By Pat Rock
The Lakeland Terrier breed is one of the few terriers that still produce individuals of conformation and character to do the work the breed was developed to do.
As the dogs enter the ring, look for the correct outline for the breed, the Lakeland has a long neck and in outline a large head compared to its overall body size (the Lakeland ideal height is not as tall as the Welsh or the Wire but the strength of the head and jaws is every bit as formidable). Look for a ground-covering stride. Efficient running gear is critical to the breed’s purpose. Lakeland were developed to traverse rugged terrain on the way to the hills where they hunted the fox, and they had to make it back home under their own power as well. A mincing, short strided gait is not correct, nor are legs too short for the body. “Terrier front” does not mean “straight shouldered front”! Flexibility in the shoulder is paramount in the earthworking terrier. If every judge of the breeds with a history of working to ground had actually observed terriers at work there would not be so many poorly constructed shoulder assemblies among the ranks of show winners.
After you have seen the dogs on the move and assessed outline and side gait, you will go down the line to look at head and expression. Key points to look for are:
Lakelands should have a broad nose bridge and a noticeably large nose, indicating large teeth in powerful jaws. Muzzle should not exceed the length of the skull.
Moderately Broad Flat Skull
The Lakeland does not have a narrow skull. he cheeks should ideally be flat without noticeable indentation as the backskull meets the muzzle. Planes are parallel, but there may be noticeably heavier browbone. Do not mistake this heavier bone above the orbit for a downfaced conformation.
Small, V-Shaped Ears
Folding just above the level of the skull, the inner edge close to the side of the head complement the strength of the head. The dog should be able to use the ears and have complete control of them; they shouldn’t fold and then just hang there. This is not a breed that must have the ears glued during teething or otherwise “set” (read that surgically altered.) Correct ear leather is of medium thickness (not as thick as the Welsh and thicker than the Wire Fox). Eyes are set squarely in
the skull, not tilted, not close together, and the dog should look straight at you. The expression is not beady eyed or “varminty,” but may vary from intense and determined to amused.
Also while you are going down the line you can look at the entries for the characteristic narrow front, and flat muscle. Lakelands do not have the spring of rib of some other terrier breeds; any opening that will admit a properly constructed Lakeland head, should be large enough for the dog to squeeze its whole body through (requiring that flexible shoulder assembly referred to above).
On the table you will assess coat quality. The coat is double, but the undercoat is removed from the body so the “jacket” will lie close and tight. Undercoat should still be apparent in the furnishings. There is no requirement that the jacket be very short. A rolled coat (multiple layers of hair of differing lengths) should be just as acceptable. The key to a proper Lakeland coat is the ability of the dog to work outdoors all day in a drizzling rain and the skin never gets wet. Because of the way the dogs today are groomed and the outcrosses that were made 75-100 years ago to get more leg and face hair real working-type coats are no longer seen in the ring. All allowed colors are equally acceptable. Blue coats are particularly tricky as they often are perceived from a distance as being soft, and the entry is discounted as being out of coat. The band of color on Lakeland guard hairs is the narrowest of the long-legged wire coated terriers. It is much more difficult to prepare a coat that is even in color than in some of the other breeds, hence the widespread use of colored chalk. The furnishings on a saddle marked or red or wheaten Lakeland should be the color of wheat. An occasional red will have deeper toned furnishings especially when the leg hair is short (that banded characteristic—when short only the deeper colored tips of the hair shafts will be visible). Deep mahogany is definitely not typical for a Lakeland. And day-glow orange is NOT a color mentioned in the standard!
Lakeland Terrier temperament should, above all, be alive to the surroundings, and confident, but not quarrelsome.
There are plenty of other attributes to a correct dog, and dog people enjoy arguing at length about topics like whether an incorrect shaped foot is more important than moving close, or how much “shelf” to the pelvic structure is enough. As they say, difference of opinion is what makes horse racing interesting. But please remember — all-of-a-piece heads with full muzzles ending in a noticeably large nose; moderately broad backskulls; long necks and flexible shoulder assemblies; flat muscled forequarters without pronounced rib-spring behind them; eyes that look squarely at you; mobile ears folding just above the level of the flat skull; ground covering gait—when these characteristics are allowed to disappear from the show ring, you’ve seen your last Lakeland Terrier.
Originally published in “Lakeland Terrier Champions” 2007-2011, Camino Books, Inc. Incline Village NV