Today we are going to have a look at the Bedlington Terrier by the hand of Diane Pearson, kennel Ashcroft, www.ashcrofterriers.com
,from Pennsylvania, USA. She’s been 18 years with Bedlingtons, and 17 years with Borzoi before Beddies. I believe she’s learned something about dogs in the meantime.
Bedlington Terrier sketch studies for my sculptures.
The following paragraphs come out of the interview to Diane. I hope you enjoy the reading and if you find it interesting share it around!
Brief description about Bedlington Terriers
Like most terrier breeds, Bedlingtons originated in the British Isles, for the purpose of eliminating vermin. What’s vermin is subjective. Rats certainly, but to the gentry, an otter that ate their prized salmon were also vermin. The variety of terrain and prey resulted in the wide variety of terriers breeds. The Bedlington was an all-purpose terrier. A small bitch could go to ground, a larger male could run down larger prey above ground. They can work with a smaller terrier which drives underground prey to a den entrance, where the narrow headed Bedlington will reach in, pull it out and dispatch it. Current day earth dog trials, coursing ability tests, and barn hunts demonstrate that the hunting instinct is still strong in this breed. It also demonstrates why they are not a breed to walk off-leash in an unfenced area as they are likely to go off hunting without you. As a family pet, the Bedlington Terrier is a loving, devoted companion with a strong desire to spend all their time with their family members. Playful well into old age, they are a lovely mix of calm and excitable. If you come home tired, and want to relax, your Bedlington will snuggle with you. However, if you pick up a ball or toy, they’ll jump down eager to play fetch or tug o’war. Thais makes them an ideal member of a family with children, as well as a devoted pet for adults. They enjoy an active lifestyle, with breaks for snuggles and time sleeping on the bed with their owner.
Size, Weight, Height
The US standard describes weight between 17-23 pounds, Males and females differ in the height range by an inch, with females between 15-16 1/2 inches, males 16-17 1/2 inches.
Color Bedlington color is one of the fun aspects of the breed. Born dark, they lighten as they mature and should be a two-tone appearing adult. Colors are Blue, Liver, Sandy, and we recognize the marking pattern of “and tan” which means we see Blue & Tan, Liver & Tan and Sandy & Tan markings in some individuals. Blue puppies are born black, by 6 months they are steel grey, and starting to show the distinctive “lighter on the head, and usually on the legs” color variation. Sandy and liver puppies are born dark brown, are taupe at 6 months, and end as a creamy white and taupe adult. Puppies with tan points see those fade into the lighter head and legs such that as an adult, you can seldom differentiate a solid color Bedlington from one born with tan points.
Bedlingtons change color all the time – intact females get darker before their heat cycle. A dark colored dog may come back lighter after a trim, and the reverse also applies, where dark roots are exposed when an overgrown, light coat is trimmed off.
What is your ideal sized dog and why? What is your personal favorite color? The standard states the ideal for males is 16 1/2 inches, females 15 1/2 inches.
When researching the breed, I thought I preferred the blue Bedlingtons. That is more common, as it is the genetically dominant color. I have owned dogs of each color and marking pattern, and the color became immaterial as each dog’s personality was what I noticed the most. Blue Bedlingtons have a stark white head and legs contrasting with a grey body. The sandy and livers have a creamy white against their taupe/liver coats. I enjoy having one of each color, as many people don’t realize that Bedlingtons come in a variety of colors, and it’s fun sharing the differences with admirers.
Are there any major difference between AKC/KC/FCI breed standard?
The breed standard in England was changed where it describes movement. The UK description of “mincing movement” differs from the US description of “light and springy at the slower paces”.
Who is the ideal owner of this breed?
Bedlingtons are great dogs for adults who appreciate a companion that wants to be WITH them. They can be single owner dogs, couples’ dogs, family dogs. I caution families to wait until their children are old enough to respect the dog’s space, and also to allow the family to provide the time and attention a dog, especially in puppyhood, needs. For that reason, I think families with very young children may not have the time to spend on a puppy’s high needs. I’ve heard Bedlingtons referred to as “velcro dogs”. They do best when they are very involved in the family’s life and activities. They’re easily trained, usually food motivated and smart.
One Bedlington is fun, two are three times the fun and work. I don’t recommend more than two for the average family. Any breed of dog, when a number reaches three, becomes a pack that must be managed, and terriers in general can be difficult to manage. Two dogs will establish a pecking order and maintain it. Three is a “magic number” in dogs… if a dust up occurs, two dogs may decide to settle it, but a third could re-initiate the ruckus. Bedlingtons do well with other breeds. I’ve had dogs go to live with Dobermans, Old English Sheepdogs, Greyhounds… multiple terriers can be challenging, but Bedlingtons with non terrier breeds are easy. They can also get along with cats and other family pets as long as boundaries are established early, in puppyhood. Small rodents would be a challenge to any terrier, and birds may hold an unhealthy attraction, but training can overcome that leading to a companionable and respectful relationship with other pets.
What is your goal in breeding? How do you pick your puppies and how do you pick your owners? Do you let future owner choose their puppy or you prefer to match puppies with owners according to your experience?
I am always trying to improve on the dogs I am breeding. No dog is perfect, and breeders tend to nit-pick the fine points. I breed with the goal of producing a dog I want to show and incorporate into my breeding program with the elusive “perfect Bedlington” as my goal. Showing is so difficult – the trimming so precise – that a majority of my puppies are never shown, despite that their quality could easily achieve a championship title.
I get two or more inquiries per week about puppies, and we produce fewer than 200 Bedlington puppies per year in the entire USA, among all breeders registering with AKC. The demand far exceeds the supply, so I can be very picky about where my puppies go and to whom. It helps to have gotten an inquiry that introduces the prospective owner and their lifestyle, family and home with their email or call. I also appreciate owners who have had a Bedlington before, and can tell me about the breeder they got them from, even though that breeder may no longer be active in the breed. Once I know I am planning a litter, I maintain a list of prospective owners that I’ve spoken with. Some limit their chances of getting a puppy by requiring a specific sex or color. I encourage them to be open to the possibilities! The average litter is 3-5 puppies, so I stop taking “reservations” just above that. Once puppies are on the ground and doing well, I start confirming whether I have a puppy for a prospective family based on the color and sex of the puppies born.
I do early neurological stimulation exercises with puppies, but the real work begins when they’re up on their feet. I put colored rick-rack “collars” on puppies and watch them as they develop and grow. They play with an “adventure box” that provides expose to loud noises, shapes, colors and textures. They move on to a “ball pit” as part of their development. I try to expose them to many different surfaces, and they spend their time in my living room, kitchen and bedroom, learning about all the normal events that happen in the home. I learn which is the boldest, and which has to think things through. The soft, sweet puppy and the stubborn roughneck each get my attention as I start to consider which will fit best with each family. By the time they leave here, puppies will have had three haircuts and many more baths. I make sure the puppy going home has a fresh trim and bath – which may tire them out. The family may see them and think, that puppy is sleeping, I prefer the hooligan running all over the house. That’s part of the reason I select puppies for my families. My matchmaking skills have done well so far, and once that youngster goes home and settles in, the family realizes their little treasure is just as active and playful as that pup they saw who hadn’t had a bath and haircut the day they visited. AND, I have matched the small differences in personality and temperament to my families. I get inquiries from older couples who want a quiet, more gentle companion, and from families with children who want a soccer playmate, hiker and adventuresome dog. The differences in the puppies may be minor, but can impact how well each fits in with their new family.
Can you give 3 Tips for a new owner?
Sign up for puppy kindergarten AND basic obedience classes – don’t stop too soon. That basis shapes your companion for the next 10-15 years.
Join breed related email and facebook groups where you have other owners you can ask questions of and compare experiences
Become friends with your breeder – they are a resource for you for the life of your dog. I still chat with the breeder I got my first dog from in 1982… even though I no longer own her breed. She’s still a wealth of information.
Can you give 3 Tips for someone who is deciding about getting a Bedlington Terrier?
Do your research – about care, health, breed characteristics and temperament. Be honest about your home, lifestyle and expectations. Talk to several breeders. Find one you like, that has good answers to your questions, and be prepared to wait for a puppy.
Can you give 3 Tips for coat caring/general maintenance?
Bedlington Terriers are HIGH maintenance. The coat is a mix of crisp guard hairs in a softer linty base coat. It MUST be brushed and combed through at least once a week. It will matt easily after getting wet. Professional grooming is necessary every 6 weeks, and can be expensive. People ask what they look like untrimmed, and the anser is matted. Mats are not just unsightly, they are painful to the pet, pulling the hair tightly at the skin. Bedlingtons can be trimmed short on the body, leaving the breed typical topknot and tassels, allowing for more time between haircuts. Bedlingtons don’t shed, but their coat will bring grass clippings, small twigs and yard detritus into the house.
Breeds that don’t shed grow hair inside their ears, which should be plucked to avoid creating a hair plug…
Can you give 3 Tips for training (puppy/adult)?
Start young, socialize extensively.
Most bedlingtons will work for treats and are quite smart.
Be gentle, they do not respond well to harsh corrections.
Can you mention 3 Health issues which are common?
The breed had a high incidence of Copper Toxicosis (CT) until a dna marker test was developed in the mid 1990s. Since then the incidence of affected dogs has decreased significantly, but buyers should be educated about the disease (Vetgen.com) and ask questions. If the answers don’t sound right, be prepared to walk away from that breeder.
Breeders should screen parents for CT by DNA testing, have normal eye certifications and normal exams for patellar luxation. I recommend cardiac screening as well – while not a known issue in the breed, with such a small gene pool any health problem could become prevalent quickly. This is something we can screen for, so why shouldn’t we, to avoid it becoming a problem down the road.
Can you provide 3 advices you were given that you would like to pass along?
Find a good breeder!! have a lifetime relationship with them. Doesn’t necessarily mean you chat every week, but they are a resource for you for the entire life of your dog.
Invest in early training, it will benefit you for many years to come
Take your time, do the work, this dog will be a companion for many, many years.
What are the most common Breed Misconceptions?
This breed is often confused with a sheep!! Then poodles. The coats are very different, as are the differences in temperaments between a terrier breed and a sporting breed as poodles were originally water retrievers.
I’ve heard that Bedlingtons had a reputation as fighters. The breed history describes pit fights back in the 1800s. But on the whole I find them sensitive and sweet with other dogs. The adage I agree with is the one that goes, ” a Bedlington terrier won’t start a fight, but if pressed they will finish it”. They like to size up a situation, and will not be a dog that immediately gets in another dog’s face, nor do they appreciate that being done to them. Let them get to know another dog on their terms and it should have a good outcome.
I’ve heard terriers in general are stubborn and hard to train. I’d say they’re very smart, and may decide what they do and don’t want to do after thinking about it. I do see differences between the sexes, with males being sweeter, more inclined to follow their owner’s wishes, while the girls can be independent thinkers.
In the past, when CT was common, owners were told to feed a low copper diet. If your puppy’s parents and your puppy have test records demonstrating they are not affected with CT, then they don’t require any special diet, just one that is considered healthy for any dog.
Bedlingtons are the only AKC breed that naturally stands with it’s feet closer together than the width at the shoulder.
Can you share 3 photos of dogs you consider being a great examples of the breed? Can you point out why you chose them?
Bubble bedlington is a British dog showing the excellent correct color in a blue adult, as well as the breed’s playful personality, flexibility and agility
picture titled cocoa is on the cover of our illustrated std and shows the lovely reach and drive of the breed when moving faster.
singer aug 2017 stack shows the correct front, closer together at the feet than at the shoulder, and an adult blue and tan bedlington who is the #1 bedlington in sweden 2017, and a champion in multiple countries, an excellent example of the breed
Can you share any link with trustable information about the breed?
The website of the parent club should always be a starting point for breed research. The parent club is the ultimate breed guardian and should provide excellent resources for prospective owners. www.bedlingtonamerica.com
Thank you so much Diane for the love shared in your answers, I hope that future Beddie owners and those curious about them will find them as interesting as I did!
I have created Bedlington sculptures in 2016 and 2018, that’s how I meet Diane, as she owns one of them (photo below) – You can see more of my Beddie sculptures HERE