If you saw this dog walking down the street, you may do a double take. Was that a lamb or a dog? The Bedlington Terrier is most certainly a dog, even if it’s unusual looking. A true terrier in every sense of the word, this breed makes a wonderful family addition. He loves playing with the kids and enjoys a good cuddle session at the end of the day. He’ll also keep an eye out for people he thinks are unsavory and let you know if they’re getting a little too close for comfort.
When he’s not vying to be the center of attention, the Bedlington Terrier is active and athletic, and does well in agility competitions, Earthdog trials and in the show ring. He gets along well with other dogs when raised with them and will give smaller outdoor animals a run for their money. Read on to learn more about this interesting dog.
The Bedlington Terrier, also known as the Rodberry or Rothbury Terrier, the Northumberland Fox Terrier, the North Counties Terrier, the Gypsy Dog or simply the Bedlington, comes from a small mining village in the county of Northumberland, England. This lamb-like dog, with its pear-shaped head and arched back, looks like nothing else in the canine world. While the Bedlington’s body type and coat do not resemble that of the typical terrier, their personalities do. Bedlingtons have boundless energy and are intelligent, tenacious, friendly and bold. They are terrific family dogs and form strong bonds with their human companions. Despite its wooly cuteness, this is a tough breed with a strong work ethic – a terrier through and through. The Bedlington Terrier was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1886 and is a member of the Terrier Group.
- 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.
- The Bedlington has a very different look than other terriers, with his unusual coat, roached back, arched loin, hare feet and distinctive, springy gait. The tail, shaped like a scimitar, tapers to a point.
- The Bedlington has a narrow head covered with a topknot that is lighter than the body color, dark, small, almond-shaped eyes, triangular ears with rounded tips and a thin, velvety texture, and a mild, gentle expression, belying the fact that he is a terrier at heart.
- In addition to backing off animals as wily as foxes and badgers, the Bedlington Terrier is an excellent water dog.
- Bedlington Terriers often live for upwards of 17 years.
- Borrowing form the dog’s simultaneous pluck and likability, non-league UK soccer club the Bedlington Terriers have recently brought the breed’s name to prominence in Hollywood.
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.
|An image of a Bedlington Terrier, circa 1889.|
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.
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.
This is a healthy breed, but the Bedlington Terrier has a few health problems owners should be aware of. One of the most common issues in the breed is copper toxicosis, a hereditary disease where the liver can’t expel dietary copper, which leads to a buildup in the body that result in illness and death. Be sure to have your Bedlington tested. Other issues include renal cortical hypoplasia, retinal dysplasia, patellar luxation and distichiasis.
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.
This breed will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Even though this is an intelligent breed, he’s still a terrier. You may have a challenge on your hands, especially if you haven’t had much dog-training practice. Bedlington Terriers tend to have a mind of their own, so they may not take kindly to your commands. For the best results, treats and positive reinforcement will garner what you want. If you let him think that the training benefits him, he’ll be more likely to pick up good behaviors.
Once basic obedience has been taught, you may want to enroll your Bedlington Terrier in agility or Earthdog training. He loves to dig, so Earthdog will help him tap into these instincts. And with his lithe body, he’s a natural for agility courses.