Bedlington Terrier: a lamb with a heart of a lion.


Text: Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska (breed responsible in Danish Terrier Club);

Originally published in Terrier Nyt, Jun 2015


The Bedlington is an unusually looking terrier


Its soft and light coat combined with the characteristics grooming style make him resemble a little lamb – symbol of gentleness and humility.

But the appearance is very deceptive. At home Bedlington terrier is calm and relaxed; outdoors, when encouraged, is full of energy, courage and perseverance like a lion.

I am not a poodle!


For a layperson Bedlington terrier very often resembles a poodle. Thus as a Bedlington Terrier owner you might often hear a friendly comment on the street “What a funny poodle!”

Do not be disappointed; your dog will respond to all strangers with a friendly tail wag and that will give you an opportunity to explain that it is a terrier.

The “gypsy dog”

The exact origin of this breed is a mystery. From recorded historical writings we know that it stems from the Border Country of England and Scotland. The dogs were popular among travelling handyman, mainly Gypsies. The dogs would “borrow” food for their owners from the surrounding woods and fields and at the same time would keep populations of rats and other small animals under control.

They were so effective that the Gypsies would lend their dogs to farmers to keep the rats away during harvest. The breed was valued for its ferocity, with reports of the dogs fighting and winning over badgers and foxes.

An important quality of those early Belington’s was their ability to stay calm and unnoticed (no barking) in the limited space of Gypsies wagon-homes. No one would like to reveal his illegal hunting weapon.

The strong hunting instincts and the ability to dwell in confined spaces made the dogs also very attractive for the local coal miners.

The dogs were taken into the mines to eliminate rats. It is said that the miners were highly attached to their dogs.

“In Newcastle and its environments almost every man has a “poop” and that “poop” is certain almost to be a Bedlington. In the company of his trusty tyke, the miner when off duty is supreme happy. They hunt or poach together, fight together, sleep together, and not unfrequently drink together, “ (The Illustrated Book Of The Dog, Vero Shaw, 1879)

Luckily, the "gypsy dog" came to the attention of Lord Rothbury of the town of Bedlington in Northumberland County. He became such an enthusiast of the little dog that the breed became known as Rothbury's Terrier (or Rothbury’s Lamb).

The first dog to be called a "Bedlington Terrier" was whelped in 1825. Joseph Ainsley of Bedlington acquired a bitch, Coates Phoebe, who was bred in 1825 to produce the first Bedlington Terrier. The dog was Ainsley’s Piper, who started to hunt at 8 months and continued to bring down the most ferocious of otters and badgers even in his blind and toothless old age.

The Bedlington breed was eventually taken under the wing of professional breeders, with the breed being registered and exhibited in 1877. Since then, the Bedlington has moved beyond its unsavoury past and become a staple dog for many proud apartment dwellers and dog exhibitors worldwide.



Copyright, 2017