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Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier

This small-sized long-legged terrier is easily recognised - given that they are sometimes described as looking like a cross between a dog and a lamb! They have a narrow skull and a lamb-like coat.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12–14 years
Weight: 8–10kg
Height: 38–43cm
Colours: Blue, liver or sandy, with or without tan
Size: Small
Kennel Club group: Terrier


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5
Bedlington Terrier


The Bedlington is affectionate and full of fun, being loyal and gentle to their owners. They are however very much a typical terrier, and can be rather reactive as well as acting as an effective watchdog, being quite courageous once roused. In general, they will be fairly placid if they are receiving a regular amount of mental and physical stimulation.

Bedlington Terrier

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

Originally bred from a combination of local terriers, with an outcross to both Whippets and Dandie Dinmonts, workers in the Rothbury area of Northumberland developed the Bedlington Terrier in the 18th century. A little like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the gentle appearance of the Bedlington Terrier was rather at odds with their tough working natures, and they developed a reputation as a killer of vermin, a poacher's sidekick and a fighter.

They entered the show ring in 1870 and since then their appearance and their natures have changed to give us the dog we have today.

Health and Common Issues

The Bedlington Terrier can suffer from an inherited liver disease ('copper storage disease'). A DNA test is available, and so all breeding dogs should be tested. As with many other breeds, they can also suffer hereditary eye disorders and so eye testing of breeding dogs is recommended.

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

The Bedlington Terrier needs at least an hour's daily exercise ideally more. They excel in games that involve running, jumping and retrieval - including agility. They must be kept mentally stimulated to avoid behavioural problems developing that arise from boredom or frustration.

Space Requirements

The Bedlington Terrier does not need much space at all - but they do need access to open safe places to get all the daily exercise they need.

Nutrition and Feeding

Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.

Grooming Bedlington Terriers

Grooming can be somewhat demanding with the Bedlington Terrier. The coat should be brushed for about five minutes a day and a comb should be run through it at least once a week. About every two months, the dog will need a trim. This can be done by a professional groomer, as it is an unusual cut. The other option is to learn the trim yourself from a breeder.

Show grooming demands that there be no more than one inch of coat anywhere on the body, so this would be even more time-consuming.

Training Bedlington Terriers

Bedlington Terriers are surprisingly trainable - especially in sports such as agility where they can excel - and this helps to keep their busy minds and bodies occupied. Early and ongoing socialisation is needed as they can be unfriendly with other dogs. A good recall is essential to prevent them from getting into trouble chasing squirrels or rabbits, and they do need a lot of time and patience to train them to live with cats. They may never be reliable with strange cats or small animals.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Bedlington Terriers can make good family dogs but like many terriers they can get overly aroused by rough or noisy games so are better in families with older sensible children.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Originally there were two different types of Bedlington Terrier - the ones that made use of the Whippet to give them longer legs designed for chasing rabbits and hare-coursing, and the ones that used the Dandie Dinmont Terrier to give them shorter legs for going to ground. Now the Bedlington is a mixture of both.
  • Bedlington Terriers used to be known as ‘Gypsy Dogs’ as they were used by Romanies for poaching.
  • They’re often referred to as ‘the smartest and quickest’ of the terrier breeds.
  • The first ever Bedlington Terrier was called Piper and was said to still be hunting at the grand age of 14, despite being nearly blind and toothless.

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