Both the Dandie Dinmont and the Bedlington Terrier
are thought to share the same ancestry, and both are equally obscure.
Although today their appearance is quite different, early specimens
of both breeds bore a close resemblance to each other. Both were
valued as vermin killers and both originated in the north of England.
It is thought that the Bedlington was first known in Cumberland
County towards the end of the 18th century, and that some specimens
found their way into the adjoining county of Northumberland, where
they were bred with local terriers. The resultant cross became known
by the regional name of Rothbury Terrier.
The breed became popular with coal miners who
cross bred the Rothbury to create a terrier-of-all-work, that is,
a dog that could work equally well on land and in water, and fleet
enough to catch a rabbit. Thus the Rothbury was crossed with
the Whippet, and it was at this point that the present-day conformation
of the Bedlington was set. While there seems to be some difference
of opinion among dog historians as to when the present name, Bedlington,
was adopted, all agree on the Rothbury/ Whippet cross. Whether the
breed had been renamed before or after the cross, which is said
to have occurred in the 1870s, is not significant; what does matter
is that the miners had created one of the gamest of terriers, able
to swim down an otter, course a rabbit and give a good account of
himself in the fighting pit. The Bedlington is said to have become
the poacher's greatest ally and in some parts of England is still
known as the "Gypsy Dog."
It is known too that in the 1870s the Bedlington
made its debut in the show ring and soon attracted public attention.
In 1875 the National Bedlington Terrier Club was formed, and in
1895 the first breed standard was draughted. Slowly but surely ever
since, the breed has been transformed from a rough-looking creature
valued more for his working ability than his appearance to a gentle-mannered,
elegant show dog and companion.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Bedlington
was introduced to this continent where it was boosted to immediate
acclaim when a member of the breed was awarded Best in Show at the
prestigious Morris and Essex Kennel Club event in 1947 followed
by a similar win at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York
The Bedlington Terrier was the first registered
in Canada in the years 1888-1889.