Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all made it through the holidays and into 2012 in one piece. We sure did; we kept it really low-key and relaxing (except for Jaz, of course!).
I figured it was about time I told you some more about Lakeland terriers. It has become evident during our walks around the neighbourhood that a lot of people wonder about little Jaz…
“Welsh?” “Wheaten?” “Irish terrier?” “Mini-Airedale?”
“Nope! She’s a Lakeland!”
“Lakeland? I’ve never heard of it!”
Here are some spiffy facts for you, which will make it easier to understand Jaz and her kind…
Lakeland terrier (source)
Lakeland terriers originate (as their name indicates) from the Lake district in northwest England. They were bred to kill vermin, foxes in particular, since these had their eye on the farmer’s lambs. The Lakeland’s job was to enter the fox’ hole and exterminate its occupants. For this very reason, Lakelands had to be small yet sturdy and strong. Where the head can go, the body can (and will!) follow. However unlikely it may seem, an adult Lakeland can squeeze itself through a cat-door. You know those handy baby/dog-gates that have a little cut-out for your cat? Not an option if you’re trying to hold back a Lakie!
Another result of the fact that Lakelands would often be deep underground (and could possibly get stuck there), is their piercing bark. Don’t judge the book by its cover, because these little guys can be LOUD. This is not only handy underground, but also when it’s time for your little pup to sleep in it’s crate downstairs for the first time. No need to purchase a baby-monitor… your Lakeland will have no problem waking you up at 3am to let you know it’s time to go pee-pee!
Aside from being strong and compact, it was required of the Lakelands to be sociable as well. Because, unlike most other terriers, Lakies weren’t mostly hunting independently. As a matter of fact, they were often used by hunters to run with the hounds in attempts to clear the countryside of four-legged vermin. As a result, Lakeland terriers are great with other dogs. And as Lakies are blind to size (in fact, most terriers are), they will run or play with the largest of the large and the smallest of the small without thinking twice.
Apart from size and temperament, a Lakie’s coat needed to be of a specific kind as well, Since the weather in the Lake district is fickle and often cold and/or wet (not too different from the weather here in Vancouver!), Lakelands benefitted from a double coat: a soft, furry undercoat for warmth, covered by a hard, wire coat to stay dry. This is great for the dog, but perhaps not as great for the owner. If you want to keep your Lakeland’s coat looking vibrant and properly groomed (i.e. if you want your Lakeland to look like a Lakeland), a little more effort than the occasional brush-through is required. As for myself, I am quite intrigued by this and eager to learn the tricks or the trade. At the moment, I am working alongside Jaz’s breeder to learn how to hand-strip a Lakeland. It is time-consuming, but very rewarding. I promise to do a separate blog post on this in the future.
The main thing that has people all confused, I think, is that Lakelands come is such a great variety of colours. There are solid coloured Lakelands (such as Jaz) as well as two-toned ones that have saddle markings. Since Jaz is all red, people think that Jaz is an Irish terrier, because Irish terriers are all one colour (plus, while they can be wheaten, most are in fact red). And although Irish terriers are significantly larger and have much shorter hair than Lakelands, this is easy to overlook since Jaz is still a puppy and her furnishings (viz. the longer hair on the snout and legs) still need time to grow in. As Jaz grows older, I anticipate that less and less people will think she is an Irish terrier.
Irish terrier (source)
It is a also clear why people mistake Jaz for a Welsh terrier. The Lakeland is closest to the Welsh terrier in looks and size. However, Jaz could never be a Welsh terrier, because all Welsh terriers have saddle markings. Apart from her colour, as Jaz grows older, I’m sure she will look more and more like a Welsh to people, especially because the Welsh terrier is more popular (and people therefore are more familiar with them).
Welsh terrier (source)
In the end, of course, all this confusion stems from the fact they are all terriers, and, at one point or another, have shared ancestors. It is interesting to trace back a dog’s pedigree. Take Jaz, for instance. Remember that we visited Alan and Angela Johnston from Oregill Kennels back in May (post)? Well, some of their dogs turn out to be Jaz’s ancestors! Because the Lakeland is such a rare breed, their world is very small. Trace the roots of any Lakie and the same kennel names and ancestors will pop up. If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, please visit Jaz’s (human) grandpa’s website, which contains the most extensive online Lakeland pedigree (http://www.ebbarkj.com). Enjoy!