There are many different theories on the origin of the Bedlington Terrier. Some even suggest that the breed made its way through Europe thanks to a band of gypsy’s who used the dog to poach game on neighboring estates. It is believed that the breed comes from England, in particular, the Hanny Hills region of Northumberland. After doing some research and comparing theories, the most common conclusion found was that the breed could credit it’s start thanks to a man named Joseph Ainsley of Bedlington.
In the early 1800’s a strain of game terriers evolved that were known as “Rothbury Terriers”. In 1825, Ainsley was the first person to acquire a female Rothbury. This dog was known as “Coates Phoebe”, and she produced the first litter of “actual” Bedlingtons. Through trial and error, Ainsley developed the breed we know today. Like most breeds, it’s name came from the town in which the dog was created, leading to its new name “Bedlington”. In 1877, a group of influential fanciers started the National Bedlington Terrier Club (England) to expose the breed to the public.
The Bedlington Terrier has been called “a lamb on a leash” due to its non shedding fur and woolly texture. Their colors vary from blue, sandy, liver, sable, or dark brown/ black and can be solid in color or have tan markings. Like most dogs, their color becomes paler with age, but this breed should never be pure white. White Bedlingtons are an easy sign of an error in the breeding. Pure white indicates a lack of “guard hairs”, the harsh hairs in the coat that give it texture and offer protection from the elements.
All breeds have some sort of typical health issues assigned to them. The Bedlington is prone to a disease known as “Copper Toxicosis”. CT is an inherited recessive disease characterized by a build up of excess copper in the liver. If a Bedlington develops the disease its estimated life expectancy severely decreases. It is imperative that if you are planning on purchasing a Bedlington that you receive proof of it’s unaffected status. The breeder should be able to have this information readily available to you, as a CT can be easily detected by a simple liver biopsy.
Aside from the breeds odd appearance, compared to other terriers, the Bedlington has a calmer nature and “better manners”. It is extremely hypoallergenic, and is a great choice for allergy sufferers looking to own a dog. It can be a wonderful family pet as long as it has plenty of room to relieve itself of built up energy. This dog was made to hunt and track, which means like most terriers, it will dig up your yard. A great addition to any family, as long as mom isn’t too attached to her flower bed.