The Blue Lacy is a multipurpose working dog native to the United States, specifically the state of Texas. The Blue Lacy is widely regarded throughout the Southern United States as one of the most talented stock working and hunting dogs. This breed is known for its strong working drive, intelligence, good health, and high energy level. Developed by the Lacy family of Burnet County Texas, in 2005, the breed was recognized by the Texas legislature as the Official State Dog of Texas. The Blue Lacy is a breed with many nicknames and names, and is also known as the Blue Lacy Dog, Blue Lacy Hound, Blue Lacy Cur, Blue Lacy Stock Dog, Blue Lacy Herding Dog Lacy, Blue Lacy Hog Dog, Blue Lacy Game Dog, Lacy, Lacy Dog, Lacy Hound, Lacy Cur, Lacy Stock Dog, Lacy Herding Dog, Lacy Hog Dog, and Lacy Game Dog. Additionally, the words Texas or American are sometimes placed in front of all of these names.
Most of the exact details of the Blue Lacy’s history have been lost to time, but canine historians and breed fanciers have been able to piece together the general line of events. The Blue Lacy is usually classified as a type of Cur. Many people believe that a Cur is a mixed-breed or undesirable dog, but this is only accurate as to the term’s use in Great Britain and Ireland. In the United States, the term Cur actually is used to describe a large group of Pure Bred and mixed breed dogs, making it similar to the terms Hound or Terrier. In general, the Curs are medium to large dogs that are bred for their ability to perform a large number of jobs including stock work, herding, property protection, hog hunting, and small game hunting. Among the most well-known Cur breeds are the Catahoula Leopard Dog, Mountain Cur, Black Mouth Cur, and Tennessee Treeing Brindle.
Although the original origin of Cur-type dogs is unclear, they were almost certainly first developed in the British Isles. Originally a derivation of the word, "Curdogge", the earliest written records of the word Cur date to the 1200’s. At the time, there were a number of distinct Cur breeds native to the British Isles, most of which specialized in hunting, herding, or guarding. There is a major debate among experts whether the word Cur comes from the Anglo-Saxon word, “curren,” which means, “to growl,” or the Gaelic word, “cu,” which means, “Dog.” It is also unclear how these breeds were developed. However, most reports of Curs seem to strongly indicate that they were most prevalent in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Borderlands, and Northern England. As these are the areas which have traditionally maintained the highest levels of Celtic influence, this would strongly suggest that the Curs were the working dogs of the Celtic peoples and that their name is Celtic in origin. Although at one time Curs were almost certainly the most common dogs in the British Isles, the development of more purebred modern breeds such as the English Foxhound and Border Collie eventually drove them to extinction.
When the British began colonizing the Eastern Seaboard of North America in the early 1600’s, they brought along their dogs with them. Even the Mayflower brought at least two European dogs to Plymouth. Although record keeping at the time was quite sparse, it is almost certain that a number of Cur-type dogs were imported. However, because it was very expensive to transport dogs across the Atlantic and the journey was so arduous that many animals perished, only a small number of individuals made it to America. Once in America, many of these British dogs perished in their new environment. America is much hotter than Great Britain, is home to greater numbers of and more virulent canine diseases and parasites, and is also home to more species of dangerous wildlife. This meant that a very small number of early European dogs survived to reproduce in the American Colonies. Breeders in American were forced to breed all available lines of Cur together, and almost certainly added in other breeds as well such as Collie-type dogs, scenthounds, Spanish War Dogs, French breeds, and Native American dogs. The resulting Cur-type dogs were incredibly adaptable, capable of performing a wide variety of tasks, and very well-suited for life in North America.
As the American population grew, there was a continuous push westward. Vast tracts of land were annexed by conquering Native American tribes, purchasing land from France and Spain, and a major war with Mexico. Cur-type dogs were greatly preferred by the first American pioneers to settle in frontier lands. These breeds became essential parts of the lives of frontier farmers. They herded their cattle, helped provide hides and meat by hunting, and protected their families and homes. The first American settlers in Texas almost certainly kept Cur-type dogs, as well as a number of other breeds as well. One early Texas family was the Lacy family. In 1858, the four Lacy brothers, Frank, George, Ewin, and Harry, moved from Kentucky to Burnet County, Texas. These four men and their families carefully bred their own line of stock dogs. These dogs were primarily used to herd the Lacy family livestock and hunt the feral hogs common in the region, but were also sometimes used to hunt smaller game such as raccoon and squirrel as well.
There is substantial debate among fanciers as to what breeds went into the development of the Blue Lacy. Because evidence from the time is fragmentary at best, this debate will probably never be fully resolved. Most sources seem to agree that the English Shepherd, a breed of sheepherding dog developed in the United States from collie-type dogs, played a substantial role in the Blue Lacy’s ancestry. It is also commonly suggested that the Greyhound was used as well, although the exact breed could be either the British Greyhound or the American Staghound. Some type of scenthound was almost certainly used, although the exact breed is highly debated. The Redbone Coonhound is most commonly suggested, although essentially every British, American, or French scenthound is a possibility. Although most sources do not specifically state this, the Lacies almost definitely heavily used local Cur-type dogs. There is also near-universal agreement that a wild dog figured into the ancestry of a Blue Lacy. Most think that it was a wolf, but others think that it was actually a coyote. One theory holds that the Lacy brothers brought a wolf-scenthound mix with them from Kentucky and then crossed it with an English Shepherd mix in Texas.
Whatever dogs the Lacy brothers used to develop their lines, the resulting dogs quickly standardized. They were usually blue or red in color, highly intelligent, tough, very healthy, and extraordinarily driven to work. These dogs became known as Blue Lacies. Some claim that they are called Blue Lacies because of the blue color found in many breed members’ coats. Others claim that they are called Blue Lacies because they all carry the gene for the blue color even dogs with alternately colored coats. Regardless, the breed became very well-known throughout the Texas Hill Country. The Blue Lacy became the highly valued companion of local farmers and hunters and became very highly regarded as both a stock dog and hunting breed. This breed has always specialized in hunting and herding hogs and pigs, but has also been used to herd essentially every other livestock species and to hunt virtually every mammalian prey species found in Texas large or small. The Lacy brothers and their dogs lived very close to where American author Fred Gipson grew up, in fact in the neighboring county. Many have theorized that the Blue Lacy breed may have heavily influenced Old Yeller, and that Old Yeller may have actually been a Blue Lacy mix.
The Blue Lacy continued to be the preferred breed of Texas stockmen and hog hunters for over a century. These dogs were almost exclusively bred to other Blue Lacies (though sometimes to other Cur-type dogs) and were recognized across the state as a purebred, although none had a pedigree. The Blue Lacy’s population dropped in the middle of the 20th Century as new technological advances became available to hunters and ranchers. The breed was so talented that it remained regionally popular in parts of Texas. The breed’s recovery was led by professional and commercial animal trappers. After years of experimentation, a number of commercial trapping companies discovered that the Blue Lacy was the ideal breed to aid their employees. The breed is currently by far the most popular dog used by professional animal trappers across the United States.
Although the Blue Lacy was regarded as a purebred dog, it was not until the 1970’s that they were granted formal recognition with a kennel club. The first canine organization to grant recognition to the Blue Lacy was the Animal Research Foundation (ARF), the same group that was the first to recognize the American Bulldog. In 1976, Preston’s Big Blue became the first registered and pedigreed Blue Lacy. Since that time, several minor and rare breed kennel clubs have also granted full recognition to the Blue Lacy including the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) and the National Kennel Club (NKC). In September 2008, the American Blue Lacy Association (ABLA) was founded by breeders concerned that the Blue Lacy was being too heavily crossed with other dogs. The ABLA chose to call their dogs American Blue Lacies to distinguish them from other lines of Blue Lacy, many of which are not pure. In The primary goal of the ABLA is to have the Blue Lacy achieve full recognition with the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the club is currently attempted to have their dogs entered into the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS), the first step towards full recognition with that organization. In 2009, the National Lacy Dog Registry (NLDR) was founded to provide a registry for working breed members.
In 2005, the Blue Lacy was named the Official State Dog Breed of Texas by the Texas Legislature and Governor. Since that time, increasing numbers of fanciers are acquiring Blue Lacies as pets, especially within the state of Texas. Unfortunately, this breed generally adapts very poorly to life as a companion animal. The Blue Lacy is extraordinarily driven to work and is incredibly energetic. This is a dog that wants something to do all the time, preferably something that vigorously exercises its mind and body. Many families who acquire these dogs find that they are incapable of providing them with the stimulation that they require, and that they develop behavioral issues without it. Increasing numbers of Blue Lacies are being turned into American animal shelters and being euthanized in them. At the same time, many of the Blue Lacies bred primarily for sale as pets are not being carefully bred for working ability, temperament, and health. There is a great fear among breeders of these dogs that the qualities for which the breed is so well-known will be compromised. Because of these fears, there is growing concern among breeders and fanciers that any further notoriety for the breed will result in further damage. There are now rumblings that many fanciers will oppose AKC recognition for the Blue Lacy, much like what has occurred in recent years with Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Havanese, and Jack Russell Terrier fanciers. At this time, there does not seem to be anywhere near the anti-AKC sentiment as occurred with those breeds, but this situation could rapidly change as AKC recognition becomes a greater possibility.
Although increasing numbers of Blue Lacies are being kept primarily as companion animals, the vast majority of breed members are still active or retired working dogs. This breed is regularly used to hunt small animals, hunt hogs, and herd livestock in Texas, and increasingly in other states as well. With the exception of Texas, the Blue Lacy still remains rare in the United States although its numbers have been dramatically increasing over the last decade. The Blue Lacy remains almost unknown outside of the United States, although in recent years a few breed members have found their way to other countries. It appears that the Blue Lacy will remain primarily a working dog for the foreseeable future, although this situation could potentially change.
The Blue Lacy is generally similar to other Cur-type dogs, but is among the most distinctive looking. The Blue Lacy is a medium-sized breed. The average Blue Lacy stands between 18 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder, with females typically being shorter than the males. Although weight is heavily influenced by height, build, and gender, most breed members weigh between 25 and 50 pounds. The Blue Lacy is a very leanly built breed, and in many ways does resemble the Greyhounds from which it is supposedly descended. In no way is this breed fragile, however, and all breed members should look extremely muscular and powerful. While the Blue Lacy is generally squarely-built, some breed members are noticeably longer from chest to rump than they are tall from floor to shoulder. The tail of the Blue Lacy is long, low-set, and carried with a slight curve.
The head and face of the Blue Lacy are very similar to those of other Cur breeds. The head is long, narrow, and not domed. The muzzle and skull remain distinct but blend in quite smoothly with each other. The muzzle itself is quite long. Although the muzzle is rather narrow, it still exhibits substantial power. The nose of the Blue Lacy is usually either colored grey or tan depending on the color of the dog’s coat, although some examples of either color exhibit black noses. The ears of the Blue Lacy drop down. Most dogs have ears that fold down close to the sides of the head although some do fold backwards in a manner similar to that of many Pit Bulls. The eyes of the Blue Lacy are almondAmong experts, the use of Almonds, or Almond derived products in pet food appears to have been met with mixed reviews. While some feel that there is no issue and that the .... shaped. It is preferred that the eyes should be amber in color regardless of the color of the dog’s coat, but some blue dogs have grey eyes. Most breed members have an intense, intelligent, and determined expression.
The coat of the Blue Lacy is short, glossy, and very close. The texture ranges from very fine to slightly harsh. All hairs on a Blue Lacy should have tips that are colored slightly lighter than those found on the rest of the body. The Blue Lacy is found in five acceptable colors: solid blue, solid gunmetal grey, solid red, solid cream, and tricolor. Tricolor dogs are those that are primarily blue with red markings over the eyes, on the muzzle, under the tail, on the chest, and on the legs. Any color may exhibit a white marking on the chest and some white on the feet, although white elsewhere on the body is considered a disqualification. Occasionally a Blue Lacy will be born in an alternative color such as having two much white. These dogs are disqualified in the show ring and should not be bred but otherwise make just as excellent working dogs and companion animals as any other breed members.
Until the last decade, the Blue Lacy was bred almost exclusively for working ability. As a result, this is one of the most driven and energetic breeds on the planet. Blue Lacies are generally very devoted to their families. This breed forms very strong bonds with its owner. This is a dog that craves the constant company of its family and many breed members suffer from severe separation anxiety. Most Blue Lacies came home from a day in the field to spend the evening in their master’s home. As a result, breeders have worked to ensure that this breed is gentle and tolerant with children when properly trained and socialized with them. However, Blue Lacy puppies may be too rambunctious for toddlers. This breed tends to be somewhat dominant and does best with an experienced owner.
While the Blue Lacy is not an aggressive breed, many breed members have very strong protective instincts. Socialization is extremely important for Blue Lacy puppies, otherwise fearfulness or aggression issues may develop later in life. This is a very alert dog that makes an excellent watch dog. The Blue Lacy is protective enough to make an effective casual guard dog, but most breed members lack the aggression to make an ideal protection animal.
The Blue Lacy traditionally works with other dogs to hunt. As a result, this breed is generally tolerant of other dogs when properly socialized. However, Blue Lacies are a very pack oriented breed and may fight other household dogs for dominance. Additionally, some breed members do develop other dog aggression issues. The Blue Lacy is very frequently used as a hunting dog, and more breed members show very high levels of aggression towards other animals. A Blue Lacy left along in a yard for any length of time will probably bring its owner home presents of dead animals ranging in size from a lizard to a raccoon. This breed is also an excellent herding dog and most breed members can be trained so that they are trustworthy with large animals such as horses or sheep. Small creatures are a different story and while some breed members will be trustworthy with cats that they been raised with, many are not.
This is an exceptionally intelligent breed that has been trained for stock work, hunting, agility, and competitive obedience with great success. However, this breed can be a considerable challenge to train. The Blue Lacy is a dominant breed that will often completely ignore a trainer whose authority it does not respect. This breed also bores very quickly when forced to perform the same simple task repetitively. One of the greatest challenges for most experienced handlers working with this breed is that the Blue Lacy is exceptionally sensitive to tone of voice and corrections. Training methods that are too harsh or involve screaming will result in a nervous dog that is too frightened to attempt any actions, and most breed members respond much better to rewards-based methods. The Blue Lacy does take to two tasks very, very quickly, hunting and herding. Even young Blue Lacy puppies perform both tasks naturally and learn them well very rapidly.
There are very, very few breeds of dog that exhibit the working drive and stamina of the Blue Lacy. This dog is capable of working long hours in temperatures that would kill many breeds. As one would expect, this is a breed with a very high exercise requirements. The average Blue Lacy should receive a minimum of between two and three hours of vigorous activity every day, although this breed would probably prefer several more than that. Even the most active family could easily be run ragged trying to meet this dog’s needs, and most could never hope to meet them. Breed member that are not provided proper exercise will develop severe behavioral problems such as extreme destructiveness, constant barking, hyper activity, over excitability, nervousness, and aggression, and many also develop severe emotional problems such as depression, instability, and psychological disorders. While this breed makes an excellent jogging or biking companion, no amount of exercise will suffice for a Blue Lacy unless it allows it to exercise its mind. These dogs are absolutely driven to hunt and herd and will probably not be satisfied unless they are allowed to participate in one or both activities to some extent. This dog has also been used for search and rescue work, competitive obedience, Frisbee, and agility, tasks which seem to provide the breed with the job that it craves. Because of its needs, it is essentially impossible to keep a Blue Lacy in an apartment or suburban setting, and these dogs require a yard with at least several acres.
The Blue Lacy has been bred as a working dog and is a highly skilled, incredibly dedicated, and intensely driven worker. Those looking for a dog to hunt either wild hogs or small game such as squirrels or raccoons will probably be very satisfied with one of these dogs, and those looking for a dog to work with dangerous or stubborn livestock will find this breed invaluable. Those looking for a companion animal are probably best suited with a different breed unless they are prepared to dedicate a very large amount of time and effort provided the dog with immense amounts of physical activity and regular mental exercise.
The Blue Lacy has very low grooming requirements. This dog should never require professional grooming, only a very occasional brushing. Even those routine maintenance procedures which all breeds require such as nail clipping and bathing need to be done considerably less frequently with a Blue Lacy than most breeds. Blue Lacies do shed, although the amount varies from very light to very heavy depending on the individual dog, diet, and time of year.
The Blue Lacy is considered a very healthy breed, and many claim that is among the healthiest of all modern dog breeds. This breed has been bred almost exclusively as a working dog in some of the harshest conditions found in America, and any genetic defects which would have diminished the breed’s ability to work would have been quickly eliminated by either natural selection or deliberate breeding efforts. Although the Blue Lacy is rare, it has a fairly large gene pool due to its age and the regular outcrosses to other breeds that have been made over the past century. This does not mean that the Blue Lacy is immune to genetic health disorders, but it does mean that far fewer conditions are found in this breed than most purebred dogs, and those that do appear are generally found at low rates. Due to its good health and the fact that most breed members stay in excellent shape, this is among the longest lived of all breeds and perhaps the longest lived for a dog of this size. The average life expectancy for a Blue Lacy is about 16 years, and many breed members exceed this. This dog tends to stay in very good health until very late in life and many breed members are still active workers at ages of 15 or 16.
There are a few problems of somewhat greater concern found in Blue Lacies. Because there is a genetic link between coat coloration and skin and hair problems, Blue, gunmetal grey, and tricolor Blue Lacies are at risk of developing a variety of conditions. Color dilution alopecia is the most common, although allergies, demodex mange, other forms of alopecia, and a variety of other problems have been identified. Of greater concern is anesthesia sensitivity. A sizable percentage of the Blue Lacy population is very sensitive to anesthesia. Anesthetic levels which would be safe for most dogs of the same size may kill a Blue Lacy. This trait is possibly passed down from the breed’s Greyhound ancestry. Because this breed is rare, owners should alert their veterinarians of this tendency prior to any surgical procedure.
Although very rare, skeletal and visual problems may occur in this breed, and it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring. It is highly advisable to request that breeders show any OFA and CERF documentation that they have on a puppy or its parents, which essentially all reputable breeders will have.
A list of health problems to which the Blue Lacy may be vulnerable would have to include: