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Article by Courtney Farris
National Lacy Dog Association
You won’t see them in the show ring, but people with roots in the Texas Hill Country know what they look like and what they are supposed to do, and have for over 100 years. The Lacy Dog, also known as the Blue Lacy or Lacy Hog Dog was created during the late 19th century to work free ranging hogs.
The Lacy family moved from Christian County, Kentucky, to a homestead in Marble Falls in 1858. The brothers were rock masons by trade and George Lacy owned Granite Mountain in Marble Falls which provided the granite used during the construction of the state capitol building in Austin.
The Lacys also raised hogs to supplement their income. During this time, Texans used hog dogs to round up wild range hogs that populated the Hill Country. The first hog dogs were usually hound crosses but the Lacy brothers created their own line of dogs to gather the family’s hogs and drive them to livestock markets in Austin. It appears they crossed an English Shepherd with a Greyhound and a wolf, resulting in a fast herding dog with the intense prey drive and fearlessness necessary for working dangerous hogs.
Also revered for their speed and intelligence the breed has become an all-around working dog for ranchers, cowboys, trappers and hunters. Though they can be trained to do almost anything, lacys make great hog dogs, cow dogs and trackers and most will make a serviceable tree dog. In fact, Lacys are gaining popularity in the West because of their versatility. A rancher can catch a mountain lion on Monday, check traps on Tuesday and push cows around on Wednesday. A hard-hunting dog capable of tracking a variety of predators is instrumental in keeping livestock safe from coyotes and big cats.
Compact and balanced, they are known for their unique blue coloration, though they can also be red or blue with tan points. In 2005, they were named the official State Dog of Texas and, given the tremendous impact the breed had on the Hill Country as well as the Lacy’s ties to the capitol building, they are Texas to the core.
Despite their high working drive and intense personalities, lacy dogs can be wonderful companions, as long as they are exercised and given a job to do. Like other working breeds, lacys require an experienced leader committed to their training and specific needs.
Purebred doesn’t necessarily mean well-bred and a well-bred Lacy Dog is more than a piece of paper. Though pedigrees will give you important insights into a dog’s lineage, registration does not guarantee a puppy will look or work like a Lacy Dog. When picking out a puppy, these are the things a buyer should expect from an ethical Lacy breeder. Among other things, an ethical breeder should be educated about genetics, structure, anatomy, purpose, animal health, behavior, and training methods.
1.) Breeding for working ability. An ethical breeder will be able to show you their Lacys at work. If that is not geographically possible, they will have videos or numerous photos available for potential buyers. If you want a true working Lacy, you should only buy a puppy out of working parents. Though pet breeders will occasionally produce a good hunting or herding dog, the odds are against it.
2.) Breeding to standard. In addition to being proven working dogs, breeding stock should fit the conformation standard. It is important that the dogs are the right size, ideally 17 to 22 inch and 30 to 50 pounds, so they can perform the jobs they were created for in the Texas brush and heat. Dogs should not look like hounds (long ears or drooping lips) nor should they look like pit bulls (pricked ears or overly heavy, loaded shoulders). Ethical breeders will only use standard dogs in their breeding program.
3.) Breeding for temperament. Lacys are tough working dogs. They should be driven, gritty and capable of getting the job done. Many are protective of their property and people. They also have a strong pack instinct and will correct other dogs. But truly aggressive dogs should never be bred. Dogs who bite people or wantonly attack other dogs have no place in a breeding program.
4.) Places puppies in working homes. Lacys can make great companions, but they are not meant to be purely pets. Ethical breeders not only breed working stock, they sell to working homes. If you don’t have a real job for a Lacy, you should look at another breed.
5.) Emphasizes health and proper care. Ethical breeders only cross healthy dogs from healthy lines. They keep their dogs in a clean and healthy environment. They either feed a raw diet or quality dog food. They give their dogs the best care possible. And they will encourage potential owners to do the same.
All ethical breeders will welcome you to their home and kennel. They will let you meet the parents and prove their working ability. They will also require you prove yourself worthy of a Lacy Dog. It is vital to the preservation of the breed and the happiness of each dog that they end up in the right environment.
Breeders who breed the family pet to any convenient dog of same breed just to have purebred pups “with papers” or produce several litters a year are in it for profit, not to preserve and improve the breed. If you have any questions about litters, bloodlines or breeders, please send us an email.
There is no single, surefire method to train a Lacy on hogs. Each dog is different and what works for one hunter may not work for another. However, these are some of the things we’ve found most successful with our own dogs as well as other dogs we have trained. Please remember safety first and be patient.
The first step, regardless of the dog’s age, is introducing them to a hog. Our own pups start that process at six to eight weeks old, always on a hog of equal or smaller size. The puppies typically see the piglet as a playmate until the piglet nips them, which is usually what “keys” the pup off. Older dogs may need a companion to help them find their way. We use one of our finished dogs to teach older pups and dogs the first few times. After that introduction, we have them work alone for a while so they learn to trust themselves.
As the dog progresses and gains confidence, as well as knowledge of how the hog moves and thinks, we graduate them up in hog size until they can control a 200 to 250 pound boar efficiently. Repetition is important, working the dog on a daily bases increases their drive and helps keep them focused. A young pup will have a short attention span, so five to ten minutes a day is enough. Older dogs can work anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It’s important not to overwork your dog. Give them breaks and let them get a drink. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever seen a balding blue Lacy? Sometimes it is just a couple patches here and there, other times it affects their entire coat. It is rare, but it does happen due to a genetic disorder called Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA).
Dogs with Color Dilution Alopecia are born with normal coats. Symptoms develop as early as six months or as late as three years. It often starts on the flanks or along the back, but bald spots can occur anywhere and may eventually spread to cover the entire body. Sometimes stiff guard hairs remain over dry skin. Even though dogs with Color Dilution Alopecia can be healthy, they are susceptible to sunburn, windburn and scaly skin. Because the hair follicles are damaged, they are also prone to bacterial skin diseases. But, for the most part, Color Dilution Alopecia is an aesthetic disorder.
This disorder is related to the double dilute gene, dd, that causes the blue coloration in Lacys. Not all blue dogs have Color Dilution Alopecia, and most blue Lacys will never have problems with their coats or skin. (Note: For the sake of this article, blue dogs refer to both traditional blue and tricolor Lacys.) But all dilute dogs, regardless of breed, can develop issues. All Lacys carry the dilution gene. The blues and tris express it more intensely and thus they are at greater risk for alopecia. Read the rest of this entry »
It is hard to resist a beautiful blue Lacy puppy. In addition to their unique good looks, they are incredibly intelligent with an intriguing history and entertaining personality. But don’t forget that the Lacy was bred for decades to work on ranches in the Texas Hill Country. They have the stamina, energy and intense drive needed to hunt wild hogs, herd rough cattle, face trapped predators and track wounded bucks. In a few months, the adorable puppy curled up in your lap will become a very active adult dog ready for a job.
Will you be ready? Have you planned for life with an energetic, indefatigable, driven working dog? In 2001, these were the top ten reasons people relinquished their dogs to a shelter:
Cost of pet maintenance
No time for pet
Too many pets at home
No home for littermates
Lucy had her first litter of puppies in June 2007. This was also my first experience with newborn pups. On Saturday night, she gave birth to seven puppies. On Monday morning, I discovered that one puppy was dead. Even though I was told to expect to loose some, this was very distressing to me. By Monday afternoon I saw that another puppy was in really bad shape and rushed him to the veterinarian. The vet informed me that the pup was dehydrated and gave the him some dextrose under the skin. He did OK for a day or two, then slipped back to where he started.
In my concern for the pup, I got on the internet and looked for anything that would tell me what was wrong with the puppy. Finally, I came upon a website that talked about puppies born with cleft palate. Sure enough, when I looked in the pups mouth, it was obvious that he had the cleft palate. These puppies cannot form the suction that is required to nurse from their mother. I had noticed that my puppy could get milk that was in the nipple, but when he had to suck hard enough to pull the milk down, he just couldn’t do it. So cleft palate pups will get some milk, but not much.
I found a wonderful website where a breeder of Labrador Retrievers gave a lot of tips about how to take care of a cleft palate puppy. This website, http://hennwood.tripod.com/id88.htm, is very helpful and has all the information anyone would need. I would highly recommend that anyone who is trying to save a cleft palate puppy read it. I tried what I read, but my pup died at three weeks. It was pretty hard to take, but I knew that if I ever had another cleft palate pup that I had more experience, better information and the pup would have a better chance of living. Read the rest of this entry »
December is here and that means Christmas is right around the corner. Though the hustle and bustle of the holidays is hard on young pups and new owners alike, many people choose to surprise their loved ones with a puppy from Santa. If you decide to get a Lacy this holiday season, make sure you prepare the entire family for the new addition, especially children. To ensure a smooth transition, sit down with your kids and go over these guidelines for safely handling a Lacy.
Puppies are cute and loads of fun but they are also a lot of work! There are some important things you should know about our new Lacy puppy.
- Puppies are still babies and can be hurt more easily than you might think. They do not like to be dropped or kicked. You shouldn’t hold them on their back or pull their tail and ears. Big dogs don’t like these things either. Read the rest of this entry »