Showsight Presents The Bedlington Terrier

BEDLINGTON TERRIERS: BRED FOR THEIR GAMING PROWESS by JOANN BURTNESS, PAT MILLS, DR. DENNIS CORASH & RICHARD REYNOLDS

Bedlington is thought to have one of the longest continuous pedigrees of any breed recognized by the American Ken- nel Club. In 1825, a man named Joseph Ainsley (Aynsley) mated two of his ter- riers and he called the result, Bedling- ton Terriers. This was the beginning of the name, Bedlington. He is believed to have lived in or near the town of Bedlington (UK) and named the breed after the English Village. The town of Bedlington lies about 18 miles from Northumberland. One of these pups was named Piper (or Young Piper) and is said to have started hunting badger at only eight-months-old. He had a long and notable career; he lived up to his intended purpose and was admired by the neighbors and townspeople. BEDLINGTON TERRIERS, THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL BARN HUNTERS? In 1872, Mr. Holland writes in the first edition of Dogs, “I have heard the Makepeace’s, especially Old Nicholas, were celebrated rat-catchers. (who lived near Howick and made their liv- ing going from gentlemen’s’ house to another to kill vermin. They always had first-rate terriers, most of the small wiry sort, who were splendid ratters)”. In old England, Bedlington Terriers were employed to clear the mines of rats. Today’s terrier enthusiasts, take to the streets of urban New York City to thin out rat infested populations. The modern-day Bedlington Terrier is still

SHORT HISTORY The roots of the Bedlington Terrier can be traced to the latter part of the 18th century, to a collection of terriers that existed near Rothbury Forest in the county of Northumberland in northern England known as the Rothbury Ter- rier. This particular strain of Terrier was highly esteemed by the local com- munity for their excellent qualities, especially for their gameness. In rural England, a good hunting dog could pro- vide food for the family, rid the fields of vermin that competed for the crops that the people depended on and pro- vide animal skins for shelter and cloth- ing. At that time, and long before, were some very staunch and sporting terriers in the district. Procuring the best and gamest of them, the local people pro- duced the gaming dogs relied on for their effort and cooperation to provide game for food. This meant survival for their proud owners. The outcome of these matings in this area is thought to have produced the Dandie Dinmont as well as the Bedlington Terrier. The early histories of these breeds are close- ly intertwined with many of the same dogs and people. During this period in history, dogs were bred to perpetuate their hunting qualities: strength, courage, endurance, nose, even barking—to identify their

location underground. To get badger, fox or other vermin, the dogs would often work as teams, some would go to ground (terra—terrier.) These dogs would need to be able to chase the prey into the tunnels and holes. To hunt above ground (pursue and catch rabbits, etc.) the dog must not be too short on leg. His principal vocation (though sometimes considered poach- ing) would require a dog small in stat- ure with a powerful, punishing jaw, strong neck and good strong teeth. The Bedlington Terrier became well- known in this location for being a “gen- eralist”—able to go to ground and also adept at overcoming prey in the open field or working in teams to chase and deliver the sought-after vermin. These dogs, which were working in and around Rothbury became recognized and highly prized for their prowess in the field. At this time, it is believed their appearance to be rather rough and not always uniform or alike in physical char- acteristics, however, what they were prized for was their ability to work in the field and underground. The first Bedlington Terrier can be traced back through pedigrees to Old Flynt. Old Flynt was born in 1782 (1792 by some accounts) and belonged to Mr. Trevelyan, the squire of Netherwit- ton, a village south of Rothbury. The

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2018 • 295

Powered by