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Bedlington Terrier

Pet Road Tests > Dogs

Breed: Bedlington Terrier
Temperament: affectionate, lively
Lifespan: 14 - 15 years
Recommended for: families
Dumpage rate: low
Maintenance: medium to high (regular coat brushing)


Bedlington Terriers are medium sized dogs, similar in size to a Fox Terrier. An adult is about 41cm (16") in height and weighs 8-10 kg (18-23lb). They are graceful dogs possessing speed, agility and a lightspringy action. The coat is curly and, when trimmed, Bedlingtons look like shorn lambs. In profile they have a curved Roman nosed appearance, and the head is carried high on a long neck which runs into a well arched back. Unlike most Terriers, which have round feet, Bedlingtons have long, well padded, hare-like feet.

Breeders claim that the areas of the Bedlington's body which are likely to be exposed during a fight or while chasing game have longer hair, such as on their ears and around their eyes. In reality, the coat has been selected to suit fashions at exhibitions.

As for colour choices, Bedlington Terriers are available in blue, liver, and blue and tan but puppies are born black or dark brown. There are also sandy and tan Bedlingtons but these are extremely rare.


Owners say Bedlington Terriers are intelligent, friendly and loving but can also be jealous and protective. They are not normally aggressive but will fight strongly if roused. Bedlingtons are excellent with children and older people, making them an ideal family dog. They are active and enjoy games, but are equally happy sitting quietly by their owner's feet.


Bedlington Terriers can suffer an hereditary disease called copper toxicosis. This is where the dog stores copper, mainly in their liver, to toxic levels. An affected animal can live normally, but a stressful situation may trigger symptoms. This can lead to severe illness and even death. Dogs with this condition need a diet which is low in copper and high in zinc.

The disease can now be detected easily by a non-invasive DNA test. Bedlington Terriers cannot be registered with the Australian National Kennel Council until the parents have been DNA tested.

Feeding and breeding

Breeders recommend feeding Bedlingtons a balanced diet of dry food, including rice and pasta, vegetables and small amounts of meat. As mentioned earlier, they require a low copper diet and should not drink water from copper taps. They cost about $9 a week to feed. They experience few whelping problems and usually produce an average of five puppies in a litter.


The breed's wonderful, woolly coat sheds little but requires regular and skilled grooming and needs specialised trimming every eight weeks. As a consequence, it is highly recommended to train them from any early age to stand still on a steady surface. Owners ought to learn how to trim the coat; otherwise you'll have to pay about $35 for a trim at a parlour. The coat needs to be brushed weekly for at least twenty minutes and dead hair must be combed out because the Bedlington does not naturally shed its coat. Nails should be clipped, ears need to be cleaned and kept free from hair, and dirt and mucus should be removed from the corners of the eyes. Blunt-end scissors can be used to remove hair from the pads of the feet. All this maintenance is essential for a happy dog.

Housepet potential

Bedlington Terriers are good indoors because they are clean, don't have a strong doggy odour and are easy to housetrain.

Space and exercise

Bedlington Terriers are active and require at least two daily walks, especially if kept in a small area. Securely fenced backyards are advisable because the dogs are likely to break trough any hole they can fit their head through.


The Bedlington Terrier originated in the north of England where they were said to have been favoured by the gypsies who used them as game hunters. Breeders claim the Bedlington was originally known as the Rothbury or Northumberland Terrier and was probably developed from the crossing of Otter Hounds with Dandie Dinmont Terriers. It was only in the early 1800s when the breeders from the English village of Bedlington (hence the name) introduced Whippet bloodlines to increase the breed's speed that the whippet/terrier cross we know today was created. It's said that originally, Bedlington Terriers worked down in the mines of Bedlington as ratters and were also used as pit fighters and game sporting companions. The Bedlington is one of 27 breeds of terriers in Australia but is still quite uncommon, with only 70 of this breed currently being registered with the Australian National Kennel Council.


Bedlington terriers were originally used as raters and pit fighters by miners and as poaching assistants and chasers of small game by gypsies. Today, they take part in showing, obedience, terrier racing and even lure coursing. Ever the terrier at heart, they are also good alarm dogs.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations. The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

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