The Cesky Terrier, the national dog of the Czech Republic, is a clever and adventurous playmate for kids and an eager walking buddy for the folks. They are tenacious at work, but a little more laid back and tractable than the usual terrier.
Ceskys are muscular, short-legged, and handsome hunters standing no taller than 13 inches at the shoulder. The fine, silky coat comes in several shades of gray, including stunning platinum. Wavy facial hair gives Ceskys a sporty, Continental look, and the medium-long neck lends a dash of elegance to these game, unspoiled working terriers. While Ceskys are as determined and prey-driven as any other earthdog, they’re mellower than a typical terrier. Wary of strangers and protective of loved ones, they’re good watchdogs without being particularly yappy. They train well and want to please. Here’s the catch: They are a scarce breed, with only about 600 living in America. A wonderful family dog, if you’re lucky enough to find one.
Although the Cesky (aka Bohemian Terrier) is the only Czech breed in the AKC Stud Book, the nation known as Bohemia, then Czechoslovakia, and finally the Czech Republic can boast a long, distinguished history of dog breeding. The tradition goes back to at least the 14th century, when Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, kept a grand kennel of international renown. But it is not the Middle Ages but the World War II era where the Cesky story begins.
Like the Doberman Pinscher and the Boykin Spaniel, the Cesky (pronounce it “chess-kee,” meaning Czech) is a breed born of the vision of one person. In this case, the visionary was the mid 20th century Czech breeder, sportsman, and geneticist Frantisek Horak, who grew up hunting in the forests outside of Prague.
Horak set forth an ambitious breeding program. His ideal was a dog that could go to ground and dispatch a rat like a true terrier, but could also work in packs like hounds on bigger game, while being as gentle and obedient at home as retrievers.
If the Cesky looks something like a cross between a Scottish Terrier and a Sealyham Terrier, it’s because that’s what it basically is. Horak employed judicious crosses of Scotties and Sealys over many years to create the dog of his dreams. (At least one canine historian suggests that, at some point, Horak introduced Dandie Dinmont Terrier and wirehaired Dachshund into the genetic mix.)
The old Czech adage “Like dog, like master” certainly applied to Horak. As a 2011 story in the AKC Gazette put it, “Horak persevered through World War II and a communist revolution with terrier-like determination to create his vision of a new hunting breed.”
Ceskys were first imported to the United States in the late 1980s, and the breed was admitted to the AKC in 2011.
Temperament: Clever / Adventurous / Family-Oriented
Height: 10-13 inches
Weight: 14-24 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
With a small gene pool in the States, breeders are doing their best to eliminate genetic health problems that are currently possible in the breed. These include patellar luxation (slipped stifles), cardiac problems, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts. Many suffer from a neurological issue known as Scotty Cramp, a somewhat debilitating but not life-threatening disorder that causes your dog to spasm, affecting his movement. Your breeder can discuss the potential health problems with you and help you make informed decisions about your dog’s health. You should receive copies of the certification of the testing of your dog’s parents.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Cardiac Exam
- Patella Evaluation
- Dentition Exam
Unlike grooming of some terrier breeds, hand stripping is not suggested for the Cesky’s coat. Instead, the body is clipped. You should visit a professional groomer referred by your breeder to be sure your dog is groomed correctly. There are so few Ceskys around that it is unlikely that most groomers have ever even heard of the breed. In between groomings, as the Cesky coat does not shed dirt as some harder coats do, he will need regular baths. They tend to grow a lot of hair in the ears, and this should be removed during each grooming appointment to prevent an ear infection. Ears should be cleaned regularly to remove excess wax and other debris.
The Cesky enjoys daily exercise in the form of walks and play sessions with his owner. He must always be on a leash when not within a securely enclosed area, however, and his yard should be fenced. The breed has a very strong prey drive, and if he sees or smells what he perceives as prey, the Cesky may not be able to resist running off in pursuit.The Cesky Terrier, the national dog of the Czech Republic, is a clever and adventurous playmate for kids and an eager walking buddy for the folks. Click To Tweet
The Cesky Terrier is considered to be a little less stubborn and thus more easily trainable than some other terrier breeds. They still require a firm hand in a kid glove. They will shut down if faced with negative or harsh training methods, so exercise only a positive, reward-based approach to training. Cesky Terriers are extremely intelligent, sensible, and feisty, which makes them a good candidate for training for dog sports. They have a very high prey drive, however, which should be squelched from the beginning.
Your veterinarian can point you toward a high-quality diet that is suitable for your dog. This is a breed who loves to eat, so monitor his food intake carefully. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not.