Bedlington Terrier

Bedlibgton Terrier + Dandie Dinmont Terrier (Cassell’s Illustrated Book of the Dog, 1881)

Bedlibgton Terrier + Dandie Dinmont Terrier (Cassell’s Illustrated Book of the Dog, 1881)

History and Development

The exact origin of the Bedlington Terrier cannot be definitely ascertained, but it is generally believed that it appeared at about the same time as the Dandie Dinmont. Or similar obscurity is the combination of breeds that went into its making. The body contours of the Bedlington point to a relationship with a hound breed. The Otterhound has been suggested as a possible forebear but this is something that can only be guessed at, and the Greyhound or Whippet seems more likely. In addition to hound blood, the Bedlington probably goes back to some type of now extinct otter terrier; this ancestor is probably shared with the Dandic, as old prints of Dandies and Bedlingtons show a striking similarity, although they are not so alike today.

In the latter part of the 18th century, a breed or strain of terriers existed in Northumberland in and around the Rothbury Forest, which was held in high esteem in the neighborhood for its excellent qualities and especially its gameness. Their matings in the first place were probably arranged entirely with a view to perpetuate these qualities, rather than their outward appearance; to get dogs with strength, courage, endurance, nose and the like. Whatever it was required to do in the animal killing line, which was no doubt its main vocation, it would need a powerful, punishing jaw and strong teeth. It is known that Mr. Edward Donkin had two of these Rothbury Terriers, very celebrated in the district, named Peachem and Pincher, and it is this Peachem we must regard as the great patriarch of the Bedlington world.

In 1820, an important date in Bedlington history, a Mr. J. Howe came to Bedlington and brought with him a bitch, Phoebe. She was subsequently given to Joseph Ainsley, who already had a number of these terriers hi his possession. It was this visit which led to the Northumberland village giving its name to the breed. It must be said that, hut for this visit, the breed might not have been perpetuated at all, as its continuance in purity seems to have been largely due to Joseph Ainsley himself. In 1825, Ainsley mated Phoebe to Anderson’s Old Piper – both descended from Peachem, and obtained Young Piper, said to be the first dog called a Bedlington Terrier, Joseph Ainsley having so named the strain which he founded.

It is known that Bedlingtons were being shown before 1870, and the first Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in 1875. Since then the Bedlington has maintained a steady level of popularity, many being kept purely for their working qualities. A climax came in 1965 when a Bedlington won the Terrier Group at Cruft’s for the first time in the breed’s long history.

There are now three flourishing clubs in Britain, and many more throughout the world.

Bedlington Terrier: Color

The first named Bedlington was liver in color, hut it is known that some of its forebears were blue-and-tan. Other colors are blue, sandy, liver and tan but not many of the bicolored are bred now. Liver is the dominant color. The puppies are born black and dark brown, beginning to change to blue and liver when they are around three months old.

Bedlington Terrier: Care

The Bedlington is a hardy dog able to stand any amount of cold, but not draughts. It needs a box or basket large enough lo move about in and stretch its limbs. This must be raised from the floor. The bedding should never be of straw or wood-wool as this is injurious to both coat and eyes. The best is a bed of newspaper which it can tear up and arrange to suit itself. The Bedlington puppy will soon learn proper habits and, once clean, will never soil its bed.

Grooming plays an important part in keeping a Bedlington healthy and happy. If left untrimmed it will get a very tangled, knotted coat; it never casts its old hair and therefore it is important to groom it daily; always combing the reverse way, from tail to head, and from feet to shoulders. The coat should stand away from the skin. The comb should not be so fine as to remove the soft, limy undercoat, which is peculiar to the breed. It is a good idea to give a good brushing weekly, using a fairly stiff brush.

It is not necessary to give weekly baths as the combing and brushing will keep it clean and too many baths will soften the dog’s coat. The ears should have the hair removed from the inside, about once a fortnight. This is easily done, the hair being pulled out with either finger and thumb or round-ended tweezers. The hair between the pads should always be trimmed out so that the feet are closed and not splayed.

Bedlington Terrier: Character

The Bedlington Terrier is one of the most strikingly unusual of all the dog breeds. Its lamblike appearance is its special trademark. A dog of great heart and courage, its appearance is very deceptive. It is full of life, and is capable of holding its own as were its forebears. The ideal family dog, adored by children and adults alike, quick to protect its home and family, yet obedient. One well-known obedience-trained Bedlington is Mrs. Ida Sill’s Andy Capp of Vistablu which has delighted many with its obedience displays for charities.

Bedlington Terrier: Standards

The Bedlington is a graceful, lithe, muscular dog with no sign of weakness or coarseness. The whole head should be pear or wedge-shaped and its expression in repose, mild and gentle, though not shy or nervous. When roused, the eyes should sparkle and the dog look full of temper and courage. They are capable of galloping at great speed and should have the appearance of being able to do so. The coat is very distinctive; thick and linty, standing well from the skin but not wiry. There should be a distinct tendency for the coat to twist, particularly on the head and face. The head should be narrow, deep and rounded with a profuse nearly-white, silky topknot. Jaw long and tapering, no stop, close fitting lips. Nostrils large and well defined. Black nose in blue and blue-and-tan dogs; livers and sandies must have brown noses. Teeth large and strong, level or pincer jaws. The eyes small and well sunk and looking triangular, blues have a dark eye; blue-and-tans, lighter with amber lights; livers and sandies a light hazel eye. Ears low-set, moderate filbert-shaped and hanging flat to the cheek, with a fringe of whitish silky hair at the tip. The American Standard gives the greatest width as approximately 3″.

Long, tapering neck, deep at the base with no throatiness, the head carried rather high. The body muscular yet flexible, shoulders flat and sloping, the chest deep and fairly broad, the ribs flat and deep through the brisket. The forelegs should be straight, the hindquarters muscular and graceful. The back roached, loins arched giving the hind legs the appearance of being longer than the forelegs. Long hare feet with thick, closed-up pads. The tail a moderate length, thick at the root and tapering to a point. Set-on low but never carried over the back.

Height in Britain should be about 16″ at the shoulder and weight between 18 and 23 lbs. America asks for 16½” for dogs, 15½” for bitches. Dogs under 16″ or over 17½” and bitches under 15″ or over 16½” are faulted.

Selections from the book: “The World Encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)