Lucas Terrier

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Lucas Terrier

A small, sturdy Terrier with semi-prick ears, dark eyes and a harsh double coat, the Lucas Terrier may be white, tan or black and tan. Created by mixing the Sealyham Terrier and Norfolk Terrier, this breed was developed by Sir Jocelyn Lucas in the hopes of creating an efficient working dog that was healthy and sociable.

These little guys are always full of energy and eager to attack life! They enjoy being brought on walks, playing games, deciphering puzzles and participating in a variety of canine activities, such as agility and obedience. They thrive when surrounded by people and will form close bonds with their family, showing them large amounts of affection.

About & History

Not to be confused with the Sporting Lucas Terrier – an entirely different breed – the Lucas Terrier is a rare breed of dog that was established in the UK by Sir Jocelyn Lucas, a well-known dog breeder of his time. He developed the Lucas Terrier by mixing together the Sealyham Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier.

Sir Jocelyn Lucas decided to create the breed because he felt that the Sealyham terrier was too large and bulky to be able to competently chase its quarry down holes and burrows. He had also been experiencing a high number of whelping deaths in his kennel and felt that outbreeding would improve survival. The breed was created in roughly 1940 and may sometimes be referred to as the Cornish Terrier.

With such a recent history and a small population base, it is often touted that all modern-day Lucas Terrier dogs are directly related to those Lucas Terriers created by Sir Jocelyn Lucas. Interestingly, it is still acceptable for Lucas Terriers to be bred to Sealyhams and Norfolks, whilst still maintaining the breed purity.

There are currently a small number of Lucas Terriers within the UK (around 500), and an even smaller population within the USA, where they were exported around the 1970s. The Lucas Terrier Club carries out a lot of the work related to the breed, as they are currently not recognised by any established organisations, such as the Kennel Club or UKC.


Lucas Terrier Large Photo
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As a working dog, it is important that the Lucas Terrier be well-balanced and in good proportion with no exaggerated features that would impair its movement or working ability. They have a quite wide skull and a well-defined stop leading to a strong jaw. Their nose is always black, while their oval eyes are dark and soulful. Their v-shaped ears should not be too large and will flop forward in a ‘half-prick’ position. Their neck is relatively broad and should blend seamlessly into their body. Their straight legs must be sturdy and powerful with adequate muscling. They will have quite a deep chest and well-sprung ribs.

Their coat is straight and harsh with good weather-proofing qualities. Most dogs have black and tan or tan coats – though some are white and others may be blue. Females weigh from 5kg to 8kg, while the slightly larger male will weigh between 6kg and 9kg. Males stand to around 25cm to 30cm at the withers, while females will reach heights of 23cm to 28cm.

Character & Temperament

Kind and well-mannered, this little dog has an even temperament and a real zest for life. Happy to participate in just about any activity going, they love to experience new things and will give anything a try. Perhaps their best asset is their adaptability; they can easily fit in to any household as a companion animal, yet have the ability to make a superb working Terrier at the same time.

Sassy and feisty, it is true that this little dog can sometimes be a handful, though any mischief it gets up to is always done without malice. They make good playmates for children and are both gentle and considerate. Equally, this is a great breed for an older person, as they offer wonderful companionship, though would need regular exercise and play time.

Lucas Terriers will get along well with other dogs and love to make new friends. More reserved breeds may find them a bit too boisterous though, so introductions should be done slowly. Not surprisingly, any small furry pets, such as guinea pigs or ferrets, would not be safe in the company of the Lucas Terrier, whose prey drive will quickly kick in.

While this dog could possibly make a good watch dog, they are not overly vocal so may allow a visitor into the home with little warning. They are far too welcoming to cut it as a guard dog, and a different breed should be considered if this role were to be required.


Eager to please and always keen to learn, the Lucas Terrier is a pleasure to teach and really enjoys its training sessions. Their quick wit allows them to pick up new tasks quickly, and their abilities often impress their owners.

Unfortunately, there is a risk of this dog developing a condition known as ‘little dog syndrome’, whereby they feel the need to assert dominance and take control of the people within the home. By setting boundaries for your Terrier, you can easily prevent this. For example, keeping them off the furniture, not feeding them directly from your plate at the dinner table and letting them walk for themselves, rather than carrying them everywhere. While there may be a temptation to do these things because of their size and cuteness, ‘babying’ a dog can quickly result in behavioural issues, such as snappiness or disobedience, which must absolutely be avoided in order to have a happy, well-adjusted dog.


Many breed members will live well into their teens, often to the ripe old age of 14 or 15. While there are no health studies from which we can gain information, it would be wise to keep an eye out for the following health conditions in your Lucas Terrier:

Periodontal Disease

The small mouth of the Lucas Terrier can be a haven for bacteria, particularly if there is overcrowding of the teeth or any retained deciduous teeth. Plaque may build up, leading to thick calculus deposits, gingivitis and bad breath. Many dogs need a dental cleaning or two throughout their lifetime, which is likely to be the case for the Lucas Terrier.

Dental health can be improved by feeding this breed hard biscuits rather than wet food, offering dental chews, brushing teeth daily and putting some plaque reducing powder in their food or water.

Patellar Luxation

Small Terriers can be prone to patellar luxation – a condition whereby the knee cap pops in and out of place. The classic presentation would be a dog that runs along, suddenly starts skipping for a few steps and then returns to running normally. Your vet will determine how extensively your dog is affected and then decide the most appropriate treatment for them.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While this is a dog that does love to be outdoors, they adapt well to living in a small home or apartment and are quite content to live the majority of their life indoors. Having said this, they do need a maintenance amount of exercise each day – typically a 30 to 40-minute walk. Ideally, they would also have some off-lead time in a secure back garden, allowing them to display their more natural behaviours.

Anecdotally, this is a dog that likes to dig, so care should be taken if left unsupervised in the back garden, as new holes may soon appear! Digging tends to be a response to boredom, so try to keep your Lucas Terrier occupied by providing plenty of exercise, as well as mental stimulation, which may include ‘hide and seek’ treat games or puzzle toys that will only release treats when in certain positions.


These dogs rarely shed, though are not classified as hypoallergenic. It is often said that they do not smell ‘doggy’ and so can be a good option for those owners that are particularly sensitive to odours. Hand-stripping may be required a few times a year to help them shed their coat and allow new fur to grow. This task can be done over several days, particularly if your dog becomes restless.

Check the ears of the Lucas Terrier every few days by flipping the pinna (ear flap) over and ensuring the canal is pale and clean. Wax can be removed with an ear cleaner and some dry cotton wool.

Famous Lucas Terriers

There are no stand-out individuals within the breed in popular culture, however, there are a fair few gorgeous examples on Instagram if you search #LucasTerrier.


The Lucas Terrier is one of the breeds that contributed to the development of the Sporting Lucas Terrier. The Lucas Terrier is itself a mixture of the Sealyham Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier and it is commonplace nowadays for Lucas Terriers to be bred back to these breeds.

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