This is a lovely breed, originating in England where they were used on farms and in mines to get rid of vermin like rats, otter, foxes, badgers and the like. A long-legged terrier, they are very quick with powerful jaws and large teeth left over from their days as a hunter. Today they make a lovely family pet and are a constant source of love and amusement.
The Bedlington Terrier has a soft linty coat, mixed with coarser dark guard hairs. I get many “ooohs and aaaahs” when people pet my dogs. This coat requires frequent brushing with a slicker brush, followed by combing. They can get mats under their armpits, and on their head and legs, where we keep the coat longer. The standard calls for a coat no longer than an inch on the body – the longest body coat will be on the topline and under the chest. Coat can be longer on the head and legs – and in our show dogs, we keep those quite long. I recommend pet owners shorten those up – so their dog still looks like a Bedlington Terrier, but is easier to maintain. Bedlingtons don’t shed, but dead hair will be removed by brushing and combing.
We get many inquiries from homes concerned about allergies to dogs. Most allergies are to dander (skin) not fur/hair. Despite this, many allergy sufferers can live with a Bedlington by following some simple guidelines like weekly bathing (to reduce dander) and a food supplement for the dog like Derm-Caps to replace the skin’s natural oils that get washed away. These people should absolutely visit a breeder and test their reactions to a Bedlington before making a commitment to buy a dog.
Bedlington Terriers come in three colors and two marking patterns. The colors are Liver, Blue and Sandy. The patterns are solid, or with tan points. As adults the tan pointed dogs look identical to the solids for the most part, as the points blend into the lighter adult coat. Bedlington Terriers are born dark – blues are born black, liver and sandy dogs are born dark brown. The noticeable difference will be in the skin color and nose/eye pigment. Blue Bedlingtons have a black nose and eye rim, with a very dark brown eye. Skin color will be light grey. Liver and Sandy dogs have brown nose and eye pigment, and a lighter eye. Their skin is pinky-brown. The pups get lighter and lighter as they approach a year old. As 1 year olds, many Bedlingtons look white. White is NOT a color listed in the breed standard. By two years old, they should have color on their bodies, with lighter heads, and often lighter legs. One of the more interesting aspects of the breed is how their color is constantly changing, ever so slightly. Blues will be shades of grey. Liver is a sort of purple-brown color, while sandy is more of a taupe. When a Bedlington’s skin is cut or bruised, their coat may come in their birth color on that spot. It will grow back out to adult color over time.
Bedlington Terriers weigh between 17 and 23 pounds, and are between 15 and 17 ½ inches tall. They are a medium size dog, easy to pick up, and certainly consider themselves lap dogs given the opportunity. Many times a dog that will be too big for the show ring will be sold as a pet, giving pet owners the chance to own a beautiful dog with that one minor “fault”. Other reasons for dogs to be considered pets could be an overbite or underbite, short ears or kinked tail, or other physical faults. An honest breeder of champion show dogs will tell you there are pets in every litter. They cannot show every dog they breed, so some will be pets for no other reason than that.
Most Bedlington Terrier puppies will tear, causing eye stains, until they are about 9 months old. This is due to teething. Tearing beyond that age can be caused by ingrown eye lashes or ear infections. These dogs should be examined by your veterinarian. Ear infections are a common problem among pet owners. Since they don’t shed, hair grows down in the ear canal. Wax, and subsequently dirt, stick to that hair. This and the dropped position of the ear make it difficult for air to get in, and ear infections result. Owners should make cleaning ears and pulling ear hair a part of their regular care routine, and should verify that their groomer is also pulling any deep ear hair at the dog’s grooming appointments. Toenails should also be trimmed regularly to prevent affecting the feet, and brushing teeth is always a good thing. I use the quiet time while watching television, during commercials, to trim nails, clean ears, brush and comb a dog in my lap. The loving attention offsets the “not much fun” aspect of grooming. A grooming chart can be found on the Bedlington Terrier Club of America website. Most owners have their dogs professionally groomed about every six weeks, with brushings and baths in between at home. The coat tends to pick up and hold things like grass cuttings, mud, and leaves in the fall. A quick rinse off or brush out of the legs when dry removes these.
The Bedlington Terrier temperament is lovely. They are very good with children, and are a very playful dog. Unlike many terrier breeds, they usually get along fine with other dogs, and can certainly be trained to live peacefully with a cat (we have a cat that the dogs have been taught to respect). Puppy kindergarten classes, basic obedience training and walks in the neighborhood to familiarize them with different sights and sounds are strongly recommended and will make a huge difference in your dog’s attitude toward other dogs met on walks, in class, etc. They are a terrier, and many love to dig holes. Some will try to dig out under a fence – that seems to depend upon the individual. On the same lines, some will bark more than others. They are not usually “yappy”, but will definitely bark if someone comes to the door. After the initial stages of puppy hood, they will accept any invitation to play, but will also lie contentedly beside you if quiet time is desired. Bedlingtons by nature will want to chase squirrels, wild rabbits, and birds. They will not generally just “hang around” with their owner, and a distraction could have your dog dashing across a street after a squirrel only to be killed by a car. I do not sell puppies to homes without a fenced yard or fenced area, or where the dog won’t be on a leash when walked.
Bedlingtons can be a healthy breed, but prospective owners must do their homework, and be educated buyers. The Bedlington Terrier breed at one time was known for being affected with a disease called Copper Toxicosis (CT). A mutated gene caused copper to build up in their liver and affected dogs would often die young. Treatments are available, but they are very expensive and can be very hard for the dog to tolerate, often causing vomiting. In 1995 a DNA marker test was established to identify dogs that were “clear”, “carrier”, or “affected” with CT. Both clear and carriers dogs make good pets that should live full, healthy lives (as far as CT is concerned). Prospective Bedlington Terrier buyers should read more about this at the website for the company that does the test, www.Vetgen.com . Vetgen describes the “good” gene as a ‘1’ and the “bad” gene as a ‘2’. Thus a 1-1 dog is usually clear and not a carrier, a 1-2 is usually a carrier, and a 2-2 is usually affected. The test is only 98% accurate – but that’s better than what breeders had before. In 2006 VetGen made a second test available, to identify whether the # 2 gene had the mutation/deletion present or not. This allows identification of “good” # 2’s. Any breeder that refuses to send you copies of the parents’ DNA typing and/or biopsy results before you make a deposit on a puppy should be avoided. Deposits are often required. There are fewer than 200 Bedlington puppies registered each year in the USA – not many – and breeders don’t like to turn away good homes only to have a buyer change their mind later. Deposits usually indicate serious intent and the breeder will consider those puppies spoken for. Like any breed of dog, other health problems can occur, although CT is the one most often associated with this breed. Checks for healthy hearts and eyes on your puppy’s parents assure that the breeder is being responsible and trying to breed healthy dogs.
In order to receive the proper socialization within it’s “pack” and with it’s mother, puppies should not leave their mothers before 8 weeks old. She has lessons to teach them beyond her nursing and infant care. By 8 weeks old, the puppies should have had their first shots and have been examined by a veterinarian, and been given a certificate of good health. I require my buyers to take the puppy to their own vet for a meet ‘n’ greet and an exam within 48 hours of bringing the puppy home. I want them to be assured they purchased a healthy pet, and to make appointments with their vet for subsequent shots assuring a healthy puppyhood for their new family member.