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Bedlington terrier standing outside in grass

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 15-17 inches
  • Weight — 17-23 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Curly, soft, lamb-like double coat
  • Coat color — Colors include blue, blue and tan, sandy and tan, liver, or sandy. Puppies are born darker in color and lighten as they age. The topknot of all adult Bedlington terriers should be lighter than the rest of the coat.
  • Exercise needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 11-14 years
  • Temperament — Energetic, affectionate, playful, and loyal
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — England

Bedlington terrier fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Bedlington Terriers Luke or Charlie. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Bedlington Terriers love Sandy, then Sasha.

  • The Bedlington terrier is a football team mascot in its origin city. The Bedlington Terriers Football Club adopted the breed as a mascot in 1980. Even today, you’ll hear the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” after a home goal.
  • The Bedlington terrier has a unique domed skull. This shape is accentuated by the traditional patch of fur on top of the head, known as a topknot.
  • Bedlingtons originated in a small village in Northumberland in the UK. They were first developed in the small mining town of Bedlington. According to folklore, they were used by the Romani people of the Rothbury forest to hunt silently for game.
Four Bedlington terriers

Bedlington terrier temperament and characteristics 

Bedlington terriers are charming, affectionate, and incredibly loyal to their owners. They have a unique lamb-like appearance with curly soft hair and a narrow, fleecy pear-shaped head. These dogs love going for long walks and are more than happy to curl up with you on the couch afterward. They are generally friendly towards strangers and loving towards children of all ages. However, they can bark excessively when strangers walk past your house. Early socialization and training can help curb this behavior.

Bedlingtons were bred to hunt and chase small game and eradicate vermin, so they naturally have lots of energy. However, because of their easy-going natures, they can adapt to a range of living conditions, as long as they get all the exercise and mental stimulation they need. These dogs are not suitable for homes with smaller pets, like cats, rabbits, and others, because they have a high predatory drive. They can also be territorial with other dogs, so always introduce new pets with care.

Bedlington terriers can be left alone for a few hours, but they might become destructive and suffer from separation anxiety if left for too long. Crate training is a good idea for this breed. Just make sure the crate is a safe, happy place for your dog. Never use a crate as punishment.

Common Bedlington terrier health problems 

Bedlington terriers are generally healthy. However, they are known to suffer from some health issues. These can include:

  • Copper storage disease.  A form of liver disease that prevents copper from being excreted from the liver. As a result, toxic copper levels build up in this organ, leading to liver failure. Breeders can check for this fatal disease through DNA testing.
  • Luxating patella.  This condition is characterized by the kneecap (patella) slipping out of its normal position. You may notice your dog suddenly performing a skip or a hop on three legs before returning to normal. Mild cases may not cause any short-term issues. However, more severe cases might need surgery to realign the kneecap.
  • Retinal dysplasia.  An inherited eye disease in dogs that’s caused by the abnormal development of the retina in the eye. This leads to progressive blindness.
  • Obesity. This can be a significant problem in Bedlington terriers. Obesity can worsen joint, digestive, and metabolic problems, as well as increase your dog’s risk of developing certain canine cancers.
  • Renal dysplasia.  A physical abnormality of the kidneys that’s present from birth. Affected puppies will show symptoms such as increased thirst, increased urination, and stunted growth.
  • Skin allergy atopy. Bedlington terriers are prone to developing allergies which can cause itchy skin. Common allergies found in dogs include pollen, mold, dust, and certain foods. There’s no cure for allergies but at-home remedies can soothe the symptoms. Alternatively, your vet can prescribe short-term medications such as Apoquel or prednisone.

Cost of caring for a Bedlington terrier

Purebred Bedlington terriers can be fairly expensive to purchase, costing around $1,500 on average. This excludes additional costs like toys, grooming tools, and food. You may also need to take into account the cost of identifying and treating any potential health problems. This will vary widely depending on the cause.

Health insurance is a great way to reduce unexpected out-of-pocket expenses and provides the greatest benefits to owners who sign their pets up early. If you’re worried about the ongoing costs of health insurance, you can set up your own pet savings account.

Bedlington terrier lying down

History of the Bedlington terrier

The Bedlington terrier first originated in a small village near Rothbury, Bedlington, England in the late 1700s. They were used by travelers and poachers to hunt down game because of their impressive speed and endurance. They were also skilled at tackling larger vermin such as badgers and otters. In fact “the head of a lamb and the heart of a lion” is the motto of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America.

There are believed to be a range of breeds in the ancestry of the Bedlington terrier, including the whippet, otterhound, and bull terrier. Today, Bedlingtons share many similarities with other breeds like the Dandie Dinmont terrier and the soft-coated wheaten terrier.

Bedlington terriers first appeared in the show ring in 1870. They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886 and the United Kennel Club in 1948.

Caring for your Bedlington terrier

Adding a new puppy to your family can be both exciting and overwhelming because there’s so much to think about. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet, schedule your dog’s vaccinations, and get them microchipped. You’ll also need to think about puppy-proofing your home and preparing for teething. Bedlington terriers are prone to developing dental problems which start with a build-up of plaque. So, make sure you have plenty of indestructible chew toys and you get them used to teeth brushing from a young age.

It’s not nice to think about losing your new dog. However, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.


Like most terrier breeds, Bedlingtons have a good amount of energy. They need at least an hour of exercise daily, preferably split into several outdoor walks and runs. They make great companions for owners who enjoy running and hiking. These dogs are hunters by nature, so allow them plenty of time to sniff their surroundings off-lead once fully trained. A large outdoor garden will also give them a place to burn off some of their excess energy. However, remember that these dogs are avid diggers!

Aside from physical exercise, Bedlington terriers need regular mental stimulation, in the form of games, training, and puzzles. These dogs are quick, agile, and eager to learn new things. So, they also tend to excel in activities like agility or earthdog.

Bedlington terriers have a dense curly coat so they are prone to overheating in hot weather. Avoid vigorous exercise in higher temperatures and follow proper summer safety tips for your dog. Bedlington terriers also love to swim which can be a great way for them to cool down. Just be aware of the dangers of dirty water for pets.

Bedlington terrier walking across grass at a dog show


Bedlington terriers don’t need their coats to be stripped like many other terriers. However, regular trimming every six to eight weeks is recommended, especially around the ears because they are prone to developing ear infections. Brush your dog’s coat thoroughly at least once a week with a pin brush and a comb to prevent mats and tangles.

Bathe your Bedlington once a month with a suitable dog shampoo. Then dry them by squeezing excess water from the coat with a towel. Avoid vigorously rubbing the coat because this can cause the fur to knot. You will also need to brush their teeth regularly and clean their ears once a week. Nail trimming can be done once a month or when needed.

👉No breed is truly hypoallergenic. Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs that are considered hypoallergenic simply shed less.

Diet and nutrition

Bedlington terriers are known for piling on the pounds. So, feed them a healthy balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables to ensure they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. Also, offer healthy snacks like vegetables that are safe for dogs. However, remember that snacks should make up less than 10% of your dog’s daily food intake. A healthy Bedlington terrier will have a clearly defined waist. You should also be able to feel (not see) your dog’s ribs by running your hand gently down their spine, and spreading your fingers down the sides.

Speak to your vet about accurate food portioning for your dog, depending on their energy level, age, weight, and health status. However, as a general guide, an adult Bedlington terrier should be fed around 1.5 cups of food split into two meals daily. Bedlington puppies will need 3-4 smaller meals a day until they reach 6 months of age. Bedlington terriers can often have sensitive stomachs. So, avoid feeding them unhealthy table food and introduce new food slowly over a few weeks to allow their stomachs to adjust.

Training your Bedlington terrier

Bedlington terriers are very intelligent. However, they do have a bit of a stubborn streak. The best way to train these dogs is with short, fun sessions using positive reinforcement methods because they can get bored easily. Bedlingtonsrespond particularly well to praise.

Start obedience and housetraining when your puppy is 4-6 weeks of age. Then, once they have mastered these skills, you can move on to more advanced agility training.

Bedlington terriers can make good companions for first-time dog owners. However, they need someone that’s willing to remain consistent with training. Bedlingtons shouldn’t be left alone for long periods because they can get bored and potentially develop destructive behaviors.

Bedlington terrier standing in a backyard with a red collar on

Breeds similar to the Bedlington terrier

Not quite sure that a Bedlington terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Whippet. A sleek, agile breed known for their sweet, affectionate natures. Just like the Bedlington, they are generally good around children. However, you need to be patient and gentle with training because whippets have very sensitive personalities.
  • Cairn terrier. Cairn terriers are smaller than Bedlingtons but they have similar lively personalities. They are highly affectionate and make great companions for more active families because they love the outdoors.
  • Lakeland terrier. Another English terrier breed with hunting roots, just like the Bedlington terrier. They are fearless, playful, and fun-loving. But, they are less suitable for first-time owners because they can be stubborn and they have a short attention span.

Frequently asked questions

Is a Bedlington terrier a good family dog?

The Bedlington terrier is generally very gentle and tolerant of children, including young children. This temperament combined with their small size and playful natures has made them popular family pets worldwide.

Do Bedlington terriers bark a lot?

Bedlingtons can be big barkers, especially when bored or excited. They will alert you if a stranger approaches your home and they also tend to bark when they meet new people and animals. However, consistent training and early socialization can help to calm this trait.

Can Bedlington terriers be left alone?

Bedlington terriers can be left alone for around four hours a day. But, they should not be left alone repeatedly because they can become bored and destructive. Some may also suffer from separation anxiety.

Are Bedlington terriers cuddly?

Bedlington terriers are generally cuddly and loving with the people they are comfortable with. However, they are a high-energy breed that also needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to truly thrive.