The Bedlington Terrier


 A little History


The Bedlington originated in England during the 1800s. The actual ancestry of the Bedlington is unknown. It is said that Joseph Ainsley from the town of Bedlington is credited with breeding two Rothbury Terriers and producing the first litter called Bedlingtons. Some believe breeds such as the Dandie Dinmont and the Otterhound were used in the development of the breed while other are convinced there were crosses with Whippets and Poodles.   As with most beginnings there is little documentation if any to support the above.  However, much is written about the courage and ability of this terrier to effectively hunt game such as rabbits, otters, foxes, badgers and rats.  It was in the late 1800’s the Bedlington found his way into the homes of the wealthy and the show ring.




Today’s Bedlington is one of the most distinctive looking breeds in the terrier group. They excel in dog show conformation, obedience, agility and earthdog trials. As companions there are none better.  The average size of a male is between 16-17 ½ inches and 15-16 ½ for females.  Both sexes can weigh between 17-23 lbs. Both the boys and the girls are equally loving and loyal.   Bedlingtons can make excellent companions in almost any household or lifestyle.  They are clean, virtually odorless, non-shedding and very adaptable.  He can live happily in anything from a small apartment to a large estate.  He is extremely affectionate and highly intelligent. Depending on the individual, some more than others, there is still plenty of hunts left in the Bedlington so he is still game to give a small animal or cat a play and being a terrier he will dig if he feels the need.  He should have a fenced yard and always be walked on a leash. 




I personally think that most Bedlingtons require very little formal training.  They become a member of the family and seemed to just learn what’s expected very quickly. They are sensitive and a bit more laid back than most terriers and do not take well to harsh corrections.  They are generally not barkers (keeping in mind there are always exceptions) and I do not find them to be destructive.  But I do think that attending a class at the local obedience school is a great way to socialize your puppy/dog.  You’ll learn the new positive training methods, when and what to reward and when not to.  You and your companion will reap untold benefits and its fun.  Lately we have been putting our dogs thru a basic obedience course and they are enjoying every minute of it. Who knows you might set your sights on learning agility or doing some therapy dog work.  I highly recommend giving it a try.




Grooming is a requirement for the Bedlington. It needs to be done every 6 to 8 weeks, similar to that of a poodle’s requirement.  How much brushing you’ll have to do depend on the type and texture of coat your dog has.  The ears grow hair inside that needs to be removed and nails need attention.  You can learn to do it yourself or use a professional. A little time and patience and with minimal equipment you can learn to do a very nice haircut.  Our parent club, features an excellent grooming chart you can use.  Words of caution to those looking for a professional, if they say they do Bedlingtons then ask for the reference.  Many will say they do just to get your business when they have never.  You’ll save yourself some grief as the Bedlington almost always comes home looking Poodley when an inexperienced groomer does it. If you can’t get a reference then look for someone who’s willing to learn and shows an interest in the grooming charts.  I ran a grooming shop for over 20 years and we always tried to work with the client, in fact, we appreciated the opportunity to learn and hone our skills.


Health Issues


Like other breeds, we too have our problems.  Our parent club has identified the top three as Copper Toxicosis, Eye and Patella Problems.  The Bedlington Terrier Club of America has partnered with the Canine Health Information Center(CHIC) to track and create a database compiling the test results for the identified problems in our breed in an effort to aid breeders and eradicate the problems from the breed.  So when you see a dogs name followed by a CHIC # you know that that particular animal has undergone all the necessary testing for its breed. It does not mean that the test results are all normal just that those required test have been done and made public.


Copper Toxicosis  is a hereditary disease in which the liver fails to remove dietary copper.  The copper accumulates in the liver to a point where it becomes toxic causing illness and death.   It is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait; each dog receives a single gene from each parent.  If the dog receives a defective gene from each parent, he will be affected.  If the dog receives one defective gene and one normal gene he will be a carrier of the disease and in this disease carriers do not develop the disease.  If the dog receives two normal genes then he is clear of the disease and will not transmit it.   Both clear and carriers make good pets and will not get the disease.  I urge you to visit to learn more about the DNA testing we use now.  


Eye Conditions affecting the Bedlington.   Cataracts, Retinal Dysplasia , Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and eyelid disorders are conditions that are thought to be inherited and the only means of identifying many of these diseases is an examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist.  To learn more about the above conditions please visit The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) at


Patellar Luxation.  In dogs the patella is a small bone (kneecap) that shields the front of the stifle joint.  This bone is held in place by ligaments.  As the knee joint is moved, the patella slides in a grove in the femur.  The kneecap may dislocate toward the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg.  Patellar luxation can affect either or both legs. There are several categories of Patellar luxation that are strongly suspected of being hereditary  For more information visit  click on Disease information located in the upper left.


The above are not the only problems this breed might experience, just the most prevalent if you have any questions or concerns just ask, a responsible breeder would be more than happy to answer your questions.  As a breeder, I feel that it is our  responsibility to oversee the health and well being of the Bedlington Terrier.  By taking advantage of new and developing technologies we are able to identify problems and take corrective action when necessary.  This enables us to insure the health and future of the dogs we hold so dear to our hearts and your new family member.

To learn even more about the Bedlington Terrier please visit the website of The Bedlington Terrier Club of America.