Originally bred on the farms in and around the Ormskirk area of Lancashire, which is where it's other name of 'The Ormskirk Terrier' comes from. The Lancashire Heeler was a multi-purpose farming workmate. They're very agile and versitle, one moment helping the farmer in the movement of cattle in tight, confined spaces, the next keeping the vermin population down around the out buildings - which is how it also earned the breed the nick-name of the 'Nip and Duck dog'. They were and are highly prized family members and to be given the gift of a Heeler was a high honour indeed. No one is absolutely sure how the Heeler has been around but they definitely aren't a modern breed. In the late 1970s a group of devoted owners came together and formed The Lancshire Heeler Club to protect and promote these stocky little Northern workmen, which were fast declining in numbers as the farming community faced mechanical modernisation.
Today they are classified as a Vunerable Native British Breed, their numbers still relatively small.
The Lancashire Heeler is the smallest recognised member of the Pastoral Breeds and the smallest of any of the working/herding breeds. Don't be fooled buy its, small size, there's an awful lot of dog packed into that small frame. A little larger than the average Jack Russell, they are thought to have derived from a cross between a Manchester Terrier and a Corgi. They have the best traits of both breeds - and some of their less desireable traits as well. With a strong personality, they need a firm hand to keep their natural exhuberance in check. Being a natural lover of children and other samll creatures, they'll fit well into most families although they can develop strong dislikes to dogs that don't share their home and do remember their vermin catching ability - keep the guinea pig secure!
Loving and devoted to their owners in the extreme, never having a 'bad hair' day, always game for a walk or a snuggle on the sofa, they can also be very stubborn and very vocal.
Most owners will tell you that the Heeler makes a very efficient hot water bottle on a cold winter's night.
In 2009, with the advent on a DNA test, there became a way to combat the one health issue that plagued this breed, Primary Lens Luxation or PLL. Research disclosed that the problem wasn't actually as prevalent as was first feared and in just 1 year the condition is fairly well contained and well on the way to being bred out. New dog owners MUST check that both parents and their new pup have been DNA tested and eye screened.
Reports of other eye problems have been few and far between but are none the less being researched.
Overall, the Heeler is a hardy little breed, happy with baking hot summer days or freezing winter snow - you'll find them out enjoying both. As with most small breeds, a slipping patella can sometimes occur and in later life, a metabolic problem might arise, but that is more the exception than the rule.
They require very little in the way of daily upkeep and if fed properly and given the right exercise should live to 16 years old or longer. Take on a Heeler and you're in for a long and happy life together.