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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Lancashire Heeler
Average Cost to keep/care for a Lancashire Heeler
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Lancashire Heeler is one of the UK's vulnerable native breeds, yet at one time these intelligent, active and "people-friendly" dogs were a popular choice both as working dogs and companions. Renowned for their hunting abilities and their love of people, the Lancashire Heeler is an energetic little dog that likes to be kept as busy as possible while at the same time they enjoy being part of a family and involved in everything that goes on in a household.
Lancashire Heelers are known to have an affinity with older children and like playing interactive games with them which in short, means they are great choice as family pets in households where the kids are older. They are also known to make wonderful companions because of their loyal, kind and amenable natures in a home environment. With this said, anyone wanting to share a home with a Lancashire Heeler would need to register their interest with breeders and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so, but the wait would be well worth it.
Although the true origins of the Lancashire Heeler are a bit of a mystery, many believe the breed came about by crossing Corgis with Manchester Terriers. With this said, these small,stocky dogs are thought to have been around since the 1600's, Corgis were used to drive cattle to market from Wales to Ormskirk and the result of them being crossed with Manchester Terriers was the Lancashire Heeler.
What is known is that these little dogs have existed in that region of the UK since the 1600's and apart from being used to herd and drive cattle, they are also very adept hunters used to control vermin and to catch rabbits. In short, they were highly prized multi-purpose farming dogs thanks to versatility which earned them the nickname "Nip and Duck dog". The breed was so highly thought of that they were thought of as part of the family even when they were in a farm working environment and anyone who was given a Heeler as a gift was honoured by the gift.
The Lancashire Heeler Club was established in 1978 and enthusiasts began promoting the breed with an end goal being to make sure these charming small dogs did not vanish altogether. The breed was only recognised by The Kennel Club in 1981, but sadly these charming, little dogs although very popular through the ages, fell out of favour over recent times and as such, they have been placed on The Kennel Club's vulnerable native breeds and anyone wanting to share a home with one would need to register their interest with breeders.
Height at the withers: Males 25 - 30 cm, Females 25 - 30 cm
Average weight: Males 3 - 6 kg, Females 3 - 6 kg
Lancashire Heelers are small, but very robust and sturdy looking dogs being a little longer in the body than they are tall. Their front feet turn outwards which is perfectly normal for the breed. Their heads are nicely in proportion with the rest of their body and the top of a dog's head is flat and quite wide between their ears. Their eyes are set wide apart with dogs boasting a moderate stop. Eyes are almond-shaped and dark in colour with the exception of liver coated dogs when they can be lighter so they match a dog's coat.
Their ears are erect or tipped (both being perfectly acceptable) and the Heeler has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones with dogs having firm lips. Necks are moderately long and well laid back into their shoulders. Their front legs are well-muscled and powerful showing lots of bone.
Their bodies are compact with dogs boasting well sprung ribs that extend well back down their body. They have level, firm toplines and strong loins with powerful back legs. Feet are well padded, firm and small. Their tails are set high which dogs carry over their backs.
When it comes their coat, the Lancashire Heeler has a double coat that consists of a fine undercoat and a short, dense, hard and flat topcoat that's extremely weather resistant. The accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
When a Lancashire Heeler moves, they do so at a brisk and smart pace always showing a free, natural movement when they do.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
Heelers are intelligent and they love to please which means in the right hands and with the right sort of training and handling, these little dogs are easy to train. However, their training must start as early as possible and puppies need to be well socialised for them to mature into well-rounded, obedient dogs. Heelers have a tremendous amount of energy and as such, they need to be kept busy both physically and mentally. If they are left to their own devices for long periods of time, being so smart these little dogs will find their own ways of entertaining and amusing themselves.
When Heelers get over excited, they have been known to nip the closest thing to them which could be someone's rear end, but with this said, they are not "biters", it's just that it is in their nature to "drive" and will do so when they are excited even in a home environment.
They are very good watchdogs and like nothing more than to alert their owners if there are any strangers about, but rarely would a Heeler show any aggressive behaviour other than bark and wag their tails furiously. They are very tough little dogs and tend not to show any sort of distress even when they are feeling unwell, which is something owners have to bear in mind, especially when a Lancashire Heeler reaches their golden years.
Lancashire Heelers are a good choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, They are particularly good with older children although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times.
Lancashire Heelers have a high prey drive and as such, care should be taken as to where and when they can run off the lead more especially if there is livestock and wildlife close by.
Lancashire Heelers have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly learn how to please an owner and get their own way.
Lancashire Heelers are highly adaptable dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they are living in a house in the country.
Lancashire Heelers form strong ties with their families and dogs are never happy when they find themselves left on their own. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained and this includes barking incessantly to get someone's attention.
Some Lancashire Heelers like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings.
Most Lancashire Heelers like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
The Lancashire Heeler is a very good watchdog because they are always on the alert to what goes on around them. They are quick off the mark when it comes to alerting an owner that there are strangers about and when something they don't particularly like is going on in their environment. With this said, rarely would a Lancashire Heeler show any sort of aggression preferring to keep their distance and bark.
Lancashire Heelers are known to be intelligent dogs and they are always eager and willing to please. However, they do have a bit of a stubborn streak in them which can make them harder for a first time owner to train. As such they are not the best of choices for novice dog owners, but do very well with people who are familiar with the breed or similar types of intelligent, highly active dogs.
Their training must start early and it must be consistent throughout a Heeler's life. These little dogs need to know their place in the pack and are happiest when they know they can look to their owners for guidance and direction. If they are not given the right amount of socialisation when young and if their training has been left a little too late, a Heeler would show a more dominant side to their natures which can make them a lot harder to handle when all they want to do is their own thing.
Like all puppies, Lancashire Heeler puppies are incredibly cute which means it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in their new homes. However, once a puppy is nicely settled, owners must start out as they mean to go on which means laying down boundaries and ground rules so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It also helps establish a pecking order and who is the alpha dog in a household. It also prevents a Lancashire Heeler from developing "small dog syndrome" which can make them harder to handle and live with. As such, the first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Known to be very people oriented, the Lancashire Heeler gets on well with children. However, they are not that good around toddlers and younger children, being more relaxed and confident with older kids who know how to behave around dogs. With this said, any interaction between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous.
Some Heelers have been known to get stressed out when they are around other dogs which is why early socialisation for puppies is essential. Care should be taken when these little dogs are around smaller animals and pets because their hunting instincts might just take over with disastrous results. If a Heeler has grown up with a cat in the house, they will generally tolerate their feline companion, but would think nothing of chasing a neighbour's cat.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Lancashire Heeler is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Lancashire Heeler is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
It is worth noting that as of 1st July, 2011, all Kennel Club Accredited breeders must have their stud dogs DNA tested for Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) before they can be used for breeding purposes.
Lancashire Heeler puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. Wtih this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, some Lancashire Heelers gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Lancashire Heelers are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Lancashire Heeler breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for all Kennel Club recognised breeds, they are not other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Lancashire Heeler (Feb 2018).
It is mandatory for all Kennel Club Assure breeders to use the following tests on their dogs before using them in a breeding programme and all other breeders are strongly advised to follow suit:
The Kennel Club also strongly recommends that all breeders use the following test on their dogs:
As with any other breed, Lancashire Heelers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Lancashire Heeler puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Lancashire Heelers puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, Lancashire Heeler puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Lancashire Heelers need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Lancashire Heeler in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Lancashire Heelers need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Lancashire Heelers don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Lancashire Heelers boast having short, tight coats which are low maintenance when it comes to keeping things tidy and a dog's skin in good condition. A weekly brush and a wipe over with a damp, soft cloth is all it takes to add a shine to a Heeler's coat.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Lancashire Heelers are high-energy, active dogs and they need to be kept busy both physically and mentally for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. These little dogs thrive in a country environment although they do adapt to living in towns as long as they have a nice back garden to roam around in whenever they can. Heelers need to be given a heap of exercise which means a good 2 hours a day.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these inquisitive and very adept escape artists in cause if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Heeler puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.
If you get a Lancashire Heeler puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters in fact, these little dogs are known to have a very healthy appetite, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Lancashire Heeler puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food as shown below.
Once fully mature, an adult Lancashire Heeler must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Lancashire Heeler can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Lancashire Heeler you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything from £650 upwards for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Lancashire Heeler in northern England would be £22.98 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £45.65 a month (quote as of February 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed amongst other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Heeler and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £900 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Lancashire Heeler would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Lancashire Heeler puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Although Lancashire Heelers are a native vulnerable breed, their numbers are rising in the UK which means that healthy, well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Lancashire Heelers there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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