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 © 2000-2018
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 includes lots of praise.
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.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Bedlingtons have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Bedlington Terrier to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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. But some terrier breeds are more so than others. Overall, as a breed, Bedlington Terriers tend to be in the lower-to-middle section of the terrier spectrum. But of course there are some individual Bedlingtons who will be in the higher end!
- Providing enough exercise. Bedlingtons don't need miles of running but they are lithe little athletes who love to run at full speed. They need a large enough fenced yard to break into a gallop. Frequent trips to the dog park are recommended.
- Running away from you. Like all dogs, Bedlington Terriers must be taught to come when called. But I would only count on this breed obeying his training in an enclosed area. Bedlingtons should not be trusted off-leash. These dogs are runners, they are blazing fast, and the risk is too great that they will take off at full speed after anything that runs.
- Potential animal aggression. Bedlington Terriers are much less scrappy toward strange dogs than many other terrier breeds. But despite their soft lamb-ish look, they can be a determined force to reckon with if they decide to initiate or accept a challenge to fight. Because of their hunting heritage, some Bedlingtons have instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. The family cat is usually fine, but not pet rodents.
- Potential 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.
- 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.
To teach your terrier to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Bedlington Terrier Training page discusses the program you need.
- Potential 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. As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on a terrier for a correction.
I do not recommend terriers around 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. Bedlington Terriers require a lot of coat care. Regular brushing, and also clipping and trimming every few months. Note that this breed is low-dander and light-shedding, but not NON-shedding. If you're allergic to dog dander or hair, you might be okay with a Bedlington. Or not. (A Poodle is the safest breed for allergic people.)
- Finding one. Very few Bedlington Terrier puppies are born each year, and very few adult Bedlingtons are available from rescue groups. You will need to get on a waiting list for either a puppy or an adult.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.