This is an unusual-looking dog, but one who can win your heart in a nanosecond. She’s most often been compared with a lamb. Her smooth, hairy head, sweet eyes, light topknot and springy gait have endeared her to dog lovers all the way back to her early days in England. Bedlingtons make excellent family companions, as they love adults and children in equal measure and get the most enjoyment from gathering with their “packs”.
Living with a Bedlington is an constant joy that can last a delightful 11 to 16 years. The breed is also easy to house train.
Her origin is pretty straightforward. The Bedlington Terrier originated in Bedlington in northeast England. Her working purpose was to hunt vermin in mining operations — what an ignoble beginning for such a regal-looking dog! Before long, though, she was introduced to dog racing and other dog sports, conformation events, and life as a family pet. Her official name, Bedlington Terrier, was not coined until 1825, but the breed itself has been around since the late 1700s.
Optimal height for males is 16 to 17-1/2 inches and females 15 to 16-1/2 inches at the withers.
The coat is coarse and sandy in some spots, soft in others, with colorations that might include blue, sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan, liver and tan. When they become adults, their topknots should be lighter than the body color.
Puppies are born with a very dark coat and grow gradually lighter as they mature.
The Bedlington exhibits two seemingly contradictory personality traits. The temperament is twofold; very quiet, much like a sporting dog, until aroused — then the aggressive terrier spirit predominates. They are fast dogs — on land they can keep up with horses, and they are keen, confident swimmers.
Bedlingtons are bright, clownish extroverts. They are always anxious to love, please and be the center of attraction, whether in the show ring or in any room of your house. Their greatest talent is running a household. This includes being fantastic hosts that leap with joy when company arrives. Astute judgment as to the legitimacy of any human visitors has proved them to be excellent watchdogs.
Trivia: In 1948, a Bedlington won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and was subsequently featured in LIFE magazine. One of his descendants appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the February 8, 1960 edition.
Most Bedlingtons live long, healthy lives, but there are some conditions they are prone to. Bedlington owners in the U.K. cite the following health issues in their dogs: Copper toxicosis, an abnormal accumulation of copper in the dog’s liver; reproductive issues; kidney problems; and heart issues such as murmur. Bedlingtons also seem prone to diseases of the eye, including epiphora (excessive watering of the eye), retinal dysplasia (which presents as folds or rosettes (round clumps) of the retinal tissue, and cataracts, a progressive order of the eye lens and retina which gradually results in vision loss.
First, the good news: the Bedlington is said to be a hypoallergenic dog that does not shed or sheds very little. The less-good news is that If you plan to show your Bedlington in the ring, you should expect high grooming expenses. If you’re wondering what groomer would know this unusual standard, a Bedlington breeder should be able to teach you to trim your dog or help you find a competent groomer in order to maintain her unique appearance. However, most people who keep their dogs as pets opt for the less-expensive “pet clip” as opposed to the pricey “show clip.” Bedlingtons who will be living as pets can get by with a once-weekly brushing and professional trimming every two months to keep her coat resplendent.
Here is a link to a rescue group for Bedlington Terriers: http://www.adoptapet.com/s/adopt-a-bedlington-terrier
They are a resource for those wanting to acquire a homeless Bedlington or need to surrender one for any reason. Phone numbers are included on their website.