As the ewoks of the dog world, terriers get mistaken for lapdogs. Yet underneath their adorable, fuzzy exterior lies the heart of a relentless killer, bred for generations to destroy their quarry. Meet the Lakeland Terrier, aka "The Toothy Teddy"
Lakeland Terriers were bred to protect the sheep of the Lake and Patterdale districts from the Fell Foxes that inhabited the mountainous farmlands of northern England. Because other breeds, like the Fox Terrier, could not fit into the rocky crevices of the fox dens, the farmers bred existing terriers, such as the Bedlington Terrier, into the smaller, and slender, Lakeland Terrier.
The pups were chosen for their unmatched tenacity, oftentimes bred according to how many badgers or foxes they killed. The method for hunting a fox was simple: the cute, fuzzy Lakeland would chase the fox, badger, or (in the States) woodchuck into its den. Our adorable puppy would then descend into the pitch black, subterranean tunnels to kill the first living creature it bumped into. After encountering the vermin in complete darkness, the dog would blindly and ferociously attack until the victim was dead. Keep in mind, the vermin were larger than the dog. And that this was all done with the dog unable to see what was directly in front of them.
The Lakeland Terrier is well-known for its dedication to the task at hand. Many particularly plucky puppies have been extracted from dens with dynamite. Sometimes, a dog would be trapped underground for a week or two before popping up to the surface, eagerly wagging its tail and awaiting praise from its master while covered head -to- toe in fox blood. Sometimes, they didn't win. Indeed, these little killers were bred to have absolutely no concept of consequences.
So next time you see the saddlebacked puppy with the teardrop eyes, don't be fooled by its appearance. Otherwise, you could end up like my dear mother, who now has to contend with a 12-lb ball of fur named "Scully" that makes a game out of dive-bombing Dobermans.