With its pear-shaped head, its curly coat closely trimmed like a poodle's, and its odd but not inelegant lines, this dog bears a clear resemblance to a lamb. The Bedlington's fragile appearance is, however, deceptive. In earlier days, when it was known as the Rothbury Terrier, this strongly built dog had shorter legs and was used to hunt not only such vermin as mice, rats, and badgers, but also foxes and, perhaps, even wolves.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, miners in Northumberland used the Rothbury underground to rid their mine tunnels of rats. Later, they crossed it with the Whippet, among others, and produced a longer-legged, more refined Bedlington Terrier, without sacrificing the breed's original qualities. The new breed's terrier endurance and racing-hound speed made it a long-standing companion of poachers, hence its nickname, Gypsy Dog. An all-purpose animal, it could go after an otter, run down a rabbit, and hold its own in a dogfight.
Gradually, it became valued as a companion dog. Modifications in breed type were made and the Bedlington Terrier was transformed into the charming and comfort-loving creature known today. Artistic trimming and barbering give the dog its distinctive, lamb-like silhouette.
Although the Bedlington is, at times, fairly stubborn and often very aggressive towards other dogs, it does show a great deal of affection and absolute loyalty to its family.
Origin of Bedlington Terrier
Basically British, this breed probably hails from Northumberland, although its exact origin remains a mystery. It is certain, however, that the Dan. die Dinmont Terrier is one of its ancestors, and that a cross with the Whippet helped to refine its lines. Some authorities attribute the Bedlington's shape and physique to the presence of Poodle genes. While this hypothesis is intriguing, it is disputed. The first officially listed Bedlington Terrier is a male, Old Flint, that belonged to a certain Squire Trevelyan. It was whelped i n 1782. Documents trace Old Flint's descendants as far down as 1873. However, the first 30 Bedlingtons registered with the British Kennel Club possessed no pedigree; in fact, the parents of only 11 are mentioned. For this reason, therefore, it is impossible to establish conclusively whether they descend from Old Flint.
Characteristics of Bedlington Terrier
General apearance: graceful, agile. Fully arched back gives impression of delicacy and strength. Especially talented at coursing. Lightand flexible gait.
Height: 38 to 40.6 cm (15 to 161/2 in.). Under American standards, 42cm (16'/2in.) for the adult dog; 39.4 cm (15 ½ in.) for the bitch.
Weight: 7.7 to 10.4 kg (1710 23 Ib).
Head: narrow, rounded skull, covered with a full, nearly white, silky topknot. No stop; unbroken line from occiput to nose. Tight lips, no flews. Black nose with blue or blue and tan coat; brown nose with liver or sand coat. Broad nostrils. Jaws long and tapering. Level bite.
Eyes: small, shiny, well set in. Dark to light hazel depending on coat color.
Ears: medium size, filbert-shaped, set low, falling close to the cheek. Covered with fine short hair, with a fringe of whitish, silky hair on the tips.
Neck: long and tapering. No dewlap. The head carried rather erect.
Body: muscular, but extremely flexible. Flat ribs and deep, rather broad brisket. Roached back. Very arched loin. Slightly curved croup. Flanks tucked up.
Tail: medium length, thick at the base, tapering towards the tip.
Slightly curved, set low but never curled over the back.
Forequarters: legs straight, wider at the brisket than at the feet. Pasterns long and slightly sloping.
Hindquarters: legs medium size and muscular; because of the arched loin, they appear longer than the forelegs. The hocks should be strong and well let down.
Feet: long, hare-footed. Pads thick and tightly closed.
Coat: thick and linty, with a tendency to curl, particularly on the head and face. Woolly undercoat.
Color: blue, blue and tan, liver, or sandy. Dark shades are preferred by breeders.
Practical information about Bedlington Terrier
This terrier enjoys good health but, given its fighting instinct, keep a first-aid kit on hand. Clean its delicate ears regularly with a dry cotton swab. Its coat requires clipping about every month and a half. Because grooming this dog is difficult, any one attempting it for the first time should seek instruction from a spe cialist. Between clippings, a light daily brushing is sufficient.