The Lakeland terrier is a breed of dog that is used for hunting purposes as well as being a great family dog. Although many used the Lakeland terrier as a family pet or a show dog, their main purpose originally was as a hunting dog used in the pursuit of foxes.
The Lake District has used the Lakeland terrier for many generations for the task of exterminating the foxes that would go after sheep. The Lakeland terrier was invaluable to the sheep farmers, especially during the lambing season. Most hunting involves the dog using their scent to locate their prey and finding it for the hunter. The Lakeland terrier, however, finds the foxes and has to kill them in their lair. Only the most courageous of dogs will complete this task successfully.
When used in the Rocky Mountains, the Lakeland terrier had to exhibit the utmost courage, tenacity and endurance to search and find foxes in the dens in the mountains. Many of the Lakeland terriers were so dedicated and courageous that they would go underground in pursuit of the foxes, some times for many feet. Some of the terriers were so dedicated that if they didn't manage to get to the fox, they would not give up and come out until the hunters would blast the underground area. In addition to pursuing and killing foxes, the Lakeland terrier also is excellent for hunting otters.
There are many areas and terrain the Lakeland terrier is expected to hunt successfully on and only a dog as agile and sure-footed as this dog could be expected and counted on to complete the hunt. The Lakeland terrier has the ability to jump and climb that few dogs, even hunting dogs, possess. This allows them to get to places that they need to find their prey. In addition, their great courage makes them complete many large jumps to reach to high places where many other dogs would be afraid to jump. They are capable, and have in the past moved uphill for up to 20 miles in a day over very rough ground in pursuit of a fox. When they do find their prey, they do not back down, even if there is more than one. The swimming ability of the Lakeland terrier along with their courage in what may be frigid water and extremely cold conditions make them one of the most valuable hunting dogs today.
As a family pet and watchdog, their courage makes them a valued member of the family. Not only will they bark when strangers arrive, but they will not back down or become easily frightened. When they come face to face with other dogs, they will stand their ground, even if the other dog is much larger. Their courage is a huge factor when breeding the Lakeland terrier. Many breeders do extensive study before breeding just to be assured they are bringing this extraordinary quality out in the litter.