Lakeland terriers are spirited and friendly dogs in the terrier group. They’re a small breed but long-legged for a terrier.
These dogs can be a fantastic addition to many different homes. They’re small enough to be comfortable in both a city apartment and a country house, but keep in mind that they need plenty of time outside for their health. Make sure you can provide for all of your pet’s needs before choosing to take one home.
Characteristics of Lakeland Terriers
Lakeland terrier size. The typical Lakeland female is slightly smaller than the male.
On average, males are 14.5 to 15 inches tall at their shoulders, and females are just a bit shorter than this. They weigh an average of 17 pounds. Shorter dogs should weigh a couple of pounds less.
Make sure to talk to your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your dog is overweight.
Body shape. Lakeland terriers have sturdy, square bodies. They have relatively narrow ribs that shouldn’t interfere with their legs. Their legs need to be long enough and strong enough to cover tough terrain with ease. They end in round feet, with strong, compact toes.
Other Lakeland terrier characteristics include rectangular heads with a strong muzzle and powerful jaws. The muzzle should be about the same length as their skulls. Their heads are topped by small, v-shaped ears. These fold just above the tops of their skulls.
Their tails are set high on their backs. They’re customarily docked, but this practice is never recommended by veterinarians. It’s purely for aesthetic purposes and doesn’t benefit your animal in any way.
Lifespan. The Lakeland terrier lifespan is normal for their size. They live an average of 12 to 15 years. This means that you should plan on spending over a decade with your pet if you choose to bring one home as a puppy.
Coat. Lakeland terriers have double coats. This means that they grow two different types of coats, each with their own properties.
The undercoat is soft and lies close to their skin. The outer coat is hard and wiry. These coats tend to retain dead hairs, so they’re considered a low-shedding breed. Many owners like to keep the length of fur between one-half inch and one inch in length.
Terriers also have longer wisps of coat on their muzzle and legs.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 11 different coat colors including:
- Grizzle and Tan
- Red Grizzle
Eyes. These dogs have moderately small, slightly oval-shaped eyes. They’re set fairly wide apart.
The color of their eyes can range from warm brown to black. If the dog has a liver or liver-and-tan coat, then their eyes can also be a dark hazel color.
Personality. The Lakeland terrier’s personality is bold and confident. They’re known as big dogs in small packages. These dogs can even walk with a bit of a swagger.
They’re happy, self-confident pets. The AKC rates them a five out of five in terms of their affection for their families. They also get a four out of five in terms of their playfulness.
The Lakeland terrier temperament should never be overly aggressive. On the other hand, they also shouldn’t be too shy.
Caring for Lakeland Terriers
Grooming. Lakeland terriers have reasonable grooming needs. You should brush them once a week to remove dead hairs and prevent mats from forming.
To maintain the coat in its original form, you need to use a grooming technique called hand stripping. This is where you pluck the dead hairs by hand. You can learn this technique yourself or find an experienced groomer to teach you.
You can also choose to clip the coat, but this will change its texture. Once clipped, it becomes soft and gently curled.
You should clean ears and trim nails regularly. Brush teeth on a daily basis with a dog-safe toothpaste to complete the grooming routine.
Feeding. Make sure that your pet has access to clean water at all times.
Your Lakeland terrier should be fed high-quality dog food. Try to find a brand that your pet enjoys. Make sure that the nutritional requirements are specific to their stage of life, including puppy and senior-specific foods.
Always consult your veterinarian before choosing to make an at-home blend for your dog. Making your own food can be a time-consuming and complicated process. You need to make sure that you’re meeting all of your dog’s nutritional requirements or you could hurt their health.
Also, make sure that you know what human foods are safe for your dog to eat before feeding them anything from your kitchen.
Exercise and Mental Stimulation. For a Lakeland terrier, exercise is necessary for both their physical and mental health. Without enough activity, this breed runs the risk of becoming hyperactive.
You should take them on brisk walks or light jogs every day. They will also benefit from having time in fenced-in yards or being able to run on a leash.
Veterinary visits, medications, and immunizations. Talk to your veterinarian to find out all of the vaccinations that your dog needs. In general, all dogs need a core set.
This includes vaccinations for:
Vaccinations can begin as early as six weeks. There are also other non-core vaccinations that your dog may need depending on where they live and what activities they engage in.
Heartworm medication is recommended year-round in all parts of the United States. Dosages for flea, tick and heartworm medications are based on your dog's weight. Consult your veterinarian and use them as needed. Oral and skin-based applications are available from your veterinarian or other distributors.
Many of these medications can be effective against a variety of pests and parasites, so talk to your veterinarian to figure out the best one for you.
Health Problems to Watch for With Lakeland Terriers
In general, Lakeland terriers are a healthy dog breed. There are still some problems that you should watch out for with your pet, though.
Common Lakeland terrier health issues include:
- Eye problems. Many different types of eye conditions can affect this breed. Cataracts tend to form in your dog’s old age and can cause blindness. Another ailment is an inherited condition called Primary Lens Luxation (PLL). It can cause your dog’s lens to loosen and create secondary complications. You should have your dog’s eyes examined regularly to detect any of these eye conditions.
- Hip Necrosis. This is a degenerative hip condition that’s formally called Legg-Calves-Perthes disease. For unknown reasons, your dog's upper thigh bone becomes brittle and can easily break. It usually occurs before your dog is a year old. Signs include pain and lameness in their rear legs. It’ll likely require surgery to treat.
- Bleeding disorders. Your dog could inherit any number of bleeding conditions, including Von Willebrand's disease. This is a clotting disorder. Your dog can often appear normal until they’re injured or need surgery. Then, it’ll become apparent that they’re losing too much blood. Treatments can involve transfusions, medications, or surgery.
- Heart disease. Heart murmurs can be an early sign of heart disease in your pet. With early detection and the proper medications, though, your dog can live for years with heart disease. You should have your veterinarian check them regularly.
- Megaesophagus. This is a condition where food gets stuck in your dog's esophagus because it can’t function properly. Your dog may throw up undigested food in a tube-shaped. You’ll need to keep an eye on your dog if they have this condition, but it can be treated with medications and unique feeding postures.
- Thyroid problems. A common problem is hypothyroidism, where your dog’s body can’t make enough thyroid hormone. Signs can include dry skin, hair loss, and behavioral problems. Your veterinarian should screen for this condition on an annual basis. Treatment is usually in the form of a pill to replace necessary hormones.
Special Considerations for Lakeland Terriers
Lakeland terriers are intelligent dogs that can be tricky to train. You should start when they’re as young as possible and make sure that any professional trainers are familiar with terriers.
Always reward good behavior.
You should also keep in mind that these dogs are only moderately good with young children, other dogs, and strangers. The AKC rates them a three out of five for all three characteristics. You need to begin their socialization early to get them used to a range of people and pets.
These dogs shed very little and they rarely — if ever — drool.
They bark an intermediate amount of the time.
History of Lakeland Terriers
Lakeland terriers are one of the oldest breeds of British terrier. They’re named for the English Lake District in Cumberland County, but they’ve gone by a number of different names throughout the years, including:
- Cumberland terriers
- Westmoreland terriers
They were created from a variety of different breeds that definitely included Welsh terriers and the now-extinct Old English black and tan terrier. Other possible breeds include:
- Wirefox terriers
- Border terriers
- Bedlington terriers
Like most terriers, the Lakeland terrier is great at hunting rodents, but this particular breed was actually created to hunt foxes in a pack.
Unlike the sleek fox hunters that were bred by noblemen, these dogs were meant for work. They didn’t hunt foxes for sport, but instead, to defend a farmer’s sheep and other livestock.
A Lakeland terrier named Champion Stingray was one of only two dogs to ever win both the Westminster dog show in New York and the Crufts show in London. He won these competitions in 1967.
The breed was registered in the AKC studbook in 1934.