CHAPTER XXXV. THE BEDLINGTON TERRIER
This gamest of all the terriers has been known as a distinct and thoroughly British breed for over a century, which is, I think, a fairly ancient lineage. There are various theories as to its original parentage, but the one which holds that he was the result of a cross between the Otterhound and the Dandie Dinmont suggests itself to me as the most probable one. His characteristics strongly resemble in many points both these breeds, and there can be but little doubt of his near relationship at some time or other to the Dandie.
The earliest authentic record we have of the Bedlington was a dog named Old Flint, who belonged to Squire Trevelyan, and was whelped in 1782. The pedigree of Mr. William Clark's Scamp, a dog well known about 1792, is traced back to Old Flint, and the descendants of Scamp were traced in direct line from 1792 to 1873.
A mason named Joseph Aynsley has the credit for giving the name of “Bedlington” to this terrier in 1825. It was previously known as the Rothbury Terrier, or the Northern Counties Fox-terrier. Mr. Thomas J. Pickett, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was perhaps the earliest supporter of the breed on a large scale, and his Tynedale and Tyneside in especial have left their names in the history of the Bedlington.
The present day Bedlington, like a good many other terriers, has become taller and heavier than the old day specimens. This no doubt is due to breeding for show points. He is a lathy dog, but not shelly, inclined to be flatsided, somewhat light in bone for his size, very lively in character, and has plenty of courage. If anything, indeed, his pluck is too insistent.
The standard of points as adopted by the National Bedlington Terrier and The Yorkshire Bedlington Terrier Clubs is as follows:—
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SKULL—Narrow, but deep and rounded; high at the occiput, and covered with a nice silky tuft or topknot. MUZZLE—Long, tapering, sharp and muscular, as little stop as possible between the eyes, so as to form nearly a line from the nose-end along the joint of skull to the occiput. The lips close fitting and without flew. EYES—Should be small and well sunk in the head. The blues should have a dark eye, the blues and tans ditto, with amber shades; livers and sandies, a light brown eye. NOSE—Large, well angled; blues and blues and tans should have black noses, livers and sandies flesh-coloured. TEETH—Level or pincher-jawed. EARS—Moderately large, well formed, flat to the cheek, thinly covered and tipped with fine silky hair. They should be filbert shaped. LEGS—Of moderate length, not wide apart, straight and square set, and with good-sized feet, which are rather long. TAIL—Thick at the root, tapering to a point, slightly feathered on lower side, 9 inches to 11 inches long and scimitar shaped. NECK AND SHOULDERS—Neck long, deep at base, rising well from the shoulders, which should be flat. BODY—Long and well-proportioned, flat ribbed, and deep, not wide in chest, slightly arched back, well ribbed up, with light quarters. COAT—Hard, with close bottom, and not lying flat to sides. COLOUR—Dark blue, blue and tan, liver, liver and tan, sandy, or sandy and tan. HEIGHT—About 15 inches to 16 inches. WEIGHT—Dogs about 24 pounds; bitches about 22 pounds. GENERAL APPEARANCE—He is a light-made, lathy dog, but not shelly.
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There is a tendency nowadays towards excess of size in the Bedlington. It is inclined to be too long in the body and too leggy, which, if not checked, will spoil the type of the breed. It is, therefore, very important that size should be more studied by judges than is at present the case. The faults referred to are doubtless the result of breeding for exceptionally long heads, which seem to be the craze just now, and, of course, one cannot get extra long heads without proportionately long bodies and large size. If it were possible to do so, then the dog would become a mere caricature.
As a sporting terrier the Bedlington holds a position in the first rank. He is very fast and enduring, and exceedingly pertinacious, and is equally at home on land and in water. He will work an otter, draw a badger, or bolt a fox, and he has no superior at killing rats and all kinds of vermin. He has an exceptionally fine nose, and makes a very useful dog for rough shooting, being easily taught to retrieve. If he has any fault at all, it is that he is of too jealous a disposition, which renders it almost impossible to work him with other dogs, as he wants all the fun to himself, and if he cannot get it he will fight for it. But by himself he is perfect. As a companion he is peculiarly affectionate and faithful, and remarkably intelligent; he makes a capital house-dog, is a good guard and is very safe with children.
Bedlingtons are not dainty feeders, as most writers have asserted, nor are they tender dogs. If they are kept in good condition and get plenty of exercise they feed as well as any others, and are as hard as nails if not pampered. They are easy to breed and rear, and the bitches make excellent mothers. If trained when young they are very obedient, and their tendency to fight can in a great measure be cured when they are puppies; but, if not checked then, it cannot be done afterwards. Once they take to fighting nothing will keep them from it, and instead of being pleasurable companions they become positive nuisances. On the other hand, if properly broken they give very little trouble, and will not quarrel unless set upon.