Bedlington Terriers: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

The Bedlington Terrier is a breed of dog originating from Great Britain. The fluffy dogs are officially recognized by the FCI and are assigned to group 3, the group of terriers, and section 1, the section of long-legged terriers. They are classified as a breed for which no working test is required. In Germany, they are on the list of domestic dogs. The alert and courageous dogs are also known as Rothbury Terriers.

Bedlington Terrier Dog Breed Information

Size: 38-44cm
Weight: 8-11kg
FCI Group: 3: Terriers
Section: 1: Long Legged Terriers
Country of origin: Great Britain
Colors: Liver, Blue, Sand, Liver Tan, Blue Tan, Sand Tan
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Suitable as: family, companion, protection, and guard dog
Sports: agility, obedience, dog dancing
Temperament: affectionate, intelligent, good-natured, spirited
Exercise requirements: rather high
Low drool potential
The thickness of hair high
Maintenance effort: high
Coat texture: thick, flaxen, stand-off
Child-friendly: rather yes
Family dog: yes
Social: rather yes

Origin and Breed History

The Bedlington Terrier comes from the north of England. There it was used in the mining regions for hunting small game. Hunters used curly hair to hunt rabbits and rats. They showed great talent at hunting, which the miners took advantage of to curb the rat population. Aside from ridding the tunnels of rats, the handsome hounds traveled around England primarily with merchants, tinkers, and scissor grinders. The four-legged friends of the breed did great service as hunting dogs. They were very popular with the villagers as they rid the villages of rats and other rodents. Their owners were able to earn a little more and were in good company.

Like many other terrier species, the Bedlington Terrier fell victim to British betting culture. It was often used for animal fights. His abuse for fighting had earned him the nickname “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”. This name is also due to the Bedlington Terrier’s coat, as its cut and texture are reminiscent of that of a sheep.

The ancestors of the Bedlington Terrier include the Scottish Terrier, Otterhounds, and Whippets. The independent breeding of this breed only began in 1820. As the name of the handsome terrier suggests, its breeding roots lie in the small English town of Bedlington, north of Newcastle. Around 50 years after the selective breeding of hunting dogs began, the Bedlington Terrier was also well received in various exhibitions.

In 1877 the Bedlington Terrier breed association was founded.

Over time, the breed spread throughout Europe and the fuzzy terrier became more and more popular in Germany as well. In 1932 a merger took place in Germany, which developed into the “Fachschaft für Bedlington Terrier”. The poodle-like dog is still relatively rare. He is not very widespread and can be found at the lower end of the VDH puppy statistics.

The Bedlington Terrier was officially recognized by the FCI in 1963 and the final standard was published in October 2010. The handsome Brit is also recognized by other breed associations such as the AKC and the KC.

Nature and Temperament of the Bedlington Terrier

Contrary to its nickname as the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, the Bedlington Terrier is very friendly and affectionate towards its family and thus its pack members. He treats people he trusts attentively, tenderly, and calmly. He is also very fond of children and usually gets along well with other pets. He is a little sunshine who likes to be part of harmonious family life. The Bedlington Terrier is extremely affectionate and loyal to his caregiver. He has a big heart and likes to put a smile on the faces of his family members. Despite his cuddly nature, the pretty terrier is by no means pushy.

The hunting dog is somewhat reserved towards strangers. He meets them with a certain skepticism, but without any aggression. One could say that the spirited terrier treats strangers with tolerance, as long as they do not endanger their pack. This breed is known for standing by defensively and keeping a watchful eye on its surroundings.

In the “outside world” they live up to their reputation as “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. If someone gets too close to their family, the previously relaxed terriers defend their pack in a focused and vigilant manner. Once in a rage, it is difficult to bring the hound back to his senses. Although the cuddly dogs are not considered barkers, the hunting dogs definitely have the temperament. This is also reflected in joint activities with their owner. The sporty dogs find enormous joy in exercise and new adventures. They like to discover their environment and appear proud and robust. These qualities are also used by hunters, who benefit from the dog’s courage and high level of personal responsibility.

The Appearance of the Bedlington Terrier

The medium-sized hunting dogs appear sporty and self-confident. They reach a stick size of approx. 41 cm and weigh between 8-10 kg. There are usually only minimal gender-related differences in height and weight.
The characteristic of the Bedlington Terrier is its coat, which is reminiscent of the wool of a sheep. The terrier’s coat is dense with slight curls or waves, giving it its sheep-like appearance.

The dog breed usually comes in the liver or sandy colors, but can also be blue-gray. If the dog has a sandy or liver-colored coat, the eyes are usually light and the muzzle is brown. If the Bedlington Terrier has grey-blue fur, it has dark eyes and a black muzzle. The physique of the hunter is lean and athletic, yet wiry and well-muscled. The Bedlington Terrier appears graceful, composed, and proud. He moves dexterously and gracefully, especially when hunting. The Englishman’s tail is set low and according to the standard should not be carried over the back. The hound’s head is typically pear-shaped and the muzzle is longer rather than wide. This also applies to the entire body of the dog. The ears hang down at the sides and are fringed at the ends. Other physical characteristics of the Bedlington Terrier include its supple neck and flat ribs, which give it its lean and wiry appearance.

Training and Husbandry of the Bedlington Terrier – This is Important to Note

The training of the Bedlington Terrier is relatively relaxed in contrast to other terrier species. Although the spirited terriers have a mind of their own, they don’t appear stubborn or bored. They like to get in touch with their people and enjoy training and exercise. However, it is an advantage if either experience in terrier training is available or a good dog trainer is consulted for any questions, should it be the first dog or terrier.

Contrary to many expectations, the Bedlington Terrier is very well suited as a beginner’s dog. However, it is recommended that you attend a good dog school when you are a puppy. In this way, the intelligent hunter quickly learns where his limits are and which basic commands are essential.

When keeping the Bedlington Terrier, it is essential to ensure sufficient exercise. Although the fluffy terriers also like to spend relaxing hours with their master or mistress on the couch, a balance is welcome. Long walks and a lot of mental and physical activity should be made possible for the dog. In addition, the Bedlington Terrier’s above-average thirst for action and activity is usually reduced if he is regularly challenged. In the course of this, the balanced and attentive side of his nature usually dominates.

Diet of the Bedlington Terrier

The main component of the Bedlington Terrier’s diet should be fresh, high-quality meat. As his nickname “the wolf” suggests, the Briton hardly needs grain in his feed, but benefits from a diet rich in meat and vegetables. The hunting dog would be an optimal candidate for the so-called BARF. The BARF diet describes a diet that mainly contains raw, organic fresh meat as well as seeds, vegetables, fruit, or high-quality oils. In some cases, flakes are also mixed in.

If you don’t like to cook for your dog or would rather stay away from raw meat, you can of course feed it dry or wet food as well. It is recommended to always feed dry food and wet food in combination so as not to upset the dog’s digestion. With a ready-made feed from the pet shop or from feed shops, care should be taken to ensure that the feed has an increased protein content and a low grain content. In this way, the needs of the Bedlington Terrier can be optimally supported.

How Heavy Does a Bedlington Terrier Get?

A fully grown Bedlington Terrier can reach a weight of between 8-10 kg, depending on the sex and size of the dog.

Healthy – Life Expectancy & Common Diseases

A completely healthy Bedlington Terrier has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Due to selective breeding, the Bedlington Terrier, like many of its relatives, suffers from hereditary diseases. Some breed lines suffer from diseases of the visual system more often than others. The Briton also has a predisposition to diseases, including brittle bone disease and various eye diseases such as roll lids, cataracts, and distichiasis. The latter describes a disease in which fine hairs grow on the sebaceous glands on the edge of the eyelid. This causes irritation and in some cases even damage to the eye, particularly the cornea.

Another disease predisposition of the Bedlington Terrier is its inherited predisposition to hyperkeratosis of the pads. This condition is also known by the name “Conny Feet” or HFH. This leads to increased keratinization of the dog’s footpads, which in most cases has no effect on the dog’s freedom of movement or general health.

The curly terrier is also prone to copper toxicosis. This condition describes excessive storage of copper in the liver. The reason for this is the mutation of a copper transport protein. In the meantime, some breeding associations have made it compulsory to test your dog for its predisposition to copper toxicosis if it is used for breeding. The VDH and the FCI, for example, prescribe testing of dogs approved for breeding so that they can guarantee careful breeding selection without genetic dispositions. It can be tested either with a hair root or blood test. In some countries, such as Finland, the blood test is not permitted, which is why only a hair root test of copper toxicosis DNA with two markers is carried out there.

How Old Does a Bedlington Terrier Get?

A Bedlington Terrier has a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years when healthy.

Grooming the Bedlington Terrier

The grooming of the terrier is quite time-consuming. The dense, curly coat should be brushed regularly. A daily routine and getting the puppy used to the brush or trimmer early is recommended.

The Bedlington Terrier should be trimmed and clipped about every two months to keep the coat tangle-free and healthy. A professional dog hairdresser will also be happy to give the terrier a sheep-like coat cut on request. If this is not desired, the Briton’s coat can of course simply be shortened. Since the Bedlington Terrier is prone to the so-called hyperkeratosis, the footpads should be checked regularly. If necessary, the resulting horn tip can be shortened by yourself or by a veterinarian. But be careful, if you don’t have any experience with this, you should first get information from the vet about the right approach.

The Bedlington Terrier – Activities and Training

Overall, the Bedlington Terrier is a very athletic dog. He enjoys all forms of exercise and enjoys spending time in nature. He is happy when he takes long walks with his people or when he can let off steam with other dogs in the dog park. The terrier has a pronounced social streak and is quite playful. The dog breed is considered a tireless walker and is a big fan of swimming. Whether in streams, ponds, or in the sea, the Bedlington Terrier’s heart always jumps a little when he sees water.

Training with a medium-sized dog is usually very relaxed. The terrier is very attentive and willingly follows its owner’s commands. It is recommended that you attend a good dog school when you are a puppy so that the foundation for your dog’s upbringing can be laid. Although the active terrier also likes to take breaks and cuddle together on the couch, he also enjoys a wide variety of dog sports and sporting activities with his master or mistress. It is an ideal companion for cycling, hiking, or inline skating. The Briton also cuts a fine figure as an accompaniment on horseback rides, as he usually gets along well with other animals. The Bedlington Terrier is suitable for every conceivable type of dog sport, whether obedience, flyball, popular sport, agility, or mantrailing.

Good to Know: Special Features of the Bedlington Terrier

The characteristic of the Bedlington Terrier is definitely its appearance. Especially the fur and the texture of the fur are very reminiscent of that of a sheep. Together with the pear-shaped head and the lop ears, the breed creates this impression all the more. A professional coat cut, often seen at shows, is typical of the Bedlington Terrier. The hair on the head and muzzle are usually left longer and brushed upwards. Otherwise, the length of the coat is very even and the legs are often teased or teased.

Since the Bedlington Terrier is otherwise quite temperamental and robust, he is known among all dog breeds as the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. He acts nimble, confident, and strong character on the hunt and in the outside world, but becomes a loving and cuddly companion as soon as he spends time at home with his family.

How Many Puppies Does a Bedlington Terrier Have?

A Bedlington bitch usually gives birth to between two and six puppies. In exceptional cases, there can be more than eight puppies, but this is very rare.

Cons of the Bedlington Terrier

Hardly any breed of dog has a real disadvantage. The Bedlington Terrier is usually very spirited and strong when hunting. For a beginner in dog ownership, this can be quite a challenge. If a Bedlington Terrier is left untrained as a puppy, blemishes can creep into its behavior which, given its strength of character, is more difficult to break. Although the Brit is easy to train and enjoys training, he needs consistent and clear leadership.

Due to his previous exposure to various hereditary diseases, there is a risk of increased veterinary costs. Due to selective breeding, this risk occurs in almost every breed of dog. It should never be forgotten that dogs represent not only a time but also a financial expense. In general, if you bring a dog into your home, you should consider the time and financial factors.

Is the Bedlington Terrier Right for Me?

In any case, the Bedlington Terrier needs an owner who is willing to spend a lot of time with his dog. Although the Bedlington Terrier’s urge to move is not particularly high compared to some other dog breeds, long walks should be an integral part of the agenda. Daily grooming and training also take time. If you are not willing to deal with your dog or do not enjoy training together, you are less well advised with the medium-sized hunting dog.

How Much Does a Bedlington Terrier Cost?

A Bedlington Terrier costs between $750 and $1500, depending on its pedigree and breeding line. In rare cases, the dogs are more expensive.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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