The Lancashire Heeler is a breed with a relatively unknown origin. It is generally thought that they may be a cross between a Corgi and a Manchester Terrier. These dogs are unique in that no breeder actively created them. These dogs are self-made, which is why the exact origin and the breeding that went into their creation is merely speculation. These dogs were first discovered about 150 years ago in Great Britain, which is considered to be their country of origin. Farmers would often use them for cattle driving. Their small size enabled them to nip at the heels of the cattle without injuring themselves or the cattle. They were also skilled ratters and could keep the barn free of vermin. A breeder named Gwen Mackintosh began to active breed Lancashire Heelers during the 1960s and other breeders joined in to form the Lancashire Heeler Club in 1978, which officially set the breed standard. Eventually the numbers of this breed began to decline when people no longer had the need for cattle dogs as much as they used to. Their numbers declined so much that the dog was recognized as a vulnerable native breed by The Kennel Club of the UK. Today these dogs are more often a companion breed than a working dog. The Lancashire Heeler is not officially recognized by the AKC, but they are currently being recorded in the Foundation Stock Service. The purpose of this service is record keeping and to collect information on breeds that are rare or still being developed.
The Lancashire Heeler is a small breed that stands low to the ground and they are longer than they are tall. They stand at about 10 to 12 inches tall at the withers, and they should weigh between 6 and 13 pounds. The well proportioned head has a flat skull with a tapering muzzle that has a moderate stop. The nose is usually black or dark brown. These dogs have medium sized, almond shaped eyes that are usually dark brown, but they may be lighter brown in dogs with a lighter coat. The triangular ears are erect and alert atop the head. This dog’s long tail is high set and carried up in a slight curve. The Lancashire Heeler has a weather resistant double coat that is short and thick, with a topcoat that lies flat against the body. The topcoat is slightly longer around the neck. These dogs are usually black and tan, or liver and tan in color. They may have a small white mark on the chest or head, but too much white coloring is undesirable. Lancashire Heelers are an easy breed to groom. They should be brushed regularly to help control shedding, but they only need bathing whenever it becomes necessary.
Lancashire Heelers are a very friendly breed that makes a wonderful family companion, but they can be wary of strangers. They can be good companions for children, but it is best if they live with older children who will understand how to be considerate towards the dog. These dogs do have a natural herding instinct and may attempt to herd small children or other animals. They should be taught not to do this, or to stop when commanded. These dogs can be somewhat difficult to obedience train, but as long as the owner is firm and consistent it is possible. It is very important for the owner of this breed to be a strong pack leader and train the dog properly from a young age. A lot of little dogs will develop small dog syndrome, which is basically a series of bad behaviors that stem from improper training. This happens to small dogs because their owners think that they don’t need as much training as a large dog. This is usually why small dogs are though of as “yappy.” Obsessive barking is one of the most common signs of small dog syndrome. Destructive behavior and aggressive guarding of objects may also occur. The Lancashire Heeler should also be well socialized while they are still puppies. This process should include taking the dog out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. This will result in a well rounded adult dog.
Although the Lancashire Heeler is an active little breed, they can live happily in an apartment or other small home. They are active indoors and out and will get a lot of their exercise needs met by playing games, but they also need a walk every day to keep them happy and healthy.
Lancashire Heelers are a relatively healthy breed, but they are known to suffer from a few issues. There are a number of eye issues that this breed may suffer from which include primary lens luxation, Collie eye anomaly, and persistent papillary membrane. These may all affect the dog’s vision. Some individuals may suffer from luxating patella which can affect the mobility of older dogs. A healthy Lancashire Heeler will live about 12 to 15 years.
Overall the Lancashire Heeler is a breed that makes and effective working and herding dog, but they also make great companions. They are a breed that requires a firm hand in training and may not be for everyone. They are healthy and active.