Bedlington Terrier

About the Breed

The Bedlington Terrier is like no other dog breed and is known for his distinctive wooly coat, tassled dropped ears, and arched back.  He is often referred to as a little lamb or sheep, but he is far from meek as a lamb.

Like many terriers, the breed originated in Northern England as a capable and agile hunting dog.  He was fast and spry enough to catch small prey animals, and he found a purpose as a ratter.  In fact, he was so good at the task that coal miners used the breed to go into mines to rid them of the rats that were inside.

While no one is entirely sure of the breeds that went into his development, it is likely several different terrier breeds like the Dandie Dinmont and Soft Coated Wheaten played a role.  His arched back and high degree of speed and agility may be attributed to Whippets in the mix as well.

Today he is largely viewed as a happy companion breed.

Physical Characteristics

The Bedlington Terrier is a lightweight, medium sized terrier that stands about 15-17 inches tall at the shoulder with males being slightly taller than females.  He has an unusual arch shape to the back.

His body shape gives endurance to the breed that can gallop at full speed yet appear bouncy or springy at more of a gaiting speed.

The preferred grooming style of the Bedlington Terrier provides tassles on their naturally dropped ears, a slight topknot of hair atop the head, and a lamb-like quality to the body coat.

His coat is a mixture of hard and soft hairs that easily curl.  It stands away from his body but is springy to the touch.  The coat comes in a variety of colors including liver, sandy, blue and tan, blue, sandy and tan, and tan.  The Bedlington Terrier’s coat color generally lightens as he ages.


The Bedlington Terrier is one of the more amiable and reliable terriers who is joyful to be around.  He is energetic and enjoys a variety of activities with his family.  He is smart and attentive and can be trained for a variety of sports like agility, which makes use of his speed and ability to make quick turns.

He does well with all ages of people including children and is very outgoing in spirit and even clownish at times.  His personality endears him to many.  He can also do well with other dogs or other animals is socialized or raised with them.

He is adaptable to a wide variety of living situations from apartment to home so long as he is provided with daily exercise in the form of walks or playtime.  The breed is often quieter than some of the other terrier breeds and can be calmer as well which makes him okay for smaller spaces or close living.

He is sometimes listed as a potential hypoallergenic dog, but those with allergies should spend time around the breed because those that are particularly sensitive may still be bothered.


The Bedlington Terrier is a smart breed of dog that likes learning new tasks.  He can be more trustworthy than other terrier breeds.  He is curious by nature and generally eager to please.  This makes him easier to train than some other terrier breeds, and he is usually easy to housetrain as well.

The breed does best when training is fun and positive, and then he is eager to play along.  He excels in a variety of performance sports including obedience, agility, and earth dog.

Shedding & Grooming

The Bedlington Terrier does require a good deal of routine maintenance for his coat.  It continually grows and will require regular maintenance care in the way of brushing and trimming.  Without regular brushing, the wooly hairs can easily tangle.

The easiest way to maintain coat shape is to have your dog groomed by a professional every 4-6 weeks, but you can learn how to maintain it yourself too.

His soft coat is generally very clean, but an occasional bath is required.  His coat may be blown dry by a hair dryer.

In addition to coat maintenance, routine nail trims, ear cleaning, and toothbrushing round out the routine.

Health & Life Expectancy

The Bedlington Terrier is an overall healthy breed of dog with an average life span of 11-16 years of age.  There are only a few health issues that may occur:

  • Copper toxicosis
  • Eye issues like retinal dysplasia and cataracts
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Hyperkeratosis (corny feet syndrome)

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