The Bedlington Terrier: Affectionate, energetic & loyal dog breed

Last Updated on April 25, 2023

The Bedlington Terrier turns heads with its unique, lamb-like appearance. It was bred to be a hunter’s sidekick, and is now a loyal, playful, and affectionate companion.

Also known by other nicknames, such as Rothbury Terrier, Rothbury’s Lamb, and Gypsy Dog, this praised pedigree is AKC-recognized and will fill a home with love and energy.

a Bedlington Terrier standing outdoors
A Bedlington Terrier standing on a field

Discover the secret of the Bedlington’s unique hair-do, and fall in love with their adventurous heart with our guide. Stay with us and keep reading.

Where did the Bedlington Terrier originate? 

Terriers were first bred as hunting dogs in North England to catch small animals and get rid of vermin.

Bedlingtons aren’t just retrievers for hunters, as they eventually competed in dog racing, show rings, and other dog sports.

How this unique breed got its name isn’t well known. Some say the breed was named after the small mining town, Bedlington, in Northumberland, England.

Some say the breed traveled around with gypsies who stole them from estates. Others believe their vermin-ridding talents caught the attention of squires.

One of the noblemen who owned the breed was Lord Rothbury, so the dog went by ‘Rothbury’s Terrier’ for a while. But, Bedlington had a nice ring to it and soon became the breed’s main title.

In 1825, Ainsley‘s Piper was the first dog to be called a Bedlington Terrier officially. Ainsley’s Piper went up against a badger at 8 months old and won.

Some say this breed looks like a Poodle. The terrier’s curvy contour, great speed, and agility suggest Whippet are in their family tree.

Because of its coat, Dandie Dinmont Terrier and Otterhounds are also suggested ancestors.

In England, crossing Bedlingtons with Whippets and Greyhounds became popular to produce Lurchers.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and English Kennel Club recognize the breed. And The Bedlington Terrier Club has been a member of the AKC since 1936.

Appearance: Shaved lamb or dog?

a Bedlington smiling while laying down
Source: @borderlandlamb / IG

The Bedlington Terrier is well-known for its uncanny resemblance to a lamb.

The breed has a dolichocephalic head with a deep rounded snout, and its jaw is longer than the skull, creating a slender muzzle and Roman arch.

A gathering of hair on top of its head creates its iconic ‘topknot’ hair-do.

These terriers have dark-brown, almond-shaped eyes, and their nose and the fur surrounding the eyes are black, making these features pop.

Their ears are pear-shaped, triangular at the top, and rounded at the bottoms. They flop against their cheeks, and their tips look like comical ‘cotton puffs.’

As a small dog breed with a lithe stature, arched back, and deep chest, this dog’s build gives it a springy and elegant gait.

Its muscular but flexible body allows this fido to excel in other dog sports that require speed and agility.

The tail sits low, with a thick-based and tapering style towards the tip. Longer back legs and straight front legs enable this breed to reach a great speed.

Size: How big does a Bedlington Terrier dog breed get?

Bedlington Terriers stand 15 to 17.5 inches (38 to 44.5 cm) tall with a weight of 17 to 23 pounds (8 to 10 kg).

As per their breed standard, the preferred height for males is 16.5 inches (42 cm), while 15.5 inches (39 cm) for females, which is good to know if you want to have your terrier join a dog show.

Puppies usually reach these full-grown measurements by the time they’re 10 to 11 months old.

And if you’re wondering whether they’re good apartment dogs, these canines are an excellent choice for large homeowners and apartment dwellers.

As long as they get their daily exercise and mental stimulation, they’ll adjust to any type of house.

The Bedlington Terriers thick & curly coat

This purebred has a double-coated fur that’s made up of hard and soft hair. It tends to curl when touched but doesn’t have a wiry feel to it.

It has a linty, crisp texture, and its coat gives the dog a rugged and shaggy appearance.

Coat colors are sandy, liver, and blue, with all of them having a tan combination. The markings are usually found over each eye, under the chest, tail, and on the front legs.

Bedlington Terrier puppies are born with a greying gene where they first have a darker coat that lightens as they age.

You can notice it here with this video of Claude, a Bedlington Terrier, growing up:

Do Bedlington Terriers make good pets?

The Bedlington Terrier is softer than most other terrier breeds and makes a lovely family dog.

Yet, it still has the typical temperament of a terrier – curious, intelligent, and alert. This pooch makes a fantastic companion that’s demonstrative and loyal.

As a small dog that’s affectionate and lively, it’s a canine that loves attention and would prefer being a solo pet.

But keep a close watch when your fido is around younger children because it can accidentally bump them over.

a Bedlington Terrier looking side ways
Source: @be._.rry_bedlington / IG

When it comes to strangers, they can still be friendly, but they also make excellent watchdogs because of their strong sense of intuition.

Despite that, early socialization can help them get along with other pets and dogs.

Keep in mind that terriers may be aggressive toward fidos of the same sex. They may not start fights, but they won’t back down from one.

During outdoor time, ensure that you keep your pet on a leash, especially when not trained.

Bedlingtons would run and chase small animals when they get a chance because of their high prey drive.

Do Bedlington Terriers bark a lot?

These dogs are considered moderate barkers. It’s just in their wary nature. But if left alone for long periods, they can become destructive and suffer from separation anxiety, too.

They prefer being with their humans, so if you’re away from home most of the time, this may not be the breed for you.

And with training, these intelligent canines are moderately easy to train. They may be a bit stubborn, which means they’ll require a strong leader or alpha.

Once you unlock the diverse skill set of this pooch, you’ll know why they make eligible doggos to compete in agility, obedience, earthdog tests, and tracking competitions.

Taking care of your Rothbury Terrier

a Bedlington Terrier laying comfortably
Source: @onyxbedlington / IG

This fido is considered high maintenance, especially with grooming. But before we move on, know that this breed prefers colder and milder climates than hot ones.

They have better tolerance to the cold, and they need to live indoors in a safely enclosed area.

Exercising your Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier has a high energy level. They need daily exercise, about 20 to 40 minutes, to keep them stimulated and out of trouble.

Since these terriers love to chase, they enjoy a vigorous game of fetch or a long walk. They can also join you on a run or in the mountains, hiking.

Grooming: Do Bedlington Terrier dogs shed?

Unlike other long-haired dog breeds, the Bedlington is among hypoallergenic and non-shedding breeds.

But to keep that coat in tip-top shape, a brush once or twice a week is needed. Visiting the groomer for a professional cut every 6 to 8 weeks is sufficient, too.

The breed has a unique lamb cut. You can either take them to a professional or learn to trim your Bedlington yourself. The hair on the body must be short and the face trimmed with scissors.

Shave the ears, leaving a tassel on the tips. The point of the cut is to emphasize the lamb shape.

Watch this video to see a Bedlington Terrier get a makeover:

You should also clean your dog’s ears once a week, wiping the muck away with cotton wool. Bedlington terriers don’t suffer from very dry skin.

But the breed shouldn’t bathe too often, or the fur will lank. Lanked fur isn’t considered appropriate for the breed. Every 4 to 6 weeks should suffice.

Rothbury’s Lamb‘s food consumption

The Bedlington Terrier should get 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food or homemade food split between 2 meals a day.

The amount will vary depending on the dog’s size, activity level, and age. If your pup doesn’t finish his food should pick up their food after dinner time, instead of leaving it on the floor for him to graze.

Good-quality dog food is vital in maintaining immunity, weight, and well-being. To know if your food is of standard, it must be AAFCO compliant for your dog type and made predominantly of meat.

Bedlington puppies need to have more protein and Vitamin A to ensure proper development. Puppies also do better eating more small portions, about 4 times a day.

What is the average lifespan of a Bedlington Terrier?

a curly-haired Bedlington Terrier laying on the couch
Source: @ollie_thebehemothbeddy / IG

Bedlington Terriers have an average life expectancy of 11 to 16 years. While they’re a generally healthy breed, they’re prone to specific health problems.

Bedlingtons most commonly die from old age, kidney failure, or copper toxicosis.

If you’re considering getting a puppy, make sure you find a reputable and registered breeder. You should also check the puppy’s and parent’s health clearances such as:

  • DNA tests for Copper Toxicosis
  • Liver Biopsy
  • Clearance from Orthopedic Foundation
  • Clearance from Canine Eye Registry Foundation. 
  • Test for Thrombopathia at Auburn University

The Bedlington Terrier, like all breeds, are predisposed to certain illnesses like Copper Toxicosis (Copper storage disease).

It’s a hereditary disease that causes the liver to fail, expelling dietary copper and creates a toxic build-up that can result in death.

Because this gene is a recessive trait, both parents of the Bedlington puppy must have the gene. DNA tests can state whether your puppy suffers from these health problems.

The next biggest concern is Renal Cortical Hypoplasia. This kidney disease causes the kidney cortex to develop abnormally, which leads to kidney failure and death.

Watch out for kidney failure symptoms such as increased thirst and urination.

Managing symptoms and further damage can control this disease. Bedlington puppies should go for a liver biopsy to rule out any issues early on.

Bedlingtons also suffer from Orthopedic problems. Patellar Luxation or slipped stifles is when the kneecap is dislocated.

This health concern can be hereditary or present itself after an injury. While this disease can be mild with little to no pain, it can also cause pain and need surgery to fix.

You should ask to see clearance from the Orthopedic Foundation. They will rule out elbow and hip dysplasia, slipped patella, hypothyroidism, and Von Willebrand’s disease.

Bedlingtons are also prone to eye diseases. Issues include Retinal dysplasia, Distichiasis, Epiphora, Cataracts, and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy).

You should have tests done at the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, certifying their eye health.

The Bedlington terrier also suffers from thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism. It’s where your thyroid is underactive and will cause your Bedlington’s bodily functions to slow.

Be on the lookout for symptoms of lethargy, weight gain, and changes in their skin or coat.

Heart murmurs in dogs cause an abnormal heartbeat and turbulent flow of blood to the heart. The vet can detect heart murmurs by listening to your pup’s heartbeat.

Heart murmurs can be for many different reasons, so it’s best to watch and examine your pet if they have it.

How much does a Bedlington Terrier puppy cost?

a Bedlington Terrier puppy with decorative eggs
A cute Bedlington Terrier puppy enjoying easter

Bedlingtons are a rare breed that can have a litter size of 3 to 6 puppies. Each Bedlington Terrier puppy has a price range of $1,500 to $3,700.

They may be one of the most expensive dog breeds because the cost is affected by factors like the kennel’s location and popularity, availability of pups, and even the gender of the pup you’re interested in.

If you think that’s a lot of money, remember that this amount comes alongside the cost of toys, leashes, beds, and food, which can cost you an average of $300 per year.

There are also visits to the groomers, checkups, and medical emergencies.

Bedlington Terrier breeders

Now that you’re ready to look for an available Bedlington Terrier puppy for sale, it’s crucial to choose reputable breeders that are part of major kennel clubs.

So the first place we’ll recommend is the AKC Marketplace. There’s also The Bedlington Terrier Club of America, Inc.

Before you purchase a puppy or sign a contract, please do your research. Check out what previous clients have to say about the breeder or kennel, and request to visit or meet the puppy in person.

Take the opportunity to look at the medical clearance of the parents. It’s essential to make sure they haven’t passed any dangerous genes down, like Copper Toxicosis.

Bedlington Terrier dogs for adoption

Abandoned Bedlington Terriers are often rescued and taken to sanctuaries.

Consider visiting your local rescue shelter and adopting a Bedlington Terrier if you want to avoid splurging on a puppy or if you prefer an older dog.

You can keep an eye on the Bedlington rescue groups in case one turns up. If you’re often on Facebook, take a look at Bedlington Terrier Wellness & Rescue Association’s page.

Outside the US, there’s Bedlington Terrier Rescue and National Bedlington Terrier Club in the UK.

Bedlington Terrier VS. Other breeds

If the Bedlington Terrier doesn’t fit your lifestyle, there are many similar breeds you might like. Here are some more terriers for you.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier VS. Bedlington Terrier

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier laying on a woman's legs
Source: @dayswithjoristhedandie / IG

Also called Hindlee Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers have a similar shaggy hair-do. Dandies are much smaller, though.

They have a height of 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) and a weight of 18 to 24 pounds (8 to 11 kg). They’re also non-shedding dogs and require less grooming. 

The two breeds have similar energy levels, but the Bedlington terrier is more intelligent, affectionate, sociable, and territorial. And Dandies are less mouthy and have a lower prey drive.

Kerry Blue Terrier VS. Bedlington Terrier

a Kerry Blue Terrier wearing a detective coat
Source: @hugo_the_kerry_blue_terrier_ / IG

The Kerry Blue Terrier is larger. They stand around 17.5 to 19.5 inches (44.5 to 49.5 cm) tall and weigh 33 to 40 pounds (15 to 18 kg). They have similar coat and grooming requirements.

Kerry Blues are smarter, livelier, and louder. Bedlingtons are more curious, increasing the desire to chase small prey and explore.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier VS. Bedlington Terrier 

a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier running widly
Source: @davethewheaten / IG

Unlike the hypoallergenic Bedlington, the Wheaten Terrier sheds more. Thus this breed needs more grooming.

The breed’s temperaments are similar, but Bedlingtons are more prey-driven and mouthy. Therefore, this breed has more of a tendency to bite, nip and herd people playfully.

There are many more types of terriers, but all are loving, protective, and full of energy.

Who should get a Bedlington Terrier?

Bedlington Terriers wearing pastel color shirt
Source: @_fruit_sisters / IG

Whether you live in an apartment or spacious property, Bedlingtons will be happy.

This breed wants you home most of the day to give them love and affection. These dogs prefer to ride solo and be the only pet in the house

The breed is great for first-time dog owners and active households. The Bedlington needs to exercise frequently and loves joining their owners on hikes, swims, and runs.

You’ll never have to worry about vermin around, as these terriers love to catch and hunt small prey.

The breed is also great for families. Bedlingtons are good watchdogs and protective over those they love.

Sure, they may be a few cons to this pooch, like possible aggression toward small animals, stubbornness, but there are also many pros. Bedlingtons are quite compact and have a hypoallergenic coat.

Have you owned a Bedlington Terrier? Any tips and tricks to share? We’d love to hear. Please leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.

Further reading: Comparable breeds to the Bedlington Terrier

  • Whippet
  • Manchester Terrier (Standard)


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