Description & History

There are two distinct types of the breed: the Lancashire terrier-type dog, which was known as the Butcher's Heeler, and the Ormskirk Heeler, a slightly larger dog that was used for herding and general farm work.

The origin of the breed is uncertain, but it is thought that the Welsh Corgi and the Manchester Terrier played a part in its ancestry. It is believed by some authorities that cattle driven by corgis from Wales to Lancashire, in north west England, were bred with the Manchester Terrier. Strains from the Dachshund are also thought to have been introduced at some stage.

The Lancashire-type dog did similar work to the Corgi, driving stock to the markets and slaughterhouses. Ormskirk Heelers - which had the white markings of most herding breeds - were found on most Lancashire farms where they were popular and adept workers.

Records show that 150 years ago the breed lived and worked on many Lancashire farms. Although some still work, the majority of the breed are now companions and show dogs.

In 1978 the Lancashire Heeler Club was formed and in 1981 the breed was recognised by the British Kennel Club.

Rosamund Walters.

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