Despite their gentle appearance, the Bedlington Terrier has often been described as more lion than lamb. They are strong-willed but gentle and make for wonderful companions.
Bedlington Terriers are known for their beautiful coats and the best part about these coats? They hardly shed and are considered hypoallergenic.
History of the Bedlington Terrier dog
Bred in the village of Bedlington in Northumberland, the Bedlington Terrier has been described as "the favourite companion of the northern miners". They were used as coalmine ratters, varmint killers, and pit fighters.
The breed earned themselves the nickname "Gypsy dog" because it was used to wandering Romanies as a stealthy poaching partner. The Bedlington Terrier has also been called the "smartest and quickest of our terriers".
The first dog identified as a Bedlington Terrier, named Piper, was bred in 1825 and was owned by Joseph Ainsely of Bedlington. It was said that Piper was so game that he was still dispatching badgers at age 14, while nearly blind and toothless.
Their plucky nature meant that miner's and nailers would wager their salaries on dogfights, pitting their terriers against each other. A breed historian noted, “Bedlingtons were never a mischief maker, but once he started fighting, it was to the death.”
Bedlingtons eventually rose from coalmines and nail factories to the manor houses of the British elites. They found Bedlingtons to be bighearted, lovable companions, as well as attractive ornaments to their style-conscious lifestyle.
The National Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in England in 1877. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1886. Today the Bedlington ranks 140th in AKC registrations.
The Bedlington Terrier is a breed of small dog that is graceful, lithe and well-balanced. They have a narrow, but deep and rounded head and are shorter in skull and longer in jaw.
Their eyes are almond shaped, small and bright with their colour depending on their coat colour. The Bedlington Terrier's ears are triangular with rounded tips and are thin and velvety and texture. They have large, well defined nostrils and strong muzzles.
The Bedlington Terrier has a long, tapering neck, deep at the base and rising up well from the shoulders which are flat and sloping. Their body is muscular, slightly greater in length than height and they have a deep chest and an arched back.
Their feet and legs are lithe and muscular and their hind legs are longer than the forelegs. The Bedlington Terrier's tail is set low, thicker at the root, tapering to a point.
Source : Wikimedia
The Bedlington Terrier's coat has been described as shaggy, hard, and rugged in style, and is arguably one of their most distinctive features. They are often described as looking like a lamb. It is supposedly crisp to the touch but not wiry, having a tendency to curl, especially on the head and face.
The dogs have blue, liver or sandy colouration, all three of which may have tan points. Bedlingtons carry what is known as the greying gene. This gene causes puppies born with black or dark brown fur to lighten to grey or liver with age. The fur of the Bedlington creates a shape on the top of the dog's head known as a topknot, which should be lighter than the body colour.
The Bedlington Terrier's alert, energetic and intelligent nature makes them an excellent pet and watchdog. The adore being the center of attention and entertaining people. They have been known to be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex and will most likely chase small furry animals.
Mostly, they are mild-mannered, usually never overly shy, nervous or aggressive, but when aroused they display the courage, endurance and energy characteristic of their terrier bloodlines. This versatile dog can be an enthusiastic playmate for kids or a peaceful friend for seniors.
They are fast, athletics dogs that ideally need exercising every day so plan on daily walks and playtime. It has even been said that they "have enough pace to keep up with the ordinary speed of a horse".
Fun fact: The Bedlington Terrier is said to be just as quick in water as it is on land, with their swimming speed rivalling that of the Newfoundland.
As with most dogs, early socialisation is needed to ensure that they grow up to be a well-rounded dog, good around different people, sights, sounds and experiences.
Health and care
Bedlington Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions e.g, Copper Toxicosis. This is the leading "hepatic" (liver related) cause of death among Bedlington Terriers and although they are more prone to contracting the disease than most breeds, it is still fairly uncommon.
Bedlington Terrier owners in the UK reported that the most common health issues among living dogs were reproductive, heart murmur, and eye problems such as epiphora, retinal dysplasia and cataracts. Bedlingtons also seem to be more prone to eye and kidney diseases than other breeds.
The average lifespan of a Bedlington Terrier is 13-14 years.
The Bedlington’s coat must be trimmed every six to eight weeks to maintain its look. Brush it once or twice a week. Frequent bathing and heavy conditioners are not recommended because they will soften the coarse coat.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection.