The Lucas Terrier: Scam or Planned?

Not every breed we mention here is without controversy (heck, most breeds have at least one, if not in their history, then brewing), but we think they’re worth mentioning so that you have at least a passing knowledge of them. The Lucas Terrier is one such breed.

The Lucas Terrier was developed in the 1940s by Sealyham breeder, Sir Jocelyn Lucas,  and his business partner, the Hon. Enid Plummer. Dissatisfied with the ever increasing size and weight of Sealyham Terriers (which Lucas felt hampered the breed’s ability to work in the field), he bred a petite Sealyham with a carefully chosen Norfolk Terrier from the Colonsay line to create a nimble hunting dog that Sir Lucas described as “little Sealyhams wearing red jackets.”

That is the “official” version. The “unofficial” version is that Lucas, a clever marketer, made the most of an unplanned mating between two dogs being boarded at his Ilmer kennel and marketed the resulting puppies as “Lucas Terriers.” Whether Lucas agreed with a phrase attributed to P.T. Barnum (“there’s a sucker born every minute”), or he genuinely set out to create a breed to fill a niche, we may never know, but enough people were enchanted by the new breed to have carried it on after Lucas and Plummer passed away. A breed society was set up in the United Kingdom in 1987 to promote the breed, and in 1988, a breed standard was written. Lucas Terriers have been in the United States for over 60 years having been imported by Americans who saw them while traveling in Great Britain. A breed club now exists in America, and it’s thought that a little over 100 Lucas Terriers are in the country (as compared to the 400 thought to be in the UK).

The breed isn’t recognized by any major registry that we’re aware of, and while a “Sporting Lucas Terrier” is recognized by the United Kennel Club, the Lucas Terrier Club of America writes that this is a distinctly different breed from their own, and that the similarity in names is both confusing and unfortunate.  This is made all the more confusing by the Sporting Lucas Terrier’s breed history being identical to the Lucas Terrier’s history on the UKC’s website. Perhaps the owner of one the other might clarify this?

The Lucas Terrier Club of America’s website indicates that certain combinations of breedings are still occurring: Approved mating combinations are acceptable as long as they are Lucas to Lucas, Lucas to Sealyham, or Lucas to Norfolk. The Sealyham and/or Norfolk must be a purebred dog registered with a recognized kennel club such as the AKC, and the Lucas has to be a direct descendent of one of Sir Jocleyn Lucas’s original Lucas terriers.

Image of Lucas Terriers from Wikicommons and shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

 

5 thoughts on “The Lucas Terrier: Scam or Planned?”

  1. Sounds like a precurser of the designer dog craze of Labradoodles etc.
    But my beloved Borders are a cross too….
    But longer ago, and to create a breed of fast, long legged terriers to run with the Border hunts and keep up with the hounds and horses.

  2. The Lucas story is more similar to the Cesky Terrier than the Labradoodle which is a transparent scam. It will be another 25 years before this is sorted out. In the meantime, if one wants a purebred dog of similar type, there is Norfolk, Sealys, and Norwich, and if you want something bigger, Glen of Imaal which may have some Norwich from the 1930s to 1970s. There really is no shortage of choice of breeds.

    • Thanks for the input, Conifer. All the terriers you mentioned are terrific breeds – for the right home!

  3. Sir Jocelyn Lucas published on several occasions the detailed story of the founding of the breed–including the specific considerations that went into its establishment in the 1940s. These were confirmed by witnesses who worked at his kennels, years after his death. The story is not dissimilar to the recognized Cesky Terrier, in that the the origin breeds are clearly defined (unlike the so-called Sporting Lucas Terrier). The type was set by Jumbo Frost and Enid Plummer in the 1980s, and today’s classic Lucas Terriers bear the same overall look and conformation. Further, due to its relative rarity (approx. 650 individuals worldwide as of this writing), combined with the stringent adherence to genetic testing by its parent clubs, the consistency of type is arguably even more uniform in the Lucas Terrier than in breeds that have suffered from over-commercialization. The matings listed above are a gross generalization, without consideration of size, or appropriate health and other important factors, and overlook the basic fact that most English and Welsh terriers share a common origin and heritage. This sort of speculation does the entire sport a disservice.

    • As we have no (figuratively speaking) “dog in the fight,” we reviewed a variety of sources to come up with a consensus and what we reported were the two schools of thought regarding the breed. The original piece was written four years ago, and we’re happy to revisit the topic pending additional sources.

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