Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier is of British origin like most terrier breeds, probably evolving in Northumberland, England. As the original breed became less used for its original task of going to ground in search of vermin, and was employed more as a catcher of rabbits on the ground, so its form and outline began to change. Shorter legs were replaced by long ones, and its more rugged frame by a much more elegant outline to which the Whippet undoubtedly contributed.


The breed has had something of a checkered history. The Bedlington’s heritage which combined the spunk of a typical terrier with the speed of a sighthound made it an attractive proposition to the poaching fraternity, and the breed originally had a reputation for being a gypsy's dog. However, at the turn of the century its elegant appearance and genteel manners helped it find its way into many stately homes as the companion of the nobility. In many ways the Bedlington is the classic example of a canine “social climber” who took readily to its new-found status.


The Bedlington differs emphatically from other terriers, being distinctively shaped, roach-backed, hare-footed and possessing an unusual coat. The breed should have sufficient speed to catch a rabbit, and it is not as lamblike as it might appear. The Bedlington is still very much a terrier at heart. Their coats offer great scope to the hairdressers of the dog world, and a superbly trimmed Bedlington is indeed a joy to behold.

The Bedlington’s unusual shape, its light springy gait and its graceful, lithe outline attracts much attention to the breed. The head is narrow, the cheeks flat and with unbroken lines. The eye shape should seem triangular and the eye expressive, dark, small and bright. The nostrils should be large, the lips close-fitting and the jaw punishing. The ears are said to be filbert-shaped, lying flat to the cheek. The Bedlington’s action is distinctive and light at slower paces. The front legs are set wider at the top than at the feet, giving what is termed a horse-shoe front. Unlike most other terriers, Bedlingtons are hare-footed. The neck is long, tapering into flat, sloping shoulders. The body is markedly muscular, flexible, flat-ribbed and deep-chested.

The back is roached and the loins decidedly arched. The hocks are well let down, showing strength. The tail is dense at the root and of moderate length. The tan is found over the eyes, inside the ears, under the tail and found in traces on the insides of the legs. Bedlingtons have individual guard hairs in their thick, linty coats. Males stand around 16 inches/40 cm at the shoulder and weigh between 18-23 pounds/8-10 kg. Bitches are slightly smaller.


Bedlingtons are not troublemakers and are much more tolerant than most other terriers, yet if need be they will stand their quarter.

The Bedlington is soft not only to the touch, but also in nature. Very sociable and affectionate, he is incredibly loyal to his humans and enjoys spending time with the entire family. The Bedlington likes the comfort of the house and usually makes a well-mannered, quiet indoor dog. His hunting instincts sometimes send him chasing small animals outside, but he peacefully coexists with them indoors.

General care

A gifted chaser, the Bedlington should be given a chance to run at will in a safe area. A long walk or ample game will generally meet his daily needs.


Breeders are acutely aware of the hereditary fault known as copper toxicosis that occurs in this breed, but affected dogs can strangely live a relatively normal life. Dedicated breeders have their stock biopsied, and test-mate to differentiate the patterns of inheritance, intent on eventual eradication of the problem.

Cracked or horny pads have previously been a problem, but are seldom encountered today. The Bedlington Terrier are generally extremely hardy, rarely requiring other than routine veterinary attention.


Bedlingtons are readily kept smart and tidy. Much can be achieved with simple scissoring, thus avoiding costly visits to the grooming parlor. Regular grooming is required, but the coat does not shed. The coat is thick and of a linty texture. The topknot, which should be regularly groomed and trimmed, remains very much a breed feature.


The Bedlington Terrier is a sporting dog requiring a degree of exercise. The breed thrives on human companionship. It is ideally suited to a domestic existence and is easily trained for obedience.

Gallery of Bedlington Terrier