem to enjoy swimming and boisterously playing in water. Yet, indoors they can be relaxed and quiet. They have been exported abroad notably to the States where they appear to be used primarily as hunting dogs.

An excellent book about the origin of the breed and fell terriers in general is The Fell Terrier by D. Brian Plummer from The Boydell Press. Plummer goes into depth describing the land and the people that shaped the big dog in the small package currently called the Patterdale Terrier.


The Patterdale Terrier of modern times refers to the mainly black smooth coated fell terrier first popularized by Cyril Breay from Kirkby Lonsdale and Frank Buck from Leyburn in Yorkshire during the early part of the 1950s. At that time, any "typey" fell terrier being shown in the Lake District was called a Lakeland Terrier, or simply called a coloured terrier, whether or not they were from Ullswater county. In the early 1960s, Brian Nuttall of Holmes Chapel began breeding dogs that he acquired from his grandfather and from Breay and Buck blood lines. These dogs were carefully linebred. Nuttall blood lines are still considered to be of the highest quality and adds a bit to the price of a puppy. The modern Patterdale Terrier is to fell terriers, what the Jack Russell Terrier is to hunt terriers—the indisputable leader in numbers and performance as a breed.

They were developed in the harsh environment in the north of England that is unable to sustain agriculture and too hilly in the main for cattle. Sheep farming is the dominant farming activity on these hills. Foxes being perceived by farmers to be predatory on sheep and small farm animals, terriers are used for predator control. Unlike the hunt terriers to the south, typified by the Jack Russell terriers of today, which are bred to bolt a fox to continue the chase, or to bay the fox until the fox can be dug to, these fell terriers were bred to bolt the fox or dispatch it, if it chooses to fight. Where much of the "earths" in south of England are an easy dig, much of the north of England includes "earths" too rocky and/or too deep to dig. The fell terriers that survived to pass on their genes, have created a truly "tough as nails" dog.

Some puppies are allowed to chase rabbits, but most tire of chasing any quarry that won't turn and fight.


A Brief History of the Patterdale Terrier by PBurns


It’s amazing how mixed up and convoluted a breed history can become, and even more amazing that it can be confounded so quickly.

Consider, for example, the Patterdale.

First, there is the question of whether it is a breed at all, or simply a black smooth-coated Fell Terrier.

If one wants to argue that a Patterdale is simply a smooth coated black Fell Terrier, that’s fine. We could also say that a Jack Russell is a white Fell Terrier, couldn’t we? In any case, people who know Patterdales know one when they see one. Is there any other meaningful definition of a terrier breed ?

The use of the Patterdale name for a type of terrier goes back to at least the 1930s. Jocelyn Lucas notes that the United Hunt said it preferred to use Lakeland Terriers and “Patterdales from J. Boroman’s strain at the Ullswater Kennels”.

The characteristics of these 1930s Patterdales is not known, but it is worth noting that the Ullswater Kennels were famous for Border Terriers and the Patterdale breed, as we know it today, first sprang up in the 1950s in the breeding program of Cyril Breay who had been a Border Terrier breeder.

While the 1930s Patterdales are reported to have been shaggy black Fells, Breay’s early dogs are described as slape-coated black-ticked dogs with massive heads. Could these “Patterdale Terriers” have been genetic sports descended from a “blue and tan” Border Terrier? We will never know, as Cyril Breay kept no records, though he swore there was no Bull Terrier in his dogs.

Breay was a slight man and did not work his dogs himself, leaving that part of the job to his friend Frank Buck. Buck’s own line of dogs were descended from the Ullswater terriers kept by Joe Bowman (no doubt the “J. Boroman” noted by Lucas), and the dogs of the two men began to devolve to a type as lines were crossed and condensed.

Whatever their origin, the dog that showed up in the field in the 1960s, and continuing today, is a smooth, hard-coated dog of variable size and looks, and with a good track record of honest work. Patterdales have a reputation as being enthusiastic self-starters.

Though still a pure working dog, the future of the Patterdale is precarious. On one side are the show ring pretenders who value looks over utility, while on the other side are young fools crossing Patterdales with Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls, resulting in dogs that are too big and overly hard.

The good news is that there are a handful of breeders trying to keep the dogs right-sized and well-balanced between the ears. Some of these breeders have been breeding good dogs for decades, but it is a tough job and it is not clear that the next generation of terriermen is up to the task. Time will surely tell.

Patrick Burns

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