The Lakeland Terrier is one of the oldest of the Terrier breeds and was initially used to hunt animals that were considered vermin, such as otters, badgers, and even foxes. As these animals were sometimes larger than the dog itself, these Terriers were bred with fearlessness in mind, but as fearless as they are on the hunt, they are somewhat more prone to separation anxiety than many other breeds. Lakelands are considered hypoallergenic due to their low shed rate, and they have very little smell. These little dogs do not require frequent baths, but weekly brushing and occasional clipping or stripping of the coat are needed to keep their coat healthy.
Terrier’s, in general, were bred to hunt and kill animals that were seen as vermin such as rats, badgers, otters, foxes, and weasels. Terriers became specialized by size, color, and temperament to hunt specific categories of vermin. Lakeland Terriers are one of the oldest of the working Terrier breeds, though they have gone by several different names throughout their long history. They originated as hunters of larger vermin in the Lake District of England and were originally known as Patterdale Terriers. They were bred initially to assist the farmers in the area by going to ground after badgers, otters, and foxes; not just to alert a human partner or to corner the animal, but to find and destroy their prey in order to keep them from raiding livestock. They were bred for gameness, which defined as the trait of eagerness even in the face of substantial threat or injury, and this gameness has led some of these Terriers to follow badgers, otters, and foxes into their holes and pursue them for days. In 1912, a Terrier breed club was formed with the aim to recognize distinct breeds of terrier, including the Lakeland Terrier, which was known as the Cumberland County Terrier at that time. World War I slowed development of the breed, however, and an official breed standard was delayed until the 1920’s. It was at this time that the breed was given their current name. The Lakeland Terrier first appeared in the show ring in 1928 at Crufts in the UK, and officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1934.
The Lakeland terrier is a solidly built but narrow dog, sturdy with a long neck and square proportions. They have a long, rectangular head with short V-shaped ears that fold down towards their face and either an impish or a thoughtful but alert expression. The Lakeland Terrier’s coat is short and dense, consisting of both a soft undercoat and a slightly longer layer of dense, wiry fur that is accented by longer bushy fur found on the face and legs. They come in several recognized colors, including black, blue, brindle, grizzle, liver, red, red grizzle, wheaten, black and tan, blue and tan, liver and tan, and even grizzle and tan. These dogs were bred to hunt and kill animals that were often larger than they were, so they require a scissor bite and a very strong jaw. Historically, the tail was docked to protect the animal from injuring it while they were working, however, many owners today choose not to shorten this appendage. In either case, the tail is most frequently carried jauntily above the dog, but it should not curl over the back.
Lakeland Terriers are typically considered to be a hypoallergenic breed in large part due to their low shed rate, and although they do not require frequent bathing, they do require some specialized grooming. The coat requires weekly brushing and combing which serves to both remove dirt, tangles, and excess fur and also to redistribute the required natural oils throughout the fur. This breed’s coat also requires either clipping or stripping on a regular basis to keep it healthy. Those that choose to strip the coat can either use hand stripping or strip the animal using a stripping knife. A clipped coat is often easier for pet owners to maintain, but the texture and color of the animal’s coat may be altered. These dogs are an energetic breed, and they require a great deal of exercise to keep them at their happiest and healthiest. Although the Lakeland Terriers are generally small, their abundant energy coupled with their tendency towards barking frequently make these dogs unsuited to the apartment lifestyle.