The Bedlington Terrier Standard is a written description of our breed, approved by both the American Kennel Club, and the Bedlington Terrier Club of America. In addition to describing the overall appearance and size of the dog, we also attempt to define such things as temperament, and movement.

General Appearance

"A graceful, lithe, well-balanced dog with no sign of coarseness, weakness, or shelliness. In repose the expression is mild and gentle, not shy or nervous. Aroused, the dog is particularly alert and full of immense energy and courage. Noteworthy for endurance, Bedlingtons also gallop at great speed, as their body outline clearly shows."

Graceful is definitely a word that comes to mind when describing our lovely dogs as is "lithe"; an interesting word, roughly defined it means "limber", "flexible", or "supple".

Well-balanced refers to the fact that the animals’ body is proportionate. I love a well-balanced dog because the body parts all "fit " together to give a symmetrical appearance to the animal. For instance, an animal with perhaps too long of a neck, or too short of legs, will not look well-balanced. 

When aroused, we want our dogs alert and full of energy; we do not desire a weak, fragile animal. But conversely, when "in repose", or at rest, our dogs should have a mild, gentle look. 

Always keep in mind the history and origin of our breed. Try to imagine an animal running the moors, hunting in the woods, and fighting in the pits. A poorly proportioned, weak animal could not perform the tasks for which our Bedlingtons were bred.


"Unique lightness of movement. Springy on the slower paces, not stilted or hackneyed. Must not cross, weave, or paddle". The movement of our Bedlingtons is, in fact, very unique; some describe their movement as having the "Bedlington Bounce". Many of the old time experts in the breed relate the bouncing or mincing movement to the fact that, among other things, the rear legs are longer than the front legs. It is important to note that this light springy movement is much easier to see when the animal is moving at a slower pace. Because they have such an agile body, and can run at great speeds, "hackneyed" and "stilted" (meaning stiff) movement is undesirable. When you watch a Bedlington moving towards you, the front two legs must not cross over themselves, weave, or paddle. The same is true with the rear two legs when the animal moves away from you.


"Triangular with rounded tips. Set on low and hanging flat to the cheek in front with a slight projection at the base. Point of greatest width approximately 3 inches". When I look and compare ears on different Bedlingtons, I like to see an ear which is almost set on to the neck, and hangs flat against the face. In order to hang properly, the ear must not be too thick, or too thin. The ear should have a nice filbert shape. Many people are curious about the origin of the ear tassel. Most likely it was built into the groom of the animal to protect the ear tips during fighting and hunting.


"Almond shaped, small, bright, and well sunk with no tendency to tear or water. Set is oblique, and fairly high on the head. Blues have dark eyes; blues and tans, less dark with amber lights; sandies, sandies and tans, light hazel; livers, livers and tans, slightly darker. Eye rims are black in the blues and blue and tans, and brown in all other solid and bi-colors". I love the true almond shaped eye. I have found that some dogs have very dark colored eye rims, and this does give the impression that the eye is rounder and larger than in actuality. The experienced judge and breeder will know the difference between an eye which is too large, and an eye which is surrounded by a black to pewter colored rim.


"Large, strong, and white. Level or scissors bite. Lower canines clasp the outer surface of the upper gum just in front of the upper canines. Upper premolars and molars lie outside those of the lower jaw." Because of breed was designed to hunt with their mouth, it is critical that the animal be able to use their teeth efficiently. Without a scissors or level bite, the Bedlington would be incapable of properly clasping their prey. Always remember the purpose for which our beloved breed was bred. I also think it is important for the animal to have proper occlusion from the canine teeth back also. What this means is that the upper and lower premolars and molars intermesh, allowing for the dog to be able to chew its food properly and efficiently. I always check mouths for missing teeth also.


"A very distinctive mixture of hard and soft hair standing well out from the skin. Crisp to the touch but not wiry, having a tendency to curl, especially on the head and face. When in show trim, must not exceed one inch on body; hair on legs is slightly longer." If I could say anything about proper Bedlington coat, it would be that once you have felt it you will understand the description in the standard perfectly. The coat will be crisp to the touch; some will liken the feel to that of "lint", and in fact, some describe the coat texture as "linty". The soft, thick cottony coat is improper because it would not serve the dog well outdoors. When wet, a Bedlington with a proper coat can shake, and the hair will stand away from the body in tight curls. The coat that stands away from the body would keep the animal warmer on those cold days of hunting on the moors. When we show our Bedlingtons we blow dry the curl out of the coat so that the hair can be scissored uniformly. Otherwise, the coat does tend to curl quite a bit, especially when wet, and especially around the head of the dog.


"Muscular and markedly flexible. Chest deep. Flat ribbed and deep through the brisket, which reaches to the elbows. Back has a good natural arch over the loin creating a definite tuck-up of the underline. Body slightly greater in length than height. Well-muscled quarters are also fine and graceful." I love the description of the body of the Bedlington Terrier; a very flexible dog with the musculature necessary to cover ground efficiently and speedily. We need a deep chest and brisket to allow the rib cage to fully expand. This way the dog can fully oxygenate its lungs, which will increase stamina and endurance. If I say it once I will say it a thousand times, these dogs were bred to move, to run with the speed of the wind, and chase down their quarry over

the open moors of the English countryside. They need a flexible framework and deep chest to allow full lung capacity. We need the flat ribs, or "slab sides" to create an aerodynamic animal. When you think of animals built for speed, they have aerodynamic body types. The natural arch over the loin is referred to as the "roach", and should not be exaggerated in any way.

We have several tremendous Bedlington Terriers competing in agility right now. Those flexible, muscular bodies have really taken to this exciting competitive sport.

Neck and Shoulders

"Long, tapering neck with no throatiness, deep at the base and rising well up from the shoulders which are flat and sloping with no excessive musculature. the head is carried high." An animal with a long, tapering neck with no exaggerated throatiness is going to be more capable of sticking its head into a hole in the ground to hunt. The correct shape and placement of the shoulder will allow for proper head carriage, front movement, and an overall aerodynamic frame.


"To be proportionate to height within the range of 17 to 23 pounds". In order for an animal to present a balanced picture, that animal should carry the appropriate weight for their body type and size. The well balanced animal looks "just right"; not under weight or over weight. An experienced eye and hand can usually identify an animal carrying a proper weight for their size and body type.


"The preferred Bedlington Terrier dog measures 16 1/2 inches at the withers, the bitch 15 1/2 inches. Under 16 inches or over 17 1/2 inches for dogs, and under 15 inches or over 16 1/2 inches for bitches, are serious faults. Only where comparative superiority of a specimen outside these ranges clearly justifies it, should greater latitude be taken".

At this point in time our breed seems to be struggling with the issue of height; our dogs of late have become quite tall. I do think that other breeds are dealing with the same issue, and that increased height may also be influenced by such factors as premium food, vitamins, and expert veterinary care. Take the human race as an example. Consider the height of a man in the 1800's as opposed to the height of the average man today. I do think it is very important to maintain the correct height of our breed, in order to maintain the correct form and function of the animal. Each and every judge needs to have a very correct, very accurate mental picture of a correctly sized Bedlington Terrier for comparative analysis in the show ring. I love to see judges reward correctly sized animals.


"Blue, sandy, liver, blue and tan, sandy and tan, liver and tan. In bi-colors the tan markings are found on the legs, chest, under the tail, inside the hindquarters and over each eye. The topknots of all adults should be lighter than the body color. Patches of darker hair from an injury are not objectionable, as these are only temporary. Darker body pigmentation of all colors is to be encouraged."

Currently here in the United States we seem to be struggling with coat color, specifically a lack of coat pigmentation. It should be noted that our standard does not contain any reference to the word "white"; I feel our Bedlington Terriers should be encouraged and rewarded for carrying correct coat and skin pigmentation.

Bedlingtons are one of a handful of purebred dog breeds who are one color at birth, and a completely different color when they reach adulthood. Most blue Bedlington Terriers are born jet black, sometimes with scattered white markings; the liver variety is born dark brown, sometimes with scattered white markings, and the blue and tan variety is born black with tan markings.

I personally feel that several different factors, some environmental, affect coat color. To begin with, one is age of the dog. Most dogs progress through the black and brown coats of newborns to the gray, blue, and caramel coats of adulthood. At some point along the way they do go through a period of clearing color from their coats, and do appear "white " at this point. Usually this happens at approximately one year of age. This is not incorrect for the juvenile dog, but very improper for their adulthood. Remember, too, that dogs mature at different rates; some may mature earlier than others, and carry color earlier in their lifetimes. Coat color, especially in the females, can be affected by hormonal changes. Typically females darken considerably as their seasons approach. I find that coat color varies with the amount of pigmentation in the skin. A dog carrying intense, dark skin pigmentation oftentimes appears to have a darker coat color due to the dark pigmentation underneath "showing through" so to speak. Coat color can also be affected by climate--I sometimes find dogs darken their coat pigmentation in the colder months of the year. Remember also that a correctly colored dog should carry darker coat pigmentation on the body, and lighter colored coat on the legs and top knot.






















"Singin' the Blues"