Bedlington Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Bedlington Terrier was originally named the Rothbury Terrier after the district of Rothbury on the English Border. Gypsy nailmakers in Rothbury prized the breed as a hunter of various game, including badger. In about 1825, a Rothbury dog was mated to a Bedlington bitch. Joseph Ainsley produced the first dogs known as Bedlington Terriers. Whippet was probably introduced along the way to make the breed faster and more sporting. Other sources mention the Dandie Dinmont Terrier as a possible contributor to the breed. The resulting agile terrier was used to hunt badger, rats, otter, fox, and rabbits. The Bedlington was first exhibited as a separate breed in 1877.


With his pear-shaped head, arched back, and curly coat, the Bedlington Terrier looks like a little lamb. The head has no stop, descending in an unbroken line from crown to nose. The thick double coat is a mixture of soft and harsher hairs, and comes in blue, sandy, or liver. The dog might have tan markings over the eyes and on the legs, chest, and rear. The back is arched over the loin, and the tail is fairly long and tapering. The Bedlington has a unique springy gait, particularly when moving slowly.

Key Facts

  • Height: Averages 16-1/2 in. (male); Averages 15-1/2 in. (female)
  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 17 to 23 lbs.
  • Availability: Very difficult to find
  • Talents: Hunting, watchdog, earthdog


Buy only from stock that has been DNA tested or (better) liver-biopsied for copper toxicosis, an inherited liver disease common in the breed. Some bloodlines are prone to cataracts, detached retina, and PRA. Also might be prone to kidney and thyroid problems. Can be difficult to housebreak. Trainable with patience. Barks a lot. Can be willful and high-strung. The coat requires regular clipping. Between professional groomings, the coat needs daily brushing. Only let this dog off lead in an enclosed area. Like a Whippet, he is fast and loves to chase! Needs supervision with other pets. Can be snappish if provoked. Likes to dig.


Headstrong, lively, and aggressive, particularly with other dogs. A little powerhouse. Courageous and energetic, with the ability to run very fast. A good fighter despite his gentle appearance. Careful breeding has resulted in a more companionable and affectionate personality in today’s Bedlingtons.


  • Children: Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness: Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence: Needs people a lot
  • Dominance: Low
  • Other Pets: Not generally trustworthy with other pets
  • Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Likes to bark
  • Indoors: Fairly active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: Professional trimming and shaping are needed.
  • Coat: Curly coat
  • Shedding: Very light
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: Small, but a pretty good jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Bedlington Terrier Breed Standard

Bedlington Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier Gifts