Bedlington Terrier

If you took one look at the Bedlington Terrier, you may think you’re staring at a Poodle. Or a Lamb. Or a dog with a head the shape of a green fruit. As comical of an appearance this breed displays, the truth is, Bedlington Terriers are intelligent and tenacious hunters.

Once a fighter, now a lover, the Bedlington Terrier has seen a lot of change in a century of time. Although their roles are different, don’t let their sweet and cuddly personality fool you. Because the great “Gypsy Dog” is still a force to reckon with when the need arises.

So what makes this breed such a great pet to own?

Here is what you need to know about the Bedlington Terrier

History

At the end of the Bedlington Terrier’s story will be a breed many will describe as a courageous badger dog, with a talent for flushing out Vermin and scaring away rats. Some evidence points to the Bedlington existing during the late 1700’s, although the proof isn’t concrete to say for certain.

Moreover, the origins of this breed begins in a mining village of Bedlington, Northumberland. In fact, historians can say for certain that the first Bedlington Terrier was bred back in 1825. That dog went by the name “Piper” or “Ainsley’s Piper,” which was the name given by the dog’s owner, Joseph Ainsley.

Even today, the legend of Piper lives large in parts of England. More specifically, the legend has it that Piper was hunting and working badgers at the ripe age of 8 months old. As a matter of fact, Piper kept hunting and wedging away Varmint until 14 years old. One story claims that Piper kept a pig from harming a child until help came.

During the early and mid-1800’s, when dogfighting was legal, miners and nail makers would put their Bedlington Terriers up against one another. According to the American Kennel Club quoting a Bedlington Terrier historian, the breed didn’t display any signs of mischief but once the dog was pit against another dog, they fought ruthlessly like a true Terrier. 

Of course, with changing laws and changing times, the Bedlington Terrier no longer had to fight for its survival to remain relevant. Actually, much like other breeds after the prohibition of dog fighting, nobles and other “esteem” people took interest with the breed. 

Thus, the big bright lights and show rings became a new norm for the breed. Competition for the breed began in the 1870’s, as one Bedlington by the appropriate name of “Miner” won first place at Crystal Palace.

1877 was the formation of The National Bedlington Terrier Club of England. 

In 1886, the American Kennel Club approved the breed into the Terrier class. The doors would open in 1932 for the Bedlington Terrier Club of America. 

The breed would go on to win a best in show at Westminster in 1948. From then and on, their popularity grew. A Bedlington Terrier was featured on Sports Illustrated in 1960.

Today, the small but highly active breed enjoys a lifestyle much more relaxing. Bedlington Terriers are best known as companion dogs in the 21st century.

Size

The American Kennel Club states their height requirements for this small breed. Males are to stand between 16 to 17 inches. Females can range 15 to 16.5 inches.

As far as weight, the Bedlington Terrier should weigh between 17 to 23 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

The Bedlington Terrier is a complete sweetheart. In fact, many owners laud their devotion and loyalty. Breeders remark about the Bedlington’s commitment to their master. You will usually see this breed side by side with their owner. 

Bedlington Terriers will always be a chief guard dog. They can get mouthy and will bark when necessary. Very protective of their master and family, the Gypsy Dog won’t hesitate to defend the honor of his home. That’s the Terrier in this breed. Don’t let that Poodle coat fool you, when the Bedlington Terrier needs to be fierce it can turn it on easily.

One of the best qualities of this breed is their ability to be entertaining. This won’t interfere with the dog minding itself. They don’t feel the need to bend the rules or try your patience. In fact, the Bedlington Terrier aims to please. This breed may make you work for their obedience, but once you establish rule with them, they follow nicely.

While the breed is active and certainly requires a good deal of exercise, the Bedlington enjoys a slumber on the couch. Once you socialize them, you will find that they are fine with children and enjoy running off energy with the kiddos. Your Bedlington Terrier should be fine with other dogs, but they may not do well with aggressive males. Keep in mind their dogfighting history and once a dog challenges this breed, they will meet it. Smaller animals like birds or cats may present a problem

In theory, you should be fine in smaller spaces or apartments. This dog adapts well. You shouldn’t leave this breed alone for long periods of time. Bedlington Terriers are much happier with their family participating in functions and trips. 

Affection and attention is an absolute for this mild and gentle terrier. Again, this breed has no problem displaying a great deal of compassion towards their pack leader.

Health

If you buy from a reputable breeder, then there’s no reason your Bedlington Terrier can’t live a long and meaningful life. In fact, some have been known to live up to 18 years old. While the average life expectancy rate of this breed is 11 to 16 years.

That said, there are some issues to know about when it comes to this breed’s health. First, one of the more common complications found within the breed are issue affecting their eyes. 

Retinal Dysplasia is one of the leading candidates of concern. This eye disease causes the retina to tear, fold and produce round clumps. This occurs when the cells and layers of the retina tissue don’t properly develop. Mostly seen in puppies. The signs are rather obvious because the eyelids aren’t flat, instead the lids have folds. Of course, if you don’t treat this disease it can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Correspondingly, issues like Distichiasis can be found with the Bedlington Terrier. This unique and strange condition arises when a location on the eyelid experiences abnormal growth of eyelashes. Other breeds such as; Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and Shih Tzu suffer from this condition. Your dog may require surgery and medication from the irritation this condition causes.

Cushings Syndrome is an endocrine disorder, which the dog’s body produces far too much Cortisol for the body’s own good. Look for signs like; over thirst, hungriness, hair loss and thinning hair. Cushings affects many Terriers and smaller breeds like Poodles and Dachshunds. Surgery and medication may remedy the situation.

Copper Toxicosis is something you should watch for with breeds like the Bedlington, Skye Terrier and Doberman. The cause of this is an excessive accumulation of copper in the liver. Look for bleeding gums, nose bleeds, vomiting or jaundice as signs. This can be fatal if you don’t treat it.

Finally, beware of other health complications like Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Cataracts,  and Hyperkeratosis. Always obtain the proper health clearances from a breeder and schedule routine visits with your veterinarian.

Care

While the Bedlington Terrier certainly was a working breed in its time, it’s not absolutely crucial that you give them a job or task. Ultimately, this is a breed that needs your time and attention. The Bedlington Terrier would just assume cuddle up with your more than anything.

Early socialization is a must for a more friendly and less aggressive Bedlington. Positive reinforcement and mental stimulation exercises help. A constant and fair hand works best with this breed.

Although they won’t require an athlete for a master, the Bedlington Terrier will appreciate regular walks and play time. Company and the presence of family help break destructive habits out of boredom. 

You’ll want to check their ears for any growing bacteria. Check their eyes routinely as a breed that suffers from a slew of eye conditions. Trimming their nails once you notice overgrowth will help protect them from tearing or splitting. A bath once every month or two will help keep your dog healthy and their coat in good shape.

Feeding

In reality, what your dog eats will depend on what their role or activity rate is. Other important things to consider are their age, metabolism and if the dog is fixed. In addition, since this breed encounters a particular health issues pertaining to copper storage, you may want to consult your veterinarian on a proper diet.

Maintaining a healthy balance and monitoring the amount of food your Bedlington Terrier eats is the smartest plan. For instance, if your dog weighs 17 pounds and is typically active, they will require about 1055 calories per day. A 23 pound Bedlington Terrier at the same active rate will need 1300 plus calories per day. Conversely, if your dog is a working breed then a 17 pound Bedlington should get 1700 calories a day. Moreover, a 23 pound working dog should receive 2200 calories.

Most recommend a meat diet or as the first ingredient. Red meat, chicken, turkey or salmon should be fine. Grain free. 18-22 percent protein value per meal. You should feed your Bedlington Terrier 1 to 1.5 cups of top quality dry food per day. Balancing the meals and breaking them up once in the morning and then in the evening seems to work the best.

As always, leaving your dog fresh, drinking water is an absolute MUST.

Coat

The coat of a Bedlington Terrier resembles that of a Poodle’s. The texture can either hard or soft. The coat hair should stand off the skin and shouldn’t be wiry but rather crisp. The coat will have a curl texture to it but mostly around the head and face.

You may require some professional grooming to adhere to the breed’s trademark appearance. In addition, you should brush your Bedlington Terrier once per week. They are infrequent shedders with hypoallergenic coats.

The standard coat colors for this breed: Blue, blue and tan, liver, liver and tan, sandy, sandy and tan. According to the breed’s standards, there are no markings.

Fun Bedlington Terrier Facts

  • Bedlington Terriers are excellent swimmers. Although they aren’t chasing down rats as they use to, the breed is said to be resilient and fast swimmers.
  • Before settling on an official name, the breed use to be called; Rothbury Lambs, Rothbury Terriers and Rodbury Terriers in reference to the Lord of Rothbury, who was a big fan.
  • The name “Gypsy Dog” comes from the breed’s time spent with Gypsies as a fellow poacher.
  • The Bedlington Terrier shares lineage with the Wheaten Terrier and the Skye Terrier.

Closing Words

Although the Bedlington Terrier may not land in the top 40 most popular dog breeds, it is safe to say that the breed is still held in dearest terms with the English. Who can blame them?

The dog has become a true companion and loyal friend to their humans. It’s hard to believe this breed was part of fierce lifestyle. Chasing down pestiferous rats and annoying varmint, as well as vicious dog fights to the death.

Thankfully, senses would prevail, and nearly two hundred years later, so hasn’t the compassionate legacy of man’s best friend, the Bedlington Terrier.