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Lakeland Terrier: The English Explorer You Must Meet [Breed Guide]

lakeland terrier

The Lakeland Terrier is named for its birthplace — the Lake District in northern England. Farmers first bred Lakelands as agile, lightweight, curious, and protective dogs to keep foxes away from their sheep. Their high energy, playful demeanor, and defensive loyalty made them useful farmhands and beloved family members.


Today, the Lakeland continues to be a sought-after dog breed throughout Europe and the Americas. Lakies, as they are often affectionately nicknamed, are widely loved yet hard to find!


Whether you already own a Lakeland or you’re looking into adoption, read below to learn about their vibrant personalities and care needs.



Lakeland Terrier Characteristics

Lakeland Terriers are known for their bounding gracefulness. They have distinctive rectangular heads topped with V-shaped ears that flop wildly as they play. Lakelands’ deep, narrow bodies, are masked by wiry outer coats, give them a slightly scruffy appearance.


The Lakie’s muzzle covered in thick, wiry hair that gives them a regal, almost bearded appearance. It’s no wonder these distinguished, handsome English dogs frequently win Best in Show at several major dog competitions worldwide.



Lakeland Terrier Size

It takes around nine months for Lakelands to reach full size. When they are fully grown, males will measure between 14 and 15 inches tall and weigh approximately 17 pounds. Females tend to be slightly smaller, but they are usually a smidge longer than their male counterparts.


Lakies are those tiny, fluffy dogs that you often see in stock photos, scrunched into a basket with their siblings. They are out of this world adorable! Weighing only a couple of pounds, Lakeland Terrier puppies are the perfect cuddle buddy for the whole family.


Lakeland Terriers are small dogs, so they’re suitable for apartment living. They are also good car travel companions since they take up so little space and love exploring.



Lakeland Terrier Personality

If you’re looking for a playful, energetic, confident, intelligent, and friendly dog, Lakeland Terriers are the pup for you. Originally bred to chase predators away from livestock, these wily canines love to sprint. They need plenty of outdoor time to manage their high energy levels.


Lakelands are prone to wandering, so if you have a yard for them to explore, make sure that it’s enclosed with a high, sturdy fence. Even when they seem relaxed, they are always alert to their surroundings. A passing bird might be enough to put them on a hot pursuit and out of sight before you know it.


As long as they get time to run and explore, Lakies are not generally hyperactive. They are curious, intelligent dogs with outgoing personalities. They want to play and bond with your Lakie, they’re perfectly content with cuddling on the couch.


Be warned — Lakeland Terriers are known for being possessive of their toys. In 2014, there was a story about a Lakeland Terrier named Waffle who collected over 1,000 balls! She would howl if her mom tried to take any away.  While this level of obsession is nowhere near common, it is an example of just how attached this breed can become to their toys.


The howling isn’t always reserved for their toys, though. If not properly trained, Lakelands do bark and yowl a decent amount. Even though their small size makes them suitable for apartments, the next-door neighbors may not be too happy with you for bringing a Lakeland Terrier home and leaving them unattended or untrained.



Lakeland Terrier Exercise

A long-time Lakeland Terrier breeder once noted that these dogs could get enough daily exercise just from living in a two-story home. Their agile bodies and curious personalities keep them moving.


It’s best to take your Lakie on a 20-30 minute brisk walk or jog at least once a day. But, they’ll benefit from even more free-running time.


These intelligent dogs are quick to bore and quickly become stir crazy. Experts have noted the importance of giving your Lakeland plenty of time and space to run free. This exercise time improves their mental health and development, not just their bodies.


If you don’t have a fenced-in yard, investing in a lengthy rope (at least 20 feet) is a marvelous idea. Fenced-in dog parks are also a great place to allow your Lakie to run uninhibited. Before you go to parks, though, make sure your dog is adequately socialized and trained.


Related: Expert Tips for Ensuring Your Dog Walks Are Trouble-Free

happy black and tan dog with ball



Lakeland Terrier Training

Lakeland Terriers can easily become bored with repetitive training methods. These are brilliant dogs that enjoy problem-solving tasks. If you keep trying the same techniques, your Lakie will likely rebel and do its own thing. Rebellious behavior can get in the way of training any puppy!


It’s essential to be creative and playful yet firm and fair during the training process. Some say Lakies have a sense of humor, so watch out for their cunning methods of getting around your boundaries.


One of the most critical aspects of the Lakie’s training process is socialization with other animals, specifically cats and other small critters. Remember, they were first bred to chase after livestock predators (specifically foxes). If they are unfamiliar with a small, slinking household pet, they will probably give chase.


Obedience and socialization classes are some of the most effective ways to train your Lakeland Terrier. It’s essential to choose a trainer familiar with this breed and all of their quirks (like how easily they get bored).



Lakeland Terrier History

Sheep farmers bred Lakeland Terriers for fox hunting in the Lake District of England. Also called “Lakeland,” this beautiful, lake-riddled countryside has long been known as an escape for city folk, artists, and poets.


William Wordsworth wrote one of his most famous poems, “Fidelity,” about the Lake District. It centers on the loyalty of a foxhunting dog (like a Lakeland Terrier) to its owner. More recently, Taylor Swift wrote a song called “The Lakes” after visiting the region with her English boyfriend.


Somewhere along the way, the regional nickname “Lakeland” became a moniker for the farmers’ new livestock protectors. It only fits that someone named the Lakeland Terriers after the district they were bred to defend.


When Lakies took on the role of chasing away predators, they became the world’s first-ever working terrier. Since then, they have become known for their loyalty and protective instincts — qualities that they share with Australian Terriers. Lakelands make fantastic family dogs who are always alert to approaching danger (even just perceived threats, like a squirrel). The American Kennel Club (AKC) studbook accepted the Lakeland Terrier in 1934.



Lakeland Terrier Health Problems

Lakies typically have a life span of 12 to 15 years. While they are generally healthy and happy dogs, Lakeland Terriers are predisposed to some health concerns that you should keep an eye on.



Lakelands are prone to obesity. Their propensity for cuteness and the classic “puppy-dog eyes” often cause owners to indulge their desire for extra treats and scraps of human food.


Try your best to keep them on a strict feeding and exercise schedule. You may feel stingy and withholding in the moment, but it will be better for both of you in the end.


Dental Disease

Brushing your Lakie’s teeth is crucial since they are more prone to dental diseases than other breeds. A build-up of plaque left untreated could lead to a loss of teeth, which can then cause digestive issues. Use a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush at least once a week to keep your buddy’s pearly whites in tip-top shape.


Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Lakeland Terrier puppies are prone to a degenerative hip condition called Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. Generally, this condition restricts blood supply to the hip and causes the bones to become frail. The exact cause is still unknown. It’s critical to keep an eye out in the first nine months of your Lakie’s life for any leg lameness.


Spaying and Neutering

Experts highly recommend spaying or neutering your Lakeland Terrier as soon as possible after adopting. When the uterus or testicles are removed, so is the chance that the dog will develop certain cancers in those organs. These procedures also prevent unwanted pregnancy.


Additionally, the surgery screenings have the potential to reveal any health conditions your dog may have or are prone to developing. If you can take care of multiple problems in one operation, you should.


How to Care for a Lakeland Terrier

Lakeland Terriers need an owner with great patience and energy. Most importantly, they require an owner should with time and attention to give them! Taking this dog on the same loop for a short walk every day will not do. They need variety, excitement, and loads of interaction.


If you are rarely home, a Lakie is not the dog for you. These furry friends are prone to separation anxiety and will likely make a mess if left alone for too long. They enjoy having a family around them to love, protect, snuggle, and play! If you need to leave for long hours, be sure to block off any areas you don’t want them to destroy.



brown canine standing on grass



Nutrition and Feeding for Lakeland Terrier

Experts recommend feeding your Lakeland Terrier half a cup of high-quality, dry dog food twice a day (for a total of one cup per day). It may not sound like much, but remember that Lakies are small dogs. Be cautious of overfeeding.


Lakeland Terriers are sometimes possessive of their food just as they are their toys. You can reduce this behavior through proper training, so pay attention to any signs of guarding when you first bring them home. Food aggression is much easier to curb in puppies than ingrown dogs.



Coat Color And Grooming

The Lakeland Terrier has a double coat that can come in an array of beautiful colors. Some of the most common Lakie colors are liver, black, blue, red, tan, and wheaten. While “liver” sounds a bit interesting, it’s just a soft brown.


Sometimes, a Lakeland Terrier will have a saddle-shaped marking along its back. Usually, these dogs will be black and tan, thanks to their Welsh Terrier and Old English Black and Tan Terrier lineage.


Their double-coats helped them withstand the harsh English winters, and now they also prevent the dogs from shedding on the floor or furniture. The soft undercoat provides a layer of insulation. The thick, wiry outercoat traps hairs as they fall out.


You’ll need to brush your Lakeland Terrier at least once a week to prevent tangling. It’s also essential to bring your dog to a groomer semi-annually to have their coats “hand-stripped” and clipped.


Hand-stripping is the manual removal of the excess hair that’s prone to get trapped in the wiry topcoat of terrier breeds (like the Norfolk Terrier). You can hand-strip your pup by gently pulling loose hair out of their coat. This is not painful for the dog, and it improves the strength of their hair.


This breed loves to burrow, and their thick hair catches all the dirt when they do. Experts recommend you wipe down your Lakeland’s legs and muzzle with a damp towel at the end of each day, or at least once a week. It would be best if you gave them a proper bath once a month.



Children And Other Pets

Lakeland Terriers are wonderful dogs for families with children! They love to run, play, and explore with little ones. Lakies need a fair amount of outdoor time for their mental and physical health, and kids are often willing and able to go out with them. It’s a win-win for most parents.


If you don’t have kids of your own, it’s still important to socialize your Lakeland Terrier around children from an early age. They’re excitable dogs, and if don’t learn how to interact with smaller humans, they could knock them over in parks/on the sidewalk. Lakelands are gentle and friendly, but it can be scary for a kid to be knocked over by a dog.


We mentioned the importance of socializing your Lakie around cats and small animals to reduce their hunting instinct around household pets. It’s also important to socialize them with many different dog breeds so they recognize them as friends, not foes. If you don’t socialize your Lakeland with other dogs, they may bark non-stop whenever one passes by.


While Lakeland Terriers are not known to start trouble with other dogs, they will defend themselves if one attacks. They’re known for wandering off, so you should always keep your Lakie on a leash in public to prevent them from getting into a tussle with another puppy.


As long as you properly socialize and train Lakelands, they are typically friendly with other pets and children. The Lakeland Terrier’s long life span allows them to grow with your family.



Rescue Groups

The United States Lakeland Terrier Club (USLTC) aims to provide emergency shelter and find permanent homes for all homeless Lakeland Terriers through their rescue organization. They offer an application for potential adoptive parents on their website.


According to their rescue page, there are no Lakies currently waiting for placement. This is good news for Lakelands! But probably bittersweet if you were hoping to adopt one in need. The USLTC recommends filling out the application to get on a waitlist just in case.


Lakeland Terrier Rescue (LTR) is a great resource and rescue organization, though they also list no Lakies in need at the moment. If you’re willing to hold out hope for adopting a Lakeland, keep up with both of these organizations.



Breed Organizations

The American Kennel Club (AKC) formed the USLTC in 1954 as a non-profit parent club “responsible for the preservation and advancement of the interests of the Lakeland Terrier.” They work together to provide resources and find homes for these amazing dogs.


The Lakeland Terrier Club (LTC) is the United Kingdom’s official organization for Lakelands. Operating from the Lakie’s country of origin, this club is deeply involved in both the adoption and the showing of Lakeland Terriers.



More About This Dog Breed

These days, Lakeland Terriers aren’t used so much for foxhunting as they are for display in prestigious dog shows. In 1967, a Lakeland Terrier named Champion Stingray of Derryabah became the second dog to ever win Best in Show at both the Crufts and Westminster Kennel Club’s dog shows.


Despite their small size, Lakies make great companions for hiking and exploring. Their history in the Lake District, curious instincts, and massive amounts of energy propels them forward into any adventure.


The Lakeland Terrier is a dignified, trainable, loyal, and friendly dog. Whether they are running free through the forest or leaping gracefully through a hoop in a dog show, they are exceptionally athletic and fun to be around.

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