Bedlington Terrier

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Introduction


The Bedlington Terrier is a quite unique looking dog that's often described as being "lamb-like". However, true to their terrier type, these little dogs are skilled hunters in the field and remain so even when kept in a home environment. One of the oldest pedigree terriers around, the Bedlington was originally bred in northern England, but by 1877 their reputation for being extremely able hunters soon spread to other regions of the land. These dogs may look like lambs, but they have the heart of a lion.

Today, the Bedlington is a popular choice as a family pet not only because of their adorable looks, but because of their kind and sweet natures which makes them the perfect dog to have around and share a home with.



 


History


The actual origins of the Bedlington Terrier remains a bit of a mystery, but it is thought that the Rough Scotch Terrier may be part of their ancestry. However, there are those who believe the breed is a result of breeding from various terriers that were commonly found in different regions of the country and as such these dogs were given the names of the regions where they were originally bred.



One thing that is known about the breed, is that these unique looking terriers originate from the hill country situated in the north of England and along the Scottish borders. Miners bred this type of dog to keep vermin under control and Bedlington Terriers being fast on their feet and extremely agile soon became firm favourites with the upper classes of the day.



It was Lord Rothbury who promoted the breed being a real enthusiast although back then they were called either Northumberland Terriers or Rothbury Terriers. Although it is not known exactly which type of terrier form the foundation of the Bedlington we see today, there are those who believe the Dandie Dinmont and the Old English Terrier were crossed with Whippets and Otter Hounds to produce them.



The name Bedlington was given to the breed by Joseph Aynsley, a breeder of the day who hailed from the town of Bedlington. It was not until the 1900s that better breed records were kept  because these terriers were fast becoming a popular choice not only as a hunting dogs, but as a companion and show dogs too.



In 1869, the Bedlington Club was founded in the UK with the first breed classes finally being introduced at a dog show held in Newcastle in 1879. The breed was officially recognised by The Kennel Club in 1948. Over time, these adorable looking and highly skilled terriers have found their way to many other regions of the world although to this day, they remain quite a rare breed.


Appearance


Height at the withers: Males 41 to 44 cm, Females 38 to 42 cm



Average Weight: Males 7.7–10.4 kg, Females 7.7–10.4 kg



Bedlington Terriers are very unique looking little dogs that boast a graceful and lithe appearance. However, they are strong and muscular with their extraordinary wedge shaped heads giving them a striking appearance. They boast a very mild and gentle look about them which disguises well the fact they are true to their terrier breed and extremely keen, skilled hunters.



One of the most defining physical traits of the Bedlington is the wedge shape of their heads which is profusely covered in almost white coloured hair and their silky top-knot. They boast longish, tapering jaws with tight lips and well-defined large nostrils that all adds and enhances their overall lamb-like looks.



They boast small but very bright alert eyes which are a lovely triangular shape. Dogs with blue coats have darker eyes whereas dogs with blue and tan coats typically have lighter coloured eyes namely amber or light hazel. Their ears are neat and moderate in size being filbert shaped and set quite low with a flap that hangs neatly and flat to a dog's cheek. Ears are velvety to the touch and covered in fine, short hair with tips having a little fringe of silky hair on them.



A Bedlington boasts a long and tapering neck that's deeper at the base and their forequarters are neat with dogs having nice straight front legs that are set quite wide apart on their chest. Their shoulders slope neatly and their bodies are well proportioned with a curved topline down to muscular hindquarters. Back legs should appear to be longer than a dog's front legs which gives these terriers the appearance of having powerful backends.



Their feet resemble those of a hare with tightly closed pads. A Bedlington's tail is moderately thick and it tapers to the tip with dogs holding them slightly curved but never over their backs.



A Bedlington's coat is another defining feature of the breed being linty and thick but never wiry and standing out from a dog's body. The hair has a distinct kink in it especially around a dog's face and head. When it comes to coat colours, the following are acceptable as a breed standard:




  • Blue - with or without tan

  • Liver - with or without tan

  • Sandy - with or without tan



Darker coloured dogs are encouraged as a breed standard and dogs with blue coats have black noses whereas liver and sandy colour coated dogs boast brown noses.


Temperament


Although small in stature, the Bedlington Terrier is a confident character by nature. They are full of life and intelligent little dogs that boast a pretty strong prey drive. They are generally good natured in all sorts of situations and find it easy to settle down and relax after having been kept busy during the day. Unlike many other terrier breeds, the Bedlington is calmer although they can show a bit of a "terrier" stubborn streak in them at times. As such, they need to be handled gently yet with a firm and fair hand so they understand their place in the "pack" and who is alpha dog in a household.



Bedlington Terriers need to be well socialised from a young age which means introducing puppies and young dogs to as many new situations, people and other animals as early as possible. This will help curb their strong instinct to go off hunting when the mood takes them. It also means they would get on better and tolerate other family pets  and this includes the family cat.



Bedlingtons are swift on their feet which means they need to be taught the "recall" command as early as possible and this would need to be reinforced many times throughout their lives if you hope to let them off their lead so they can really let off steam in an area that's safe to let dogs run free.


Intelligence / Trainability


Bedlington Terriers may look like lambs, but really they are wolves in disguise. They are intelligent, but they are terriers with a mind of their own which can make training them a bit of a challenge for people who are not familiar with the breed or this type of dog.



Harsh training methods do not sit well with Bedlingtons, but they do respond pretty well to positive reinforcement bearing in mind that training has to be consistent, firm and fair. They boast having quite a stubborn streak and if a Bedlington decides they don't want to do something, the only of convincing them is to gently coerce them into obeying a command.


Children and Other Pets


Bedlingtons are known to be good around children. They are affectionate and tolerant by nature, however, children and dogs should never be left on their own just in case things get too boisterous which means adult supervision is necessary at all times.



When it comes to other pets and animals, as previously mentioned Bedlingtons are generally very good around them as long as they have been well socialised and introduced to other pets from a young age. With this said, if another dog challenges a Bedlington Terrier, they will defend themselves even though they are small and look like sweet little lambs which is a very "terrier-type" trait.


Health


The average life expectancy of a Bedlington Terrier is between 12 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.



In general the Bedlington Terrier is thought to be a healthy dog although the breed is known to suffer from a few hereditary and congenital health disorders which are worth knowing about if you are thinking about sharing your home with one of these unique looking dogs. The health issues most commonly seen in the breed are as follows:




  • Copper toxicosis - DNA test available

  • Reproductive issues

  • Heart murmur

  • Eye issues - this includes epiphora, retinal dysplasia, cataracts


Caring for a Bedlington Terrier


As with any other breed, Bedlington Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming


Bedlington Terriers shed very little hair which means they are low maintenance in the grooming department. However, their coats do need to be regularly handstripped to "tug" their old coats out because unlike other breeds, their coats do not fall out naturally. The task of handstripping a dog is best left up to a professional groomer unless you know how to do it properly, that is.



When it comes to bathing, Bedlingtons only need to be given a bath twice a year or so, unless they get incredibly dirty and the only way to get them clean would be to bath them. It's important to use a dog-specific shampoo because it contains the right pH balance and not to over-bath a dog which could result in altering the balance of natural oils found in a dog's coat and skin. This could result in a dog developing an allergy which can be notoriously hard to clear up.


Exercise


Like other terriers, the Bedlington needs to be given a lot of regular daily exercise as well as heaps of mental stimulation in order to be truly happy, well rounded characters that are a pleasure to be around. The old adage of a "bored dog being a naughty dog" is never truer than when describing a Bedlington Terrier.



If left to their own devices for great lengths of time or not given the right sort of direction, these terriers can quickly turn into a real handful and it could lead to them developing all sorts of unwanted behaviours which includes excessive barking.


Feeding


If you get a Bedlington Terrier puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule for your new pet and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same type of food to a puppy to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upset and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change their diet again.



Older Bedlingtons are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed lower quality food because it would not contain all the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients a dog needs to stay healthy.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Bedlington Terrier


If you are looking to buy a Bedlington Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £300 to over £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year-old Bedlington Terrier in northern England would be £20.99 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £40.81 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and breed.



When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Bedlington Terrier and this includes their initial vaccinations, neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £1000 a year.



As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Bedlington Terrier would be between £70 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Bedlington Terrier puppy.


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