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Lakeland Terrier


The Lakeland Terrier, also at times known as the Cumberland Terrier, the Fell Terrier, the Patterdale Terrier, the Colored Working Terrier and the Westmorland terrier, is one of the very oldest of all working terrier breeds existing today. It was bred above all for gameness – its willingness and ability to withstand the vicious attacks of foxes, badgers and otters defending their rocky dens. A true working terrier from the outset, the Lakeland Terrier has adapted well to the show ring. Their bold, friendly disposition also makes them valued companion dogs, as long as they are properly exercised. Lakelands do tend to bark more than many breeds. They also love to dig; if you prize your landscaping or garden, choose another breed. The Lakeland Terrier was approved for registration by the American Kennel Club in 1934, as a member of the Terrier Group. The United States Lakeland Terrier Club was founded in 1954, and is the breed parent club in this country.
The ideal height of a mature male Lakeland is 14½ inches at the withers, with up to a one-half inch deviation either way being permitted. Females may measure as much as one inch less than males. An adult male in hard show or working condition should weigh approximately 17 pounds, with females weighing proportionately less. The Lakeland Terrier's dense, wiry, waterproof double coat should be hand stripped several times a year. Clipping is not acceptable for the show ring. The Lakeland does not shed profusely, but regular brushing can help to keep the coat clean and free of tangles. Lakeland Terriers can be solid blue, black, liver, red or wheaten. These colors can be accompanied by a "saddle" covering the top of the neck, back, sides and up the tail, in blue, black, liver or varying shades of grizzle. Grizzle is a blend of red or wheaten intermixed with black, blue or liver. The rest of the dog (head, throat, shoulders and legs) should be wheaten or golden tan.

History & Health


The Lakeland Terrier was bred and raised in England in the 1800s - long before there was a kennel club, an official studbook or packs of refined foxhounds leading hunters on horses. Terrier experts believe that the Lakeland may share distant ancestors with the Border Terrier, and that it may well be an offshoot of the terrier today known as the Bedlington, which is closely related to the Dandie Dinmont. Most breed fanciers agree that the Lakeland Terrier was created by crossing several different terriers, but there the agreement largely ends. Among the possible ancestors include the Bedlington, the Welsh Terrier, the Border, the Dandie Dinmont and the Wire-haired Fox Terrier. Regardless, the end result was the Lakeland Terrier, which resembles a smaller version of the Airedale Terrier.
The Lakeland Terrier was developed in the rugged shale mountains of the Lake District of northern England, where it assisted its farmer-owners and their handful of nondescript hounds in finding and destroying foxes, badgers, otters and other vermin found raiding livestock or otherwise disturbing the farm. The Lakelands were bred and prized for their gameness; not a single foxhound pack was without one or two of these courageous terriers when on the hunt for the nuisance prey. Offspring of the Lakeland Terrier were prized and often given as gifts to friends and fellow hunters, with the best being kept to continue the owner's own breeding program. The native Lakeland Terrier was so tenacious and fearless that it would go deep underground, and stay there for days, in its quest to find and kill its prey. Sometimes, it did not survive the effort, but usually its owner was able to extricate their terrier from the vermin's lair, often requiring blasting operations as part of the rescue.
In the late 1890s, agricultural shows throughout England's Lake District began to have classes for "the likeliest-looking terrier" suitable for hunting fox or otter. The dogs were judged by Masters of Hounds and other experienced sportsmen. At that time, Lakeland Terriers of all colors were judged together, including grizzle-to-blue and tan, red, wheaten or white, under the umbrella of "Colored Working Terriers." Eventually, the classes were split into white working terriers and colored working terriers, with true working ability always being first and foremost. The white terriers tended to be used with Otterhounds to hunt in the water, because dark terriers were commonly mistaken for otters and could be seriously injured by excited hounds in muddy waters. Throughout the 1800s, different counties in northern England, including Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmoreland, had a wide variety of hardworking, broken-coated terriers each named for the small community where they were most common. Typically, these old names were changed when official breed clubs were formed.
While the Bedlington Terrier was developed primarily in Northumberland, the Lakeland Terrier's homeland was lake-filled, mountainous Cumberland County. A terrier breed club was formed in 1912 at the Kersurck dog show and included an organized effort by fanciers to recognize the Cumberland County Terrier and other distinct breeds. World War I intervened. The Cumberland Terrier resurfaced in the 1920s, when nine breed devotees met at Whitehaven, Cumberland County, and agreed on the name Lakeland Terrier. They drew up an official breed standard, and in a short time the Lakeland Terrier was accepted for registration in the Stud Book of the Kennel Club (England). One of these fanciers, Thomas Hosking, later immigrated to the United States. The breed was accepted for registration into the American Kennel Club's Stud Book in 1934. The Lakeland first appeared in the show ring in 1928, at Crufts. A Lakeland Terrier named Stingray of Derrybach won Best in Show at Crufts in 1967, and went on to win Best in Show at Westminster the following year. He is the only dog to date to have won this "double crown" of the canine world.

Today's Lakeland Terrier is a fond family dog, a reliable guard and watch dog and an accomplished show dog, in addition to his continued skill as a go-to-ground hunter. He is equally happy in urban or rural environments.


The average life span of the Lakeland Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include eye problems and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. This is a particularly hardy breed.

Temperament & Personality


Like all terrier breeds, the Lakeland is a fearless dog with a heart of gold. They love to run and chase and thrive on outdoor activity, and will play with the zeal of a puppy, even as an adult. Lakelands are good family dogs and enjoy the company of older, well behaved children. They are reserved with strangers, but are generally not aggressive toward people. Lakelands, though they love the company of people, have an independent streak and have often been compared to rebellious teenagers.

Activity Requirements

Lakeland Terriers are high energy dogs with lots of stamina. They are not lazy lapdogs, by any means and even though they are small dogs, should not be kept in an apartment. Lakies need lots of yard space to run in and will want to be outdoors as much as possible. Their daily activities should vary, as this intelligent breed bores easily. Walks, trips to the park, games of catch in the yard, games of tag with children are all things Lakies will participate in with great earnest. If possible, owners should consider enrolling their Lakeland in agility training, as this keeps their minds and bodies sharp. This breed needs as much mental stimulation as they do physical activity, and if their requirements are not met, they will become anxious and destructive.


Lakies are intelligent and pick up on training quickly, however they like to do things on their own terms, so patience is a must. Keeping the training sessions varied and as interesting as possible helps to keep them engaged in the process. Lakies will not respond to a wishy-washy leader. If their boundaries are not consistent, they will take that as a cue that they, the dog, are king and you, the person, are his subject. Always train a terrier with a positive attitude and lots of praise, as harsh treatment will backfire.
Once leadership is established and basic obedience mastered, Lakies should graduate on to advanced training or agility activities to keep their minds and bodies active.
Housetraining a Lakeland Terrier can be a challenge. Many owners suspect this is simply willful rebellion on behalf of the dog. Expect six to eight months of crate training, if not more.

Behavioral Traits

Lakies are possessive of their toys and food, and though they love kids, shouldn't be trusted around toddlers. Small children don't understand boundaries, and if they approach and eating Lakeland, or attempt to take one of his toys, disaster can ensue.
Like other terrier breeds, Lakelands can not be trusted off leash or in an unconfined area. Even in a fenced yard, Lakies should be supervised, as they can easily tunnel underneath their enclosure in search of adventure and rabbits to chase. They will absolutely give chase to small animals and won't respond to your pleas to return home.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Lakeland Terrier was bred to hunt vermin in the rugged shale mountains of the Lake District of northern England. He 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 lithe 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.

Size, Proportion, Substance
The ideal height of the mature dog is 14½ inches from the withers to the ground, with up to a one-half inch deviation either way permissible. Bitches may measure as much as one inch less than dogs. The weight of the well balanced, mature male in hard show condition averages approximately 17 pounds. Dogs of other heights will be proportionately more or less. The dog is squarely built, and bitches may be slightly longer than dogs. Balance and proportion are of primary importance. Short-legged, heavy-bodied dogs or overly refined, racy specimens are atypical and should be penalized. The dog should have sufficient bone and substance, so as to appear sturdy and workmanlike without any suggestion of coarseness.

The expression depends on the dog's mood of the moment; although typically alert, it may be intense and determined, or gay and even impish. The eyes, moderately small and somewhat oval in outline, are set squarely in the skull, fairly wide apart. In liver or liver and tan dogs, the eyes are dark hazel to warm brown and eye rims are brown. In all other colors, the eyes are warm brown to black and eye rims are dark. The ears are small, V-shaped, their fold just above the top of the skull, the inner edge close to the side of the head, and the flap pointed toward the outside corner of the eye.
The skull is flat on top and moderately broad, the cheeks flat and smooth as possible. The stop is barely perceptible. The muzzle is strong with straight nose bridge and good fill-in beneath the eyes. The head is well balanced, rectangular, the length of skull equaling the length of the muzzle when measured from occiput to stop, and from stop to nose tip. The proportions of the head are critical to correct type. An overlong foreface or short, wedge shaped head are atypical and should be penalized. The nose is black. A "winter" nose with faded pigment is permitted, but not desired. Liver colored noses and lips are permissible on liver coated dogs only. A pink or distinctly spotted nose is very undesirable. The lips are dark. Jaws are powerful. The teeth, which are comparatively large, may meet in either a level, edge to edge bite, or a slightly overlapping scissors bite. Specimens with teeth overshot or undershot are to be disqualified.

Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is long; refined but strong; clean at the throat; slightly arched, and widening gradually and smoothly into the shoulders. The withers, that point at the back of the neck where neck and body meet, are noticeably higher than the level of the back. The topline, measured from the withers to the tail, is short and level. The body is strong and supple. The moderately narrow oval chest is deep, extending to the elbows. The ribs are well sprung and moderately rounded off the vertebrae. The Lakeland Terrier is a breed of moderation. A barrel-chested, big-bodied dog or one which is slab-sided and lacking substance is atypical and should be penalized. The loins are taut and short, although they may be slightly longer in bitches. There is moderate tuck-up. The tail is set high on the back. It is customarily docked so that when the dog is set up in show position, the tip of the tail is level with the occiput. In carriage, it is upright and a slight curve toward the head is desirable. Behind the tail is a well-defined, broad pelvic shelf. It is more developed in dogs than in bitches. The tail tightly curled over the back is a fault.

The shoulders are well angulated. An imaginary line drawn from the top of the shoulder blade should pass through the elbow. The shoulder blade is long in proportion to the upper arm, which allows for reasonable angulation while maintaining the more upright "terrier front." The musculature of the shoulders is flat and smooth. The elbows are held close to the body, standing or moving. The forelegs are strong, clean and straight when viewed from the front or side. There is no appreciable bend at the pasterns. The feet are round and point forward, the toes compact and strong. The pads are thick and black or dark gray, except in liver colored dogs where they are brown. The nails are strong and may be black or self-colored. Dewclaws are removed.

The thighs are powerful and well muscled. The hind legs are well angulated, but not so much as to affect the balance between front and rear, which allows for smooth efficient movement. The stifles turn neither in nor out. The distance from the hock to the ground is relatively short and the line from the hock to toes is straight when viewed from the side. From the rear the hocks are parallel to each other. Feet same as front. Dewclaws, if any, are removed.

Two-ply or double, the outer coat is hard and wiry in texture, the undercoat is close to the skin and soft and should never overpower the wiry outer coat. The Lakeland is hand stripped to show his outline. (Clipping is inappropriate for the show ring.) The appearance should be neat and workmanlike. The coat on the skull, ears, forechest, shoulders and behind the tail is trimmed short and smooth. The coat on the body is longer (about one-half to one inch) and may be slightly wavy or straight. The furnishings on the legs and foreface are plentiful as opposed to profuse and should be tidy. They are crisp in texture. The legs should appear cylindrical. The face is traditionally trimmed, with the hair left longer over the eyes to give the head a rectangular appearance from all angles, with the eyes covered from above. From the front, the eyes are quite apparent, giving the Lakeland his own unique mischievous expression.

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.

Movement is straightforward and free, with good reach in front and drive behind. It should be smooth, efficient and ground-covering. Coming and going, the legs should be straight with feet turning neither in nor out; elbows close to the sides in front and hocks straight behind. As the dog moves faster he will tend to converge toward his center of gravity. This should not be confused with close movement.

The typical Lakeland Terrier is bold, gay and friendly, with a confident, cock-of-the-walk attitude. Shyness, especially shy-sharpness, in the mature specimen is to be heavily penalized. Conversely, the overly aggressive, argumentative dog is not typical and should be strongly discouraged.

Teeth overshot or undershot.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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