The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
Small, powerful, sturdily built, alert and an energetic worker, the Lancashire Heeler works cattle but has terrier instincts when rabbiting and ratting. They have a unique characteristic called the Heeler Smile; when content, Heelers have been known to draw back their lips in an effort that emulates a human smile. In 2003, the breed was placed on the Endangered Breeds 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.
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The Lancashire Heeler should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Lancashire Heeler is a breed that can go from the field to the show ring. Their short, hard, flat coat is dense and waterproof, needing very little grooming. A light brushing and occasional bath will keep your Heeler happy and clean. The nails should be trimmed, if needed, with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
The Lancashire Heeler likes exercise, human interaction, and mental stimulation. They can be demanding of your attention or somewhat laid back, but are always eager to play or just be by your side. Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.
Intelligent and quick to learn, Lancashire Heelers can have a mind of their own, so training should be kind but firm. They are attentive and affectionate to their owners, ready to go whenever they are asked. Though sometimes wary of strangers, once they have been introduced, they will happily greet their visitor with licks and kisses.
The Lancashire Heeler is a generally healthy breed living well into their teens. In 2006, primary lens luxation, an inherited eye disease, was found. Aggressive action by breeders and research by animal health organizations has reduced the incidence of PLL. It is important to ensure that parents and their puppies are eye tested.
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The Lancashire Heeler’s history extends back to the 17th century, but the exact origin of the breed is unknown. However, it is generally accepted that a type of Welsh Corgi was utilized to drive stock to market in northern Wales to the Lancashire market. What is known is a small black and tan dog known as the butchers’ dog was common in the Ormskirk area of West Lancashire. The possible ancestors for this dog include the Corgi and Manchester Terrier.
These useful farm dogs were bred for generations within this particular district, developing their own characteristics. Once bred as a cattle herder and a ratter, these friendly little dogs have gained popularity as a wonderful family dog.
The breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in the U.K. in 1981 and was deemed a vulnerable native breed in 2003.
Today, there is a growing interest in this great companion dog that happily participates in obedience, agility, rally and herding events. The Lancashire Heeler has gained popularity in the U.S, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia.