Cesky Terrier

Gemma Gaitskell
Dr Gemma Gaitskell (BVetMed MSc MRCVS, Royal Veterinary College, London)
 
Photo of adult Cesky Terrier

The Cesky Terrier is a small breed of dog, which is cheerful and pleasant with a well-balanced character. The breed was originally developed as a hunting dog in Czechoslovakia by crossing Scottish Terriers with Sealyham Terriers and is a relatively new breed. Today they are mainly kept as companion pets but still make good working dogs. They have a silky, wavy coat and differ from many other terriers as this coat should be clipped and not stripped.

The Cesky Terrier is a calm and kind terrier, which is less firey than other terrier breeds and generally of a quieter disposition. This means they are more easily trained but can still be stubborn sometimes. The breed can be wary of strangers but is generally good with children if they are used to them from puppyhood. Their coat is fairly easy to care for and they require clipping a few times a year. On the whole, the Cesky Terrier is a healthy breed, although there are still some health problems which can affect it.

About & History

The Cesky or Czesky Terrier, which is also known as the Czech or Bohemian Terrier, was developed in Czechoslovakia by geneticist, Dr František Horák. who was already breeding Scottish and Sealyham Terriers for hunting. The breed was formed by crossing Scottish Terriers with Sealyham Terriers towards the middle of the 20th century. The aim of this new breed was that it would have a smaller head, slightly longer legs and a narrower chest than the parent breeds. Although the breed was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in the 1960’s, it was not recognised by The UK Kennel Club until 1990.

The Cesky Terrier was originally developed as a dog which was short legged, but light and easily trainable making it apt for hunting in Bohemia. It therefore had to be able to go to ground easily and hunt in forests as well as open countryside to make it suitable for hunting a range of animals, such as foxes, rabbits, duck, pheasants, wild boar and badgers.

Despite being bred originally for hunting, the Cesky Terrier is now more commonly kept as a companion dog and adapts well to living in a house. Some people also compete in obedience and agility shows with Cesky Terriers.

Appearance

Cesky Terrier Large Photo

The Cesky Terrier can come with several different coloured coats, which are accepted for registration with the UK Kennel Club. These include:

  • Dark Grey
  • Grey
  • Grey and Tan
  • Grey Blue
  • Light Brown
  • Silver
  • Wheaten

The coat should be a little wavy and have a silky appearance. The Cesky Terrier is a small breed that should stand between 25-32 cm (9.75 – 12.5 inches) tall at the withers. Male dogs should be around 29 cm and female dogs should be slightly smaller at around 27 cm. The ideal weight for the breed is between 6 to 10 kg. The Cesky Terrier should be 1.5 times as long as the height to the withers and should look balanced overall.

The Cesky Terrier should have a medium to long length neck that is strong but elegant and has some loose skin around the throat area. This leads to powerful shoulders and a medium length body, which is rounded rather than deep. The front legs should be straight and strong. The ribs should be well sprung and the body should rise slightly towards a broad, muscular back end. The back legs should be strong and parallel to each other. The front feet are typically bigger than the back feet. The tail should be strong and long, around 18-20 cm and carried slightly upwards when alert.

The breed has a long head with a slight arch to the skull. The muzzle should appear triangular from above, although not snipey, with nose pigmentation changing according to coat colour – black for grey-blue dogs and liver in light brown dogs. The mouth should have a normal scissor bite with correct dentition with strong white teeth. The eyes should be deep set and medium sized with a kindly expression. Ears are of medium size and triangular in shape; they should be set high and fold over close to the cheeks.

The Cesky Terrier should move briskly with power and plenty of drive propelling it forwards. The gait should have a vigorous appearance and the front legs should move in a straight line.

Character & Temperament

The Cesky Terrier is of a pleasant, cheerful disposition, with a well-balanced character. The breed is generally calm and kind, although it can be a little distant with strangers before getting to know them. Cesky Terriers should not be at all aggressive and are generally thought of as being calmer and more reserved than other terrier breeds. Although the Cesky Terrier is generally good with children their reserved nature may mean that they find them overwhelming if they are not used to being around them. Although the breed enjoys company it is not typically a breed that suffers from separation anxiety, however, as with any breed, dogs should not be left home alone for long periods of time. The breed’s small stature means they are not typically used as guard dogs, but they will bark, which means they can raise the alarm.

Trainability

The Cesky Terrier is intelligent and is perhaps one of the more easily trained terrier breeds, however, they can still maintain a stubborn streak and care must be taken to only reward and encourage desirable behaviour. Positive reinforcement training methods work best otherwise the breed can become uncooperative. Training recall is not typically a problem and training should be built up gradually from a young age.

The breed is not especially difficult to house train, especially if puppies have an established routine and regular access to outside space such as a garden or on walks. Cesky Terriers are generally good around other dogs, but should be socialised from an early age if they are expected to live with cats as their hunting instinct remains and they will try to chase them if they are not used to them.

Health

The Cesky Terrier has a life expectancy of around 12 years of age, although many live for longer. The breed is relatively healthy, although it is classed as a Category 2 breed by the UK Kennel Club with a specific point of concern regarding incorrect dentition. Although not obligatory, eye testing is strongly recommended as one of the founding breeds can suffer from an eye condition called primary lens luxation and testing is undertaken as a precaution. Other conditions that have occasionally been reported in the Cesky Terrier include:

  • Patellar Luxation – This condition affects the equivalent to the human knee joint in the hind leg called the stifle. The patella or kneecap is temporarily displaced. Either one or both back legs can be affected and severity can vary. If necessary surgery can be used to try and correct the problem.
  • Scottie Cramp – This is a disease passed down from Scottish Terriers which is not life threatening but is to do with a lack of serotonin. This lack of serotonin causes spasms in the legs, especially after exercise or excitement. Symptoms usually resolve themselves, but in some cases medication may be needed to control clinical signs and it is thought that vitamin E supplementation may be beneficial. Any dogs suffering from this disease should not be used for breeding and should be reported to the breed club.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Cesky Terriers are generally quieter than some other terrier breeds and this means that they need slightly less exercise. Although they are able to keep going for much longer around an hour a day of walking is sufficient to keep them happy and healthy. As with all dogs ideally some of this time should be spent of the lead, but it is not essential. The Cesky Terrier is small so can adapt well to an urban environment if walked enough.

Grooming

The Cesky Terrier has a soft fine coat which is firm and slightly wavy but at the same time maintains a silky appearance. The Cesky Terrier is unusual amongst the terrier breeds as it is clipped as opposed to stripped and the tail has always been left undocked. This means that coat maintenance is easier than for some other terrier breeds with clipping only needed occasionally. The typical breed clip leaves long hair on the chest and tummy area, as well as on the legs and face. Brushing around once to twice a week helps keep the coat in good condition between clipping and minimizes hair loss around the house.

Famous Cesky Terriers

The Cesky Terrier’s relatively short history and small population means that there are not any famous examples of the breed found in popular culture, although in its homeland the Cesky Terrier is considered a national treasure and has been featured on items such as stamps, in books, on television and in films.

Cross-Breeds

Although the Cesky Terrier has undoubtedly been crossed with other breeds there are not any well known Cesky cross-breeds which are popular today.

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