The love of a tyke
Defining what makes a Lakeland or a fell terrier can be a challenge, but, whichever it is, it’ll be a hard-working handful, advises Adrian Dangar
The Lakeland or fell terrier may be hard to define, but it’ll definitely be a handful, advises Adrian Dangar
Terriers eager for the fray are a familiar sight to anyone who’s hunted with the fell foot packs in the steep and spectacularly beautiful Lake District, where foxes are the age-old enemy of Lakeland sheep farmers. Often broken-coated and always long in the leg, these tough little workers were bred for the stamina to run all day with hounds in all weathers and the courage to destroy foxes in rocky fortresses deep underground.
Their work and unconditional loyalty are celebrated in hunting verses still sung today: ‘Always remember your terriers/protect them from wet and from cold/for the love of a tyke for his master/can never be measured in gold.’
Tommy Dobson founded the eskdale and ennerdale hunt in the mid 18th century with light-framed fell hounds famed for their independence and ability to traverse slopes that would spell certain death to their lowland cousins. At the same time, he began developing a suitable stamp of terrier to work alongside his pack by deploying a potent mix of racy Bedlington blood, lines from across the irish sea and other game strains of terrier. The result was a leggy, narrow-chested black-and-tan dog that was able to withstand the harsh Lake District weather thanks to a thick weatherproof coat. The description was agreed at a meeting in Whitehaven in 1921, after which the celebrated Yellow earl (5th earl of Lonsdale) became the first president of the now defunct Lakeland Terrier Club.
in 1928, the breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club (KC); working and show strands of the Lakeland terrier have taken divergent courses ever since, with a representative of the showing side, stingray of Derrybah, triumphing in 1967 as champion at both Cruft’s and the American equivalent.
Although the breeding of Kc-registered Lakelands is subject to official scrutiny, other working strains have been judiciously refined over the past century. With little public transport and a slow rural pace of life, many areas of the Lakes boasted their own stamp of terrier, based on the sound principle that every outstanding worker was bred from.
Above: Bottoms up: Pete Smith’s Lakeland, Bertie, investigates. Right: Ted, Charlotte Campbell’s Lakeland-border cross, on home territory