T H E Vocation bedlington terrier's T H E K E Y T O P R E S E RV I N G T Y P E
BY RICHARD L. REYNOLDS
M ost current judges’ education seminars begin with the words “The [trivet hound] was originally bred for…” thus implying that the breed is no longer used for the pur- pose for which it was developed. In many instances, this is not the case at all and there are numerous breeds where dogs are hard at work today in the vocation of their ances- tors. It’s not about versatility… all dogs are wonderfully versatile. It’s about preserving true breed type through suc- cess in the work for which the breed was intended. The tru- ly passionate (and possibly deranged) conformation judge will seek out opportunities to work with, or at least observe working examples of, the breed. As good as our various performance tests are, they cannot simulate the challenges or requirements of actual work. THEN AND NOW A WORKING TERRIER In days gone by, many breed standards contained a “Scale of Points” which somewhat dictated the relative importance of various structural attributes. This has disap- peared from most breed standards, leaving the breeder or judge to set his or her own structural (and temperamental) priorities. Time spent studying a breed at real work will necessarily alter your conformation priorities. Getting some working experience, even briefly, draws your atten- tion to the qualities needed to get the job done. You’ll look at the breed differently if you truly understand what it needs in its toolbox to get the job done.
While many breeds have evolved into “show” and “working” types, the Bedlington remains fairly true to type across its various lines of work. It’s fairly easy to see good conformation in dogs that have been bred for work for generations. By the same token, dogs bred for the show ring are successful in field work around the globe. (P. Saunderson photo)
Although not defined in the standards, the typical “Vee” shaped front, narrow at the feet, enables the Bedlington to work efficiently and maintain its balance in difficult country. The FCI standard states, “Forelegs straight, wider apart at chest than at feet.” (P. Saunderson photo)
The fields and fells hunted by the Bedlington Terrier are a mixture of craggy rock-bound dens and open fields, demanding a terrier with the skills of a sighthound and the ability and determination of a hole dog. (P. Saunderson photo)
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 191
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