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The Charming Cesky:

A Little Gray Terrier from the Czech Republic

By Deborah Stevenson



A group of Cesky Terriers from Van Bodasca Kennel

Pronounced CHESS –kee and sometimes referred to as the Czech or Bohemian Terrier, the Cesky Terrier is a big-hearted dog in a small package. Extremely devoted, small enough for apartment living and athletic enough for an active family, Cesky Terriers fit in well in most environments, as long as they can be with the people they love. They are naturally fond of children and generally get along well with other pets, especially if raised with them.


In the world of dogs, the Cesky Terrier is a relative newcomer. The breed was developed by Czechoslovakian geneticist Frantisek Horak. A breeder of Scottish and Sealyham Terriers, Mr. Horak set out to create a terrier suited to hunting in his native country. He sought to combine the best attributes of the Scottie and Sealy and produce a terrier that could go to ground, fit in burrows too small for its parent breeds and which had a disposition suitable to hunting in groups. Mr. Horak also wanted an easy-keeper with natural ears and tail.

In 1949, Mr. Horak began developing the Cesky Terrier by crossing a Scottie bitch with a Sealyham dog. In the years that followed, he worked to set the characteristics he was looking for: a smaller chest circumference, good hunting instincts but with a milder disposition than most terriers, a build well-suited for digging and endurance, and a grooming style that was easy to maintain. Hence the Cesky is never hand stripped like many terriers, but rather is groomed with clippers. The Cesky coat should be soft and silky, not wiry, which was accomplished through selection of breeding stock and through clipping.

The breed was recognized by the FCI in 1963. Sadly Mr. Horak passed away in 1996, but in his lifetime he had the joy of watching his fuzzy-faced creation become the darling of the Czech Republic. In its homeland, the Cesky Terrier is a much beloved national treasure and has been featured on postage stamps, in artwork and literature, on TV and in movies, and even on several specially painted buses.

[Hand painted bus commemorating the Cesky]

This hand painted bus by artist Oldrich Dufek, commemorates the Cesky, a beloved breed in the Czech Republic

The Cesky Terrier in the US

With only about 300 dogs in the country today, the Cesky is still a relatively undiscovered treasure in the US. The first imports arrived in the US in the latter half of the 1980’s. Most of the original imports were from DeSchalkjes Kennels in Holland. Since then a number of dogs have been imported from the Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Canada, Finland and the UK, as US breeders work to continually increase and diversify the gene pool.

Currently the Cesky is not recognized by AKC, but is registered in the U.S. with AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS). As more and more people discover their winning ways, the Cesky Terrier is steadily gaining popularity.

Cesky Terriers are being actively shown in rare breed conformation classes, obedience competition and recently in Earthdog events and agility. This should increase, as a recent AKC decision will soon allow FSS dogs to compete in obedience and agility at AKC events.

Left: "Sophie" owned and shown by Roswitha Wick  Right: Newthatch Flyaway, aka "Whizz" doing agility with style

The American Cesky Terrier Club, a US national breed club, is working diligently with the AKC to achieve recognition of the Cesky Terrier. The Cesky Terrier was recently recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club, and US fanciers are hopeful that AKC recognition will follow in the not-too-distant future.

Living with a Cesky Terrier

Unique in appearance and character, the Cesky has a style all its own. While the Cesky retains its hunting instincts, it is most beloved today as a family pet, a job for which it is ideally suited.

The Cesky is a decidedly different terrier: very soft-tempered, surprisingly obedient and anxious to please. The Cesky Terrier is an extremely devoted and loving companion who enjoys adults and children. Most also enjoy the company of other dogs and usually get along well with other pets.

The kind and gentle expression of the Cesky Terrier

The adult Cesky is generally a mellow dog indoors, content to curl up on the couch next to the person they love. Often reserved with strangers, the Cesky bonds deeply with its family and hates to miss out on anything. Expect to have a furry friend waiting for you on the bathmat when you emerge from the shower, heading for the door when he hears you get your keys, and in the middle of whatever is going on at the moment.

Cesky Terriers tend to love everyone in the family, but often reserve their deepest devotion for one person. They have good memories and once they decide they like someone, they remember that person always.

Despite their couch-potato tendencies, Cesky Terriers come to life when there’s an opportunity to play. They seem to have an affinity for the comedic, and will occasionally give you cause to ponder whether there may be a monkey somewhere under all that hair.

No one told these two that window seat is for cats.

For a small, short-legged dog, they are surprisingly substantial and athletic. They will happily hike, fetch, swim… you name the activity and your Cesky is game if it’s an opportunity to be with you.

As puppies, Cesky Terriers abound with impish charm. They are born black, and lighten to varying shades of grey as they mature. While each individual is unique, Cesky pups tend to be full of themselves, very busy and into everything.

[Owned by the author] 

Hmmm... what can I get into next?

We all have our weaknesses, and for most Cesky Terriers, that weakness is food. They love to eat, and food-stealing and begging are particularly difficult habits to break as a result. Their love of eating often does not stop at food items, so never leave a Cesky unattended with most dog toys. Even most of the toys labelled "indestructible" are fair game for a Cesky.

Is a Cesky Right For You?

If you are looking for a loving companion to be a true member of your family, then a Cesky Terrier might well fit the bill. There are a few things to consider.

  • Because of its tendency to be wary of strangers, early socialization is important.
  • You must be wiling to make a commitment to grooming. Although the Cesky does not shed, it does require regular combing to keep the coat mat-free, and unless you are handy with clippers, will require professional grooming.
  • The Cesky is an indoor dog that needs and thrives on human companionship.
  • Still a relatively rare breed in the US, Cesky puppies are not abundant, so you may have to wait a while to find your perfect companion.
  • Once you do find your perfect puppy, you will likely never again be able to leave your midnight snack unattended.

If you can meet these basic requirements, you will be repaid many times over by this loyal, comical and unique little dog. For those that enjoy the terrier look, ingenuity and character, but prefer a little less independence and intensity, the charming Cesky could be the best of all worlds.

[ The Charming Cesky ] Breed Profile ] Cesky Terrier Breed Standard Tutorial ] Tips for a Good Start ] Male or Female? ] Housebreaking and Use of Crates ] Grooming Your Cesky Terrier ] Feeding Your Cesky Terrier ] Health and Veterinary Care ] Links ]


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