Blue Lacy

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Blue Lacy
TrueBlueLacys / Wikipedia.org

The Blue Lacy is an American breed of dog, first developed in Texas in the mid 19th century. A working dog by nature, they are suited to a variety of activities, including both hunting and herding. With an energy reserve and drive unmatched by most, they are revered in their home state for the talent they display in just about anything they put their ‘paw’ to. Not typically kept as a pet dog, the Blue Lacy thrives when grafting in the outdoors, and is a determined and speedy worker at all times.

A medium-sized, well-built dog, they may be called the ‘Blue’ Lacy, but can actually come in a variety of colours. Lively, robust and suffering with few recognised health problems, they tend to live a good quality and active life well into their teens. It must be said, the Blue Lacy is a real testament to American working dogs.

About & History

The Blue Lacy has many nicknames including the Lacy Cur, the Lacy Hog Dog or simply the Lacy dog. This breed gets its name from the original family who bred them. Four brothers: Frank, George, Ewin and Harry Lacy are known to have moved to Burnet, Texas in 1858 from Kentucky. Like many other farmers at the time, they kept ‘cur’ or mixed breed dogs to offer protection, and to work as both hunters and herders. The Lacy family were conscious in the breeding of their farm dogs, and over time developed the Blue Lacy.

The mixture of breeds used to develop the Blue Lacy is highly debated, though is thought to include the English Shepherd, the Greyhound and a scent-hound. It is claimed that a wild animal, such as a wolf or coyote, also contributed to the mix of dogs used.

The Blue Lacy soon acquired a decent reputation in Texas and was prized by many for its hunting and herding abilities. While they were traditionally used to work with hogs, they are known to be very adaptable and are actually used to work with all forms of livestock and hunt a range of prey, including wild boar, raccoons and squirrels.

While they were in high demand on family ranches and farms in the Southern United States for many years, with the advent of farm vehicles and the decreasing popularity of smallholder farming, there was a period when the Blue Lacy was close to extinction. Luckily, their undeniable working skills and impressive speed ensured that their popularity was soon renewed. A dog of many talents, they have a variety of uses in modern society, ranging from the more traditional hunting, blood-trailing, treeing and tracking, to competing in modern-day agility, obedience and flyball.

They are, in fact, the most commonly used breed in the sport of ‘trapping’ today. This is a controversial method of ‘trapping’ nuisance animals, such as raccoons and foxes in man-made traps. The Blue Lacy will alert the farmer or the hunter to the presence of the prey by barking.

Despite their overall popularity, it wasn’t until 2001 that the Texas Senate recognised the Blue Lacy as its own breed. Not long after, in June 2005, it was officially declared ‘The State Dog of Texas’; quite the accolade. While their popularity is ever increasing in the United States, they are relatively unknown in the rest of the world today, with only small numbers in Europe.

Appearance

Blue Lacy Large Photo

A medium-sized dog with a powerful and sturdy body, the Blue Lacy is designed to be agile and deft. Like a Greyhound, they should be lean and muscular. Their muzzle is long, narrow and strong. Their ears should be folded over. Their characteristically bright and shining eyes are any shade from yellow to orange and are almond-shaped. Their stare is often described as ‘intense’ and has been compared to that of a wolf.

Their coat is short and shiny with only three colours permitted:

  • Blue (any shade from light grey to dark charcoal)
  • Red (any shade from light cream to rusty)
  • Tri-colour

All colour variants of the breed are still referred to as ‘Blue Lacys’ as they possess the gene for blue coat colour, which they have the potential to pass on to subsequent generations.

They range in height from 43 to 64cm, and in weight from 11 to 25kg, with the male of the species generally being taller and heavier than the female.

Character & Temperament

Always determined in their work, they are notoriously energetic and tenacious. Known for their courage – even when faced with much larger and more intimidating animals, such as Texas Longhorn cattle – they will rarely refuse to perform a task set to them. Due to their natural motivation to work, the Blue Lacy needs to be adequately stimulated, or can easily become anxious and develop nuisance behaviours.

As they were traditionally adapted to working long days out on the farm and then relaxing in family homes, they are suited to family life, as long as they have a suitable outlet for their abundant energy. They do not typically do well with other pets, particularly those that are introduced to the family at a later date. To ensure proper socialisation, the Blue Lacy should be mixed with other animals from a very young age. They will typically possess too much energy and natural dominance to be well suited to living with small children.

Naturally a territorial breed that is always alert, the Blue Lacy can be used as a watchdog and will bark at the first sign of threat or intrusion.

Trainability

Photo of Blue Lacy puppy
TrueBlueLacys / Wikipedia.org

Training the Blue Lacy can be an impossible task for an inexperienced owner. While they are incredibly intelligent and quick to learn, they will often refuse to listen to cues, to the point where they may completely ignore people they do not respect. Their intellect can be their downfall at times, as they bore quickly and do not do well with repetitive tasks.

Both hunting and herding come naturally to the Blue Lacy, and they should be able to do these tasks from a young age with minimal training. It is important to be the one in charge in the relationship, as the Blue Lacy respects dominance. As the owner, you must consistently be the leader of the pack to ensure the Blue Lacy holds you in high esteem and will obey your requests without questioning them.

Health

Developed to be a hardy breed that can withstand long periods outside, the Blue Lacy is a sturdy dog that can live to a great age, while hardly slowing down. It is not unusual to hear of a Blue Lacy working well into their teens. In fact, many dogs reach the age of 16 and beyond.

Known health conditions present in the Blue Lacy population include:

  • Colour Dilution Alopecia – Also seen in breeds, such as the Doberman and Dachshund, this is a genetic condition that results in dogs exhibiting a dull and dry coat. Hair eventually becomes so damaged that it breaks off, leaving bald patches behind. This disease is progressive and there is no known cure.
  • Skin Allergies – A common condition in many purebred dogs, allergies will result in itchiness, which can lead to incessant scratching. This scratching can cause breaks in the skin and may lead to secondary infections. Dogs can be allergic to many different things, including certain foods, parasites, pollens and grasses.

Exercise and Activity Levels

An authentic working dog, even daily walks of several hours duration would not be adequate for this breed. They have an incredibly high exercise tolerance and constantly want to be active and on the move. They thrive when placed in environments where they can work hard, and are in no way suited to a sedentary, indoor lifestyle.

Failing to provide them with the exercise they crave will undoubtedly result in destructive, and other undesirable, behaviours. In fact, it is not uncommon for families to adopt a Blue Lacy, only to find that it is not suited to their lifestyle, and then needs to be re-homed somewhere that it can be more active. The Blue Lacy traditionally makes a far better working dog than it does a companion animal.

Grooming

With their short coat that is tight to the body, the Blue Lacy has minimal grooming requirements. They need hardly any brushing and are very low maintenance. They do shed, however, and are not a hypoallergenic breed.

Famous Blue Lacy Dogs

There are no well-known individual Blue Lacy dogs, though the breed itself is famous for being the state dog of Texas. For those researching the breed, looking at the photos of the adventures of Blue Lacys and their owners on Instagram might be a good starting point.

Cross-Breeds

While the Blue Lacy itself is thought to have derived from an array of breeds (and possibly even a non-dog species), there are no recognised Blue Lacy cross breeds yet.

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