Lancashire Heeler: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Lancashire Heeler at a dog show

Svenska Mässan / Flickr / Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Lancashire Heeler is a feisty little dog that is full of character. This relatively rare breed from the United Kingdom is the smallest of all the herding dogs. They are known for being versatile and affectionate with their owners, but they can be less so with strangers or other dogs.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 10 to 12 inches

Weight: 10 to 17 pounds

Coat: Thick, short, hard, weather-resistant top coat with a fine undercoat

Coat Color: Black and tan or liver and tan in color

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Lancashire Heeler

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  Medium
Kid-Friendly  Medium
Pet-Friendly  Medium
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  Medium
Energy Level  Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire Heelers history is not one that is as well documented as some breeds. It is generally accepted that they likely originated with the crossing of Welsh Corgis with another terrier type breed, possibly the Manchester Terrier. This resulted in the creation of a compact little working dog that excelled at driving livestock but could also keep the farm free of pests like rats. They are recognized as being the smallest of all the herding dogs.

The breed is sometimes also referred to as the Ormskirk Terrier, because of having roots in the Ormskirk area of Lancashire in the United Kingdom, dating back at least a few hundred years.

The Kennel Club recognized them in the UK in 1981, but they are currently on the Rare Breed Register because their numbers are relatively scarce.

They are beginning to grow in popularity in the United States and, as of 2019, have been recognized as part of the Miscellaneous Group, the first step towards achieving full registration. Once some time has elapsed, and if their numbers grow, they will likely be recognized as part of the Herding classification.

Lancashire Heeler Care

The Lancashire Heeler may not be the best choice of breed for a novice dog owner. They are known for being very affectionate with their own family and can be full of courageous and spunky character. They also have their challenges too.

They are intelligent, but they can be stubborn, and this can mean that extra patience could be required when it comes to training. Once you have cracked it though, this active little breed often excels in the likes of agility, flyball and other competitive dog sports. They do respond well to force-free, positive reinforcement training methods.

Although they are small and loving with those they know, they are certainly not a lap dog. Their working drive means that they have a lot of energy. They enjoy being active and will also need plenty of enrichment around the home to keep them from becoming bored.

They can sometimes have a propensity towards guarding characteristics and can be very vocal if this is not kept in check. It is important that early and ongoing socialization and training takes place to prevent them from becoming wary of strangers. They are not known as always being the most sociable with other dogs either. They can live happily alongside other animals, but careful introductions should be done.

Their driving background means that they can sometimes try to round up other dogs or even small kids, occasionally even nipping at their heels. If they are going to be living in a household with young children, you may need to work on redirecting this type of behavior. You should also always ensure that the children are taught how to interact with the dog appropriately.

The Lancashire Heeler does not have a high maintenance grooming regime. Their coat will not require clipping, and it is not prone to matting. The breed does shed, but not as profusely as some breeds. In molting season, you may just need to make sure that you brush their coat out a little more frequently to keep the hairs around the house at bay.

Look out for what is often affectionately referred to as their 'Meerkat Manner'. A lot of Lancashire Heelers enjoy standing up on their hind legs in what looks like a Meerkat impersonation. This, along with their cheeky smile, fearless and wily personality, and devotion to their owners, endears them to enthusiasts of the breed.

Common Health Problems

The Lancashire Heeler is known for being a robust and healthy little breed. As with any breed, though, they can be prone to certain inheritable conditions that it is worth being aware of. It is also important that you seek out a reputable breeder that will undertake appropriate health checks on prospective parents.

Some of the conditions they are known for being prone to include:

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL): This is a condition that often leads to the eye lens detaching completely and moving around. It can lead to loss of vision and it can sometimes be acutely painful. Depending on the severity of the case, treatment can vary and, in extreme cases, the eye may be removed altogether.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): This is a condition that is most commonly seen in Collies, but can also manifest in other breeds, like the Lancashire Heeler. It usually occurs by the time the dog is a couple of years old, and it can lead to eventual blindness.

Luxating Patella: This is a common problem in small breed dogs and it involves the knee cap moving out of its normal position. The problem can vary in terms of how much pain and restriction to movement it causes. In severe cases, surgery is often required.

Diet and Nutrition

All dogs should be fed a high-quality and appropriately portion-controlled diet, and the Lancashire Heeler is no exception.

Obesity is one of the biggest problems in companion dogs worldwide, and it can lead to a whole host of other, often serious, health conditions. Making sure you do not overfeed your Lancashire Heeler should be a priority.

Pros

  • Affectionate with family

  • Adaptable and full of character

  • Low maintenance grooming regime

Cons

  • Can be vocal

  • Can be stubborn and spunky

  • Don't always get along with other dogs

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire Heeler is still relatively rare in the United States. This means you may have to travel a little further or be added to a waiting list if you are keen to secure a puppy. Don't let your enthusiasm allow you to make rash decisions. Always make sure you seek out a reputable breeder. Their pups should be well socialized, kept with their mother in a home environment and have had all the relevant health checks.

The United States Lancashire Heeler Club could be a good place to start your research.

There are not likely to be many Lancashires in rescue, but don't let that put you off considering adoption. Reach out to the Club to find out more about possible rescue contacts. You could also consider other working breeds that will be more commonly found in rescue.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, why not check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!