Lakeland Terrier

Square and sturdy Lakelands, standing less than 15 inches at the shoulder and weighing about 17 pounds, are small dogs. But don’t tell them that. With their cock-of-the-walk swagger, Lakelands personify the old dog-lover’s cliché “a big dog in a small package.” It is said that the Lakeland Terrier is an Airedale Terrier in miniature. A solid dog, with resistant and hard hair to the touch, black nose, and dark eyes. Its tail is well positioned and carried high, its back is strong and short.

The Lakeland Terrier is a small, workmanlike dog of square, sturdy build. His body is deep and relatively narrow, which allows him to squeeze into rocky dens. He has sufficient length of leg under him to cover rough ground easily. His neck is long, leading smoothly into high withers and a short topline ending in a high tail set. His attitude is gay, friendly, and self-confident, but not overly aggressive. He is alert and ready to go. His movement is litht and graceful, with a straight-ahead, free stride of good length. His head is rectangular, jaws are powerful, and ears are V-shaped. A dense, wiry coat is finished off with longer furnishings on muzzle and legs.

The Lakeland Terrier comes in a variety of colors, all of which are equally acceptable. Solid colors include blue, black, liver, red, and wheaten. In saddle marked dogs, the saddle covers the back of the neck, back, sides and up the tail. A saddle may be blue, black, liver, or varying shades of grizzle. The remainder of the dog (head, throat, shoulders, and legs) is a wheaten or golden tan. Grizzle is a blend of red or wheaten intermixed in varying proportions with black, blue or liver.

Small and cocky, sturdy and smart, Lakeland Terriers approach any task with zeal; whether they are working as a watchdog, vermin hunter or your personal assistant.

The Lakeland is one of the oldest known terrier breeds, originating in the 1800’s. The breed was developed in the Lake District of England by farmers who crossed several breeds together. The exact mix varies depending on the source. However, the breeds commonly cited as the Lakie's ancestors are the Border, Bedlington, Fox, Dandie Dinmont, and Old English Black and Tan Terriers. Whatever the truth might be, the result was an animal looking very much like a mini Airedale. Its principal duty on the hunt was that it should be able to keep up with the hounds — hence its rather long legs — and that it should be eager to crawl into rocky crevices and brave enough to bolt or attack hiding foxes. Because they must be able to squirm and slither though small gaps in the rocks, the Lakeland has been bred with a deep, narrow chest. It is claimed that, if it can get its head through a crevice, its body can follow.

A breed club was formed in 1912, and by 1928 the Lakeland Terrier had become a show dog, appearing for the first time at Crufts. It proved extremely popular in the ring and one of its champions holds the distinction of being the only dog ever to have achieved a ‘double crown’ — a Lakeland called Stingray of Derryabah -  won best in show at Crufts and Westminster in 1967/68.

Lakelands have a dense wiry coat and a soft undercoat. Shedding is minimal. Brushing should be done weekly. Traditionally, their coat is hand stripped. Companion dogs that do not compete in dog shows can be clipped. 

Lakies require regular exercise and a great deal of mental stimulation. Brisk daily walks or intense playtime sessions are a must. Earthdog Tests and Agility training are popular activities for Lakelands. Playing hunting games with stuffed toys and Hide and Seek are also enjoyable activities for Lakies.

Quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, intense -  these typical terrier qualities  can make obedience training and housebreaking challenging at times. Gentle, firm training is extremely effective as Lakelands are sensitive to voice inflection. They respond to praise well. Training a Lakeland requires a good deal of patience and creativity to provide a variety of activities to occupy their busy minds. It helps if the owner is equally stubborn, leads a fairly active lifestyle that a Lakeland can be part of, has a fenced yard and a good sense of humor.

By the same token, those same characteristics will instill a great deal of adventure, laughter and charm into your life. Lakies make great family pets and watchdogs but should be supervised around small children. Lakelands do well in an urban or rural setting and can live in an apartment.

Due to their terrier nature, many Lakelands will not coexist harmoniously with another pet such as animals from the rodent family, but they cope well with other dogs.