It’s a stuffed toy. It’s a lamb. It’s a poodle. Nope. It’s a Bedlington Terrier.
The Bedlington Terrier is one of the least known terrier breeds but is one of those easiest to distinguish. Mainly, its appearance is described as lamb-like but make no mistake. This dog is not meek at all, rather a true wolf in sheep’s clothing. That doesn’t mean, though, that it doesn’t make a good pet with the right training.
In fact, the Bedlington Terrier is a good all-around dog. Since it was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886, it has participated and won awards in various events, including those in obedience, agility and earth dog trials.
Below are some other things you need to know before you bring a Bedlington Terrier home.
1. Bedlington Terriers usually grow less than 17 inches tall.
Bedlington Terriers, like most terriers, are small dogs. They can grow up to 18 inches tall but the breed standard is 16 to 17 ½ inches for males and 15 to 16 ½ inches for females. This makes them about as tall as Basenjis or Beagles but they are lighter, weighing 17 to 23 pounds.
As a small dog, the Bedlington Terrier can be easily kept in the house and brought along on travels. Its care and nutrition also costs less than big dogs. Still, there is absolutely no guarantee that a small dog is easier to care for than a big dog and this one poses some challenges of its own as you will learn in the rest of the article.
Other breed standards include a rounded head, a long neck, a deep chest and a muscular body. Their back legs are longer than the front and on all feet, the dewclaw – that fifth finger which is higher than the rest of the dog’s fingers, not touching the ground – is removed, a procedure usually done shortly after birth. This is done so that the nail doesn’t get caught on the dog’s surroundings and get injured, which can cause pain for the dog.
Bedlington Terriers come in blue – that is to say, white – sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan and liver and tan.
2. Bedlington Terriers are tenacious hunters.
Bedlington Terriers were originally bred to hunt. In particular, the gypsies and poachers used them to hunt on the lands owned by gentry since they were small enough to sneak past fences and escape attention. They were also used in the mines where they hunted rats.
Today, Bedlington Terriers remain excellent hunters, true to the Whippet blood they have in their veins. They can run fast and are particularly relentless when hunting rats, mice, foxes, badgers and even birds and insects. Don’t be surprised when you find one of these on your doorstep. Rather, praise your dog and be glad you don’t have to call pest control, unless it’s the neighbor’s cat you find. Then you should start building a better fence.
3. Bedlington Terriers have a two-sided temperament.
When raised well – that is to say they are well socialized, well cared for and trained with a firm but not a harsh hand – Bedlington Terriers make delightful companions. To their owners, they are affectionate, crave for attention and are eager to please, playing with both young and old and entertaining guests whom they trust. You’ll know at once if a Bedlington Terrier doesn’t trust someone as you’ll be alerted with its continuous barking.
On the other side of the coin, you have your aggressive Bedlington Terrier, which usually comes out when he or she feels threatened or is in the hunting mode. Bedlington Terriers are good fighters and can kill any creature their size or smaller with ease, which males in particular are determined to do. Once in a fight, it will be difficult to tear your Bedlington Terrier away.
4. Bedlington Terriers do not always get along with other dogs.
Given the Bedlington Terrier’s fierce fighting spirit, it does not always get along with other dogs. If raised with other dogs, then there is a good chance it will get along with them but be careful when introducing your Bedlington Terrier to other dogs, especially adult dogs of the same sex. It will not tolerate any attempt of another dog to dominate it and so a fight may ensue. Also, Bedlington Terriers are prone to being possessive of their owners and easily get jealous of other dogs.
5. Bedlington Terriers need long daily walks.
If you think a small dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise, think again. Bedlington Terriers have high levels of energy and so you have to help them burn that energy by playing with them and taking them on long walks everyday. If not, your Bedlington Terrier will get bored, which means he or she will be one unhappy dog or worse, he or she will cause mischief, which will make for an unhappy owner.
6. Bedlington Terriers do not shed – and are hypoallergenic.
Bedlington Terriers are known for their beautiful coats and the best part about these coats? They hardly shed and they are considered hypoallergenic, which makes Bedlingtons even more ideal indoor companions.
The downside? The fur of Bedlington Terriers grows fast and needs to be trimmed regularly. If not, the fur will end up looking a mess and feel wiry – nobody wants to cuddle with a dog like that. Monthly trips to the groomer are required to keep the fur short and crisp to the touch. If you want your Bedlington Terrier to be groomed to breed standards – which includes a topknot and not more than one inch of coat – you’ll have to pay more.
7. Bedlington Terriers may suffer from copper toxicosis.
The most common health issue Bedlington Terriers have is copper toxicosis. What this means is that instead of copper being metabolized, it gets stored inside the liver and when there is too much, the liver fails which in turn, slowly causes the death of the dog. This disease occurs in about 5% of Bedlington Terriers and may be inherited.
Bedlington Terriers can also have eye problems such as cataract and retinal dysplasia, as well as kidney and thyroid problems. These aside, the Bedlington Terrier is a healthy breed and can live quite long – up to 18 years older, which is longer than the lifespan of other dogs its size.
8. Bedlington Terriers love to dig.
Bedlington Terriers have two bad habits – excessive barking and digging. They are terriers, after all and so they like to dig to flush out prey. In earthdog trials, being able to dig well is a good thing. Otherwise, it can be annoying.
How to curb the digging habit? As mentioned earlier, sufficient exercise is key. An exhausted dog cannot dig. You can also bury citrus peels, chicken wire or large rocks in your yard to dissuade your terrier from digging.
Don’t want to dissuade digging entirely? Give your dog a sandbox or a digging area where he can dig without escaping or causing too much trouble.
9. Bedlington Terriers are easy to house train.
Yes, Bedlington Terriers love to play in the yard but they can also be trained to be good house dogs. In fact, they are fairly easy to house train as compared to training them to follow other commands, control their temper or break bad habits.
How do you ‘housebreak’ them? First, you have to earn your terrier’s respect. Remember, Bedlington Terriers do not like to be dominated so if that is what you try to do, your terrier will only respond with stubbornness and aggression. If you don’t like that, be firm but not harsh. If you have your terrier’s respect, he is more likely to listen to you. Next, establish a routine. Remember how Bedlington Terriers need exercise? Try to get your terrier to use the bathroom during walks outside, which you can schedule everyday. When at home, restrict your dog to only a part of the house until he has been house-trained and give him access to the toilet so that he can use it when he needs to. With patience, consistency and the right attitude, your Bedlington Terrier will become housebroken before long.
10. Bedlington Terriers are good swimmers.
Bedlington Terriers may not be true water dogs but they are powerful swimmers and will not mind being in the water, though that doesn’t mean they will readily jump into water. It’s just that water will not deter them from catching their prey. If you want to take your Bedlington Terrier for a swim, go ahead. Just make sure you dry him or her properly afterwards.
The Bedlington Terrier Dog is also mentioned in:
Unusual Dog Breeds – A Top 10