Bedlington Terrier

"The Little Lamb"

Photo of Bedlington Terrier


In 19th century northern England, locals all knew of a breed of small, wooly terriers with super speed and amazing vermin-hunting ability. Gypsies used these terriers to poach game off the landed gentry, and coal miners used them to rid the mines of rats, and raced them for fun, often pitting them against lightning-fast Whippets. Lord Rothbury, who lived in the town of Bedlington in Northumberland County, admired the little terriers so much that people began to call them Rothbury's Terriers or Rothbury's Lambs. Possibly related to the Whippet, the Dandie Dinmont, the Kerry Blue, and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (although nobody knows for sure), the Bedlington became increasingly popular with the upper classes and appeared in dog shows by the late 1800s. Perhaps because of their grooming needs or just because people don't know about them, they have never been extremely popular in the United States. Today they are the 128th most popular breed.


Playful and active when you are but just as calm and quiet when you need a break, the Bedlington makes an excellent indoor companion. Bedlingtons have a special fondness and gentle way with children, especially if raised with them, and while they will chase a small animal for miles outside, they can usually be trained to tolerate the cat. Easy to train, adaptable, and cheerful, Bedlingtons want to be with people, not left home alone, although they will patiently wait for you to come back. Just be sure to keep them in a fenced area or on a leash while outside to protect them from their own strong hunting instincts.


A medium-sized terrier with an athletic, graceful form and the arched loin of a Greyhound, the Bedlington stands about 15.5 to 16.5 inches and weighs about 17 to 23 pounds. Quick, springy, and light in movement, the Bedlington has a narrow head with a fluffy topknot of light hair trimmed to taper over the nose. The ears should be shaved with tassels left on the ends, and the deep-chested body should be trimmed to be about an inch long on the body, slightly longer on the legs, for that fluffy lamblike look. The distinctive coat stands out from the skin, slightly curly with a crisp-soft feel in blue, sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan, or liver and tan. The scimitar-shaped tail curves down then back up, just like a Greyhound's.


Eager to please, willing to work, and happy to do whatever you are doing, Bedlingtons are easy to train with consistency, practice, and patience. But keep it gentle, positive, and fun, or you'll just hurt your little lamb's feelings. Bedlingtons can learn wonderful house manners and a lot of dog sports, too, but don't expect to train out their hunting instinct. It's part of what makes them the wonderful and versatile dogs they are.

Grooming & Care

Getting that little-lamb haircut is no easy task, and many Bedlington pet owners choose to have their dogs professionally groomed. You can learn how to do it with a high quality clipper and a good pair of scissors, but ask your breeder to show you how, and expect a lot of practice before you get it just right. Otherwise, Bedlingtons need combing every few days, clean teeth, short nails, and plenty of exercise to stay healthy and beautiful.

Health Concerns

The most common health problem in Bedlingtons is a genetic disease called copper toxicosis, in which the liver can't eliminate sufficient copper. While affected dogs can be treated, good breeders will test for the disease before breeding, so be sure to ask whether your breeder has done this. Bedlingtons may also be prone to kidney disease and several genetic eye diseases. Ask the breeder whether the parents of the litter have their eyes certified as clear and healthy by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Famous Bedlington Terrier

Ainsley's Piper, born in 1825 and famous for his great hunting ability, which he continued into old age, blind and toothless!

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Active
Schedule Full-time but comes home for lunch
Personal Style Affectionate, Inclusive, Confident
Training Style Firm, Patient, Gentle, Confident
Home Anything goes with enough exercise
Children Any age is fine
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Medium
Grooming Consider a professional groomer
Exercise Moderate - needs to walk or play every day
Training Learns well but bores easily
Temperment Goofy and playful, Alert, Intelligent
Challenges Barks a lot; will chase small animals
Height 15 to 17 inches
Weight 18 to 20 pounds
Life 15 to 16 years
Home Alone Fine with lots of exercise first
With Kids Fine with older kids
With Strangers Cautious at first but okay with them if you are
Availability Rare and may have a waiting list

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