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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
Tracy Morgan, Animal Photography
The Bedlington Terrier is an active and cheerful companion. More relaxed and with less need for exercise than other terriers, he's still a curious, affectionate terrier who takes his status as watchdog rather seriously.
Bedlington Terrier puppies are born black or brown. As they mature, the coat lightens to blue, sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan, or liver and tan. The tan markings are found over the eyes, inside the ears, under the tail, and in traces on the inside of the legs.
Beneath his gentle, lamblike appearance, the Bedlington Terrier has the heart of a lion -- especially when it comes to small creatures. He is one of the more unusual terrier breeds, with his crisp and curly coat and somewhat relaxed — for a terrier — nature. Any opportunity to chase prey such as rats or squirrels brings out his inner and assertive earthdog nature, though. The Bedlington’s moderate size of 17 to 23 pounds makes him suited to most homes, including apartments and condos.
The Bedlington Terrier is a curious, affectionate companion dog who loves nothing better than to spend time with his people. His moderate activity level calls for a long daily walk or active playtime in a safe, traffic-free area. Once that need is satisfied, he will be happy to lie by your side or follow you around as you do your daily activities.
He’s an excellent watchdog but will greet your guests joyously. The Bedlington has a sense of humor and enjoys being the center of attention. As a bonus, he’ll rid your home and yard of any mice, rats or other rodents that may have taken up residence.
The Bedlington excels at all kinds of organized and informal canine activities, including Earthdog tests. He loves to hike and can be an excellent agility, flyball, obedience and rally dog. Train him with firmness, fairness and consistency, plus lots of positive reinforcement in the form of praise, play and food rewards. Any terrier can become a nuisance barker if left unchecked, so teach your Bedlington when it’s okay to exercise his vocal cords and when he should be quiet.
Bedlington Terriers are active and cheerful playmates for kids, and if they are raised with them they can usually get along with indoor cats. Outdoor cats should beware, however. Confine the Bedlington to your yard with a solid fence. An underground electronic fence will not deter him if he sees something he wants to chase.
The Bedlington coat sheds little but must be combed weekly to prevent or remove mats and tangles. Take him to a groomer every couple of months to maintain his lamblike look, or learn to trim the coat yourself. Your Bedlington’s breeder can show you how. Other than that, keep his ears clean, his nails trimmed and his teeth brushed.
A people-loving dog like the Bedlington Terrier needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Bedlington Terrier who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
England’s north country is home to many terrier breeds, and the Bedlington is one of them. His ancestry is unknown, but he may be related to the Dandie Dinmont, Kerry Blue and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. His lithe body, arched back, and speed may indicate some Whippet ancestry. The first dog known to be called a Bedlington Terrier, Ainsley’s Piper, was whelped in 1825 and was famous for his hunting ability, which was formidable well into old age.
He may have begun life as a poacher’s dog, using his speed, endurance and talent for a quick kill to fill the poacher’s belly and “relieve” landowners of some of their game. Landowners recognized the dogs’ talents and began acquiring them for their own purposes: ridding their property of rats, badger and other vermin. One of those landowners was Lord Rothbury, whose estate was in Bedlington in Northumberland. He became so associated with the dogs that they became known as Rothbury Terriers, or Rothbury’s Lamb. Local coal miners also appreciated the dogs for their ratting abilities. For entertainment, they raced the Bedlingtons against each other and against Whippets. It wasn’t unusual for the Bedlington to come out ahead of the Whippet. The Victoria era was a fine time for dog portraiture, and the Bedlington appears in many artworks from that period.
The National Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in England in 1877. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1886. Today the Bedlington ranks 140th in AKC registrations.
You might say the Bedlington has a split personality — in a good way. He is quiet, unassuming and perceptive, happy to be a family dog, particularly a child’s companion. He is also a terrier: aggressive, spirited and ready for action. Mostly, he is mild-mannered, usually never overly shy, nervous or aggressive, but when aroused he displays the courage, endurance and energy characteristic of his terrier bloodlines. This versatile dog can be an enthusiastic playmate for kids or a peaceful friend for seniors.
The athletic Bedlington needs exercise, so plan on daily walks and playtime. He performs well in canine sports such as agility, rally and earthdog tests. His lithe body is built for speed, so expect him to run fast.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Bedlington Terrier, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Bedlington Terriers are generally healthy, but conditions that are seen in the breed include a liver disease called copper storage hepatopathy, eye problems such as retinal dysplasia, distichiasis, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). At a minimum, ask breeders to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have been cleared of copper storage hepatopathy through a DNA test and have certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that their eyes are healthy.
The Bedlington Terrier Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Bedlington to achieve CHIC certification, he must have patella (knee) clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), an OFA copper storage hepatopathy evaluation from VetGen, plus an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC’s website to see if a breeder’s dogs have these certifications.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Bedlington at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Bedlington coat is a mixture of hard and soft hair with a texture that is crisp but not wiry. It tends to curl, especially on the head and face.
The distinctive look of the Bedlington, with the Mohawk-type head style and shaved ears, doesn’t come naturally. It is achieved through regular grooming, including bathing, brushing and styling. The Bedlington’s coat must be trimmed every six to eight weeks to maintain its look. Brush it once or twice a week. Frequent bathing and heavy conditioners are not recommended because they will soften the coarse coat.
The Bedlington’s unique hairstyle may look simple, but it is not for beginners. It is best to take him to a professional groomer who is familiar with the breed unless you are extremely ambitious and skilled. If you want to learn how to create it, apprentice yourself to a Bedlington breeder or show dog handler. The Bedlington Terrier Club of America gives a detailed explanation on its website of how the dog should be groomed for the show ring.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Watery eyes and tear stains are not uncommon with the light-colored Bedlington. Wipe around the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to minimize staining. Introduce your Bedlington to grooming at an early age so he will become accustomed to it and accept it willingly.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is most interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Bedlington Terrier and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the BTCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Bedlington Terrier puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Bedlington Terrier might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Bedlington Terrier in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Bedlington Terriers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Bedlington Terrier. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Bedlington Terriers love all Bedlington Terriers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Bedlington Terrier Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Bedlington Terrier rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Bedlington home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Bedlington Terrier, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Bedlington Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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