Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terriers

Dandie DinmontDandie Dinmont

Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terriers are among the oldest show breeds appearing in the First English Stud Book published in 1874. Apart from modernizing the coat, their breed type has never significantly altered. With both breeds developing in counties adjacent to the English-Scottish border, the significant similarities of general body shape, coat colour and silky topknot common to both breeds indicates some mixing of blood. But it appears their development was historically separate.

History of the Dandie Dinmont

Dandie Dinmonts 1872Dandie Dinmonts 1872

A race of short legged terriers answering the description of Dandie Dinmont was kept by the farmers on the Scottish side of the Border Region before the end of the 1700's. These terriers were hardy enough to be used on any animal from the weasel family which includes not only stoats and polecats, but also otters and badgers. From these earliest times the Dandie was required to have 'a long, low weasley body', words that remain in the breed standard to this day.

How the original Dandie came to have such short legs is 'lost in the mists of obscurity'. As Rawdon Lee also wrote in 1894:

Mustard and Pepper Dandie Dinmonts c 1900Mustard and Pepper Dandie Dinmonts c 1900

.. it was well known that Border farmers and others kept a hardy race of short-legged terriers, answering to the description of the Dandie Dinmont, even before the end of the 1700's. They assisted the hounds to kill otters, and were hardy enough to destroy foxes in their holes... notwithstanding their short legs and long bodies, were fairly active and as hard as nails[1].

Although the original Dandie was smaller than the modern one, perhaps in an endeavour to obtain greater bone as well as larger heads with stronger jaws, heavier bodies were also produced. So the short legs entrenched in the breed, as did the long strong body shaped like the weasel he was bred to hunt.

Dandie Dinmont and his terriersDandie Dinmont and his terriers

It is recorded that around 1800, a farmer named James Davidson was given a pair of splendid workers that were short on the leg, large bodied, and had large heads with pendant ears. James Davidson was typical of his time and as he was a keen sportsman, eventually he possessed ten or twelve couples of these terriers. So when the celebrated novelist Sir Walter Scott published the book 'Guy Mannering' in 1814, he invented the name Dandie Dinmont which seemed to suit typical characters like James Davidson. The names of the actual dogs were Old Pepper and Old Mustard, Young Pepper and Young Mustard or Little Pepper and Little Mustard. Hence the names of the permissible colours of pepper and mustard which remain in today's breed standard.

History of the Dandie Dinmont in Australia

Dandies (Australia) c 1890Dandies (Australia) c 1890

In Australia, there must have been some early importations of Dandie Dinmonts into Victoria from 1890 - 1903 because they are mentioned in "The Dog in Australasia"[4] and one is also pictured. Additionally the attached picture was published in 'The Australian Dog News' around 1890. So it can be assumed by the listing of imported dogs in 1890 that these were brought here by the Mr Clark named on the middle picture. But these early importations must have died out because Dandies are among the breeds listed in Australia's first Stud book Tyzacks Annual as not being present here in 1911[2]. There also does not appear to be any records of them after that date for many decades.

But in 1970's that Don and Mary MacCaul began importing and breeding Dandies under the Marydon prefix. They rekindled interest in the breed and by 1990 Dr Emma Greenway became involved. She has imported and bred some excellent specimens under the Jollygaze prefix which have held their own on the all-breeds and Specialist platforms both here and overseas.

History of the Bedlington

Bedlington c 1890Bedlington c 1890

Meanwhile the Bedlington developed on the English side of the Border as the Fox Terrier of the Northern Counties that had been run with Foxhounds since the late 1700's. At this time, foxes destroyed so many sheep that hounds and terriers became part of the farmers' household. But these speedy terriers were also valued for the sport of rabbit coursing among the miners.

Bedlingtons 1872Bedlingtons 1872

As well as farmers and miners, gypsies were also a sporting lot and assisted to spread these terriers throughout the district. In those days people could also earn money with a good terrier or two as there was not only a bounty on the head of foxes killed, the skins of otters and other weasels could also be sold. In addition, various sports like badger baiting were often held in the towns along the Border. In addition to the betting, no doubt dogs were also exchanged.

The Bedlington becomes a Pure Breed

Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont c 1890Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont c 1890

They were first named 'Bedlington' in 1825 by a Mr Ainsley, who claimed the pedigree of his bitch dates back to 1792 to 'Young Piper'. He was by Anderson's 'Piper' out of Coate's 'Phœbe' who was bought in Bedlington in 1820 eventually came into the possession of Mr Ainsley. He claimed that Phœbe's pedigree and that of 'Piper' could be traced back for five generations. So their pedigrees could reliably be traced right up to the time of the first English Stud Book[6a].

Anderson's 'Piper' was a slender-built dog liver 15" high and weighing only 15 lbs with a linty textured coat and feathering at the tips of his ears. 'Phœbe' was only 13 " high and weighed 14 lbs. She is described as being black with brindled legs with a tuft of light coloured hair on the top of her head[6a].

At one of these early dog shows, how closely the Dandie and the Bedlington breeds were allied became obvious when the Earl of Antrim won prizes in both Bedlington and Dandie classes with 2 dogs out of the same bitch and by the same sire. So today it should be recognized that each of these breeds had influence on certain features of the other.

Brian HuxhamBrian Huxham

History of the Bedlington Terrier in Australia

Eng Ch Bedlington 1964Eng Ch Bedlington 1964

In Australia there is only a brief reference to Bedlingtons being imported here in 'The Dog in Australiasia'[4] and also in 'Tyzacks Annual'[2]. But this breed also appears to have died out until 1964. Then three Bedlingtons including the English Champion pictured[3] were imported into Victoria by Mrs Olive Smalley ("Lynstar"). Shelagh O'Brian followed with another pair from a different bloodline. This laid the foundation for a small band of enthusiasts to follow including Joan and Ken Tucker (Foggystar) and that colourful character, Brian Huxham.

Note: Material for some of the comments on Bedlingtons below were sourced from a paper written by famous English breeder Inge Di Lucca c 1965[5].

The Bedlington and  Dandie Dinmont Terrier today

Because of their historical connection, it is interesting to compare the Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. Not only are there many distinct similarities, the differences between these two breeds demonstrate the purpose for which these two breeds were originally bred. So it is important to realize how one and a half centuries of being showdogs rather than working Terriers, has changed them.

Bedlingtons (Liver)Bedlingtons (Liver)


Bedlington (Liver)Bedlington (Liver)

Topknot - Profuse and silky

Mouth - Normal scissors bite with exceptionally large teeth

Ears - Thin and lowset on the head and dropped, hanging close to the cheek with a tuft of hair at the end

Coat Texture - Double coat with soft undercoat which feels like lint, but is actually a mixture of hard hairs coming through a soft undercoat

Topline - An arch over the loin with the Dandie also having a slight downward curve at the shoulders

Ribcage - Deep, despite the shape being so different

Hindlegs - Appearing to be longer than their forelegs

Tail - Thick at the root and tapering to a point and gracefully curved or shaped like a scimitar.


Dandie DinmontDandie Dinmont

Height - the main differences between these two breeds relate their difference in height at shoulder because of their function. The Bedlingtons are long legged terriers which mainly coursed rabbit and hare above ground while the Dandies are short legged terriers that mainly followed vermin especially weasels underground. So their height corresponds to the purpose for which they were developed. The Bedlington should have a height of around 41 cms (16 inches) with a weight of 8 - 10 kilos (18 - 23 pounds) while the Dandie has a height specified from 20-28cms (8-11 ins) at withers.

Dandie DinmontDandie Dinmont

But interestingly while the weight of the Dandie is not specified, the length of the Dandie's body is! So similar to the Skye Terrier that was also developed for underground work, the Breed Standard dictates the measurement from withers to root of tail not be more than twice his height, but preferably 2.5-5cm (1" to 2") less. So the size specifications alone reflect the purpose of the Bedlington and Dandie. Additionally while the Bedlington has the build of being capable of galloping at high speeds, the Dandie has the build that enables him to slither through underground tunnels.

Bedlington (Liver)Bedlington (Liver)

The breed standards also differ in the following respects:

Head  - The Bedlington has a narrow but deep skull with no stop. The Dandie has a large head with extraordinary cheek muscles, with a measurement from inner corner of eye being the same as from ear to ear and a ratio of muzzle to skull being three as to five. The top of the Dandie's muzzle also has a triangular bare patch about an inch wide pointing backwards towards the eyes.

Dandie DinmontDandie Dinmont

Coat Colour - The Bedlington can be blue, liver or sandy with or without tan markings, obvious when the dog is young. But when adult can look almost white especially livers and sandies. But as they become older and for example, when a bitch has a season and/or a litter, a liver's body can look medium brown with a lighter coloured head and legs. This usually fades again until the next season. In the same way, a blue can become dark whilst also retaining the lighter coloured head and legs. Males can also gradually change with age. This colour is not just the guard hairs, even the soft undercoat look dark on their body.

On the other hand, the Dandie's colour of mustard or pepper at the end of each hair is much more obvious at all ages and gives a look of lying in pencils.

Bedlington (Blue)Bedlington (Blue)

Nose colour - The Bedlington has a brown nose if it is liver or sandy and only the blue or blue and tan has a black nose. But the Dandie's nose must always be black.

Neck - The Bedlington's neck is long and springs up from the shoulders whereby the Dandie's neck is set into its shoulders and therefore carried in a more forward, rather than an upright position.

Shape of Ribcage - the Bedlington has flat ribs whereby the Dandie's ribs are round and drop well between the forelegs.

Front - The Bedlington's forelegs are straight but wider apart at the chest than at the feet. When the dog is standing facing you, four fingers should be able to fit between the forelegs, but this should reduce at the feet to three fingers in width. This unique feature allows the dog to pivot more easily when required to gallop at high speeds. Although the Bedlington is a coursing dog that worked on top of the ground, he still had to be capable of digging into and so entering the dens and therefore has a terrier front

Dandie DinmontDandie Dinmont

Because the Dandie's ribs are round and the chest comes well down between the short well boned forelegs, the forearms although not bandy, must follow the line of the chest. This can cause the feet to point slightly outwards when the dog is standing. In other words, they have slightly bowed front legs (crooked front). Additionally, when the dog is digging its way through the dens of the weasels it was bred to hunt, it shifts the dirt to the side of his body so the chest followed by the rest of the dog, can slither through the hole.

Feet  - The Bedlington has long hare feet and long pasterns typical of a coursing breed while the  Dandie has round well-padded feet typical of a digging terrier.

Gait - The Bedlington has such power and flexibility in its hindquarters, it can gallop at high speeds at a double suspension gallop. So at a trot its action is described as 'mincing' light and springy at slow paces and with a slight roll at full stride. The Dandie has a typical fluid free stride.

References and Further Reading

See also Jane Harvey DVD "Terriers Then & Now" Published Rangeaire Vision 2002-2004 ISBN 978-0-9804296-4-0

[1] Rawdon B. Lee, "Modern Dogs" of Great Britain and Ireland (Third Edition) London:Horace Cox, "Field" Office, Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, E.C. 1903 The Bedlington Terrier Chapter V111, Pages 205 - 210 by Harold Warnes and the Dandie Dinmont Chapter ZL11 by E. W. H. Blagg Chapter X11 Pages 313 - 325

[2] T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner "Tyzack's Annual" published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia P. 92 (Bedlingtons) and P.93 (Dandie Dinmonts)

[3] "The British Terrier Club of NSW Diamond Jubilee Handbook 1907 - 1967" published by Hi-Line Press Page 75

[4] W. Beilby 'The Dog in Australasia' published George Robertson & Company in 1897 Chapter on the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Page 370 - 371 and the Bedlington Page 378.

[5] Inge de Lucca - 'The Bedlington Terrier - the Standard' written c 1965

[6] J.H.Walsh, under the name 'Stonehenge', 'The Dogs of the British Islands' (Fifth Edition) Published by 'The Field' Office, 346 Strand, W.C.London 1886. Book lll, 'Terriers (Other than Fox and Toy)', Chapter l, Special Breeds of Rough Terriers. The Dandie Dinmont Terrier Page 236.

[6a] Ibid.,The Bedlington Terrier Page 245