Sporting Lucas Terrier

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

Developed in Scotland in the 1990s, the Sporting Lucas Terrier is a direct descendant of the Lucas Terrier, which was created about 50 years prior. They are a small, compact terrier, prized for their athleticism and their ability to be both quick and flexible despite their small stature. Their double coat is harsh to the touch and offers good level of protection from the external environment.

Traditionally used to pursue small vermin, such as rats and mink, this breed has the ability to ‘go to ground’, or to follow its quarry down narrow spaces. They were built for endurance and do not shy away from hard work. A well-balanced pet, the Sporting Lucas Terrier slots in nicely to most family homes and, with its affectionate nature and self-confident attitude, is hard not to fall in love with.

About & History

A modern dog with a history that is easy to trace, the Sporting Lucas Terrier’s story begins in Scotland in the 1940s. They are in existence thanks to Sir Jocelyn Lucas, a Sealyham Terrier fancier with an interest in creating new dog breeds. Sir Lucas began to grow concerned that the Sealyham Terriers of his day were becoming too large and so bred the Lucas Terrier in a bid to retain a small and athletic companion animal that had the ability to hunt its prey right down into the earth. The Lucas Terrier was developed by crossing the Sealyham Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier. The Sporting Lucas Terrier was then generated in the 1990s by mixing it with several other terrier breeds, including a number of Fell Terriers and the Plummer Terrier. This mix of dogs resulted in a leaner, taller dog. Some confusion remains nowadays, with several people wrongly thinking that the Sporting Lucas Terrier and the Lucas Terrier are the same breed.

It was important to the original breeders that the Sporting Lucas Terrier not only maintained the ability to be a sporting terrier that hunts vermin and can go to ground (continuing the pursuit of the prey even when they burrow under), but also kept the spunky personality that endears other terrier breeds to so many families all over the world. It was not until 2002 that the UKC officially recognised the Sporting Lucas Terrier within their Terrier group.


It is vital that the Sporting Lucas Terrier possesses a compact and sturdy body that allows it to keep pace with its prey and also to burrow underground. This means that they should be well proportioned but with a supple spine. Their wide head is moderately sized and has a well-demarcated stop. Their jaw is notably strong and should allow the dog to hold prey and bite with ease. Their oval eyes and prominent nose are both darkly pigmented. Their ears originate from high up on their skull, remaining in a ‘half-prick’ position at all times. A neck that is too short is an automatic fault in the show ring.

Unlike many other small terriers, the Sporting Lucas Terrier should have a long stride, hence its forelimbs should not be so short as to restrict movement. Their robust body is more rectangular in shape than square, with a low centre of gravity. While their loin and croup will slope slightly, they have a straight back. Though they have muscular hind limbs, the leg bones should not be too dense, which allows for a more athletic movement. While the tail of many working Sporting Lucas Terriers is docked short, if left natural, it will be carried straight up in the air.

While the male will stand between 11 and 13 inches tall, the shorter female will only reach heights of between 10 and 12 inches. The average weight for the male dog is from 14 to 18lbs, while the slighter female will weigh from 11 to 15lbs.

Colour Variants

This breed has a double coat, with a stiff, shaggy outercoat and a profuse undercoat. Breed members may be either of the two following colour variants:

  1. Tan with grizzle or tan with black and brown: A small number of white fur patches are permissible.
  2. White with markings of brown, grey, grizzle and black: Some tan colouring is also allowed.

Character & Temperament

The temperament of the Sporting Lucas Terrier is just as important as its physical appearance, with breeders aiming for a dog full of personality and joie de vivre. These confident little dogs find it hard to believe that they are only a foot or so tall, often acting like dogs two to three times their size! They have the ability to command the room and are never shy. Despite their abundance of energy, they would rarely be described as hyper and can maintain good control over themselves.

Fabulous hunters, Sporting Lucas Terriers face all of their challenges with courage and excitement, though are not so headstrong as to place themselves in danger unnecessarily. They will complete any task set to them with a positive attitude and are not fazed in the slightest by difficult working conditions or poor weather.

A very sociable dog, the Sporting Lucas Terrier is a friend to all, and will usually get along splendidly with other dogs. As they tend to be complete extroverts, other more timid dogs may find them overwhelming to interact with at first. While they won’t initially greet a stranger with open arms, their hesitation won’t last long if they sense that the new arrival is not a threat. This dog will happily bark to alert its owner of any new arrival but will not act hostile enough to ever make it as a guard dog.


A good choice for a novice trainer, the Sporting Lucas Terrier is a smart dog that is eager to please and finds any new challenge thrilling. Their curiosity means that they are usually very willing participants when it comes to any activity that you decide on. They do not need much help when it comes to knowing how to hunt, as this is an activity that is second nature to them. Owners should begin to teach obedience and household manners from a very young age.


A dog that suffers with few health issues, most Sporting Lucas Terriers will live into their early teens. The conditions listed below may be more likely to affect the Sporting Lucas Terrier than other breeds:

Patellar Luxation

While a dislocating patella can occur in any dog, it tends to be more commonly seen in small dogs, notably terriers. A knee cap that pops out of place causes discomfort and an abnormal gait and often leads to the development of arthritis in later life. Treatment may be either non-surgical or surgical, depending on the extent of the disease.

Periodontal Disease

It is true that many smaller dogs with limited space in their mouths are more prone to developing dental disease throughout their lifetime. A build-up of calculus and the presence of gingivitis causes discomfort and a foul smell. Oral infections may also occur, and some dogs are so badly affected that their teeth may even loosen and fall out.

Feeding Sporting Lucas Terriers hard kibble rather than soft meat, and brushing their teeth daily, can help to keep their teeth clean. Most terriers will require one or two veterinary dental cleanings during their lifetime.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The sprightly Sporting Lucas Terrier needs plenty of exercise to keep it on its toes and will easily become bored if left to its own devices. Breed members benefit from mental enrichment, as well as physical activity, and enjoy being allowed to participate in scenting trials, and obedience; tasks in which they can use their brain.

Allowing this dog to hunt will satisfy many of its physical and mental requirements, so is always a good idea if possible. If hunting with your Sporting Lucas Terrier is not an option, make sure to bring it on a vigorous walk or run each day that lasts for at least one hour. They do best in the countryside and often prove too high energy to live a comfortable life in a small home in the city. Sports, such as agility, Frisbee and Flyball, are all great choices for the Sporting Lucas Terrier, who makes a superb competitor and may just bring home a gold medal!


The double coat of this breed should be brushed thoroughly once or twice a week and will shed seasonally. One bath every few months should be sufficient, though dogs that get excessively muddy or dirty can be bathed more often than this. The ears of the Sporting Lucas Terrier should be cleaned at regular intervals, and for most dogs, fortnightly is enough.

Their claws should not be allowed to grow too long, as this can leave them prone to breakages. If a dog’s claws are not kept naturally short by walking on pavements and other hard ground, they should be trimmed every one to two months.

Famous Sporting Lucas Terriers

A dog that is not particularly popular and is mostly used as a working terrier, there are no famous examples of the Sporting Lucas Terrier.


The Sporting Lucas Terrier himself is a descendent of the Lucas Terrier with a mix of a number of terrier breeds, including the Sealyham Terrier, the Plummer Terrier and the Norfolk Terrier.

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