The Lakeland Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

Described as a “big dog in a small package,” the Lakeland Terrier is a bold, friendly, and hardworking breed that originated in the Lake District of England.

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the Lakeland Terrier, including its history, unique physique, feisty personality, and health. 

History and Origins of the Lakeland Terrier

The Lakeland Terrier, also known as the Patterdale Terrier or Fell Terrier, has a rich history in the Lake District of England. This region has long been known for its hunting culture, and the Lakeland Terrier played an important role in controlling the populations of foxes, rabbits, and rats.

Origins of the Breed

The breed’s exact origins are unknown, but it is believed to be a cross between various terrier breeds, including the Bedlington Terrier, the Border Terrier, and the Old English Wirehaired Terrier.

These crosses were performed to create a dog that was agile, strong, and intelligent, with a wiry coat that protected it from the harsh weather conditions of the Lake District.

The Working Terrier of the Lake District

The Lake District is known for its rugged terrain, and the Lakeland Terrier is well-suited for this environment. This breed was specifically bred to be a working terrier, and its tenacity, courage, and intelligence make it an ideal hunter.

The Lakeland Terrier’s unique blend of athleticism, strength, and intelligence made it an ideal dog for everything from exterminating unwanted pests to tracking foxes and badgers.

Despite its small size, the Lakeland Terrier is a fearless dog that will not back down from a challenge. Its wiry coat protects it from bites and scratches, and its strong jaws and sharp teeth make it a formidable opponent for any prey.

Development of the Breed Standard

The first breed standard was developed in 1926 by the Lakeland Terrier Club, providing a benchmark for breeders to work towards. This standard aimed to maintain the dog’s characteristic working traits while simultaneously improving its physical appearance.

Over the years, responsible breeding has preserved the breed’s unique qualities, appearance, and character. Today, the Lakeland Terrier is recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club and is a popular companion dog in many parts of the world.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

The Lakeland Terrier is a small but sturdy breed with a square, compact build and legs that are relatively long compared to the body size. Despite the relatively small size, Lakeland Terriers are resilient and robust. 

Size and Weight

The Lakeland Terrier is a small breed. Males are usually between 14.5 and 15 inches tall and weigh around 17 pounds, while females are slightly smaller. 

The Lakeland Terrier’s small and compact size makes it a great choice for apartment living, but breed members also love to run and play outdoors.

Coat and Colors

The Lakeland Terrier has a hard, wiry coat that is waterproof and texturized to protect it from harsh weather conditions. This coat requires minimal grooming but regular stripping to maintain its texture.

The coat comes in several colors and combinations, including black, liver, blue, red, wheaten, red grizzle, black & tan, blue & tan, and grizzle & tan. The coat helps the dog blend with the environment. 

Distinctive Features

The Lakeland Terrier’s long and narrow head sets it apart and is crowned with triangular ears that stand upright. They have bright, almond-shaped eyes that are full of intelligence, black noses, and a determined expression.

Their short legs, level toplines, and short tails with a slight curve create a unique silhouette that is unmistakable. Lakeland Terriers are known for their high energy and playful personalities, making them great companions for active families.

Personality and Temperament

The Lakeland Terrier is a friendly and loyal breed that loves to play and cuddle when not hard-working. It has a strong prey drive, which means it is an excellent hunter and can be quite tenacious when chasing prey.

Despite the small size, the Lakeland Terrier has a big personality. It is quite vocal and will bark to alert the owners of any perceived danger. It is also very protective and will not hesitate to defend its family if threatened.

Intelligence and Trainability

Lakeland Terriers are highly intelligent dogs and require mental stimulation to avoid boredom. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, such as reward-based training.

However, they can be stubborn at times, so a patient and consistent approach is necessary. Early socialization and training are crucial to ensure a well-rounded and obedient canine companion.

These dogs excel in various activities, including obedience, agility, and tracking. They are also known to be proficient in canine sports such as flyball and dock diving.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Lakeland Terrier is an active breed that requires adequate daily exercise to keep it from becoming destructive. It needs at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but they will happily take more if given the opportunity.

Breed members enjoy outdoor activities such as walks, hikes, and chasing tennis balls, but Lakeland Terriers can adapt well to indoor activities like hide and seek and puzzle games.

These dogs are not suited for apartment living and require a home with a securely fenced yard where they can run and play. They also enjoy going on adventures with their owners, such as camping trips or beach outings.

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

Lakeland Terriers are social dogs and thrive on human interactions. They are affectionate and love to be around their owners. Early socialization with other dogs, cats, and people is crucial to ensure that they grow up well-adjusted.

The breed can be territorial, so adequate supervision is crucial when around other pets. They can also be aggressive towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex.

Lakeland Terriers have a strong prey drive and may chase small animals such as squirrels and rabbits. It is important to keep them on a leash or in a securely fenced area to prevent them from running off after prey.

Health and Lifespan

Overall, Lakeland Terriers are healthy and long-lived dogs. However, like all breeds, they are susceptible to certain health conditions that owners should be aware of.

Common Health Issues

Some of the typical health concerns for Lakeland Terriers include: 

  • Legg-Calves-Perthes Disease: An orthopedic condition in which the head of the femur loses blood supply resulting in necrosis and joint issues
  • Megaesophagus: A condition in which the dog’s esophagus loses its ability to contract, enlarges, and cannot actively assist with food passage

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

The key to keeping the breed healthy is to provide adequate nutrition and regular exercise, vaccinations, and deworming, along with regular check-ups with a veterinarian.

Expected Lifespan

The Lakeland Terrier’s average lifespan is between 12 to 15 years, making it a great choice for long-term companionship. When properly cared for, many breed members live well into their teen years. 


The Lakeland Terrier is an excellent choice for families looking for a friendly breed that’s easy to care for and loyal to their owners. It has a unique look and an engaging personality.

With proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate care, you can expect a long-lasting relationship with your Lakeland Terrier that will bring joy, fun, and adventure into your life.

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