Lakeland Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight

to travel miles back home. It has been said that the real test of the terriers was the trip back down out of the mountains in the miserable weather typical of the area. During the development of the breed there was only one overriding principle: get ’er done! It mattered little what the dogs looked like or what color they were. Any dog that was sought for breeding had the following characteristics (in no particular order): 1) stamina, 2) courage, 3) judgement, 4) strength, 5) flexibility, 6) weather resisting coat, 7) tenacity and 8) addiction to adrenaline. Stamina was important all the way around. A successful working terrier in the fells had to be structurally sound to endure the distance travelled in a day’s hunt. On top of that, while engaged with quarry underground a dog had to be able to withstand punishment and yet keep fighting. Th e courage of terriers is legend- ary. No Marquess of Queensberry rules for these combatants! I have hunted with bird dogs and spaniels and rabbit dogs since I was a child. I have been awed by the intensity of their drive to find game, but earthworking terriers are light years more intense and determined. Th e ancestors of the Lakeland Terrier however would not be characterized as “courageous to a fault.” Th e overly bold would end up dead; therefore in no posi- tion to contribute to the gene pool. Judg- ment is one of the traits that contributes to the character of the Lakeland. Th ey are well able to assess the mettle of their oppo- nent and the limitations of the space they

are working in in order to avoid damage and seek an advantage. Properly raised in the company of other dogs a Lakeland can learn to “go along to get along.” Th e terri- ers were not hunted in packs, but they did accompany a pack of hounds and might reasonably be expected to tolerate anoth- er terrier or a few when the farmers got together to hunt the fox. Breeding for strength was a balanc- ing act; obviously bigger dogs would be stronger. But the size of the fox’s earth determined the maximum size of the ter- rier; the average diameter of a fox den in the Lake District is 6 inches. Flexibility was called for as well, and these two vir- tues did more to shape the form of the Lakeland Terrier than any others. Th e jaws needed to be as large and punish- ing as possible, which meant that they could not be over long, and the back skull could not be too narrow. To achieve flex- ibility the neck needed to be fairly long, and the shoulders not bulky. Th e shoulder assembly needed to be strong and sinewy, for at times it might be possible to draw the quarry from the earth to be then dis- patched by the hunters. Th e ribs needed to be well-sprung for heart and lung room, but decidedly more oval than round, once again to get the biggest possible dog in the small, narrow dens. Herein lies the key to breed type: the biggest, strongest, most flexible dog still small enough to seek the fox in his den. A weather-resisting coat was abso- lutely necessary due to the long day and long distance covered by the hunts.

A 15-17 pound terrier doesn’t have a lot of body mass. Cold rain will lead to hypothermia if the rain penetrates the coat. For this reason Lakelands have con- siderably more undercoat than many of the other terriers. Th e undercoat acts as a thermal blanket so the dog’s body heat can be maintained in a layer around the dog, provided there is a tight wiry jacket which allows the rain to run o ff . Tenacity is another character trait absolutely essential in a working terrier. It might take hours to dig down to a terrier that has cornered a varmint. In the case of the Fells, the rock might prevent digging and the dog was on his own. Th e follow- ing is quoted from Th e Lakeland Terrier by Sean Frain: “It was during the 1930s …in rather dramatic circumstances. Tommy Rob- insons was hunting his pack of Lunes- dale Foxhounds in the Bishopdale area and they ran a fox to ground at a bad spot, a large rock earth that was rather a stronghold for foxes. Breay entered two of his bitches into the earth and, after killing their fox, they became trapped to ground. Digging com- menced and, after a long grueling ses- sion on the exposed fells, one of the bitches, Barker, was reached and got out safely, but it looked bad for the other terrier, so bad, in fact that after a few days, Cyril had given up any hope of reaching her. It was then that Wal- ter Parkin turned up at the scene and told Breay that he knew a chap who might be able to help. Cyril agreed that

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