The Lancashire Heeler Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Lancashire Heeler is a sturdy, small-sized dog with high energy levels and personality described as intelligent, versatile, affectionate, and always playful. 

In this article, we will delve into the history, physical traits, personality, health, and lifespan of this unique Lancashire Terrier so you can decide if it is the right breed for you.

A Brief History of the Lancashire Heeler

Origins of the Breed

The exact history of the Lancashire Heeler is unknown but the earliest records can be traced back to 17th century England. At this point, a small black and tan dog was used to drive cattle to the market in Lancashire.

The dog was popular in the entire Ormskirk area of West Lancashire and was commonly known as the bitcher’s dog. The breed was probably the result of a crossing between Welsh Corgis and Manchester Terriers.

The Lancashire Heeler’s Role 

The Lancashire Heeler’s ancestors were bred to work on farms and in rural areas, where they were used for a variety of tasks. They helped control livestock, as well as to hunt small game such as rabbits and rats. 

Over time, the breed’s popularity spread beyond rural areas. Their small size and friendly demeanor made them well-suited to life in urban areas, where they were often kept as companions.

Lancashire Heelers in Modern Times

The Lancashire Heeler was recognized by the U.K. Kennel Club in 1981. The American Kennel CLlub approved the full recognition of the breed effective January 1, 2024, under the Herding Group. 

In 2003, the Lancashire Heeler was classified as endangered due to the low number of breed members. Today, efforts are made to preserve the breed and increase its population to a safe number. 

Physical Characteristics of the Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire Heeler is a small but mighty breed with a distinctive appearance and unique physical characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at their size, weight, coat, colors, and other distinctive features.

Size and Weight

The Lancashire Heeler is a small breed, standing at around 10 to 12 inches tall at the withers and weighing between 9 to 17 pounds. Despite its small size, it has a sturdy build, with a broad chest and strong legs. 

Coat and Colors

The Lancashire Heeler’s coat is short and smooth, and it comes in two color patterns, such as: 

  • Black & tan
  • Liver & tan

The coat is weather-resistant, which makes the Lancashire Heeler well-suited for working outdoors in all kinds of conditions. Breed members shed moderately, so regular grooming is necessary to keep their coats healthy and shiny.

Distinctive Features

The Lancashire Heeler has a unique appearance, with its small size, stocky build, and large, erect ears. The hallmark of the breed is the so-called Heeler Smile – when happy, the dog draws its lips back and looks like it is smiling. 

It has a broad head with a short, pointed muzzle. The body is compact and muscular, with a deep chest and strong legs. These physical traits ensure the agility and stamina necessary for herding duties.

Personality and Temperament

The Lancashire Heeler is a fascinating breed with a unique personality and temperament. They are a joy to be around, and their lively and playful nature makes them an excellent companion for families with children and other pets. 

General Temperament

The Lancashire Heeler is a happy and friendly breed that loves to be around people. They are known for their lively and playful personality, and their affectionate and loyal nature makes them a popular choice for families.

Despite their small size, they have a big personality and are often described as a “big dog in a small dog’s body.” They thrive on human companionship and can become very attached to their owners.

One of the most endearing qualities of the Lancashire Heeler is their love for playtime. They are always up for a game of fetch or a walk around the park and will keep you entertained for hours on end. 

Intelligence and Trainability

The Lancashire Heeler is a highly intelligent breed that is eager to please. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement combined with consistent training and clear boundaries. 

Breed members can learn a variety of tricks and commands, making them an excellent choice for obedience competitions. However, they can be stubborn at times, so it is essential to establish clear rules and boundaries from an early age.

One of the Lancashire Heeler’s most impressive traits is their ability to problem-solve. They are excellent at figuring out how to get what they want, which can sometimes lead to mischief. 

Socialization and Interaction with Other Animals

The Lancashire Heeler is known to be excellent with children and makes a great family pet. However, it is reserved with strangers, so it is vital to start socializing from a young age to prevent aggression.

When it comes to interacting with other animals, the Lancashire Heeler is generally well-behaved when socialized. It has a high prey drive, but with proper training and socialization, this can be managed.

To be on the safe side, it is important to supervise the Lancashire Heeler around other pets, especially cats and smaller rodents. Also, ensure introductions are made slowly and carefully. 

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

The Lancashire Heeler is a generally healthy breed. However, like all dogs, it is prone to issues such as: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: The breed is prone to orthopedic conditions such as hip dysplasia and luxating patella 
  • Eye Problems: Primary lens luxation (PPL) and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) are widespread among the breed 

Lifespan Expectancy

The average lifespan of the Lancashire Heeler is between 12 to 15 years, although some breed members can live longer with proper care and nutrition.

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To keep your Lancashire Heeler healthy and happy, it is essential to provide them with regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and regular vet check-ups. Regular grooming and ear cleaning can also help prevent infections and keep their coat looking shiny and healthy.


If you’re looking for a loyal, playful, and intelligent canine companion, the Lancashire Heeler might just be the perfect breed for you. The dog is lovely and easy to maintain. 

Research the breed carefully before making a decision and find a trustworthy breeder. Keep in mind that the breed is quite rare, and getting a puppy may take longer than expected. 

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