AKC Dog Breeds: Lancashire Heeler

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 10-12 inches   Weight: 18-20 pounds  Color: Black and Tan

The Lancashire Heeler is a small breed of dog developed for use as a drover and herder of cattle. Lancashire Heelers used to drive livestock by nipping at their heels. The Lancashire Heeler is truly a versatile breed. The Heeler works to this day as a herder and ratter, a gun dog, a retriever, and a handicap assistance dog. Although the origin of the Lancashire Heeler is uncertain, it is believed by many to have originated when the Welsh Corgi, used to drive cattle from Wales to markets in Lancashire in northwestern England was bred with the local Manchester Terrier. The resulting black and tan dog did work similar to the Corgi, driving livestock by nipping at their heels and also had the ratter instincts of the terrier. These qualities made it a dual purpose dog and it quickly gained popularity. They were found to be alert, energetic and tireless workers and became popular working dogs on Lancashire area farms. The Lancashire Heeler is a rare breed, numbering only around 5,000 worldwide. In 2003, the breed was placed on the endangered breed list of The Kennel Club, U.K., due to the small number of dogs composing the gene pool and the risk of several inherited diseases. An international effort is now underway to lessen the breeding of high risk dogs and to minimize and control the known health issues that face the breed. The Lancashire Heeler has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2001.

General Appearance
The Lancashire Heeler breed is sturdy, strong, hardy, and well-built. They are agile, athletic, and quick-witted. this breed is energetic, hard-working, and alert. The Lancashire Heeler is set low to the ground; legs are short in relation to the rest of the body. It has wide-set larger ears. The ears should be erect, drop ears are undesired by breeders. The head is always in proportion with the body. The bright eyes are set wide apart. The legs are short and sturdy and the paws turn out slightly. The hindquarters are very well muscled. The chest is long, deep and the abdomen is firm. The back is strong. The tail is set high and carried forward over the back. The coat is seasonably long or short. In the wintertime the coat is plush with a visible mane and in the summer it has a sleek shiny coat. The Lancashire Heeler has a unique characteristic - The Heeler smile. When contented, Heelers have been known to draw back their lips in an effort that emulates a human smile.


The Lancashire Heeler breed is extremely affectionate and loyal. The Lancashire Heeler is very alert and friendly with those he knows but may be wary of strangers. An excellent ratter with rabbit catching potential. It has superior strength and broad instinctive abilities. This breed makes a pleasant companion, and does best with older considerate children. The Lancashire may nip at peoples heels as it has a strong instinct to herd and must be taught not to do it to people. This breed may be difficult to obedience train, but it is trainable. While it has great herding instincts and will make a wonderful herder of cattle, goats and horses it is rarely used as such. The Lancashire Heeler requires a dominant handler as they have a tendency to be stubborn and difficult.

This breed is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. The coat is seasonably long or short. In the wintertime the coat is plush with a visible mane and in the summer it has a sleek shiny coat. This breed sheds seasonally in spring and fall. Bathing should be done when necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The Lancashire Heeler has a life expectancy of 12 - 15 years or more. They are prone to certain inherited eye conditions, such as Primary Lens Luxation, Collie Eye Anomaly, Hereditary Cataract and Persistent Pupillary Membrane.

Activity Level
The Lancashire Heeler breed will do okay in an apartment provided they are sufficiently exercised and given proper mental stimulation. The Lancashire Heeler has a lot of energy and it must be kept busy. They need to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk. They thrive on and enjoy securely leashed walks, free-play in a securely fenced yard, herding, and family activities.


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