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Lancashire heeler recognized by American Kennel Club as its 201st dog breed

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-07 16:17:46-05

(CNN) — Dog lovers, meet the Lancashire heeler – the 201st breed recognized by the American Kennel Club and the newest member of its Herding Group, the club recently announced.

The breed of canine, described as one of the smallest herding and working dogs in the world, received official recognition on January 1, when the dogs became eligible to compete, according to the American Kennel Club.

The Lancashire heeler is a medium- to high-energy breed known for its “heeler smile,” which emulates a human grin. It was first recognized in 1981 by the British Kennel Club, according to the United States Lancashire Heeler Club.

There are an estimated 400 Lancashire heelers in the US, according to Sheryl Bradbury, the US Lancashire Heeler Club’s president.

The breed was placed on the British Kennel Club’s endangered breeds list in 2003 “due to the small number of dogs composing the gene pool and the risk of several inherited diseases,” according to the AKC.

Bradbury helped the breed along its journey of getting recognized stateside since it was first entered in 2001 in the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, a record-keeping service for purebred breeds that aren’t registrable with the AKC, according to a news release.

The US Lancashire Heeler Club started the process in 2017 of having the breed join the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class, and in April 2023, it was announced the breed would become eligible to compete in the Herding Group this year, according to the release.

“Getting officially recognized as a member of the Herding Group required proof of a minimum of 20 litters bred with a three-generation pedigree. This ensures that the breed is established and sustainable,” according to the AKC.

The energetic, alert and friendly Lancashire heeler, with standard coat colors of either black and tan or liver and tan, is thought to have come from the crossbreeding of Welsh corgis with the Manchester terrier in the 17th century, the release stated.

The dogs can weigh up to 17 pounds and can live up to 15 years.