The Lakeland is a small, working terrier developed in the border county of Cumberland in the north of England. The Lakeland's job was to hunt fox and other vermin that preyed on the farmers' lambs and poultry. Unlike the terriers in the south of England who were used to bolt the fox from its hiding place, the Lakeland was bred to go in for the kill. For this job, strong, punishing jaws were essential. Also, because the little dog accompanied the hunt which usually travelled on foot, the Lakeland needed great stamina and endurance. The dog also needed a slender, agile body to aid him in following the wily fox over rocky ledges and through narrow crevices. It is said that ''the body of a Lakeland should be able to follow into any rocky crevice that his head and shoulders can enter."
The background breeding used to create the tough little Lakeland varies with the authority quoted. Breeds suggested include the Border, Bedlington, Fox, Dandie Dinmont, and Old English Black and Tan Terriers. One writer includes the Otterhound. The breed was also known by a variety of names, these in accordance with the district where the Lakeland was bred. They include Patterdale, Fell, Cumberland and Westmoreland. Small wonder that when the Lakeland was exhibited, it was first classified under the all-embracing title "coloured working terrier." It is said that first specimens were much rougher looking and higher on leg than today's smartly groomed Lakelands.
Prior to World War I some effort was made to organize a breed association but it was not until 1921 that this became a reality. The association's first president was Lord Lonsdale, whose family had been breeding Lakelands for some fifty years. By 1928 a breed standard had been adopted and in that same year The Kennel Club ( England) renamed "the coloured working terrier" the Lakeland Terrier, and granted it official recognition. Three specimens competed at their first championship show at the Crystal Palace, London, in 1928. Succeeding years have seen ever increasing numbers of Lakelands in competition and the breed has accounted for some outstanding show wins both in Britain and on this continent.
First Canadian registrations were recorded in 1931.