The best way to describe a Bedlington Terrier is that it looks like a really thin sheep. As a matter of fact, standing at 15 to 17.5 inches and weighing 17 to 23 pounds, it looks like a sheep that’s been put in the dryer a little too long. Their coat is crisp, though not wiry, and curly. Regular grooming of the hard and soft hair that the coat consists of is necessary to achieve the mohawk that is so distinctive to the breed. Their coat requires quite a bit of work and must be trimmed every six to eight weeks. For those inexperienced in dog grooming, it is better to have them groomed professionally. Their coat comes in seven different colors; blue, blue and tan, liver, liver and tan, sandy, sandy and tan, and blue. The topknots in adults should be a lighter color than that on the body. Bedlington Terriers have a life expectancy of 11 to 16 years. They are generally healthy, but as with all breeds, there are specific issues to be aware of. These include copper storage hepatopathy (a liver disease), retinal dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and distichiasis.
Bedlington Terriers were created in the Northumberland mining shire from which they derive their name. These Englishmen were bred to be versatile hunters. They worked as varmint and badger killers, coalmine ratters, pit fighters, and were even used for entertainment as race dogs. The first Bedlington was bred in 1825. It wasn’t until 1877 that the National Bedlington Terrier Club formed in England. It took an extra nine years for the American Kennel Club to register its first Bedlington. It is believed that its ancestors are the Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Kerry Blue Terrier and perhaps even the Whippet.
As you might expect from its name, the Bedlington Terrier is part of the American Kennel Club’s terrier group. As such, they will generally not shy away when challenged by another dog. They are protective of their family and enjoy being the center of attention. Bedlingtons are spirited, though good tempered. They are loyal, intelligent, alert, active, energetic, courageous, cheerful, curious, and affectionate. Bedlingtons need quite a bit of exercise and are fast runners, so a secure area for them to run is recommended. Though somewhat of a challenge to train, they can perform well in organized sports such as rally, agility and, like most terriers, earthdog tests. They are fierce hunters and will give chase to small animals, especially those who run from them outdoors, but they do tend to get along with household pets. Keep in mind that Bedlingtons are fast, so off-leash walks should be done in secure areas.
To get more information or to find a breeder, go to the Bedlington Terrier Club of America.