- Height: 14.5 inches at the shoulder
- Weight: 15 to 17 pounds
The Lakeland Terrier is not the tallest, smallest, or flashiest of the terriers, but if you’re walking one, the spring in his step and his “top of the world” attitude makes it clear to everyone around that he thinks he’s as good as it gets. He’s a sturdy, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of dog with a sense of humor and an interest in all the finer things in life: digging holes, chasing cats, and barking at the delivery man. He’s about 17 pounds of hard muscle, constant motion and entertainment.
The Lakeland Terrier is a bit smaller than the very similar Welsh Terrier and comes in a wider variety of coat colors: black and tan, red and tan, solid red, blue (a steely gray) and tan, red grizzle, wheaten, liver and tan, grizzle and tan, and solid liver.
Life with a Lakey calls for a sense of humor, but the reward is the companionship of a dog who has been described as an “entertainment committee of one.” His charm, smarts, and zest for life are hard to beat.
Other Quick Facts
- A Lakeland Terrier has won both Westminster in New York and England’s Crufts dog show: Ch. Stingray of Derryabah in 1967.
- A Lakeland is a small dog with a square, sturdy body; a rectangular head with small oval eyes that range from dark hazel to warm brown to black, depending on the dog’s color; small V-shaped ears that fold over; a black nose; and a long neck. Depending on his mood, his expression ranges from intense and determined to impish. His docked tail is carried upright.
- The Lakey wears a dense, wiry double coat that can be solid blue, black, liver, red or wheaten or those colors with a saddle over the back, which can be blue, black, liver or varying shades of grizzle, a blend of red or wheaten with black, blue or liver.
The History of the Lakeland Terrier
Hailing from England’s Lake District, the Lakeland Terrier is one of the oldest known terrier breeds. He was formerly known as the Patterdale, Fell, Westmoreland or Cumberland Terrier and was kept by farmers who used him, along with hounds, to hunt the foxes that raided their sheep pens.
The Lakeland’s game nature often led him to boldly go where no dog had gone before. One of Lord Lonsdale’s Lakelands crawled 23 feet under rock after an otter and had to be blasted out, an operation that took three days. He emerged, none the worse for the wear. Other Lakeys spent 10 to 12 days underground; others did not survive their explorations.
Lakelands were first exhibited in 1912 and a terrier club was formed. The advent of World War I interrupted the breed’s development, and it wasn’t until 1921 that a breed standard was drawn up and the Lakeland became eligible for registration in the Kennel Club’s studbook.
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1934. The Lakeland ranks 137th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Lakeland Terrier Temperament and Personality
A proper Lakey is a terrier through and through: alert, friendly, curious, and self-confident without verging into aggression. He’s game enough to take on whatever rats or other vermin come his way — or other dogs, for that matter, if it seems to be necessary — but in general he has a quiet disposition that’s neither shy nor argumentative.
Now, all of that is true, but don’t let the Lakey’s small size or reputation for a quiet nature fool you: He's mischievous, bold, and eager to dig, bark, and chase furry creatures. (Did we mention he’s a terrier?) He's a bit on the stubborn side, and just because he’s little doesn’t mean he can’t do some damage. A bored Lakeland will find his own fun, which probably won't be anything that improves the look of your backyard or the health and welfare of the neighborhood squirrels and cats. It will also involve a great deal of barking.
Most of that behavior can be prevented with plenty of daily exercise, living indoors as a member of the family and consistent training to channel his eager body and active mind into activities that don’t involve noise or destructiveness. The American Kennel Club's Earthdog events offer one such possibility; obedience, agility or other active sports are others. The Lakey learns quickly, especially if you’re teaching something he enjoys, but he’s an independent thinker, which makes training a challenge.
Lakeland Terriers don't tend to get along with other dogs, especially if they're both males, doubly true if they’re both terriers. Nor is the Lakey fond of cats. He’s more likely to view them as prey than as a housemate. For older kids, though, he can be the ultimate playmate.
Be aware that Lakeys are sometimes a little tough to housetrain, especially when it comes to preventing them from marking territory. Most important to know: Lakeys are generally quite fond of people, and do best with owners who have a sense of humor and a willingness to be amused rather than angered when the Lakeland takes commands for something more like suggestions.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. Early and thorough socialization will help your Lakey puppy grow up to be a calm, sensible adult dog.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Lakeland Terrier, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
What You Need To Know About Lakeland Terrier Health
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit disease. Run from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed has no known problems, or who keeps puppies isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur.
Lakeland Terriers are a very healthy breed, although they can have some genetic problems. These include eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, and lens luxation, and a blood clotting disorder called vonWillebrand's disease. Your puppy's breeder should have written documentation from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her breeding dogs have had their eyes tested within the last year as well as clearance for von Willebrand's disease.
Many small dog breeds, including the Lakeland Terrier, can develop Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (LCPD), a bone disorder that requires surgery. The dogs also sometimes have a condition called distichiasis, eyelashes that grow out of the glands at the corner of the dog's eyes and cause irritation. Symptoms can be mild and easily manageable or severe and require surgery.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Lakeland at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Basics of Grooming the Lakeland Terrier
The Lakeland has a double coat: hard and wiry on the outside with a soft undercoat next to the skin. The hair is slightly wavy or straight. For the show ring, the coat is hand-stripped to show the dog’s outline, giving him a neat and workmanlike appearance. The “furnishings” — additional hair — on his foreface and legs are plentiful but tidy with a crisp texture.
If you want your Lakeland to have the distinctive grooming of the breed, you're going to have to learn to do it yourself or find a groomer who is familiar with the task – which can be something of a challenge. The show coat is even more difficult to achieve. Most pet owners simply comb their dogs a couple of times a week and clip them every couple of months. The U. S. Lakeland Terrier Club has an extensive article on how to care for the coat of a pet Lakeland Terrier.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Introduce your Lakey to grooming early so that he will accept it willingly and patiently.
Finding a Lakeland Terrier
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Choosing a Lakeland Terrier Breeder
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Lakeland Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the United States Lakeland Terrier Club. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the USLTC’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to take responsibility for any dog bred at any time during the dog’s life.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Lakeland Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Lakeland Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
Adopting a Dog from Lakeland Terrier Rescue or a Shelter
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Lakeland Terrier in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Lakeland Terriers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Lakeland Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Lakeland Terriers love all Lakeland Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The United States Lakeland Terrier Club’s Rescue Network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Lakeland Terrier rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Lakeland Terrier home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Lakeland Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Lakeland Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.