Lancashire Heeler: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

side view of Lancashire heeler standing looking up and alert at a dog show

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

The Lancashire heeler is a small herding dog breed from England with a short, dense coat that comes in either black or liver with tan. Despite its petite size, this is a sturdy and athletic dog. Its eyes are almond-shaped, and its ears are either upright or tipped. And when it’s at ease, the dog tends to draw back its lips in its trademark “heeler smile.” That friendly appearance comes through in the breed’s personality, too. The Lancashire heeler is generally a happy, playful, and intelligent little dog.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 10 to 12 inches

Weight: 9 to 17 pounds

Coat: Short double coat

Coat Color: Black and tan or liver and tan

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Affectionate, playful, energetic

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: England

Characteristics of the Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire heeler generally has an upbeat and energetic personality. It loves being active with its family. High intelligence also helps to shape this breed’s temperament, and it’s typically quick to pick up new commands and skills.

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

History of the Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire heeler can be traced back to the 1600s, but the breed’s exact origin is unclear. During that time, people used a version of the Welsh corgi to drive livestock to markets. And small black-and-tan dogs were common in West Lancashire. It’s likely that these dogs, along with the Manchester terrier, were the ancestors of today’s Lancashire heeler.

Besides herding livestock, these little dogs also were used as vermin exterminators on farms. Plus, they were friendly and loving companion animals. 

Breeding became more formalized in the 1900s, and the Kennel Club of the U.K. recognized the Lancashire heeler in 1981. It became part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, which helps to monitor breeding, in 2001. And then it was accepted into the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in 2018 with a Herding Group designation.

Lancashire Heeler Care

While the Lancashire heeler is small, it still needs ample daily exercise. Fortunately, its grooming needs are minimal. And it takes well to training and socialization, especially when started at a young age.

Exercise

Plan on at least an hour per day of vigorous exercise for this little athlete. Good options to help your dog burn some energy include brisk walks, jogging, hikes, and rousing games of fetch. This breed also can excel in dog sports, such as agility, which can provide mental stimulation on top of physical activity. Having access to a securely fenced area where your dog can run freely also is ideal.

Grooming

Brush your dog’s coat weekly to remove any loose fur and dirt. And expect periods of higher shedding often when the weather changes in the spring and fall, during which you’ll have to brush more frequently.

The coat tends to stay pretty clean on its own. But still plan on a bath roughly every month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. Also, check its ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Moreover, trim its nails every month or so, and aim for a daily teeth brushing.

Training

Begin training and socialization ideally when your Lancashire heeler is a puppy to prevent bad habits from forming. This breed generally is quite in tune with its owner and will pick up on commands and tricks quickly. Always use positive-reinforcement training methods, such as treats and praise. And keep training sessions fun and varied, so you don’t bore this intelligent dog. 

Furthermore, aim to expose your dog to different people and other dogs when it’s young. This breed can be slightly reserved around strangers. But having positive social experiences can go a long way to build its comfort and confidence. 

Common Health Problems

This breed is generally healthy and long-lived, but it can be prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your Lancashire heeler. And feed it a high-quality canine diet with balanced nutrition, typically via two measured meals per day. You might want to consider a dog food formulated especially for small breeds. But always discuss both the type of food and the amount with your vet. Moreover, be mindful of treats and other extra food. Even a little excess weight can be a lot for a small breed.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire heeler is not an easy breed to find at rescue organizations or reputable breeders. But it’s still worth getting your name on a breed wait list at your local rescue groups. If you’re looking for a puppy from a responsible breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $1,500. You also might have to wait some time and travel a great distance for a dog, depending on where you live.

For more information to help connect you with a Lancashire heeler, check out:

Lancashire Heeler Overview

Pros
  • Affectionate with family

  • Adaptable to different living situations

  • Generally friendly and outgoing

Cons
  • Can be vocal

  • Can be stubborn about training

  • Difficult breed to find

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do thorough research to verify that the Lancashire heeler is the right breed for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, reputable breeders, rescue organizations, and veterinary professionals to learn more. And try to spend some time around Lancashire heelers too if possible.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, 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!

FAQ
  • Are Lancashire heelers good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized Lancashire heelers typically get along well with children. They can be good for families with respectful older children. But they might not always tolerate rough handling, and they might attempt to herd rambunctious young kids.

  • Are Lancashire heelers good apartment dogs?

    Lancashire heelers can adapt well to apartment living, as long as their activity needs are met every day. However, they can be quite vocal, which might disturb nearby neighbors.

  • Are Lancashire heelers rare?

    The Lancashire heeler is a rare dog breed. The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom deemed it vulnerable back in 2003, and it's estimated that there are only around 5,000 Lancashire heelers worldwide.

Article Sources
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  1. Lancashire Heeler. American Kennel Club.

  2. Lancashire Heeler Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.

  3. Lancashire Heeler. American Kennel Club.