Bedlington Terrier Dog Breed

Bedlington Terrier Outside
  • Other names:
  • Rothbury Terrier
  • Rodbery Terrier
  • Rothrburys Lamb

The Bedlington Terrier is a small dog breed that originated in England around the late 1700s.  The breed was originally bred as a ratting dog, so you expect Bedlington Terriers to possess a strong instinct to rid the property of any vermin.  The breed is very intelligent and will quickly adapt to any role they feel the family needs.

Bedlington Terriers are not afraid to assert themselves when around other dogs.  The breed can become jealous and will challenge other dogs they dislike and despite their soft appearance the Bedlington's bite is worse than their bark.  Bedlington's do well with children and tolerate other pets in the family, but is is recommended to socialize the breed at a young age.

Bedlington Terrier Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred15-17 yrs.15-17 in.18-23 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Bedlington Terrier, as its name suggests, is a member of the Terrier group of most clubs. These small but agile dogs were originally developed in England to hunt vermin, badgers, and other small animals, but they're not really used for hunting these days. Bedlingtons make good pets for active families, and they can excel in the show ring as well.

A few Bedlington Terrier facts: they're small-sized, averaging 16 inches at the shoulders in height and 20 pounds in weight; they have medium-length, crisp yet curly coats that give them a lamb-like appearance (and the coats don't shed much at all); and they have a good bit of energy and will need regular exercise.

Some advantages to owning this breed, along with a few Bedlington Terrier problems:

  • Pros
  • Affectionate and outgoing
  • Intelligent
  • Very healthy
  • Doesn't shed much
  • Adapts well to apartment living; will need frequent outdoor exercise
  • Good watchdog abilities
  • Suitable for first-time owners
  • Responds fairly well to training
  • Comfortable in both hot and cold climates
  • Cons
  • Can be stubborn and strong-willed
  • Very high prey drive; will instinctively chase small animals
  • High exercise needs
  • Early obedience training and socialization are musts
  • Frequent grooming necessary
  • Might be defensive or confrontational around unknown people and animals
  • Typical terrier habits of digging and chewing

Bedlington Terrier Breed Description

Bedlington Terrier dogs 101: this breed, with its scrappy personality and lamblike appearance, is often called a "terrier in sheep's clothing." Indeed, these dogs' physique (along with their white wooly coats) do make them look like sheep--but make no mistake: they're all terrier!

Bedlingtons have the famed "Triple T"--typical terrier temperament. They're bold, energetic, and fond of digging and chewing. Bedlingtons also have particularly high prey drives, so they'll need to be leashed when in public to keep them from chasing critters; it's a good idea, in fact, to introduce your Bedlington to leash training (whereby the dog is taught to walk beside or behind you on the leash instead of being allowed to lead) as early in the dog's life as possible. Overall, Bedlingtons will benefit from training and socialization in general while they're still puppies.

A well-trained Bedlington Terrier will normally mature into a fantastic, (mostly) obedient dog that will be quite the topic of conversation. Lots of owners like to give their Bedlingtons a Lamb Cut grooming style, which will make the dog even further resemble the cottony-coated farm animal.

And while Bedlingtons aren't too strong, they are pretty energetic, and will need frequent physical activity. The exercise doesn't need to be too strenuous, though; several short walks or play periods each day will do.

Bedlington Terrier Breed History

Bedlington Terrier history begins in Northern England. According to breed experts, small white terriers of this type would accompany Romani travelers as they ventured through the area during the 17th and 18th centuries, and these little dogs eventually became popular with local folk.

One of the first known records of this breed's existence was with an aristocrat named Lord Rothbury, who owned a small white "lamblike terrier" in the early 1800s. As dogs of this type grew in popularity in the region, they were first called Rothbury Terriers--but since Rothbury's estate was in the mining town of Bedlington, the dogs eventually became known as Bedlington Terriers. These dogs became prized for their abilities to catch rats in the local mines (and with the advent of industry, in factories as well).

Bedlingtons first entered the show ring in the 1850s, and in 1877, the National Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in England. Meanwhile the breed made its way to North America, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1886.

These days, Bedlington Terriers have pretty much left their hunting past behind, and though fairly rare, are mostly utilized as enthusiastic household pets or as show dogs. As of 2020, the Bedlington ranks 141st on the AKC's list of 196 registered breeds.

Bedlington Terrier Appearance

The word "lamblike" is key in describing this breed's overall appearance, as it has both the wooly white coat and the body shape of a sheep.

Specifically what does a Bedlington Terrier look like, though? The Bedlington Terrier head is the shape of a narrow wedge, and the ears are medium-sized and hanging. The eyes are almond-shaped and brown, and the muzzle is long and rounded. The chest is narrow, the legs are long, and the body is narrow and long with an arched back. The Bedlington Terrier tail is medium-length, thin, and curved slightly.

The Bedlington Terrier natural coat type is soft, curly, and of medium length.

Bedlington Terrier Coloring

Though a white Bedlington Terrier is most common, a few other Bedlington Terrier colors are possible too, in both solid and multi-colored patterns. The coats can be blue, black, liver, or tan.

The possible coat colors and combinations for the Bedlington Terrier:

  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Liver
  • Tan
  • Blue and tan
  • Liver and tan
  • Black and tan

Bedlington Terrier Size

Overall Bedlington Terrier size is small, and doesn't vary much from dog to dog. Bedlington Terrier height is 15-18 inches at the shoulders; Bedlington Terrier weight is 17-23 pounds.

Average Adult Height

15-17 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

18-23 lbs

Bedlington Terrier Variations

The Bedlington Terrier breeds don't see a lot of variety in physical features. Individual dogs may have slightly different anatomies, and may differ a bit in leg, ear, or tail length, etc., but these are naturally occurring and don't signify a specific breed sub-type.

The medium-length, curly Bedlington Terrier coat is consistent in length and texture as well.

And while Bedlington Terrier size doesn't vary much either (an average of 20 pounds), some breeders use selective breeding techniques to develop Miniature Bedlington Terrier dogs. These little dogs can be marketed as the "Mini Bedlington Terrier" or the "Bedlington Terrier Toy"--and while indeed smaller, they don't represent an official breed variation.

Bedlington Terrier Temperament

Active, intelligent, protective, enthusiastic, and sometimes stubborn, the Bedlington Terrier temperament is one of both boldness and affection. These dogs are usually friendly and loving with family members--but like other terrier breeds, they're opinionated and scrappy, and will often fuss if they don't get their way. Another part of the Bedlington Terrier personality is its high prey drive; while they'll often socialize okay with other pets, they have the instinctive habit of chasing small animals (especially rodents, which they may try to injure since they were developed as vermin hunters). They do get along pretty well with kids, though. In any case, the Bedlington Terrier character means the dog will need training and socialization (starting during puppyhood if possible) to learn respectful behavior.

Speaking of training: these dogs are very smart, and can take well to it--but they can also be stubborn, which means they may need a few repetitions when learning tasks, tricks, and commands. As with any dog, firm, consistent, reward-based training methods are best.

Another of the good Bedlington Terrier traits is the breed's watchdog abilities. Bedlingtons are alert and territorial, and will usually bark if they perceive an unknown sight or sound. And though these dogs are really too small to stop potential threats like intruders, that doesn't mean they won't try!

Living Requirements

As with any dog, owning a Bedlington Terrier has its own particular concerns. Chief among these is that Bedlingtons will need a lot of training and socialization to minimize the terrier-type behavior of barking, digging, and chewing. Another part of this spunky personality is that Bedlingtons can be dominant and even aggressive around other dogs (especially unknown ones); this, combined with their high prey drives, means Bedlingtons might do best in a "one-dog" (or even "one-pet") household.

A Bedlington Terrier can be comfortable in either an apartment or a house--but regardless of the accommodations, the dog will need frequent exercise to serve as an outlet for its high energy.

And are Bedlington Terriers hypoallergenic dogs? Fortunately, they are. This breed doesn't shed much, and will be a good choice for allergy sufferers.

Bedlington Terrier Health

Bedlington Terriers are pretty healthy overall, but can suffer ailments including various eye problems (the most serious of which is cataracts), kidney issues, and problems with their thyroid glands. A few Bedlingtons can also develop patellar luxation, which is dislocation of the kneecaps.

Potential owners are advised to ask breeders for health screenings for the dog and/or its parents, or they can have their own veterinarians do the screenings.

Life expectancy for the Bedlington Terrier is quite long, at 15-17 years.

  • Cataracts
  • Eye Problems
  • Kidney Issues
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Thyroid Problems
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