Bedlington Terrier Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Bedlington Terrier Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The Bedlington Terrier is milder-mannered, less rowdy, and calmer indoors than some terriers, but more athletic than you might imagine if all you're looking at is the elegant body and lamblike coat.
Agile and graceful, with a lightness of movement and a springy gait, the Bedlington Terrier needs access to a safe area where he can play and dodge and gallop at the breathtaking speeds clearly suggested by his lithe build.
Once outdoors and aroused, he changes from docile couch potato to dauntless explorer.
Bright and clownish with his own family, his reaction to strangers varies from inquisitive to reserved; he needs early socialization so that any caution does not become timidity.
Bedlington Terriers are generally peaceful with other pets, though some can be scrappy with strange dogs. With his terrier heritage, one should expect that running animals will be chased.
Bedlington Terriers can be demanding and stubborn, but do respond well to obedience training that is upbeat and persuasive, preferably with food rewards.
This sensitive breed should not be handled harshly or jerked around, nor does he meekly accept being teased.
If you want a dog who...
- Is conveniently-sized -- not too small and definitely not fragile!
- Is unusual-looking -- a distinctive "little lamb" appearance
- Is fast, agile, and graceful, with a light, springy gait
- Is not a heavy shedder
- Is less rowdy and calmer indoors than some other terriers
A Bedlington Terrier may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- The dynamic terrier temperament (see full description below)
- Providing enough exercise and activities to keep them busy
- Potential aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
- Digging holes
- Regular brushing, trimming, and clipping of the curly coat
A Bedlington Terrier may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Bedlington Terrier
If I was considering a Bedlington Terrier, I would be most concerned about...
- The dynamic terrier temperament. Most terrier breeds are remarkably similar. The same words are used over and over -- quick to bark, quick to chase, lively, bossy, feisty, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, intense.
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Bedlington Terriers are active go-getters. They MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things.
- Animal aggression. Bedlington Terriers are less scrappy toward strange dogs than many other terrier breeds, but they are still a determined force to reckon with if they decide to initiate or accept a challenge to fight. Most terriers have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster!
Terriers cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that runs.
- Fence security. Many terriers are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure. You may need higher fences than you might imagine for their small size. You may also need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks.
- Barking. Terriers are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. If you work all day and have close neighbors, terriers are not the best choice for you. For the same reason, terriers should NEVER be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. To make matters worse, some terriers have high-pitched barks that can set your teeth on edge.
- Independent temperament. Bedlington Terriers must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Many terriers are stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your terrier to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Bedlington Terrier Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Defensive reactions. If you need to physically chastise a terrier, and you go beyond what THEY believe is a fair correction, terriers (as a group) are more likely than other breeds to growl or snap. It may be because they were bred to become more fierce when their prey fought back, i.e. terriers are apt to "return pain" if they "receive pain." As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on any terrier for a correction.
I do NOT recommend terriers for small children. Many terriers will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many terriers are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many terriers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.
- Grooming. To keep their coat short and free of mats, Bedlington Terriers require regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. But don't expect your pet Bedlington Terrier to look like the Bedlington Terrier show dogs you've seen in books or on TV. That particular look takes hours of work by experienced show groomers.
- Finding one. In the United States, only about 200 new Bedlington Terrier puppies are registered each year. Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies!
- Health problems. Bedlington Terriers are prone to serious eye diseases and liver disease.
To learn more about training Bedlington Terriers to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Bedlington Terrier the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Bedlington Terrier. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Bedlington Terrier might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Bedlington Terrier home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Bedlington Terrier...
When you're acquiring a Bedlington Terrier PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Bedlington Terriers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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