The Bedlington Terrier is a small breed, standing between 38 cm to 44 cm in height. It has a distinctive arched loin and long pear-shaped head covered with profuse silky top knot at the crown. The body is covered with a linty coat of blue, liver or sandy colour. Its general appearance is like that of a little lamb which makes it easily distinguishable from other dog breeds. It has a mild and gentle expression when it is in the state of rest, having no signs of shyness or nervousness but a total opposite when it is aroused when it displays extreme alertness and immense energy. The head is narrow but deep and round and has no stop. The eyes are small and appears triangular while the low-set, velvety ears are triangular with rounded tips, covered with short, fine hair with white fringes at the tip and hang flat to the cheeks, almost reaching the corner of the mouth when pulled forward. The teeth form a complete scissor bite. It has a long tapering neck, straight front legs set wider apart at the chest, flat shoulders and muscular hindquarters. The back is naturally arched over the loin which gives a tucked-up underline profile. The moderately long tail is thick at the base and tapers to a point, carried low and curved. All four legs are cushioned by long hare-like feet with thick and well-closed up pads.
There are many opinions regarding the exact bloodline of the Bedlington Terrier but one thing is certain: it was developed and came from the town of Bedlington in Northumberland, England. The most popular belief regarding its origin is that the breed used to belong exclusively to the gypsies in the Rothbury Forest during the 18th century. It was known back then as the Rothbury Terrier and it was utilized as a hunting companion used to go after foxes and hares. It was also used by the miners of Bedlington in hunting down vermin. Back then, there were two types of terrier – the rough coat and the smooth coat. However, these breeds eventually died out and became extinct by the 1870s, being replaced by breeds that descended from them. Among these are the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Bedlington Terrier which descended from the rough coat variety through selective breeding.
This spirited little dog is very lively, alert, inquisitive and full of confidence with strong hunting instincts. It is quite aggressive when it sees small animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, and similar animals. As a family pet, it is generally good-natured with an affectionate attitude. Sometimes, the Bedlington Terrier has a comical attitude and will act like a clown to get noticed by its owner. When it wants attention, it will throw itself in the centre of family activities. Its alertness makes it a great watchdog. It is a fast runner and a good swimmer. It is known for its intelligence and will not typically start a fight but will not back down when provoked by other dogs.
The Bedlington Terrier is an intelligent dog and is easy to train. It requires positive reinforcement from a firm and consistent handler and will never respond to harsh or coercive training. Building a bond with the dog before training is very crucial in the dog’s training as it will easily obey commands from someone he/she trusts. Establish yourself as the leader of the pack, or the “alpha dog” if you will, so that the dog knows who is in charge. Once the dog knows you are the leader, it will successfully listen to your voice which will make training easier for the both of you.
The curly coat of the Bedlington Terrier sheds very little and requires moderate amount of grooming time. Clipping the coat every eight weeks is advisable. The ears are customarily shaved with a tassel on the tip. Regular brushing is recommended as well as keeping the ears clean from was and foreign materials.
Among the health problems that can affect the Bedlington Terrier are luxating patella, skin allergies, cataract, detached retina and copper toxicosis which is a serious liver disease. It is also prone to kidney problems, renal dysplasia, renal cortical hypoplasia, distichiasis and hypothyroidism. It has an average lifespan of 12 – 16 years. The most common cause of death according to a Kennel Club survey are urologic, old age and hepatic.
The Bedlington Terrier is a small breed with moderate energy and thus need moderate amounts of exercise. Daily long walks are ideal but too little will make the breed bored and may channel boredom into mischievous behaviour. It will do fine in an apartment home as long as it is sufficiently exercised. It is fairly active indoors and will do fine even without a yard to run or play to.
This breed is playful and affectionate which makes it a good family pet. It is very loving with children and will get along well with them, although it can become willful and stubborn at times. Early socialisation with other animals will usually make the Bedlington Terrier a good companion to other pets but it is advised to keep it away from other dogs with strong dominant behaviour. This dog is brave, energetic and super-fast that it will not back down from any fight.