Bedlington Terriers, Groomed for a Job

It’s time for a fun dog picture and a teachable moment. With a head like a lamb, a tail like a rat’s, paws like a jack rabbit and a gentle arch over its loin, one might ask why a Bedlington Terrier is groomed as it is.

Bedlingtons were bred to rid aggressive vermin like badgers, weasels, polecats, rats and martens. The “fall” on the dog’s head served to protect the dogs’ eyes and ears from the sharp teeth of its prey. It’s believed that the ear tassels acted as decoys since to grab one was to get a mouthful of fuzz.

This next part is conjecture on our part and we welcome the expert wisdom of Bedlington owners: Gamesmen who wanted to improve upon their dogs’ gameness and function bred their dogs with the most desirable attributes of the dogs they admired. As it happened, those dogs had long muscular jaws on narrow pointed heads with flat cheeks, ears that hung close to their head, and flat, deep ribs. The Otterhound, Poodle, and Bull Terrier are mentioned as possibly contributing to the development of the Bedlington. Crosses with the Whippet produced the Bedlington’s lovely curved lines. Early groomers may have kept the dog’s coat “in line” with the dog’s silhouette, and over time, the grooming style was embellished and stylized. 

Image: Hieronymus Bosch the Bedlington Terrier Painting by Andy Shaw is available here.

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