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Bedlington Terrier: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on April 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bedligton Terrier dog outdoor looking at the camera

Bedlington Terrier: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

“The head of a lamb and the heart of a lion” is the motto for the Bedlington Terrier. With a cocktail of genetics and the essence of an allergy-friendly sheep, it’s hard to believe the Bedlington Terrier is a dog. But sure enough, this breed is loyal and fierce with the most exquisite appearance, and they make great family pets.

Breed Overview


15 to 16 inches


17 to 24 pounds


11 to 16 years


Blue, liver, and/or tan

Suitable for:

Active families or singles looking for an allergy-friendly breed


Gentle, alert, merry

Bedlington Terriers have thick, sheep-like coats and small, dark eyes. They have long, hare-like feet and their hindlegs stretch longer than the front. Their most distinctive feature is their beautifully arched loin.

Also called the Rothbury’s Terrier, the Bedlington Terrier developed this unique appearance from the dozens of dog breed genetics found in their ancestry. A few include the Dandie Dinmont, Kerry Blue, Whippet, Bull Terrier, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

The combination of all of these breeds makes the Bedlington Terrier an exceptional athlete, work dog, cuddly house companion, and conversation starter.

Bedlington Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

Bedlington Terrier Breed Puppies

Bedlington Terrier puppies are just like any puppy when they’re born—inquisitive, needy, and adorable. Interestingly, Bedlington puppies are born with very dark, fluffy fur and grow into the spongy sheep-like fur as they age.

If you think a Bedlington Terrier is the perfect addition to your home, you’ll need to go through a breeder. You won’t have much luck finding this breed in a shelter. The best way to find a top-notch breeder is through the Bedlington Terrier Club of America1.

Gray two month old Bedlington Terrier puppy dog lying on a table surrounded by Christmas decorations
Image Credit: Kuznetsov Alexey, Shutterstock

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Bedlington Terrier Breed Origin & History

Bedlington Terriers go back to a time when kings ruled countries amidst bloody battles, everything was made of iron and stone, and castles were scattered everywhere.

In 1825, the first official Bedlington Terrier was born in Bedlington, Northumberland, England to mason Joseph Ainsley. The breed had already existed for at least 2 decades but was referred to as “Rothbury’s Terrier” since Lord Rothbury of Rothbury, Northumberland, England had taken a liking to the breed.

But the name Bedlington Terrier stuck, and soon, the breed gained popularity as an excellent coal mine ratter, pit fighter, and hunter.

British elites eventually took notice of the breed and kept them as companions and fashion decor. In 1870, the first dog show exhibited a Bedlington Terrier and England formed the England’s National Bedlington Terrier Club in 1877. It only took the AKC another 9 years to officially recognize the breed.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terriers are mild and gentle creatures, but when forced to defend themselves and loved ones, they will fight until the very end—one of the reasons why they were so popular in pit fighting. Dog fighting has long been a thing of the past for the Bedlington, but they retained their defense and hunting skills and put them to good use for their families.

At home, Bedlingtons are gentle and graceful; that is, until it’s time to play. They love to act clownish, run around the house, and even meet new people. Still, they retain a slight hesitation until they get to know you. Putting their loved ones in danger is not an option, and they take their judge of character seriously.
Bedlington Terriers also make great hunters from their years of catching vermin. They’re patient, alert, determined, and can work independently of their owners. They’re full of energy when in the moment but understand when it’s time to settle down.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Bedlington Terriers make excellent family pets for owners who are active. They do best in homes without other dogs but will do fine with children who handle them well. Bedlington Terriers can also do just fine in single households, as they’re very good at entertaining themselves.

Two White Bedlington terrier kissing
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Bedlington Terriers don’t care for other dogs and often fight with dogs of their kind. They do best in households where they’re the only dog. If they must live with another dog, it’s best if the other dog is of the opposite sex.

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Things to Know When Owning a Bedlington Terrier:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A Bedlington Terrier will do well on a high-quality dog food or well-balanced homemade diet. If you choose the homemade route, be sure to speak with your veterinarian to ensure each meal contains all the necessary nutritional elements. Whatever diet you choose, it must match your Bedlington’s needs for their age and activity level.

Too many treats and too little exercise is a recipe for a chunky Bedlington. To avoid weight gain, watch calorie consumption and exercise your Bedlington regularly. Follow the 10% rule for offering treats, and always offer fresh water so your pup stays hydrated.

Exercise 🐕

Bedlington Terriers require a fair amount of exercise to stay fit and happy, but they’re not as high maintenance as other breeds. A daily walk or fetch session lasting 30 minutes, supplemented with a couple of runs or hikes a week, is more than enough.

Training 🎾

Bedlington Terriers are natural hunters and will chase small animals when given the chance. Obedience training is an absolute must and a great way to keep your pup occupied. Bedlingtons also enjoy agility, tracking, earthdog, and conformity competitions.

Bedlington Terrier dog running on grass
Image Credit: Sue Thatcher, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

If you plan to enter your Bedlington into a conformity dog show, you’ll need to have your dog professionally groomed to meet the dog show standards. If not, two good brushings per week will do the trick.

Bedlingtons have fur similar to a Poodle. Owners searching for an allergy-friendly dog will be very pleased with this breed as they hardly ever shed or drool, although that doesn’t mean that your allergies won’t flare up from time to time, as no pet is truly hypoallergenic.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Bedlington Terriers have few health conditions that would cause concern for proactive dog owners, especially a dog adopted from a good breeder. In general, terriers have sensitivities to environmental allergies and eye issues that should be addressed immediately if noticed. Veterinarians and breeders recommend a thorough examination of the patellas, eyes, heart, and liver regularly to ensure your pup stays healthy.

Like any dog, Bedlington Terriers can succumb to dental disease, obesity, and flea and tick-borne illnesses. Regular tooth brushing, veterinary exams, and a balanced diet will help you stay on top of things.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Thrombopathia
  • Certain eye issues

Serious Conditions
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Liver disease

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Male vs. Female

Besides males being slightly larger than females, there are no major differences between male and female Bedlington Terriers.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Bedlington Terrier

1. The Bedlington Northern League Soccer Team Is Called The Terriers

Bedlington, Northumberland has embraced their history with the breed and named their soccer team The Terriers.

2. The First Official Bedlington Terrier Was Named Piper

When mason Joseph Ainsley adopted the first official Bedlington Terrier, he named his dog Piper. Piper lived up to every expectation of a Bedlington. He hunted at 8 months old and lived until he was 14.

3. The Bedlington Terrier Isn’t as Popular in Dog Shows as Other Breeds

Despite its adorable lamb-like features, the Bedlington Terrier rests at 152 out of 201 for registered dogs in the AKC. This doesn’t mean they’re unpopular in the US, but you won’t see as many in conformity dog shows as other breeds.

Bedlington Terrier dog on a summer day outdoors
Image Credit: Glikiri Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Bedlington Terriers are true family dogs that offer years of love, play, and protection. This breed truly has the best of both worlds with being gentle like a lamp and fierce like a lion. Bedlintons make excellent family pets for active homes and will never let their judge of character misguide them. If you’re looking for an allergy-friendly dog but don’t want a Poodle hybrid, this could be the dog for you.

Featured Image Credit: Piotr Zajda, Shutterstock

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