The Cesky Terrier (pronounced “chess-key terrier”) is a rare dog breed originally from Czechoslovakia.
It has dwarf limbs and a long body. Cesky Terriers in show condition have unmistakeable facial hair, which falls forwards over their face.
Unlike other terrier breeds, they are bred to be just as good at working cooperatively with people and other dogs, as they are at hunting independently.
If you’re looking for an uncommon dog breed, this could be your new favorite dog.
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 185th out of 197 AKC breeds, by registration numbers
- Purpose: Ratting, hunting, and companionship
- Weight: 14-24 lbs
- Temperament: Intelligent, bold and affectionate
Breed Review Contents
The Cesky Terrier is a little known dog breed, with a lot of great attributes waiting to be discovered.
You can use these links to navigate our complete guide to Cesky ownership, or scroll down to read the whole thing.
- History and original purpose of the Cesky Terrier
- Fun facts about Cesky Terrier
- Training and exercise
- Health and care
- Do Cesky Terrier make good family pets?
- Rescuing a Cesky Terrier
- Finding a Cesky Terrier puppy
- Raising a Cesky Terrier puppy
History and original purpose of the Cesky Terrier
The Cesky Terrier breed was founded by a Czech dog breeder called František Horák in the mid 20th century.
Horák was a keen hunter and wanted to create his own ideal vision of a hunting terrier.
He set out to do so by mating his own Scottish Terrier (who had a great prey drive but was, Horák felt, too aggressive towards people) with a friend’s Sealyham Terrier.
It’s notable (but not unusual for pedigree breeds) how few dogs were involved in the foundation of the breed, and how much Horák relied on mating closely related dogs to fix traits he wanted in his new breed.
This means that all modern day Ceskies come from the same limited genepool, which can have important repercussions for their health.
Once established, Horák’s new breed was officially named the Cesky Terrier in the 1950s.
Fun facts about Cesky Terrier
- Ceskies are one of the few terrier breeds which were developed outside of the British Isles
- The Cesky Terrier is sometimes also known as the Bohemian Terrier.
- As his new breed started to gain popularity, Horák started to receive so much mail from around the world that he was visited by the Czechslovakian secret police!
- The Cesky Terrier is a national treasure in its homeland. It’s even featured on its own range of stamps.
Cesky Terrier appearance
Cesky Terriers are a dwarf dog breed. They have legs which are disproportionately short relative to the overall size of their body.
This means they only grow 10-13 inches tall at the shoulders.
Other notable features of Cesky Terriers are:
- A long body, which is ever so slightly higher at the butt than the shoulders.
- Triangle-shaped ears that fall forwards.
- A long smooth coat which is blue-grey or light brown.
They also have a long beard and long eyebrows which flop forwards down the centre of their face.
Cesky Terrier temperament
The Cesky Terrier’s temperament was an important part of František Horák’s vision.
He wanted a dog which:
- Was independent and bold enough to chase small vermin underground and kill it.
- Could also work in a pack hunting larger game.
- And was a gentle and affectionate companion around the home.
This means Ceskies have a high prey drive, which might extend to chasing smaller pets like cats.
They might also like to dig!
They are sometimes regarded as being somewhat easier to train than more traditional terrier breeds, because they are more naturally motivated to work in co-operation with people.
Training and exercise
Ceskies, like all terriers, were originally bred to fulfil a working role.
Which means they’ve got lots of stamina, and they need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and frustration setting in.
Ceskies need at least an hour of physical exercise a day. They’re well-suited to being outdoors, and they’re ideal companions for activities like hiking.
Since they’re a dwarf breed, they won’t be able to keep up on a run or a bike ride though!
Besides walks, they need toys and games to occupy them at home.
They respond well to positive reinforcement training, and training games are a good way of fulfilling their need for action and engagement.
Cesky Terrier health and care
All purebred dogs are vulnerable to hereditary diseases becoming fixed and amplified in their pedigree.
This is especially true of rare breeds such as the Cesky.
Heritable health problems of the Cesky breed include:
Problems with the teeth and gums
Lots of small dog breeds have trouble with fitting a wolf’s worth of teeth into a tiny pair of jaws.
Whilst tooth decay and gum disease are rarely life threatening, management and veterinary dentistry can be expensive!
Hip dysplasia is abnormal growth of the bones in the hip joint, which causes arthritis and lameness.
As many as 1 in 3 Cesky Terriers have hip dysplasia. Potential breeding dogs can be screened for the condition before they are mated, to make sure they don’t pass it on to their puppies.
Dystocia means difficulty giving birth.
Cesky bodies are narrow and long. Which means females have a narrow pelvis but their puppies aren’t necessarily small.
This means that they are more likely than average to need a cesarean section to deliver litters.
Other conditions reported in this breed include:
- eye disease
- the neurological condition Scottie Cramp
- and the bleeding disorder von Willebrand’s Disease.
Do Cesky Terriers make good family pets?
How can you tell if a Cesky Terrier will be a good fit for your household?
Ceskies enjoy a lot of activity, so they benefit from living with a family who enjoys being outdoors, or has a large outdoor space for their dog to explore and play in.
Since they’re accomplished diggers, they outdoor space needs to be secure against breakout attempts!
Ceskies are an especially good match for people interested in terrier dog sports such as Earthdog.
Since they were specifically bred to have an affectionate relationship with people, they tend to get on well with children.
Rescuing a Cesky Terrier
Lots of people getting ready to become pet parents are interested in adopting an older dog.
However, this isn’t a breed you’re likely to meet in many rescue shelters.
Simply because there aren’t many of them in the first place.
If you’d like to rehome an adult dog, start with the websites for the national Cesky breed club for your country.
Sometimes they have their own rehoming service for older dogs.
Or alternatively they might have a club secretary or puppy coordinator who can put you in touch with a breeder who is preparing to retire one of their breeding or show dogs.
The breed clubs for the Cesky Terrier are:
Finding a Cesky Terrier puppy
The alternative to rescuing an older Cesky Terrier is, of course, raising one from a puppy.
However, finding a Cesky puppy is not without obstacles of its own.
It is thought that there are only around 600 Ceskies in America today.
This means there are very few individuals of breeding age, and they’re likely to be spread out.
When this happens, it gets difficult to balance
- choosing sires and dams with great temperaments,
- choosing healthy dogs to mate,
- and including enough unrelated individuals in a breeding programme to prevent the genepool getting overly small.
Raising a Cesky Terrier puppy
Caring for a vulnerable Cesky Terrier puppy is a big responsibility!
We have lots of guides and resources elsewhere on the site, to help you navigate the first year of your dog’s life:
- Puppy Potty Training Schedule And Finishing Touches
- Crate Training A Puppy – The Ultimate Expert Guide
- 12 Great Places to Socialise Your Puppy
- Introducing A Puppy To A Cat
If it turns out this breed is out of reach for you, don’t despair.
Their are some great alternative breeds, which pack the same charm:
- West Highland White Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Tibetan Terrier
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Scottish Terrier
- Norfolk Terrier
Pros And Cons of Getting A Cesky Terrier
There’s a lot to think about before committing to a Cesky Terrier.
Let’s sum up the pros and cons:
- High prey drive may make them a threat to smaller pets, and wildlife in your yard.
- High frequencies of some inherited health problems, such as hip dysplasia.
- They are almost vanishingly rare.
- Quieter than your average terrier.
- Affectionate and responsive to training.
- Great facial hair if you like a dog that’s a conversation starter.
Do you already have a Cesky Terrier?
How did you first encounter this unusual breed?
Tell us about your dogs, and how you met them, in the comments box down below!
References And Resources
- American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association.
- Evans & Adams. Proportion of litters of purebred dogs born by caesarean section. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.
- Official Standard of the Cesky Terrier. American Kennel Club. 2017.
- Othopedic Foundation for Animals
- The Cesky Terrier Club