Plummer Terrier

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Plummer Terrier
Plummer Terrier Club /

Developed in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, the Plummer Terrier is a strong and square dog with a bright red and white coat and intelligent eyes. Gutsy yet kind, the nature of this breed makes it a wonderful pet for a household with children. Beware though, if not exercised enough, this dog may go on to develop nuisance behaviours and could become a real handful.

While traditionally bred to hunt vermin and rabbits, nowadays, the Plummer Terrier is also used in agility, obedience and a variety of other disciplines. Their versatility is one of their best characteristics, and while they continue to hunt today, many breed members are kept solely as pets.

About & History

Unlike many other dog breeds around the world, we know exactly when, where and why the Plummer Terrier came to be. We have superb records available that tell us which dogs were used and from which lines. The breed takes its name from its founder, Dr. David Brian Plummer of Wales. He took it upon himself to create a new breed – the Plummer Terrier – by mixing together the popular Jack Russell Terrier and the Beagle, Bull Terrier and Fell Terriers (like the Patterdale Terrier and the Lakeland Terrier).

An interesting man, Dr. Plummer got himself a reputation as a ‘rat hunter’ as he used to go around with his pack of Terriers, catching rats in the neighbourhood. He was also a respected author on the subject of ‘ratting’. He began creating the Plummer Terrier breed in the 1970s and since their inception, they have been known for their rugged determination and hardiness.

Dr. Plummer was a well-known man in his day, appearing on many TV shows and documentaries, often discussing the Plummer Terrier. He worked with the breed into his old age, tweaking them and introducing new blood to prevent inbreeding. After his death in 2002, several other breeders continued his work, and the breed remains alive today.

A multi-purpose little dog, the Plummer Terrier is best known as a ratter and rabbit hunter but is also quite adept at retrieving and scenting, working well in a pack. Of course, as with most terriers, they are far from just a working dog and make superb family pets.

At this moment in time, the Plummer Terrier is not recognised by any major organisation, such as the Kennel Club or the UKC, and there is no sign that they will be any time soon. There is a well-established Plummer Terrier club within the UK.


A working dog, the Plummer Terrier should have a compact body and must be free from any exaggerated features. The Plummer Terrier has a strong head with an obvious stop and a powerful jaw. Their medium-sized ears flop over, though should sit tidily on the head. Their dark eyes are full of character and sit quite widely apart on the face. Their powerful neck leads smoothly into well-muscled shoulders and straight, parallel limbs. Their square bodies are robust and well proportioned. Their tail should be carried high in the air and is often docked in working dogs. It should be noted that tail docking is now illegal in the UK, except in very particular circumstances.

While the coat of the Plummer Terrier should be short, it is tight enough to offer good protection from the elements. Their characteristic fur colour is what makes them stand out from other terriers: a ‘fiery’ red and white. The coat pattern should be either ‘collared’ or ‘caped’. Collared means that there is a white band of fur around their neck, while caped refers to white fur on the throat. The term ‘shattered’ is used to describe coat patterns that are neither caped nor collared, and this is not desirable.

Dogs should not measure more than 35cm, and most will measure between 30-34cm. Indeed, many of this breed’s critics initially felt the dog was too tall to hunt quarry in holes or burrows, so it is important that they are not overly large.

Character & Temperament

This plucky little dog sure has a big spirit! They are courageous when hunting and always keen to get the job done. As expected, considering the breeds from which the Plummer Terrier is descended, this dog is full of energy and is very intelligent. Natural watch dogs, this ever-alert breed will be quick to give a warning yap when a new person approaches. However, they cannot be relied upon as guard dogs, as they are neither protective nor hostile enough, and would likely greet an intruder warmly, hoping for a pat on the head or a quick game of fetch!

A great friend to children, Plummer Terriers are full of mischief and are always patient with little ones. They will happily play games for hours on end, and it will always be the children that tire first! Charming and sweet, they will quickly make friends with whomever is willing. In fact, they really crave human companionship and do have the potential to become over reliant on people- a trait which may result in separation anxiety if not addressed. While the strong bonds they like to form should be encouraged, a healthy relationship should include time when the Plummer Terrier is happy in its own company and can keep itself occupied without a human nearby.

Issues may begin to arise if the Plummer Terrier is not kept entertained, as they will quickly become hyper and destructive, channelling their energy into any outlet they can find. They love to dig, and you may find your garden suddenly has lots of new holes if you have left the dog outside with nothing to do. Avoid these behaviours by providing your Plummer Terrier with doggy puzzles and games and by keeping them active.


The first-time owner may be better off considering a breed that needs somewhat less attention, as you need to be on the ball with the Plummer Terrier, nipping any problem behaviours in the bud before they become real issues.

This is a strong-willed breed that does not lack in determination and often uses its intelligence to get what it wants from a situation. They strongly benefit from good quality training that is consistent and does not allow for the development of naughty habits.


A hardy breed, most Plummer Terriers will live into their early teens with few health concerns. Be on the lookout for:

Patellar Luxation

Knee caps that do not sit correctly may pop in and out of place, resulting in a hop or skip every now and then. Some dogs manage well and never require treatment, while others become progressively more lame and uncomfortable and may require corrective surgery.


Testicles that do not descend as they should will need to be surgically removed. This is because testicles within the body are more likely to become cancerous as a dog ages.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This breed is always on the go and should be given plenty of things to do to keep it occupied. They love nothing more than to be allowed out to hunt, performing the role that comes naturally to them. They are happiest in a rural environment where they have free access to the outdoors and can run about to their heart’s content. This does not mean that the could not live in an apartment in an urban setting, but owners who choose to keep them in small homes will have their work cut out when it comes to exercise provision.

The Plummer Terrier would make a good participant in practically any sport, including flyball, agility and Frisbee. They take to these disciplines like a duck to water and will often outperform many other breeds with their natural athleticism and confident attitude.

These little monkeys are notoriously good escape artists, so any garden that they are in must be very securely fenced. This is especially true if there are any hunting opportunities nearby, as a Plummer Terrier will do practically anything to get to its prey if it senses it nearby.


Luckily, the Plummer Terrier needs hardly any grooming to keep it looking good. A soft brush or grooming glove should suffice and they can be groomed once weekly. Once home from a walk, you should give your Plummer Terrier a good ‘once-over’, ensuring they have not received any injuries, such as a split pad or thorn in their paw.

Famous Plummer Terriers

Several of Dr. Plummer’s initial Plummer Terriers were well-known and were widely written about by Dr. Plummer himself. These included dogs called Vampire and Omega.


Many breeders and hunters will cross their Plummer Terriers with similar breeds in an attempt to increase hybrid vigor and engineer a dog that is tougher and more athletic. Having said this, there are no well-established Plummer Terrier cross-breeds just yet.

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