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'The look of a lamb with the heart of a lion' is how breeders and owners often describe this little dog. This is of course, in reference to its woolly, curly and soft coat. This breed is named for the town in Northumberland where local miners used them for hunting vermin.
The originating dog, it is reputed, for the Bedlington Terrier as a breed was a dog called Old Flint who gave birth to a litter of pups in 1782, with Otterhounds, Danie Dinmont Terrier both possible contributors to the breed. The Bedlington Terrier Club being establish in 1877, followed by recognition by the Kennel Club in 1948.
The original name for the Bedlington Terrier was the Rothbury Terrier, named after the district of Rothbury located on the England/Scotland border. In the 1820's the breed was renamed the Bedlington Terrier after the mining town of Bedlington where they were popular animals for the miners who used them to hunt and catch vermin. The breed was used for hunting dog of foxes, hares and badgers. A tough and game little dog, the miners also used it for illegal dog fighting hidden in the mines and pits away from public view.
Average height to withers: Males between 16-17 inches and females between 15-16 inches
Average weight: Both males and females are between 8-10 kg.
The lion and lamb comparison often attributed to Bedlington Terriers is due to their soft, grey goat which is often cut to exaggerate this similarity.
The colour of these dogs ranges from blue, liver and sandy coloration, all three of which can come with or without tan points. The breed possesses the 'greying' gene which is a dominant trait, causing the coat colour to change from their birth through to adulthood.
This breed has a characteristic wedge-shaped head with alert almond shaped eyes. Its body shape is different from most terriers, resembling a sighthound more than a typical terrier, which allows this dog to pick up a considerable amount of speed for its size. The front legs are closer together at the feet than at the elbow which creates a triangular shape when viewed from the front. This enables them to turn or pivot quickly when chasing quarry at high speed, as well as still enabling them to get into the underground dens of their prey.
The Bedlington Terrier is playful, cheerful and affectionate, making a good family companion especially as it is usually much calmer than most other terrier breeds. As a breed it is generally loving towards children and adults alike. They are loyal animals as well as being energetic, but can have the usual stubborn terrier streak! Due to this, the Bedlington benefits greatly from firm, strong leadership and direction. To curb its natural instincts as much as possible, this dog needs to be socialised from an early age to live with other, smaller pets such as cats, rabbits etc. Despite their gentle appearance, and their tendency to get on well with other dogs, they can be 'scrappy' when challenged, displaying usual terrier toughness and determination.
They are superbly fast runners and a strong recall is essential as is their need for lots of exercise. Without adequate stimulation and exercise, these dogs can become quite unmanageable and will vocalise this by barking a lot. This is something that the owner must take control of early and also make sure that the dog is receiving enough stimulation to prevent these undesirable behaviours.
On average, Bedlington Terriers live around 13 years and are quite healthy dogs. However, they are known to suffer from a serious inherited disease called Copper Storage Disease. This is an inherited autosomal recessive disease, characterized by accumulation of excess copper in the liver. Genetic testing is now available, and the disease has been largely eradicated from the Bedlington population. Active disease (rather than inheritance) is diagnosed with a liver biopsy. All reputable breeders will be able to provide you with proof of DNA or biopsy testing of the parents and it is essential that all prospective owners obtain this.
The coat sheds little to no hair but will need clipping every 6-8 weeks, which can be expensive unless you are confident of your own abilities to clip it yourself. The coat is thinned and clipped close to the head and body to accentuate the 'lamb' shape. This breed is considered good for allergy sufferers as it sheds very little. The owner must also factor in lots of exercise time for this little dog.