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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

Lancashire Heeler - The Newest Breed Recognized by the AKC


Long ago in the mists of 17th century Wales, the historic roots of a scrappy, little dog took hold. A black and tan dog known as the butcher’s dog drove stock to the Lancashire market of northern Wales. The dog’s ancestors were likely Corgis and Manchester Terriers, although its direct lineage is not known. It was bred in the Ormskirk district of West Lancashire for generations, developing its own characteristics and is also known as the Ormskirk Terrier. Originally a cattle herder and ratter, the breed is now a well-loved companion and family dog.



The Lancashire Heeler was recognized this year by the American Kennel Club as the newest breed to enter the prestigious association. The AKC notes that it is an intelligent dog with medium to high energy. They are a sturdy, little dog with a short, weather-resistant coat in either black and tan or liver and tan. Known to be affectionate with their owners, they are always happy, talkative and up for a walk. They are so agreeable that they have what’s known as the “Heeler Smile”. When they are content, they draw their lips back into a human-like smile.


This compact breed likes exercise and mental stimulation. They are always ready to play or just keep you company. These pooches are quick to learn but can have a mind of their own. In their pet training, the idea is to be kind but firm. 


As far as grooming the breed goes, very little is needed. They have short fur with a dense, flat coat that is largely waterproof. Only a light brushing and a bath every so often is needed.


The powerful breed is 10 to 12 inches high and weighs in at 9 to 17 pounds. But don’t let the small stats fool you, these dogs are an energetic and robust breed.


The health outlook for Lancashire Heelers is very good. They live well into their teens. An eye disease called primary lens luxation was found in the breed back in 2003, but thanks to aggressive action by breeders it has largely been controlled. The breed was placed on the Endangered Breeds list of The Kennel Club, U.K, because of the small number of dogs composing the gene pool.  There are only around 5,000 Lancashire Heelers worldwide.


Small numbers aside, the endearing traits of this breed make it an owner favorite. 


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