Patterdales are confident, bold, intelligent, and independent dogs. Although friendly, loyal to their owners, and often sociable, Patterdales are bred to be working animals, and thus will exhibit no-nonsense, goal-oriented behavior. The breed has a strong prey drive and a high-energy temperament, so it will be happiest when it is outdoors, with room to run freely. Due to their confidence and instinct for boldness, this breed is protective, and makes an excellent watchdog, partly because of its loud bark. When indoors, a Patterdale will enjoy attention and display affection towards its owners, but these dogs require a good bit of “outside time.” This breed may become bored if left alone indoors for extended periods of time, which could lead to destructive behavior like hole-digging and tearing of furniture. For this reason, Patterdales are recommended only for experienced dog owners.
Because of its instincts for independence, this breed can be a bit difficult to train; the inexperienced owner may opt to have their pet trained by a professional. Some Patterdales may incur Small Dog Syndrome (SDS), in which they develop undesired habits like aggression (especially towards larger dogs), overt selfishness, and inconsistent behavior such as begging for food and urinating in odd places. According to experts, this SDS behavior can be minimized with consistent training, often with a professional trainer, to help the dog learn its place in the family "pack".
One interesting characteristic of this breed is that it has a unique “belly crawl” that it performs regularly; this is assumed to be instinctual, as Patterdales often go to ground when hunting in order to chase small prey through tunnels.