The Bedlington Terrier has the oldest non-broken pedigree of all the purebred terriers, dating back to 1782 in England. Despite their historic lineage and delicate appearance, these dogs were actually work dogs that were used in coalmines and to kill rats, badgers, and other vermin. While these dogs had many various names over the years, they became the Bedlington Terriers (named after a town in Northumberland) in the 1800s, and in 1825 the first known Bedlington Terrier, Piper, was born.
Piper was so successful at killing badgers that people around town became captivated by the breed and started pitting them against each other in dog fights. Since then, these dogs have proven to be much more than fighters, and today they are loyal pets and lively show dogs.
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Bedlington Terrier Characteristics
Here is what you need to know about the appearance, personality, and temperament of the Bedlington Terrier.
The Bedlington Terrier is often mistaken for a lamb due to its size, shape, and general appearance. These dogs are medium sized, typically between 15-16” tall with long legs and a body that is longer than the dog is tall. They can weigh anywhere from 17-23 lbs, although they often look larger due to their fluffy coat. This breed has soft but coarse hair, not fur, that tends to curl as it gets longer. Their hind legs are longer than the front legs, and they are muscular and slim with a deep chest and arched back.
The tail is low-set and hangs down loosely, and the dog’s ears flop from the sides of its head. Bedlington Terriers can come in blue, liver, tan, sand, or a combination of these colors, and the lighter dogs often appear as if they have white hair. Given their curly hair, grooming is essential to these dogs and they may require grooming clippers or regular appointments with a groomer, and they need to be brushed regularly.
Bedlington Terriers can have a variety of personalities, but they generally have a sweet disposition. These dogs tend to be intelligent and have high energy levels, but they are mainly companions who love to play and entertain. Meeting the parents of a puppy prior to adopting is important because their temperaments can be a determinant for how the puppy will act when it is older. Additionally, early socialization and training is critical for Bedlington Terriers so they do not become shy or aggressive with other dogs.
These dogs are great with children, and they will love to run and play with older children. Children, especially young ones, need to be watched around these dogs because the Bedlington Terrier will not tolerate any rough handling, even accidental. Additionally, play time should be kept fun and light hearted to keep these dogs from getting competitive or aggressive.
Bedlington Terriers can be wonderful with other animals, including cats and dogs, however they need to be trained and socialized with these animals from a young age. It may be a good idea to enroll your Bedlington Terrier puppy in puppy obedience classes and socialize him at dog parks and other public settings. An unsocialized adult could become aggressive with other dogs. These dogs are active and can live from 14-16 years when they get enough walks, play time, and a lot of love.
Caring for Bedlington Terriers
With their curly hair and varying personalities, Bedlington Terriers require specific care, which you can find more information about below.
Bedlington Terriers should be fed a high-quality dry food twice a day, though their feeding should be monitored based on the dog’s size, weight, and level of activity. Since these dogs are active, they should be fed enough to sustain their energy without causing obesity. Bedlington Terriers will respond well to treats during training, but too many treats or human foods can cause weight problems so they should be given sparingly. As with all dogs, Bedlington Terries should have constant access to clean, fresh water.
Exercise may be one of the most important parts of a Bedlington’s day. These dogs should be given enough time to run and walk outside each day and will be happiest when they go for a walk, jog, or hike with their human. Bedlington Terriers are also extremely playful, meaning a game of fetch is a great way to release their energy. An automatic fetching machine is one option for this, especially if your dog could play fetch for hours. Given their intelligence, an interactive dog toy or a puzzle toy would be a fun way to stimulate their brain while still getting exercise. As social as they are, Bedlington Terriers will be very happy if they are doing activities with their people.
Bedlington Terriers are easy to train since they are agreeable, intelligent, social, and responsive. Training should take place from an early age for best results. Additionally, these dogs do have a slight stubborn streak that can come out when they are treated harshly. Bedlington Terriers respond best to consistency and positive reinforcers, meaning treats, praise, and play are wonderful motivators for this breed.
When the Bedlington Terrier thinks it will benefit from the task at hand, the dog is much more likely to be obedient and successful. This dog can also be a successful agility or obedience dog, although the breed is just as happy being a family companion.
When getting a Bedlington Terrier, it is important to find a breeder who tests for certain health issues. For example, the dogs should have clearances for hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, Von Willebrand’s disease, and eye problems. Bedlington Terriers may also be at risk for:
- Copper Toxicosis- a hereditary disease where the liver does not process copper causing a buildup in the dog. Check with your breeder to ensure the puppy’s parents are not carriers.
- Patellar Luxation- a dislocated kneecap that can either have no symptoms or cause pain and lameness.
- Distichiasis- an extra row of eyelashes can grow and cause the dog irritation.
- Renal Cortical Hypoplasia- when the cortex of the kidneys doesn’t develop properly and can lead to kidney failure.
- Retinal Dysplasia- a malformation of the retina from birth that does not typically cause any vision loss.
Other preventative measures can be done to keep your Bedlington Terrier healthy, such as putting them on probiotics for digestive health, fish oil as a dietary supplement, and a joint supplement to help prevent hip or elbow dysplasia.
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Bedlington Terrier Club of America