Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier dog breed originated as a killer of vermin and poacher’s sidekick. Today Bedlingtons excel as companions and in the show ring. Although they still have excellent hunting instincts, a keen sense of smell, and the will to go to ground, they are rarely used in the field.

See all Bedlington Terrier characteristics below!

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Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability
Adapts Well to Apartment Living4More info +

Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners4More info +

Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

See Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners

Sensitivity Level3More info +

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone3More info +

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

See Dogs Poorly Suited To Be Alone

Tolerates Cold Weather4More info +

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Cold Weather

Tolerates Hot Weather3More info +

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family5More info +

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs4More info +

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly4More info +

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers5More info +

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding5More info +

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential1More info +

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom1More info +

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health4More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

See Dogs More Prone To Health Problems

Potential For Weight Gain3More info +

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Size3More info +

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right large dog for you!

See Medium Dogs

See Small Dogs

Trainability
Easy To Train3More info +

Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence5More info +

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness4More info +

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive5More info +

Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive

Tendency To Bark Or Howl3More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential4More info +

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level4More info +

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity2More info +

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs4More info +

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness5More info +

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 3 inches to 1 foot, 4 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 17 to 23 pounds
Life Span: 14 to 16 years
  • The Bedlington Terrier captures your attention with his unique lamblike appearance and keeps it with his entertaining, opinionated personality. Don't let his appearance fool you, however. The Bedlington is all terrier: inquisitive, intelligent, alert, and aggressive toward small animals outdoors.

    Bedlingtons throw themselves with enthusiasm into the activities of their family. They love to be the center of attention and will play the clown to get it. Bedlingtons welcome guests and entertain them with their antics, but they'll let you know if they think someone's shady. Bedlington people say their dogs have astute judgment and make excellent watchdogs.

    Exercise is important to keep a Bedlington happy and healthy, but he has moderate energy levels and activity needs. He'll match his activity level to yours and can be satisfied with a nice walk or vigorous game of fetch. He can jog with you or go on a hike. Although he's rarely used in the field, his hunting abilities include pointing, retrieving, tracking, and, of course, going to ground after den animals. Whatever you do with him, he's happy to be a couch potato afterward.

    When he's raised with children, the Bedlington can be an energetic playmate. Make sure extremely young children are supervised by an adult when interacting with any dog to prevent injury to both. While a Bedlington will tolerate a certain amount of rough handling, he will set limits when things get too rough, and he doesn't understand that a child's skin isn't as tough as another dog's.

    Bedlingtons can get along well with other dogs, especially if they're raised with them. Like most terriers, they might not start a fight, but they won't back down from one. The Bedlington may look fluffy and sweet, but he's no pushover and won't accept readily another dog's attempt to dominate him. Bedlingtons can be fierce fighters if aroused, so be cautious when introducing them to new canine companions, especially other adults of the same sex. Male Bedlingtons especially will persist in a fight until major damage is done.

    The Bedlington is intelligent, and that intelligence makes him only moderately easy to train. He does best when you can persuade him that doing what you want is really his idea or benefits him in some way. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Harsh words and physical force will not work with this breed, as they will only bring out his stubborn streak and begin a battle of wills that you will probably lose. Nonetheless, Bedlingtons have competed successfully in the obedience ring. They view the agility ring as an excellent opportunity show off their speed, grace, and enthusiasm. And naturally your Bedlington will love Earth Dog competitions in which he can display his terrier tenacity and willingness to find prey underground.

    With proper training and socialization, the Bedlington is an excellent companion and enthusiastic partner in all family activities. You will appreciate his sense of humor and eagerness to get the most out of life.

  • Highlights

    • Bedlingtons can be stubborn at times.
    • Early socialization with other pets is a must to prevent problems.
    • Bedlington Terriers need exercise and mental stimulation or they will get bored, which leads to trouble.
    • Males can be fierce fighters if challenged by another dog.
    • Bedlingtons are highly intelligent and moderately easy to train. They don't respond to harsh training methods.
    • Bedlingtons require grooming once or twice weekly to maintain the coat and prevent matting.
    • Bedlingtons can be one-person dogs.
    • Bedlingtons are terriers and like to dig.
    • Bedlingtons require a fenced yard. They will chase other animals and they are very fast.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Bedlington Terrier was developed in the north of England, but where he came from is anybody's guess. One theory has it that he traveled with Rom, or gypsies, who used him to poach game on the estates they passed by. His talents in ridding the land of rats, badgers, and other vermin drew the attention of the local squires, who acquired some of the dogs for themselves.

    One of their noble fans was Lord Rothbury, whose estate was located in Bedlington in the county of Northumberland. For a time, they were known as Rothbury terriers, but eventually the name Bedlington stuck. The first dog to actually be called a Bedlington Terrier, in 1825, was Ainsley's Piper, owned by Joseph Ainsley of Bedlington. Piper went up against his first badger when he was only 8 months old, and he was still showing other dogs how it was done when he was old, toothless, and nearly blind.

    There is speculation that the Whippet was added to the breed at some point to increase the dog's speed and agility. He also has similarities to the Dandie Dinmont, Soft Coated Wheaten, and Kerry Blue Terriers, so he may share common ancestors with them.

    The popularity of Bedlingtons crossed all social boundaries. They were favorites of factory and mine workers, who used them to rid the premises of rats and then raced them in their off hours, against each other and against Whippets.

    Bedlingtons joined other dogs in the show ring in the mid-1800s, and the National Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in England in 1877. The first Bedlington Terrier to be registered by the American Kennel Club was Ananias in 1886. Today the Bedlington ranks 128th among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC.

  • Size

    Males stand 16 inches at the shoulder; females, 15 inches. Weight ranges from 17 to 23 pounds and should be proportionate to height.

  • Personality

    Alert, energetic, and intelligent, the Bedlington is an excellent companion and watchdog. He enjoys being the center of attention and likes to entertain his people. He can be aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex and will chase small furry animals.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, Bedlingtons need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Bedlington puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Bedlington Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Bedlingtons will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Bedlingtons, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Copper Toxicosis: This hereditary disease is caused by failure of the liver to expel dietary copper, leading to a buildup in the body resulting in illness and death. It is an autosomal recessive trait; affected dogs must inherit a gene from both parents to be symptomatic. If they inherit a gene from only one parent, they will be a carrier. The recent development of a DNA test makes it possible to screen for affected dogs and carriers and remove them from the gene pool.
    • Patellar Luxation: This is a dislocation of the kneecap (patella) and is sometimes referred to as slipped stifles. It can be from injury or congenital (present at birth). Patellar Luxation can be mild with little or no symptoms or severe with intense pain and limping. Severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical repair.
    • Distichiasis: This condition occurs when an additional row of eyelashes (known as distichia) grow on the oil gland in the dog's eye and protrude along the edge of the eyelid. This irritates the eye, and you may notice your Aussie squinting or rubbing his eye(s). Distichiasis is treated surgically by freezing the excess eyelashes with liquid nitrogen and then removing them. This type of surgery is called cryoepilation and is done under general anesthesia.
    • Renal Cortical Hypoplasia: This condition occurs when the cortex of one or both of the kidneys develops abnormally. The dog will develop kidney failure. First signs of kidney failure are increased thirst that causes an increase in urination. There is no cure; the treatment consists of managing the signs and trying to prevent additional damage to the kidneys.
    • Retinal Dysplasia: This is a developmental malformation of the retina that the dog is born with. Most cases are mild and there is no detectable loss in vision. Veterinary ophthalmologists can do tests to determine if puppies are affected when they are 7 to 12 weeks old. Retinal dysplasia shouldn't affect a dog's ability to function as a companion, but affected dogs shouldn't be bred.
  • Care

    Bedlington Terriers are a hardy breed with moderate activity levels. They are capable of running at high speeds, so a safely fenced area is important. They are not suited to living outdoors. They are small enough to be appropriate for an apartment as long as they have a safe place to exercise.

    Exercise for the Bedlington can mean a nice walk or a vigorous game of fetch. He can jog with you or go on a hike. You can also train him for agility, obedience, or tracking. He's quiet in the home, happy to relax on the sofa with you.

    The Bedlington is intelligent, and that intelligence makes him only moderately easy to train. He does best when you can persuade him that doing what you want is really his idea or benefits him in some way. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Harsh words and physical force will not work with this breed, as they will only bring out his stubborn streak and begin a battle of wills that you will probably lose.

    Like all dogs, Bedlington puppies can be destructive. Crate them to prevent them from getting into trouble if you're not around to supervise.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Bedlington in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Bedlington, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    The Bedlington's distinctive coat is an unusual combination of harsh and soft hair. It feels crisp but not wiry and has a tendency to curl, especially on the head and face. It doesn't shed much. The coat of a Bedlington trimmed for the show ring is no longer than one inch on the body, with the hair on the legs slightly longer.

    We tend to think of him as white, but the Bedlington comes in several colors and combinations: blue, sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan, and liver and tan. In bi-colors, the tan markings are found on the legs, chest, under the tail, inside the hindquarters and over each eye. Bedlington puppies are dark when they're born and lighten as they mature. The topknot (a tuft of longer hair on top of the head) of all adults should be lighter than the body color.

    Unlike many terrier breeds, the Bedlington's coat doesn't need to be stripped. You'll need to comb him at least once a week. You can take him to a professional groomer for his lamb clip, or your Bedlington's breeder can show you how to clip him yourself. The face must be hand-scissored to achieve the unique appearance.

    Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Bedlington's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim nails once or twice a month or as needed. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and protect your shins from getting scratched when your Bedlington enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

    Begin accustoming your Bedlington to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

  • Children And Other Pets

    When he's raised with children, the Bedlington can be an energetic playmate. He's probably best suited to homes with older children. While a Bedlington will tolerate a certain amount of rough handling, he will set limits when things get too rough, and he doesn't understand that a child's skin isn't as tough as another dog's.

    Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Bedlingtons can get along with other dogs, especially if they're raised with them, but they may be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex. And like most terriers, they might not start a fight, but they won't back down from one. Bedlingtons can be fierce fighters if aroused, so be cautious when introducing them to new canine companions, especially other adults of the same sex. Male Bedlingtons especially will persist in a fight until major damage is done. A Bedlington might learn to get along with your indoor cat if he's raised with him, but outdoor cats and other animals will be fair game for him to chase.

  • Rescue Groups

    Bedlington Terriers are sometimes bought without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. These dogs may end up in need of adoption and or fostering.