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Lancashire Heeler Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

If you've heard of the Lancashire Heeler but never met one, you are not alone. This is one of the rarest dog breeds in America, and they are super cute. Lancashire Heelers need an active and experienced family to thrive. Read on to find out if you could make a good match!

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: March 19, 2024 | 8 min read

Lancashire Heeler standing on a leash outside in grass smiling.

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The Lancashire Heeler is one of the new pups on the block. Well, officially, anyway. Despite being around for centuries, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized them as an official breed in 2024. This is a rare pup in America, but with numbers expected to increase, we thought we should provide our readers with a Lancashire Heeler breed guide.

The Lancashire Heeler might be small and cute, but don’t let this fool you. This little pooch can be a menace if you don’t meet their needs. I look at their history, how that affects their personality, and what you can expect from them as a family pet. From their extreme exercise needs to their simple grooming requirements, we cover everything you need to know. Let’s dive in.

Lancashire Heeler
    • weight iconWeight9-17 pounds
    • height iconHeight10-12 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-15 years
    • color iconColorsBlack with tan markings or liver with tan markings
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

Lancashire Heelers running outside in grass.
This breed dates back centuries, with roots as a working dog in the United Kingdom.

The Lancashire Heeler goes back to the 17th century. Their exact origin is unknown, but they are thought to be related to the Corgi because of their similar personality and body shape. Some historians believe they also have Manchester Terrier blood running through their veins. Farmers employed the Lancashire Heeler to drive stock to market in northern Wales across the border to the Lancashire market.

This little pooch was common in Ormskirk, an area west of Lancashire. This is why you might hear breed fanciers refer to this pup as the Ormskirk Heeler. As well as an ankle-nipping cattle herder, this small-sized pooch was fantastic at ratting and keeping other vermin away. Their terrier-like characteristics mean they are also called the Ormskirk Terrier.

The United Kingdom’s Kennel Club recognized them as an official breed in 1981. Sadly, due to low population numbers in the UK, they were listed as a vulnerable native breed in 2003. According to the AKC, there are only around 5,000 Lancashire Heelers worldwide. Only around 400 live in America, making them one of the country’s rarest pups. But thanks to their recent official recognition, numbers are expected to increase.

Temperament

Lancashire Heelers are huge bundles of energy packed into a small frame. Although it’s unclear if they have terrier relatives, they definitely have a terrier personality. Their prey drive is high, and they chase everything. From cats to squirrels, toys, and rats, nothing gets past this little pup. Combining their alertness with their love of chattering, you can expect a fantastic watchdog.

Lancashire Heelers are always ready for adventure. Whether exploring the neighborhood or working on a ranch, they want to be kept busy. Which also means they are tonnes of fun. They are very intelligent and very quick to learn new tricks and tasks given to them. If you’re looking for a compact and clever canine, you can’t get much better than this pooch.

One of the breed’s best characteristics is their love for their family. Lancashire Heelers adore their humans and want to spend every waking moment with them. They are highly affectionate with everyone in their family unit, including children and other canine pets. But they are suspicious of outsiders and anyone who enters their property and courageous if they sense danger.

Size & Appearance

Lancashire Heeler With Mostly Black Coat walking outside.
This pup is pint-sized with a black and tan coat.

Lancashire Heelers are small dogs that usually weigh between 9 and 17 pounds and measure between 10 and 12 inches tall. Females are typically smaller than males. Although small, they are powerful pups thanks to their sturdy and muscular frame. Their relatively long and low body, short legs, and broad paws mean they are commonly mistaken for Doxie mixes.

Lancashire Heelers have the unique “Heeler Smile” characteristic, which describes how they draw their firm lips mimicking a human smile. Their smile, dark, almond-shaped eyes, and alert ears give them their irresistible canine charm. If you want to show your Lancashire Terrier in the show ring, they must conform to the rules in their breed standard.

Coat & Colors

The Lancashire Heeler has a double coat with a fine undercoat and a thick, weather-resistant topcoat. Their coat is flat and short, making it relatively simple to maintain. These Heelers have slightly longer hair around their neck, which is more prevalent in males. Their coat is smooth to the touch.

Most Lancashire Heelers have a mainly black coat with a few tan markings. These tan markings appear on their cheeks, often above their eyes, on their chest, under their tail, and from their knees downwards. Some Lancashire Heelers inherit the dilute color gene, giving them a liver and tan coat color instead. Their eyes and other features, like paws and nails, are always black. Unless they have a liver coat, where they may have lighter features to match their coat.

Exercise & Living Conditions

Lancashire Heeler running through field kicking up dirt in path.
Lancashire Heelers have a lot of energy and love to run around and socialize.

Lancashire Heelers are medium to high-energy pups, but they are one of the most energetic dogs compared with those of a similar size. They need around 45 to 60 minutes of exercise daily, without fail. However, they would happily go on for hours if you have the time. Combining their high energy with their need to be kept busy, the Lancashire Heeler isn’t suited to the averagely active family.

According to the United States Lancashire Heeler Club (USLHC), “this breed comes with baggage and can become a menace if not managed appropriately.” This bold statement tells potential families that they must research this breed thoroughly before welcoming one into their home. The Lancashire Heeler needs a particular type of family that can meet their needs.

Lancashire Heelers can live in apartments, large estates, or anything in between. What they do need is a secure home where they cannot escape. Their curiosity and high prey drive mean they will escape if given the chance. These Heelers are great with dog-savvy kids and can live with other dogs if socialized. But these Heelers aren’t the best choice for living with cats or other small furries.

Training

Lancashire Heeler on leash licking lips sitting next to owner.
Lancashire Heelers are not the easiest dogs to train.

Training a Lancashire Heeler can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. These pups are intelligent and very keen to please their masters, which can make them highly obedient companions. But they also have an independent streak that can make them equally stubborn. The trick with training a Heeler is to make sessions fun and short. Otherwise, you lose their attention. Training must be consistent, too.

Another crucial training aspect for the Lancashire Heeler is adequate socialization as a puppy. They risk becoming overly fearful or anxious if they aren’t mixed with other dogs and humans and have new experiences as pups. This can lead to behavioral problems. If you struggle with anything training-related, consider contacting a professional trainer such as Doggy Dan.

Health

The Lancashire Heeler is a relatively healthy dog breed that enjoys a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Every dog is different, and this is an average expectation. But some live longer, and sadly, some less. Keep your Heeler healthy by feeding them a high-quality diet, providing an active lifestyle, and seeking veterinary help when you suspect something isn’t quite right.

It can be overwhelming to think about the potential health issues for your Lancashire Heeler. Pet insurance is available to help give you peace of mind. It can help pay for a portion of unexpected vet expenses that are included in your policy. We encourage you to learn all about the best pet insurance

Eye Conditions

There are two main eye concerns to be aware of. The first is primary lens luxation (PLL), and the other is collie eye anomaly (CEA). Both are hereditary conditions that can eventually lead to complete vision loss if left untreated. So, breeders must screen their dogs for these concerns. Ask your breeder for a certificate showing the parents have passed an OFA or CERF exam within the 12 months before breeding.

Nutrition

The Lancashire Heeler is a small dog, which means they eat a smaller amount than the average-sized dog. This is great news for your wallet. How much you feed them depends on various factors, such as their age, size, energy levels, type of diet, and more. Follow the feeding instructions for a personalized approach. Some fresh vegetables make great healthy snacks for doggos.

Always choose a high-quality diet that meets the standards of the Association of American Control Feed Officials (AAFCO). This should be on the food packaging or advert. Dogs need a balanced diet of good quality protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Why not consider a high-quality fresh food service like Ollie?

Grooming

Grooming a Lancashire Heeler is relatively simple, thanks to their short coat. They have a double coat that sheds throughout the year and is a little heavier during the shedding seasons. But their small size means you haven’t got as much hair to contend with compared to a Labrador. A soft bristle brush is ideal for the Heeler’s weekly grooming. During the shedding seasons, a de-shedding tool helps remove dead hair.

As Lancashire Heelers are energetic, adventurous, and love to play in muddy puddles, they can get dirtier than your average doggo. You should only bathe and shampoo your pup every three months to keep their skin and hair in the best condition. But you might have to wash your Heeler down more frequently than this if they are super messy. You must also brush their teeth several times a week to keep periodontal diseases at bay.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Lancashire Heeler face close up sitting in snow looking up.
Rescuing a Lancashire Heeler is a good option if you are able to find one through a local shelter.

Lancashire Heelers are rare dogs, so you might have to travel far depending on your location. However, finding a reputable breeder is crucial if you want to purchase a healthy purebred Heeler. Otherwise, you risk a puppy from unscreened parents that hasn’t been taken care of, a mistreated pup, or any mixed breed that resembles a Heeler.

The average price of a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder is between $1,000 and $1,200. Although some breeders offer cheaper puppy prices, this can be more costly in the long run. Remember that this is just the puppy price. You must also factor in other costs, such as ensuring your home is escape-proof and purchasing everything they need. You might also need to consider pet walking services to meet their exercise needs or a Halo collar.

Rescue & Shelters

As the Lancashire Heeler is a scarce breed, it is very unlikely for hopeful adopters to find one in a rescue shelter. Still, head to your local rescue shelters and speak to the staff who may know of one needing a home. The USLHC is committed to the betterment of the breed, and they might be able to offer information about Lancashire Heeler rescue. But at the time of writing, the breed is so rare that no official rescue organizations are available for the Heeler.

As A Family Pet

  • Lancashire Heelers are small dogs that can live in small homes.
  • They need a very active family to meet their medium to high-energy needs.
  • Training can be tricky, so experience and persistence are needed.
  • Lancashire Heelers are lots of fun and love to play.
  • They adore their humans and get on well with dog-savvy children and other dogs.
  • These pups are very affectionate but suspicious of strangers.
  • Lancashire Heelers make fantastic watchdogs.

Curious About Other Small Terriers & Heelers?

The Lancashire Heeler can make an incredible companion for the right family. There is much to think about and research, especially for a high-energy, workaholic breed like this one. Check out our tips for trying your Lancashire at agility training, which is sure to keep them entertained. If you love tiny terriers, why not check out our guide on small-size dogs? Or head over to our Australian Cattle Dog page, where you can find more information on these equally handsome Heelers.

Why Trust Love Your Dog?

Emma is a dog owner with over 20 years of experience. She has also worked as a professional dog walker and sitter for many years, caring for countless dog breeds with different needs. Emma dedicates many hours to researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to keep her two best buddies and other doggy clients as happy and healthy as possible. She works alongside a professional and experienced team to bring the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information to our readers.

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