Understanding Lakeland Terriers

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.

Maestro, my Lakie, is a working dog. He takes his job as K9 Studio Assistant very seriously. Photo by R-M Arca.

Lakeland Terriers, affectionately called “Lakies”, possess a larger than life personality. As any Lakeland Terrier owner can attest, these dogs possess a great sense of humor, an insatiable thirst for excitement and like many terriers, are alert and incredibly stubborn.

History of the Lakeland Terrier

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.

Their job was to accompany farmers on hunts and prevent fox and other vermin from destroying their sheep herds. Littlemac Lakeland Terriers gives a historical account on their website about Jock, a three-year old Lakie who killed an 18 pound vixen in her den. Jock was trapped in the foxhole for 73 hours because his victim blocked the only exit. Once rescued, Jock had some bread and milk before laying down by the fire for a well-deserved rest.

Lakelands are sometimes referred to as the "new and improved" Fell Terrier, Cumberland Terrier or the Patterdale Terrier.

Breed Information for Lakeland Terriers

Lakies possess a small, yet square build. Resembling an Airedale Terrier or Welsh Terrier, Lakelands can be wheaten, grizzle, red, blue and tan, black and tan. Some sport a dark saddle-like patch. Their coat lightens with age. The face of a Lakeland Terrier is rectangular. Their eyes are almond shaped and ears are V-shaped. Lakeland Terriers are typically 14-1/2 inches tall from the withers and weigh approximately 17 pounds. They are generally a healthy breed.

The Canadian Kennel Club and American Kennel Club provide resources on how to find a well-bred dog and care for one.

Lakeland Terrier Grooming and Exercise

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. Frequent shampooing softens their wiry coat. It is best to rinse their fur with water and only shampoo periodically.

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.

The Lakie Temperament

In her 2000 article "Lakeland Terriers: What's good about 'em, What's bad about 'em" on YourPurebredPuppy.com, Michele Welton describes terriers as “quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, intense.” This applies to many terrier breeds. The Lakeland is no exception.

It is these qualities that 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 or cats. Lakelands consider these to be "prey".

Youtube has over 500 videos showing the crazy antics of Lakeland Terriers. If you are unfamiliar with this breed, watching some of these videos will give you a glimpse into the Lakie personality.

Famous Lakeland Terriers

Comedian Bill Cosby co-owned Champion Revelry's Awesome Blossom, the top winning Lakeland Terrier in the history of the breed. Stingray of Derrybah was the first dog to win Best in Show/Supreme Champion at both the top US and UK shows.

In the entertainment industry, Zelda Van Gutters is Nickelodeon Magazine’s Roving Reporter/Mascot., while Kevin the Lakeland is owned by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys.

Maddie the Mad Dog was the first Lakeland on the worldwide web.

Is a Lakeland Terrier Right for You?

If you are considering a Lakeland Terrier as a pet, it is recommended that you do your research ahead of time. Speaking with and visiting reputable dog breeders or a Rescue Club are also good ways to determine if a Lakie is a good fit for your household. These dogs thrive in an environment where they are part of the family and can be a part of the action. If you do find that a Lakeland is a good fit for your family, you are in for equal doses of fun and challenges, as well as a daily laugh.

References:

Caliente Lakelands

Littlemac Lakeland Terriers

Maddie the Mad Dog

Lakeland Terrier Club: Profile of the Lakeland Terrier

Originally published on Suite101.com on January 6, 2010. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.