Breed Information

The golden colour is an undesirable dilution of the liver and tan gene

from which breed the Lancashire Heeler is thought to be descended, one of the Pembrokeshire variety

- MacDonald Daly 1982

reproduced with kind permission of 'Our Dogs' newspaper

Not since the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Welsh Corgi, each some 30 years ago, received Kennel Club recognition as pure-bred old British breeds has any other new kind of dog, indigenous to these islands, found himself elevated to a place in the August registrations at 84 Piccadilly.

Newcomers from overseas we have had a-plenty. But natives no! So now I press for the Lancashire Heeler, a small dog of Corgi type whose antecedents and claims to purity of strain I have been investigating recently.

My attention was first drawn to Heelers when during one of my judging visits to Lancashire, Mr Robert Martin, a fellow judge from Southport, produced for my inspection a short legged, pricked eared, foxy faced, little black and tan fellow, which did something to whet my curiosity regarding this breed, which is found in considerable numbers around Preston, Ormskirk, the Fylde and District.

The Lancashire Heeler looks more like a miniature, smooth-coated, black and tan Corgi than anything else and there seems to be little doubt that he is descended from Welsh ancestors. His expression greatly resembles the sharp, intelligent look of the Pembroke Corgi. His forelegs are normally bowed, and his tail is left undocked. His ears are usually upright, but tipped-eared specimens do occur, and are regarded as acceptable. Just like the Corgi, he was (and remains) a cattle dog, taking the name from his Corgi-like practice of nipping a stubborn beast in the heels, and then darting away on his short legs from the retaliatory kick.

Welsh herdsman and cattle dealers, in the days before mechanical transport, used to drive cattle to the markets of Lancashire, and their Heelers acted as chief aids on the roads. One legend has it that some of these Welsh dealers would provide themselves each with a large flock of sheep, a pony, a Welsh collie and a Heeler. Riding the pony, the shepherd would travel slowly north, selling sheep on the way. By the time he reached Lancashire, his flock had been greatly reduced so he sold the Heeler. Still further North, with all his sheep gone, he sold his Collie, and finally the pony. Then he set off home to start all over again.

Golden Lancashire Heelers are an undesirable  dilution of the Liver and Tan colourThough black and tan is the most usual combination of colour in the Heeler, sometimes with white on chest and feet, I am told tricolour, brindled, sable and terrier marked specimens do exist. Both Mr James G Ward of Preston (who has kept Heelers for 30 years) and Dr T H Rigg of Parbold (famous as a breeder of Dachshunds) have given me accurate data on the breed and both believe that Dachshund blood has been introduced at some time or other. Another experienced dog breeder who has made considerable study of the Heeler, ever since his father used one as a foster-mother for a litter of Schipperkes, is Major J L Houghton, the St Helens exhibitor of Irish setters. "No matter how the Heeler's colour may vary," says Major Houghton "the typical body and leg conformation is always there."
Mr Ward (who says " As I write, I have a 10 year old Heeler bitch at my feet") tells of a considerable number of puppies sold in recent times, and Miss Patricia Fish of Longton goes so far as to say that no other breed is better known or more popular in the Preston area.

In character, and working zeal, Heelers appear to have considerable merit, for various informants pay tribute to their cattle-herding, their ratting, and their ability as watchdogs. A most important general characteristics in the Heeler is size. The true Heeler is only half the size of the 24lb Corgi, the most sought after specimens are no more than 12lbs in weight, and smallness is frequently advertised as a virtue when a dog is offered at stud around Preston or Ormskirk. Several of my correspondents have expressed the view that since the Heeler is "undoubtedly as ancient in lineage as the Corgi," there is no reason why once accepted by the Kennel Club, he should not soar to equal heights of popularity. To that I would sound a A young Heeler Bitch seen by Macdonald Daly as authenticating breed puritywarning that while the Pembroke Corgi, the one which enjoyed royal favour and example, last year stood fifth in the popularity lists, with 5,794 registrations, his long tailed cousin from Cardiganshire languished near the bottom, with only 294.

A YOUNG HEELER BITCH Macdonald Daly has seen
authenticating the claims of purity of strain in this breed.

An example of a Tri-color Lancashire Heeler Puppy

Occasionally Tri colours also occur. Some say they herald from the Corgi heritage

An example of a tri-colour Lancashire Heeler Puppy

Lancashire Heeler breed standard

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.

General Appearance
Small, powerful, sturdily built, alert energetic worker.

Works cattle but has terrier instincts when rabbiting and ratting.

Courageous, happy, affectionate to owner.

Head and Skull
In proportion to body. Skull flat and wide between ears, tapering towards eyes which are set wide apart. Moderate stop equidistant between nose and occiput. Tapering continues towards nose. Skull and muzzle to be on parallel planes.

Almond-shaped, medium size, dark colour except in liver where they may be lighter to match coat colour.

Showing alert lift, or erect. Drop ears showing no lift undesirable.

Lips firm. Scissor bite – jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Under or overshot to be discouraged.

Moderate length, well laid into shoulders.

Well laid shoulder, elbows firm against ribs. Amply boned. Pasterns allow feet to turn slightly outwards, but not enough to cause weakness or affect freedom of movement.

Well sprung ribbing, extending well back with close coupling. Firm, level topline, never dipping at withers or falling at croup. Approximately 2.5 cms (1 in) longer than height at withers. (Measured from withers to set on of tail).

Muscular, with well turned stifles, hocks well let down. From rear should be parallel, when moving or standing. Never bandy or cowhocked.

Small, firm and well padded.

Set on high, left natural. Carried over back in a slight curve when alert, but not forming a complete ring.

Smart and brisk. Natural, free movement.

Fine undercoat is covered throughout by weather resistant, short, thick, hard, flat topcoat. Topcoat slightly longer on neck. Undercoat should not show through topcoat nor allow any longer hair at the mane to stand off. Long or excessively wavy coat hightly undesirable.

Black and tan or liver and tan with pigment to tone with coat colour, with rich tan spots on cheeks and often above eyes. Rich tan on muzzle and chest and from knees downwards, inside hind legs and under tail. A distinct black or liver mark (thumb mark), according to coat colour, immediately above front feet is desirable. Richness of tan may fade with age. White to be discouraged. A small white spot on forechest, although permissible is undesirable.

Ideal height at shoulder: dogs: 30 cms (12 ins); bitches: 25 cms (10 ins).

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Last Updated - April 2008

This Breed Standard is published with the kind permission of the Kennel Club
© The Kennel Club

A link to the Kennel Club site can be found on our links page

'Meerkat Manner' - A Lancashire Heeler Breed Trait

Lancashire Heeler Molla, an International Meerkat whatever the weather!  Owner Marjo KullbergWhat is it about Lancashire Heelers that makes them different from other breeds? This is a recurring question to editors of this site and the answer given varies, of course from person to person and also from day to day depending upon what our four legged friends have been doing that day! Healthy, energetic and very intelligent the Lancashire Heeler has a range of antics and traits that begin by endearing and then overwhelming a casual observer as it becomes clear that the character is irresistable. There are also some unmistakable character traits as described on a number of pages on this site and not only the famous smile.

Here we highlight a less well known but regularly occurring trait - The Meerkat impersonation. A regular occurring stance of the Heeler and one that captivated Peter Jones and led him to get his first Lancashire Heeler, Pip. On visiting a farm in Staffordshire his first sight of the breed was to see a bitch and her puppies outside in the farm grounds. The bitch, he recalls had an incredibly feminine head and stood upright like a Meerkat. He had visited the farm in the course of his job...he came home with Pip - one of the puppies.

Send us your pictures for our 'Meerkat Manner' Gallery.

Janice Jones

Meerkat Manner Photo Gallery

  • Lancashire Heeler Ponny owned by Gitte Johannessen
    "Ponny" (Ch. Harmony Way's Little Big Man) in his scouting position - on his hindlegs. He uses this to sniff into the air, when he thinks there might be something interesting - like a deer or moose - nearby.
  • Lancashire Heeler Ponny owned by Gitte Johannessen
    Here's my dog "Ponny" (Ch Harmony Way's Little Big Man) doing a meercat "sit stay", which he can hold for endless amounts of time - if he thinks there is something to gain. Which it always is, in form av a treat or a ball, since nobody can resist him doing this! He has two versions of this; this is the one where he supports himself by the tail, so it's a bit kangaroo inspired...
  • Lancashire Heeler Tango owned by Jacky Cutler
  • Lancashire Heeler Muska owned by Anna Kulmakorpi, Finland
  • Lancashire Heeler Raika owned by Sanne Scholte, Netherlands
  • Lancashire Heeler Lily owned by Jackie Cartledge
  • Lancashire Heeler Maya( Bellsmond Princess Myheels) owned by Tiina Sundholm, Finland
  • Lancashire Heeler Smilla owned by Kerstin Weber, Germany
  • Lancashire Heeler Columbo owned by Elaine Syrett
  • Lancashire Heeler Grace owned by David Rennie
  • Lancashire Heeler Molla owned by Marjo Kullberg, Finland



Latest Meerkat impersonators from around the world.  Full details in the gallery!

A Meerkat?...Seemples!

Lancashire Heeler Columbo demonstrates his Meerkat pose

Columbo strikes a Meerkat pose for owner Elaine Syrett.

...with added Grace

Lancashie Heeler Grace.  A stylish Meerkat

Grace - the Meerkat pirouette
Owner: David Rennie


Muska was 'collared' doing a Meerkat impersonation in the snow

Muska was 'collared' doing a Meerkat impersonation in the snow!
Owner: Anna Kulmakorpi, Finland

Tipped Ears and The Lancashire Heeler

Although the majority of Lancashire Heelers have pricked ears, some have tipped ears, which are not only perfectly acceptable but often sought after..

Tipped Eared Lancashire Heelers are perfectly acceptable and often sought after Simonsville Gordon Bennett Owned by Bill and Ginnette Simpson

Read more ...
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