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Bedlington Terrier

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The Bedlington Terrier is a small purebred from the United Kingdom where it was originally bred to hunt vermin in mines. Its name is after the mining town of Bedlington in the North East of England but it was once known as the Rothbury Terrier or Rodbury Terrier. Today it is successful in several dog sports, dog racing and in conformation shows. It is also a good companion in the right home and draws attention for how much like a lamb it looks!

The Bedlington Terrier at A Glance
Name Bedlington Terrier
Other names Rothbury Terrier, Rodbery Terrier
Nicknames Rothbury's Lamb
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Small
Average weight 17 to 23 pounds
Average height 15 to 18 inches
Life span 12 to 16 years
Coat type Harsh, short, rough, corded
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Brown, blue, black
Popularity Not popular – ranked 151st by the AKC
Intelligence Fairly intelligent – average
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle very warm climates but nothing too hot
Tolerance to cold Very good – can live in cold climates but not extreme
Shedding Low – not a dog that will leave a lot of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – if allowed to overeat can gain weight, but not prone to obesity
Grooming/brushing High maintenance – needs a lot of care
Barking Occasional – some barking but not constant
Exercise needs Quite active – needs daily exercise
Trainability Moderate – experience would help
Friendliness Excellent with socialization
Good first dog Very good – with a bit of homework even first time dog owners should be good with this breed
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – needs socialization
Good with strangers Excellent with socialization
Good apartment dog Very good – the right size just make sure you can stop its barking on command
Handles alone time well Good – can handle small amounts of time alone
Health issues Fairly healthy breed some issues though can include Copper Toxicosis, Patellar Luxation, kidney problems and eye problems
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic medical care and for pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for treats as well as a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $525 for basic training, miscellaneous items, license, grooming and toys
Average annual expenses $1130 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,000
Rescue organizations Several including the Bedlington Terrier Club of America
Biting Statistics None reported

The Bedlington Terrier's Beginnings

The Bedlington Terrier was bred to hunt rats and vermin in the mining towns of Northern England in the late 1700s. It was called a gypsy dog at one point and then called the Rothbury Terrier named after Lord Rothbury, a fan and the Rothbury district on the English and Scottish border. For some time it was also nicknamed the Rothbury Lamb. Its name was changed to Bedlington Terrier in the early 1800s. As well as being used in mines it was also good at hunting small game like badger, hare and fox. Miners would also use the dog in dog fights in the mine pits as a form of entertainment and until the Whippet became more favored it was also used in rabbit coursing and dog racing.

It is thought dogs used in its development include the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and the Otterhound. It is also possibly related to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Kerry Blue Terrier. In 1870 in Bedlington there was the first dog show that had a Bedlington Terrier class. The breed club formed in 1875 called The Bedlington Terrier Club. It became a breed that was popular not just with workers but also with those with money. Some crossed them with Greyhounds and Whippets to produce a dog they called a Lurcher.

New Lease on Life

The Bedlington came to America in the late 1800s. The first one registered in 1886 with the AKC and today it is ranked 151st most popular registered purebred by the AKC. For the most part they became dogs bred as companions or show dogs, though they still had good hunting instincts they were not commonly used in the field anymore.

The Dog You See Today

The Bedlington Terrier is a small dog weighing 17 to 23 pounds and standing 15 to 18 inches tall. It is a lithe dog with a curly coat that is woolly hence the looking like a lamb part. The coat is a mix of harsh and soft hair. The color usually starts out dark when it is a puppy and then fades into colors such as liver, pale grey or blue, sandy or tan. It has a pear shaped head that is narrow and rounded and the muzzle is strong. The eyes are almond shaped, set deep and small. The ears are triangular shaped but have rounded tips and are set low. The back is arched and it has a deep chest. The legs at the front are straight and the back ones are longer. The tail is set low and is thicker at the base and then tapers at the tip. On top of the head the hair makes a top knot.

The Inner Bedlington Terrier


This dog is a great watchdog, it is alert and it will let you know of any intruders though it is not always protective so may not act to defend you or the home. It is a very affectionate and loving dog, it is also very loyal but also somewhat sensitive. It will bark occasionally to frequently so may need training to control that, and that bark is said to be annoying to some people as it is machine gun like. It has a cheerful and happy manner, can be bold, energetic and playful and is intelligent. When it indoors it is calmer, can be clownish and entertaining and is very inquisitive.


When around strangers with socialization it is usually very good though there are some lines that can be a bit more reserved or timid. It can be impulsive and independent and needs lots of attention. As loyal as they are it can also get jealous of attention others may receive and without socialization that can lead to aggression. It can be headstrong and some can be excitable too so they need a firm owner.

Living with a Bedlington Terrier

What will training look like?

It is moderately easy to train for experienced owners, but its stubbornness means it can be a demanding dog to train and needs a firm and consistent owner. If you do not make it clear you are the pack leader it may develop small dog syndrome where it will become destructive, loud, difficult to control and hard to live with. Results are going to be gradual but make sure you use positive techniques not harshness or physical punishments as terriers do not respond well to this and may snap at you. Encourage it and praise it and offer treats to help motivate it. As well as making sure it has at the least basic obedience training you should also offer it early socialization. Making sure it has plenty of exposure to various places, people, sounds and such will help it learn how to react appropriately and it will be a happier and more confident dog.

How active is the Bedlington Terrier?

There is no doubt this breed has a lot of energy so is fairly active and needs owners who are able to take it out at least a couple of times a day for a good brisk walk. Some people mistakenly think that small dogs need little effort in that regard but while it might be so for some, this is not the case here. It can adapt to apartment living with regular activity though it does better with a yard. It would enjoy going to a dog park where it can play with you and go off leash safely. Keep in mind if there is a yard for it to play and explore in that it is a digger so having a section where that is okay is easier than trying to stop it from doing it. Also make sure the yard is well fenced in as it is very good at escaping. Along with physical activity it should also have opportunities for mental stimulation. It will play some indoors and get some of its needs from that but not all. It also likes to relax with you when it is time. Make sure it is leashed when out walking as it does like to chase moving things and is very fast.

Caring for the Bedlington Terrier

Grooming needs

This is a high maintenance breed so if you are not prepared for that kind of commitment look for something that is easier to groom and care for. To keep the coat in good condition it will need regular trips to a professional groomer for clipping and trimming. If you are keeping a show dog you can expect to spend hours going into that kind of look. Groomers or experienced owners tend to clip and thin the hair close to the head and body, leave a tassel of hair on the tips of the ears and leave it longer on the legs. For a tidy coat it needs to be done about every 6 weeks. It also needs brushing regularly to remove dirt and debris. It does not shed much so could be good for allergy sufferers, though that should always be tested first with a visit by the person with allergies to test to see if the dog affects them before you buy. Only give a bath when it really needs one though in general bathing is not prone to drying out its skin as it does with a lot of other breeds.


Make sure you also take care of its other needs. Its teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week. It ears should be checked once a week for infection and then given a wipe clean using a damp cloth, or a cotton ball and dog ear cleanser. Its nails too need to be clipped if they get too long. Some dogs keep them naturally worn down with all the activity they do but if that is not the case with your Bedlington you or a groomer needs to clip them. There are proper dog nail clippers to get and care must be taken as there are blood vessels and nerves in part of the nails so going too low hurts them and leads to bleeding.

Feeding Time

It will need to eat between ¾ to 1½ cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into two meals. How much exactly can vary from one Bedlington to another as it depends on its size, level of activity, metabolism, age and health.

How is the Bedlington Terrier with children and other animals?

This breed is great with children especially with socialization and when raised with them. It is energetic and playful so they make great playmates together, and that clown like personality makes a wonderful partner in crime sometimes! It is also a very affectionate dog with children, though it does not like being teased or tugged on so should be supervised around toddlers and is best with older children. Make sure the children are taught how to touch dogs and how to play nicely and what not to do with them.

When it comes to other pets if it has been raised with them and socialized it can get along with them but this is best done when it is still young. It can see cats, rabbits and so on as prey otherwise, and will certainly chase such creatures when outside. With other dogs it can be scrappy. It does not usually challenge other dogs itself, but should a dominant dog challenge it, it will not back down from a fight. Remember it does have a background of dog fighting many years ago. It does also have a jealous side to it and will resent attention given to other dogs when they are around.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Bedlington Terriers live for 12 to 16 years. While fairly healthy there are some issues some minor and some more concerning. Copper toxicosis is something this breed in particular has issues with which affects its liver. Other issues include eye problems, kidney problems, thyroid problems, heart problems, reproductive problems, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.

Biting Statistics

There are certain breeds that are immediately memorable for being aggressive and causing a lot of damage. But people do not seem to realize that any breed can become aggressive towards people given certain situations, or dogs can just have bad days. When looking at reports from Canada and the US concerning people having bodily harm done to them by a dog attack in the last 35 years, the Bedlington is not named. However take some steps to give it the training and socialization it needs to help it deal with things. Make sure you chose a dog you can give the attention it needs, and you can exercise it properly. While we can do nothing to change a dog having a bad day, with those influences it is less likely to over react to something when out.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Bedlington Terrier puppies of pet quality from decent breeders will see for around $1000. For something from a top show breeder expect to pay several thousands. It is important to take your time and look for a respectable breeder that can be trusted. There are issues with poor breeding and over breeding, mostly from backyard breeders and puppy mills and this is causing dogs to be around who are less healthy and not as stable as the Bedlington usually is. There is the option too of looking into rescues and shelters. A dog from there is cheaper, around $400 or less, and will have had its initial medical concerns taken care of too. Giving it a new forever home will make both of you feel great, but there is the likelihood it will not be puppy aged.


Once you have a dog there are some things it will need, and you should take it to a vet for some tests. It will need a collar and leash for example, a crate, carrier and food bowls. These things come to about $220. Then there are the vet needs, like shots, an exam, blood tests, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and deworming. These will cost about $270.

There are also ongoing costs to factor in. Feeding a small dog like the Bedlington will cost about $145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and for dog treats. Miscellaneous costs covering things like grooming, license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys come to about $525 a year. Then basic medical care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and medical pet insurance are going to cost around $460 a year. A total cost each year can start at around $1130.


Looking for a Bedlington Terriers Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

Bedlington Terriers are small but not toy sized, great if you want a smaller dog but nothing fragile. It draws attention because of its unique appearance and people like its low shedding and hypoallergenic nature. It is a terrier with a terrier personality but it is not as strong in this breed as other terriers. There is the potential for aggression in some lines, especially towards other dominant dogs and other small strange animals. Make sure it gets plenty of attention and enough physical and mental stimulation. It will also need a very committed owner to deal with its grooming needs. This is a rare breed in the US so you may have to be put on a good breeder's waiting list. With a good home and good owners it is a very loving, loyal and funny little dog.

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