THE BEDLINGTON TERRIER’S VOCATION: THE KEY TO PRESERVING TYPE
“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.” The photo on the left shows lower canine teeth that do not clear the upper palate. The Bedlington’s work requires properly placed lower canine teeth. Quite often the incorrect placement is a result of a weak underjaw.
through that perfect groom to see how much arch is there. Too much of a good thing will have an adverse effect on endurance and spoil the efficiency of the lever action. A roached back and extreme rear angulation will hinder both drive at the trot and the ability to collect its rear at the gallop, actually slowing the dog down. The AKC and FCI standards both make reference to a “ definite tuck up of the underline.” One hopes that the tuck up is not overly pronounced, commensurate with the natural arch, and is the result of superb conditioning rather than the groomer’s artistry. FEET AND TEETH; TOOLS OF THE WORKING TERRIER Many hunting breeds require a tight, round, compact foot. That doesn’t serve the Beddy’s vocation. Instead, we have “Long hare feet with thick, well-closed-up, smooth pads.” Climb and grip rocks, dig to China, sure footing at the gallop. Those long feet are most important almost anywhere the Bedlington hunts. Many Terriers are brought up to the hole and put in to do their work. Not so of the Bedlington who must often cover ground to locate the quarry, then pursue and dispatch it. We’ve all heard that “Head of Lamb—Heart of Lion” axiom. What you haven’t heard is “The Bite of a Nile Crocodile.” While most hunting dogs find and work their quarry to be dispatched by the gun of the hunter, Beddys, sighthounds (and formerly fox- hounds) are often required to bring down their prey. This requires some pretty formidable dentition together with the habit of never (ever) loosening their grip. The key to that punishing bite is “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 low- er jaw.” Any other configuration will have serious consequences to the health of the dog. (Fun fact for conformation judges: Quickly checking placement of the lower canines assures you that there is not a weak underjaw.) This just might be the single most important attribute of the breed. Now if you’re wondering about the tassels on the ears, the exag- gerated topknot or the clean-shaven tail, I can only tell you that they’re not much use in hunting. Most Bedlingtons “in work” don’t have these attributes and don’t seem to miss them at all. Still, if you look carefully at the field-bred Bedlingtons, you can see that the conformation standard is as much in evidence in the working hunter as it is in the show champion. Since you, as a judge, have the privilege of setting your own structural priorities, it’s my hope you will consider the most important tools of the Bedlington’s job right up there at the top. Of course, it’s a dog show, but the best-groomed exhibit may not be the best equipped to do its job. Many of today’s hardest working Bedlingtons are bred from the still-preserved working/ conformation lines that made the breed a success. Thanks for help- ing us preserve the real dog!
This is Peter Saunderson. He’s the photographer of some of my illustrations, but more importantly is a living working terrierman in the fields and fells around Bedlington. Like the dog itself, he’s the real thing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Richard Reynolds, whom the BBC has dubbed “The Ratcatcher,” can usually be found in the company of dogs, whether working Terriers on rats in the alleys of Manhattan or judging conformation shows around the world. He’s been a Master of Foxhounds, professional handler, Earthdog judge (AKC and AWTA) and a
conformation judge. He breeds (and occasionally shows) the dogs he needs for his hunting team, which currently includes Dachshunds, Bedlingtons, and Jagdterriers. His articles and stories have graced the pages of books, magazines, and texts worldwide. He’s always looking for the subject of the next article, so let him know your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 193
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