Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington (Liver)Bedlington (Liver)

In the 1700's, what we know today as the Bedlington and Dandie Dinmont Terriers were the same breed. Developing for different purposes on both sides of the English-Scottish border, they differed only in leg length for work on top of and underneath the ground respectively! In 1874, they appeared in the First English Stud Book making them 2 of the oldest pure breeds. Today, they still have significant similarities of general body shape, coat colour and silky topknots.

History of the Bedlington

Bedlington c 1890Bedlington c 1890

Meanwhile the Bedlington developed on the English side of the Border. From the 1700's, Bedlington's ran with Foxhounds in the Northern Counties. At this time, foxes destroyed so many sheep that hounds and terriers became an essential part of the farmers' households. 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 also spread Bedlingtons throughout the district. In the days when a terrier or two could earn good money from the bounty on the heads of foxes. The skins of otters and weasels could also be sold. In addition, betting on various sports like badger baiting was held where Bedlingtons were bought and sold.

The Bedlington becomes a Pure Breed

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

In 1825, a Mr Ainsley claimed the pedigree of his bitch 'Phœbe' dated back for five generations to 'Young Piper' who was born in 1792. Phœbe was supposedly by Anderson's 'Piper' out of Coate's 'Phœbe' who was bought in Bedlington in 1820. So, these early Bedlingtons' pedigrees could reliably be traced back to well before the first English Stud Book was published[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. Described as being black with brindled legs, she had a tuft of light coloured hair on the top of her head[6a].

Brian HuxhamBrian Huxham

At one of these early dog shows, the Earl of Antrim won prizes in both Bedlington and Dandie classes with 2 dogs that were brothers. This demonstrates how closely early Dandies and Bedlingtons were related, a relationship be remembered today.

History of the Bedlington Terrier in Australia

Eng Ch Bedlington 1964Eng Ch Bedlington 1964

In 'The Dog in Australiasia'[4] and also in 'Tyzacks Annual'[2] , there is a brief reference to Bedlingtons coming here. But they appear 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.

Comparison between the Bedlington and  Dandie Dinmont Terriers

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.

Bedlington Terrier Dandie Dinmont Terrier
General Appearance Graceful, lithe, spirited and game Low, weasley body with short legs
Size Height: about 41 cms (16 ins)
Weight: between 8-10 kg (18-23 lbs).
Height: about 20-28cms (8-11 ins),
but preferably 2.5-5cm (1" to 2") less.
Colour Blue, liver, or sandy with or without tan. Blues and blue and tans must have black noses; liver and sandies must have brown noses. Pepper: Dark bluish black to light silvery grey body merging into rich tan to pale fawn on the legs and feet. Mustard: From reddish brown to pale fawn, darker on the head.
Bedlington (Liver)Bedlington (Liver) Dandie Dinmont TerrierDandie Dinmont Terrier
Head The narrow pear or wedge-shaped skull is covered with profuse hair.. The large well domed skull, covered very soft, silky hair, has a muzzle to skull ratio of 3:5.
Stop No stop Apparent definite stop
Muzzle There is an unbroken from occiput to nose. But the muzzle is well filled up beneath eyes. The lips are tight fitting and the nostrils  large and well defined. The cheeks gradually taper towards the deep and strongly made muzzle. The top of the muzzle has triangular bare patch about an inch broad, pointing backwards to eyes from black nose.
Eyes The Bedlington has small, triangular shaped eyes. Blues have dark eyes, but livers and sandies have light hazel eyes. The Dandie has large, round eyes set low and wide apart.They should be rich dark hazel regardless of the dog's coat colour.
Ears The ears are moderately sized and filbert shaped, set on low hanging flat to the cheek. They should be thin and velvety in texture, and covered with short fine hair with fringe of whitish silky hair at tip. The pendulous but very thin ears are set low, wide apart, well back, close to the cheek, with their colour harmonising with the body colour. There should be a thin feather of hair at the tip of nearly the same colour as the topknot.
Mouth A complete scissor bite with large,  strong teeth. The upper teeth should closely overlap the lower teeth and be set square to the jaws. A complete scissor bite, with especially large, strong canines. The inside of mouth black or dark coloured.
Bedlington (Blue)Bedlington (Blue) Dandie Dinmont (Mustard)Dandie Dinmont (Mustard)
Neck The clean neck should be long and tapering, springing well up from shoulders, enabling the head to be carried rather high. The well developed strong neck should be very muscular, showing great power. It is well set into shoulders.
Forequarters The shoulders are flat and sloping and the chest is deep but fairly broad. The shoulders well laid and the chest is well developed and drops down between forelegs.
Forelegs The forelegs are are wider apart at the chest than at the feet, enabling to dog to turn or pivot when galloping at high speed. When trotting, this also causes a mincing action. The pasterns are long and slope slightly. The forelegs are short and straight with  immense muscular development and bone. But because the chest is deep, the forelegs are set wide apart. So, the forearms follow line of chest with feet pointing forward or slightly outward when standing.
Feet Long hare feet with thick pads. Round feet and well padded with dark nails.
Bedlingtons (Liver)Bedlingtons (Liver) Dandie Dinmont TerrierDandie Dinmont Terrier
Body The flexible body has flat ribs. When the deep chest reaches the elbow, it is fairly broad. The topline has a natural arch over loin creating a definite tuck-up of underline. Body slightly greater in length than the height at shoulder. The long, strong, muscular, body has well sprung, round ribs. The topline is high at the withers, then  a slight downwards curve before a corresponding arch over loins, gradually dropping again to the root of the tail. The body should be not be more than twice the height at shoulder.
Hindquarters While the muscular hindlegs are of moderate length, they appear longer than forelegs and have a moderate turn of stifle and short, strong hocks. The hindlegs, with their well-developed thighs, appear a little longer than forelegs and set rather wide apart. The stifles are well angulated and the hocks well let down.
Tail The moderate length tail is thick at root, tapers to a point and is gracefully curved. It is set on low and never carried over back. The rather short tail is thick at the root and tapers to a point. Can be carried up with scimitar like curve with the tip in line with root of the tail.
Coat The thick and linty mixture coat, stands well out from skin, but is not wiry. Instead, it has a distinct tendency to twist, particularly on head and face. The double coat should be about 5 cms (2 ins) long.The undercoat is soft and linty through which the topcoat, which has colour at its tip, grows. The colour at the end of each hair of the topcoat feels crisp. The forelegs and underside of the tail have feather.
Gait Distinctive, rather mincing gait at a trot but light and springy with a slight roll in slower paces. Capable of a high speed at a double suspension gallop
A fluent free and easy stride, reaching forward at the front with strong, straight impulsion from rear.

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


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