I am a proud Lacy owner who loves educating others about the breed.
Introduction to Lacy Dogs
When the Lacy brothers moved to Marble Falls, TX, in 1858, they needed a new dog for new jobs. Shepherds, hounds and collies were no match for the dangerous feral hogs they rounded up and drove to the Austin meat markets. It is unclear the exact mix they used, but the proposed breeds include English Shepherd, scenthound, Greyhound and wolf. They linebred these unique dogs until they had a dog with the brains, speed and build to work their wild boars. Today the Lacy breed has developed into an all-around working dog for ranchers, hunters, cowboys and trappers.
- Height: 18 to 21 inches
- Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
- Build: Muscular but lithe, compact and balanced
- Coat: Short and sleek
- Coloring: Blue, red or tri with minimal white markings and yellow to brown eyes
The Lacy comes in only three colors varieties: Blue, Red and Tri (which is blue with distinctive red tips). Some people have taken to calling the entire breed Blue Lacys, but just like Black Labs are really black Labrador Retrievers, Blue Lacys are blue Lacy Dogs. The proper name is Lacy Dog, as used by the Lacy family and referenced in historical documents.
The Lacy is a working dog with a working attitude. Lacy Dogs are very intelligent and can pick up tasks quickly, but owners often say they are too smart for their own good. They have endless energy and need daily exercise along with a challenging job. Lacys tend to be very pack-oriented dogs and need a strong leader that sets clear boundaries. In the wrong home, they may develop serious behavior issues such as aggression or anxiety. But when they have a real job to be, a Lacy Dog will be the best working companion anyone could ask for.
Jobs for Lacy Dogs
Lacys were created to be a working dog in the Texas Hill Country. Originally bred to work feral hogs and range cattle, they are gritty and tough with endless energy. The Lacy's compact, lithe build makes it agile and fast, allowing them to work in dense brush and ellude dangerous quarry. These are real dogs for real jobs, not pets.
Some of the jobs Lacy Dogs excel at today include:
- Hog Hunting: Strike and bay dogs with short to medium range and plenty of grit.
- Herding: Heading dogs that are tough enough for ornery cattle.
- Blood Trailing: Popular among Texas trophy hunters for recovering wounded game.
- Running Trap Lines: Efficient at tracking and baying varmints in drag traps.
- And More: Treeing squirrels, retrieving birds, flyball, agility and any job that is challenging both mentally and physically.
Lacy Dogs as Pets
Lacy Dogs make great working companions. They do not make great pets. There are many dog breeds, entire categories of dog breed, create by man to be a pet. They include many beautiful breeds, that do come in blue, that would be perfectly content being a couch potato. The Lacy Dog is not one of them. They were developed to handle tough jobs, and the skills and instincts that make them such amazing hog dogs and cow dogs and blood trailer do not blend in well with suburbia.
The type of person who should own a Lacy:
- Has real work for these real dogs to do - If you have to make up a job to justify a Lacy, this is not the breed for you.
- Is extremely active and love the outdoors - We don't mean hiking on the weekends, we mean cowboys, ranchers, hunters, and trappers.
- Lives on land in the country - Lacys do a great job of protecting large properties and thrive in a rural environment.
- Has experience with cur breeds - These dogs are very driven and very pack oriented, which can be very unnerving for first time owners.
- Will find great rewards in life with a challenging dog - Lacys pick up on training quickly, but if you give them an inch they'll take ten miles.
State Dog of Texas
It is believed that Lacys are the only dog breed developed in Texas. In addition to calling the Hill Country their home, Lacys have the big attitude and independent spirit of a Lone Star State original. In 2005, the Blue Lacy was officially declared the State Dog of Texas.
Though the Lacy Dog certainly deserved this honor, the recognition has created several problems for the breed. Lacys were bred for over a century to be driven hunting and herding dogs. They were never meant to live in suburbia, stuck indoors or in small yards. Despite their compact size, they have huge personalities and endless amounts of energy. Lacys need a real job, not just daily walks, to be happy and healthy.
Their unique apperance and status as the State Dog are not good reasons to get a Lacy puppy. In the wrong environment, Lacys can become aggressive, anxious, neurotic and depressed. But when given a challenging job and room to run, these dogs can't be beat.
Learn More About Lacy Dogs
- National Lacy Dog Association
Lacy Dog history, standards, personality, jobs and more. The NLDA is working to maintain Lacys as a working breed.
- Working Lacy Blog
News and information on working Lacy Dogs. Official blog of the NLDA.
are blue lacy dogs silent on track ? on April 25, 2014:
Are blue lacy dogs known for barking on track ?
MyNameIsNoneOfYourBuissness on June 04, 2010:
I love Lacy dogs!! They are so adorable and atheletic! I didn't know they were Texas' state dog awesome! Cool fact!
What Is a Lacy Dog (aka Blue Lacy)? - pets
This page was created for a reference for breeders interested in gene theory, as it pertains to the Blue Lacy breed. This information is a highlight of essential components involved in coat color for the Blue Lacy. Readers are encouraged to research further books and articles on Canine Genetics, if they desire to know more about this subject.
This being said, canine coat color is still a field of study that is only partially understood. None of the studies or published accounts has resulted in a complete genetic system, capable of fully determining canine coat colors. This article is designed to provide information in layman’s terms, for easier reading.
Coat Color Appearance
The Blue Lacys’ coat is predominately solid, or solid with points in appearance. White markings may also appear, most commonly on the toes and chest (brisket) regions.
Color Categories: Blue, Red & Tri.
Blue – This color designation ranges in shades of light grayish or light chocolate in appearance, to dark gunmetal gray or charcoal.
Tri – Tri’s are Blue with Red markings on the points (Red points: over the eyes, on cheeks, under the tail around the anal area, and down the legs.) The Blue and Red markings are subject to the variation of shades of color that apply within those categories. Note: If a Tri looses, or is not born with the head dominantly blue, which gives a saddle back appearance, this needs to be documented, and reviewed before becoming part of the standard.
White on the chest region can extend up to the chin and down on the underside of the torso to. White on the toes can extend to what would be referred to as a white sock, but preferably below the “ankle” joint. Dogs may also exhibit minimal white hairs on the tip on the tail. White on the muzzle above the chin, the head, or the front legs higher than one inch above the “ankle’ joint and/or the top of the neck region is a disqualification for breeding purposes.
Note: There has not been a documented Blue Lacy born with excessive white on the back legs, which would reach above the hocks. However, all of these other white patterns have occurred within the breed, occasionally.
Science behind the “Predominately Solid or Solid with Points Color Appearance” and “White Markings”!
At the embryo stage of a canine’s development, special cells are involved in the formation of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). These special cells, left over at the edge of the nervous system formation, then become know as Neural Crest Cells. Neural crest cells migrate throughout the body to form the melanocytes of the skin and much more. The gene that produces white patches on a dog is believed to interfere with the number of neural crest cells produced, or interfere with the neural crest cell’s ability to migrate. Yes, all this starts at time of embryo formation!
Where melanocytes are present, there is a potential for color to be produced. These melanocytes serve as a shielding function to protect deeper structures such as organs from harmful ultraviolet rays. Melanin is produced by the melanocytes, and is responsible for hair and skin color. White markings are the result of a lack of melanin “pigment” in an area.
In predominately solid color, or solid with points breeds, such as the Blue Lacy, most of their structure possesses an even distribution of pigment. When pigment is absent in an area, white patches appear.
Distribution of color in coat.
In this section I would like to refer to a good web page that already exists on the topic. The link provided directs you to the page that refers to the coat colors more associated with the Blue Lacy Breed.
Here is the list of recognized color series in dogs:
A (agouti), B (brown), C (albino/chinchilla dilute), D (dilution), E (extension), G (graying), M (merle), R (roaning), S (white spotting) and T (ticking).
Color gene series possibly recognized in the Blue Lacy breed could consist of:
“A” (agouti) – Primary Coat Color – The Agouti series has three alleles that exist in this group. This series has multiple alleles, which influence the amounts of dark and light pigment in the hairs of the whole coat.
“B” (brown) – This color series has two alleles. Possible colors within this series, red dilute, and black which is lightened to chocolate. Nose leather color will be brown to chocolate in this series. Note: This is not prominent in the Blue Lacy, if seen at all.
“C” (chinchilla dilute) – This series has several alleles. Many believe there are more than the defined alleles commonly listed for this gene.
Suggestions of minor variants on the c-ch allele – “C” allows full pigmentation such deep reds, and blues. “c” suppresses black and red pigments to silvery gray and cream (off white).
Note: This series could be the reason for the variations of “shades” seen within the Blue Lacy breed, but that is undocumented at this time. This series does not affect nose leather color.
“D” (dilution) – The Dilution Series has two alleles. This series acts with other loci to cause different expression of the color genes, but does not actually cause color.
Note: This is believed to be the most common gene-effecting coloring seen in the Blue Lacy breed.
“E” (extension) – This series has two alleles.
Note: If there is a contributor to color for certain “Red” colored Blue Lacys, it would be the recessive “e”. Extension gold, yellow and cream.
“T” (ticking) – This series also has two alleles. – Flecks of color seen in white areas. This series in not always seen at birth, but can appear as a dog ages. The color that starts showing through the white will be the base color. In many breeds ticking can only change the skin color and not effect the color of the white hairs.
Note: This is possible with the Blue Lacy breed as well, but would be more of the skin color effect on aged dogs.
“S” (spotting) – The White Spotted series has four alleles.
Note: This gene is expressed in the Blue Lacy breed and the next section will expand on this.
“S” White Spotted Gene
Understanding the white spotted gene’s presence within the Blue Lacy breed is important. As mentioned above, melanocytes migrate down from the spinal column during the process of embryo formation. In dogs, it is not uncommon for actual “S” solid color dogs, otherwise Blue or Red in color, to have white toes, chest, or tip of the tail.
Some believe this can be a result of just a random event, other than the result of a specific allele. The random event would happen very late in the embryos development and prevent the complete distribution of the melanocyte to these areas. There are also beliefs, and speculation, that the rate of melanocyte distribution and migration itself may be inherited.
Studies indicate small amounts of white on the chest, toes, or tip of the tail do not seem to be the cause of mutations in the MITF. You ask, what is MITF? MITF stands for Microphthalmia Associated Transcription Factor. It was one of the first genes that were identified, published in 2007, which causes at least some spotting patterns and/or potential mutations causing some forms of white spotting in coat color.
The major series of genes that distributes pigment in dog’s coats is called the “S” or spotting series. This series controls the amount of white markings expressed.
S – Solid color. Modifying factors – white on toes, chest and tip of the tail.
Note: This applies to the Blue Lacy Breed
si – Irish spotting – Definite Pattern – white on muzzle, chest, neck, legs and tail. Modifying factors control the amount of white seen. “Plus” factors extend the white and area, while “minus” factors reduce the white.
Note: This applies to the Blue Lacy Breed.
sp – Piebald – 50 % white covers most of body
Note: Not a factor in the Blue Lacy breed.
sw – Extreme Piebald – Produces an all white dog
Note: Not a factor in the Blue Lacy breed.
Charles Little (1957) implied that most spotting was caused by the four “S”alleles listed above. This does not fit with new DNA studies. Currently, Ojvind Winge (1950) does not assign alleles to the Spotting Series in his book. Mr. Winge states that there is a recessive allele that controls “white-mottling”, and when it is homozygous, the dog will exhibit more white. When the recessive allele isn’t present, he suggests the white markings are minimal, or not expressed. Minimal, is implied to be represented on the feet, tail tip and chest.
How should breeders look at breeding, concerning the excessive white guidelines?
During conception, reproductive cells of the parents unite replication type, which individual breed characteristics are transmitted through. Puppies receive half of their chromosomes from the dam and the other half from their sire.
Each individual Blue Lacy owner may have a certain look or white pattern they desire. Accountable breeders will only breed parents that conform to breed standards, and which exhibit good temperament, health, type, character, working ability and drive. A particular color, or the amount of white exhibited, within breeding standards, should be considered after all of the other traits.
Now, for the white spotted gene: Again, after all the main breeding traits are compared, if a breeder wants to reduce the risk of pups being born with excessive white, they should select a sire and dam which compliment each other. If a breeder feels that a sire or dam has a large amount of white present, but still within breeding standards, they should select an opposite sex Blue Lacy to breed this dog with, which has less white showing. However, this is not fool proof, being that there are many factors that play a role in pigment distribution.
There are documented litters where both parents have minimal white markings, and they still produce pups with excessive white coloration. There is also documentation of litters in which both parents have large white areas, although still within breeding standards, and all the pups exhibited less white than the parents, and in a different distribution on the body.
In talking dog breeds, coat colors, and markings, we can only describe what we see in front of us. We are looking at the dog’s phenotype, or the appearance of the dog. We cannot readily visualize the genetic makeup, which is called the genotype. Knowing there can be a difference in a dog’s phenotype versus his genotype, we can only do the best we can as breeders, figuring percentage and probabilities before a mating takes place.
Just because a litter mate, or mates, ends up having excessive white for the breed, that does not effect other pups in the same litter, which do not exhibit excessive white. Those pups were born with, and possess, the gene that expressed the distribution of pigment to meet the breeding standard. These individual pups have a high enough percentage rate of standardization to produce breeding standard pups, when bred to another dog meeting the standard.
Pups that would be classified as having excessive white are still just a much pure blood Blue Lacy as their littermates. There may be nothing wrong with their drive or abilities to hunt, and/or their ability to be a companion dog. There are several benefits to having these pups in Blue Lacy breeding. Many individuals looking to obtain a Blue Lacy are not interested in breeding. These individuals that plan on spaying and neutering, make great owners for pups that have excessive white markings. These pups with extra white, or pups which may not meet the standard for other reasons, can fill that slot, leaving more breeding standard pups in the breeding program. They can be as well liked, and loved, by their new owners, as a breeding standard pup would be from the same litter.
The white spotted gene will always be in the genetic make up of the Blue Lacy. Trying to breed it out, would not be conducive to maintaining the breed, or the standards by which the breed has always been identified.
The Greyhound also possesses the white spotted gene, but excessive white was not an issue for breed standards within Greyhounds. You can look at a Greyhound, no matter what color it is, and identify what breed it is by their body structure.
The only reason for having excessive white as a disqualification for breeding standard Blue Lacys, is to set it apart from other dog breeds, which share a similar body type, and which allow more white in their standard. Color and markings are maintained for breed identification purposes only.
There is much more information, and studies which have been done on Coat Color and genetics. This article expresses the author’s opinion, based upon observations and a thirteen-year study of coat color and genetics within the Blue Lacy breed.
It was written to help breeders be more aware of some of the color genetics within this particular breed. There are many studies and books related to this fields.
Below is a list of recommended research material.
- Internet articles by Sue Ann Bowling, http://bowlingsite.mcf.com/GENETICS/Genetics.html
- Dog Coat Color Genetics, Sheila M. Schmutz, PH.D., Professor,
- Dog Coat Color Genetics, J. Chapell’s
- Canine Coat Color – Inheritance and Appearance (coat colors and coat color inheritance in dogs) with an emphasis on colors in Borzoi, 1995 Bonnie Dalzell, MA, Version 8-21-97
Studies related to Diluted Coat Color:
Philipp U, Hamann H, Mecklenburg L, Nishino S, Mignot E, Schmutz SM, Leeb T. 2005. Polymorphisms within the canine MLPH gene are associated with dilute coat color in dogs . BMC Genetics 6:34-. (This article is published in a publicly accessible online journal at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/6/34)
Studies related to the “White Spotted” gene:
Brenig, B., Pfeiffer, I., Jaggy ,A., Kathmann, I., Balzari, M., Gaillard, C. and Dolf, G. 2003. Analysis of the 5′ region of the canine PAX3 gene and exclusion as candidate for Dalmation deafness. Animal Genetics 34: 47-50
High energy might be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Blue Lacys, and they require multiple long runs and walks each day to burn off all that energy. They often need a job to do, whether it be hunting, herding, agility training, or acting as a watchdog, or else they may get bored and act out, as is the case with many intelligent and energetic dog breeds. Physical and mental stimulation are must-haves each day for the Blue Lacy. If you live in an apartment or you don't have a task in mind for these dogs, you may want to look for another breed. While the Blue Lacy is a loving family dog, they are not for novice owners, nor are they for families with small pets or very young children, as they have a high prey drive and a high level of intensity. They require early socialization and capable training, though they are very sensitive and do not respond well to yelling, harsh rebukes, or punishment. Highly territorial, somewhat distrustful of strangers, and eager to chase anything that moves, Blue Lacys make excellent watchdogs, though socialization training is highly necessary so they know when it is appropriate to be on guard and when to be friendly to other pets and people. The Blue Lacy will work as hard and tirelessly as you ask them to, and they are perfectly suited for the farm and hunting work that they were bred to do, as well as agility training or even search and rescue jobs. If you know what you're doing, you'll have a well-trained, intelligent, adaptable companion that would do just about anything for you.
- The Blue Lacy was designated as the official state dog breed of Texas in 2005.
- Fred Gipson, author of Old Yeller, grew up in the county next to where the Lacy family lived and raised their Blue Lacys, and this may have influenced him as a writer, although Old Yeller, the actual dog in the novel, was most likely a Black Mouth Cur and not a Blue Lacy.
- Blue Lacys can also have red or tri-colored coats, though they all carry the gene for blue coats.
- The Blue Lacy breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, though some organizations have applied for the Blue Lacy to be accepted into the AKC's Foundation Stock Service, which helps keep official records of the breed so that it may one day be recognized. Still, full recognition may be many years off or never come at all.
- Blue Lacys are very intelligent and respond well to training, but they need an assertive trainer who can lay down the law without being overly punitive.
- This breed is hardworking and does best when given a task. They are capable of hunting, herding, agility training, watchdog work, or even search and rescue.
- Mental and physical stimulation are must-haves. Blue Lacys need multiple runs and walks per day to burn off their energy. They appreciate having open space to run around, rather than small apartments.
The Blue Lacy breed gets its name from Frank, George, Ewin, and Harry Lacy, who were brothers that moved from Kentucky to Texas in the mid 1800s. They needed an all-around working dog that could help herd free-roaming hogs and cattle, track and tree small game, hunt wild deer and hogs, and watch over the homestead. The dog needed to be fast, hardworking, trainable, and able to withstand the Texas weather. According to the Lacy family, the brothers created the Blue Lacy breed to suit these needs by mixing wolf, Greyhound, English Shepherd, and possibly coyote and another scenthound. They worked to develop the breed's natural herding instincts to drive their livestock to market. Since then, the Blue Lacy has remained a true Texas breed and is uncommon outside of the state. In 2005, it was designated as Texas's official state dog breed
The Blue Lacy tends to be between 17 and 25 inches in height at the shoulder. On average, males are larger than females and weigh between 35 to 55 pounds, while females usually weigh between 25 and 45 pounds. Individuals of the breed may be larger or smaller, as well.
The combination of intelligence and high energy that make up the Blue Lacy dog breed's personality can either cause them to be well-trained working dogs or destructive forces of nature depending on how much mental and physical stimulation they get. Blue Lacys cannot be cooped up for long, and when they get bored, they'll make their own fun in whatever way they can, even if it means chewing or digging in things they aren't supposed to. They will need long runs each day, and probably additional exercise. Training goes a long way, and Blue Lacys respond to firm, positive training very well, though they are sensitive and will not respond well to yelling or punishment. Training is a must for Blue Lacys, and socialization must begin early to overcome their natural prey drive and territorial nature. If they are not socialized early, Blue Lacys can be standoffish to strangers and downright aggressive to other pets and animals. They are, however, very kind and protective toward their families, even children, and you'd have a difficult time finding a better watchdog. Because they were bred to help hunt and tree small game, they do have a tendency to bark, and it can take a while to get them to quiet down once they get going. They should not be left alone for long periods of time. When properly exercised and trained, the Blue Lacy makes an excellent family companion that is very loyal and loving. They do best when they have a job where they can spend their physical and mental energy. When they have something to do that provides them with an adequate challenge, Blue Lacys are calm, sweet members of the household.
The Blue Lacy is generally a healthy and hardy breed, though they are sometimes genetically prone to a few health conditions. Blue Lacys are known to occasionally suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and food allergies. They may also develop skin conditions, and though it is rare, some may be born with color dilution alopecia, a condition that can cause hair loss in patches or over the entire body.
Care for Blue Lacys is fairly standard. Their nails should be trimmed monthly or as needed to prevent overgrowth. Their teeth should be brushed regularly, and you should ask your veterinarian about dental care for your individual dog. Their ears should be checked often for debris, ticks, parasites, or signs of illness and cleaned as needed.
A Blue Lacy diet should be formulated for a mid-sized breed with high energy and intense exercise requirements. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your Blue Lacy and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Blue Lacy can come in three color varieties, despite their name. "Blues" range from gray to almost black. "Reds" can be anywhere between a light, cream color to a reddish-brown, rust color. "Tris" are tri-colored and have a blue base coat with red markings and white along the belly, chin, or paws. Their coat colors tend to make their yellow or amber eyes stand out beautifully.
The Blue Lacy's coat is short and smooth. There is not much, if any, undercoat. Blue Lacys shed an average amount, though the shedding is more heavy seasonally. They require little grooming. A weekly brushing should suffice, and they should be bathed as needed.
Children And Other Pets
Blue Lacys are generally good with children and are not usually aggressive. They are loyal family dogs and very protective of their humans. However, they do have high energy levels and can sometimes be known to play rough. For that reason, they may not be suited for homes with very young children that can be easily knocked over or accidentally hurt during rough play.
Blue Lacys have a high prey drive, which can make them dangerous around small animals and other pets. They are usually fine if they are raised alongside other animals and recognize them to be family. They can also be tolerant of other dogs if they are socialized from a very young age. That said, it may be best if there are no other small animals or pets in the home, and owners would do well to make sure that neighboring pets do not enter the Blue Lacys territory, as their instincts may take over and lead to an incident.
If you are interested in adopting a Blue Lacy dog, you can check out Texas Lacy Rehome Group on Facebook, which is a group that regularly posts about adoptable Blue Lacy dogs that need to find good homes. You can also check out our adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs near you by breed and zip code.
- Gough, A. (et al), ‘Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats’, Wiley Blackwell (2018)
- Strain, G. ‘Deafness Prevalence and Pigmentation and Gender Associations in Dog Breeds at Risk’, The Veterinary Journal (2004)
- Ebeling, J. ‘Texas Blue Lacy State’s “Official Dog”’, Ranch and Rural Living (2005)
- Harrell, S. ‘Lacy Dog – A True Texas Tradition’, Ranch and Rural Living (2011)
- Lacy-Gibbs, H. ‘The Saga of the Original Lacy Hog Dog’, National Lacy Dog Association (2000)
- ‘The Official Lacy Dog Standard’, National Lacy Dog Association
- Jae-Hoon, K. (et al), ‘Color-Dilution Alopecia in Dogs’, Journal of Veterinary Science (2005)
I love my Blue Lacy, Shadow. She is 1 1/2 yrs old. We live in Suburbs on 2 acres. Lots of deer squirrels and chickens. I’m 83 yrs old. I walk/run her each morning and play ball and tug rope during day. I feel she is bored to some degree. She needs challenges. I do have coyote problems because of my chickens. In my own way I’m trying to teach her to herd chickens into pen in evening. Played lots with tennis balls but she now buries the ball as soon as she gets it. Why? Tired of playing ball ? What other forms of activity can I engage her in?
Characteristics of the Blue Lacy
|Tendency to Bark||Medium|
|Amount of Shedding||Low|