Health Care 




Living with a Bedlington
Anyone who buys a Bedlington Terrier to share their lives with very quickly realises what an excellent choice they have made. This is usually an easy breed to live with because they are so even tempered, though there is always the possibility of “the exception which proves the rule”. It is important to meet the parents of a puppy and see how they behave as well as observing how the puppy behaves. A puppy which appears a little shy when you first meet it will quickly come out of its shell, but any puppy which growled or snapped I personally would leave with the breeder! 
Most Bedlingtons will enjoy a good rough and tumble with both children and adults, but children MUST be taught not to be cruel and to remember that a dog is not a toy. Bedlingtons are sensitive and intelligent and they will not easily forget any mistreatment. They live on average to about 13/15 years old, but if you are lucky it could be longer. The Bedlington Terrier is a tough little dog, does not seek out fights, but once roused would fight till totally exhausted. His indomitable courage does not allow him to ‘give in’. He is easy to rear, eats little and is not over fussy about food and is quiet and unobtrusive in the house. He is demanding of a great deal of affection, is very friendly, good with children and attaches himself to one particular place and family, or to one individual. He is playful when given the opportunity and is perhaps at his happiest galloping across the fields or park, which he does at tremendous speed. .

Buying a puppy is a life long commitment and before you get a puppy you should look into all the factors involved. Bedlingtons are not, in my experience, wanderers. They love their owners so much they tend not to disappear through garden fences and so on….but they MIGHT. A rabbit escaping through a gap in a fence for example might tempt your dog to follow, so it is important to ensure your outdoor fencing is escape proof and any access directly from the house to a road would benefit from some form of extra barrier such as a baby gate.


Before you collect your puppy it is useful to give the breeder some bedding and a couple of toys for the puppy to use so something familiar accompanies it to its new home. We provide this for puppies, they go off with some bedding and or cuddly toys and some food they are used to. 
Start as you mean to go on, Bedlingtons are very good at training their owners, so decide on the “rules” from the very start and stick to them. Sleeping arrangements need to be planned, a bed or a cage may be provided for the puppy. If you decide to use a cage make sure it becomes a NICE place to be, never, ever, use the cage as a punishment. If you feed the puppy in the cage and give its treats there it will come to look on the cage as a refuge and will go there for peace and quiet and you will not even have to close the door of the cage. 
If the new puppy cries when first left at night try to ignore it, give it a hot water bottle, a ticking clock nearby or a radio on very low. If the puppy just will not settle you may want to take it into a bedroom..mainly to get some sleep..but beware, if you take it into your bed you will probably never have a dogless bed again!!!! Better to take a deep cardboard box or the cage into the bedroom so the puppy knows you are near, then gradually each night move him further from the bedroom until his bed is where you want it to be.


Your vet should vaccinate your puppy,usually between the age of eight and twelve weeks.This entails two visits to the practice at which time your vet will perform a routine examination of the puppy. It is advisable at this time to ask for details regarding routine worming and treatment for ticks and fleas.

Remember that young puppies do not have full bladder control until they are about 6 months old so Vetbed is a useful form of bedding with newspaper beneath so that if the puppy has an “accident” the urine will go through to the newspaper. Bedlingtons are usually fairly easy to toilet train. As soon as the puppy wakes up or just after it has eaten, take it outside and as soon as it “performs” praise it lavishly. If an accident occurs indoors do not smack or shout at the puppy as this will just confuse it, if you actually SEE the puppy weeing for instance, just quietly say “no”, “lets go outside”, and take it outside, giving lots of praise and cuddles if it “performs”. If it doesn’t just go back in and behave as if nothing has happened. If you don’t see the action indoors it is too late for the puppy to understand what you are talking about, best to grin and bear it. Many breeders will provide newspapers for young puppies, and a newspaper gradually moved closer and closer to the outside door can save carpet staining.


A young puppy needs three or four meals a day. This can consist of scrambled eggs, cereals with puppy milk (not cows milk) finely cut up meat or fish and some puppy biscuit. All breeders have their own ideas on how to feed puppies so you should get a diet sheet. Many puppies are mainly fed on a GOOD QUALITY “complete” dry diet, it looks like very small brown pellets usually. Such diets have been very carefully researched and supply all a puppy needs, but it looks boring to eat meal after meal. Many of us will confess to feeding complete PLUS!!! The plus might be some eggs, meat or fish, a little left over gravy, a little cheese..any kind of sensible “leftovers”. Or we may feed half tinned food and half complete. The number of meals is gradually reduced over the next six months or so. Whatever you do, do not suddenly change the puppies diet as this will result in tummy upsets. If you change the diet do so over a few days, gradually introducing the new food and fading out the old. Never forget WATER is an important part of the diet and dogs need a supply of good clean water at all times.
Our older dogs get minced raw “dirty” tripe quite often through their complete. It smells and looks pretty disgusting but dogs usually love it!! Sometimes Bedlingtons can just not want to eat. As long as they appear perfectly well do not worry, they will eat when they are hungry, but if they do turn their noses up at their food, take it away, pop it in the fridge if it is not just dry complete, and offer it again several hours later. I have known Bedlingtons put themselves on a one or two day fast, then the next day they eat hungrily. If not eating is accompanied by digestive problems, lethargy or similar that is a different matter, you need to find out what is wrong. 
Adult dogs often need only one meal per day. 
Feed your puppy away from your own meal times or just after the family have eaten. To a dog he-who-eats-first is BOSS, so a puppy could get the idea he is boss if you feed him just before you eat which might occasionally lead to behaviour problems.

Bedlingtons will walk as far as you want them too, but will also, on nasty wet days, accept a play session to use up energy and a short walk. They love to gallop around you in a huge circle going flat out, so if there is a safe field, moor or beach near you then you will be able to share in their delight. Young puppies can be carried round markets, along roads and so on to get them used to traffic and noise, but until they are fully vaccinated they should never be put down on strange ground.


A good brush with a “slicker brush” and a thorough comb twice a week should keep the coat tangle free. 
There is a separate page on this site about grooming, nail and teeth care and so on.


Bedlingtons are a pretty healthy breed on the whole. There are, however, a few general health/care problems as well as those firmly believed to be inherited: – Copper Toxicosis, Juvenile Retinal Dysplasia (very occasionally a blind puppy crops up) and from time to time dogs with problem feet (Corny feet). 
There are many disease/conditions found in dogs which very, very occasionally, may crop up in any breed, including ours, but I have only included those which occur, usually infrequently in this breed, but often enough to be worth a mention.


One of the many benefits of living with a Bedlington is that they do not shed hair so the majority of people with allergies can own a Bedlington.
The coat of a dog can give an indication that the dog is unwell. Worms, fleas, flea allergy skin problems and so on are readily seen and not usually serious. A thinning coat can, however, be an indication of Cushing’s syndrome or a problem with the thyroid gland for instance. Any really thin patches, especially near the hip/bottom area, should be shown to your Vet.
The health of a dogs coat depends very much on what goes into the dog as food. A good balanced diet, good genes and good grooming should produce a dog which is bright eyed and carries a good healthy coat. The Bedlington coat should be thick and linty, have a distinct tendency to twist and a healthy sheen. If it does not you may have a health problem.
It is important to ensure that enough fat is present in the diet for a good coat to be produced. If the coat is just out of condition it may need ‘rumped right back’ this is done in a variety of ways, the novice being well advised to seek help. Some people clipper the coat extremely short, while others would claim this achieves little. Once the coat has been rumped one can apply e.g. olive oil or Brylcreem to “feed” the skin.


Eyes may sometimes ‘tear’ due to hair etc. irritating them. The stains caused are difficult if not impossible to get rid of. There are many commercial stain removers available, but borax powder or zinc oxide powder is supposed to help also.
Feet and mouth may also become stained by food and licking. Licking stains may be due to an incorrect diet. The hair in the small fold on the bottom jaw can act as a wick drawing saliva into the coat, so this hair should be kept trimmed right down. 
Staining can be an important clue that something is not right with your dogs health.


Of all the problems to which dogs are prone, none is more frustrating than fleas. Flea infestation is relatively easy to cure but difficult to prevent. Fleas thrive in warm weather so are thought of as a summer problem but in fact the constant warmth of indoors means fleas may be found at anytime of the year and in the cleanest of homes. Recent mild winters have added to the flea problem.
Fleas feed by biting the animal and sucking its blood, they are harmful in two ways. Firstly they often cause skin infections. Scratching irritates the skin and germs can enter. Fleas can cause allergic reactions leading to serious skin problems. Secondly fleas feed on blood and when biting can transmit germs into the bloodstream. A heavy infestation can cause anaemia, which can be fatal (especially in puppies).
In order to control fleas you must treat the dog and its environment and if you have more than one dog you should treat them all at the same time.
There are a number of good flea killing products; your Vet will be able to advise you on this. A flea collar will limit the number of fleas but it may not totally control them.

Ticks are large parasites that feed by sucking blood. They bury there heads into the skin and can be difficult to remove. Since they can bury through the skin they can transmit diseases such as Lymes disease. Ticks occur in warm weather when you should examine your dog regularly. Remove any ticks seen as soon as possible. Avoid exercising your dog on rough heather moors and other areas where ticks are common during hot humid weather. If you do not know what you are doing do not try to remove them as if mouth parts are left in the skin an infection can start. There are many recommended methods for tick removal, eg touching the body with something hot will often make them let go and fall off. Check the bedding, car, and all places the dog sits or sleeps for fallen ticks and destroy them. 
1. Spray a heavy dose of flea spray on the tick or cover it with Vaseline.
2. Wait five minutes.
3. Pull tick off using tweezers (never use your fingers).
4. Grasp tick as close to the skin as possible.
5. Pull using a steady even pressure, NOT a sudden jerk or twist.
6. Consult your Vet if you have any problems. The most common problem is leaving the head of the tick in the skin which can lead to a serious infection.
If you are unsure about removing ticks ask your Vet. to remove them.


Dogs are commonly affected by two types of worms – Roundworms and Tapeworms.
Roundworms are usually found in puppies and resemble small pieces of string. Puppies can be infected by their mothers and signs of infestations include failure to thrive, pot bellies, and gastro-intestinal upsets (vomiting and diarrhoea).
In puppies and adults, the eggs of the roundworm are passed in the motions, where they are a source of infection for other dogs. Unfortunately the worms can also infect humans so worming is very important. It is also important to prevent your dog fouling areas where children play as the children may become infected.
Tapeworms occur more in adult dogs and although they can be quite long in size, only segments are usually visible around the bottom of the dog or in its motions, and these resemble flattened grains of rice. For the health and wellbeing of your dog, and for prevention of the spread of worms to other dogs and humans, your dog should be regularly treated for all types of worms.
Puppies should be wormed from two weeks of age every two weeks until three months old then at least every six months throughout its life.


The area around the anus should be kept clean and the anal glands checked periodically, if they seem to require emptying one would be well advised to seek advice as the contents are extremely vile!!! It is better NOT to empty them unless really, really necessary as once you start you often have to keep repeatedly emptying the glands… not nice for the dog or you!!! Many “poodle parlour” groomers are guilty of emptying anal glands as a routine, always check this before leaving your dog to be groomed and request that they leave them alone unless there is a real need to empty them because of an infection. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!
Occasionally an anal gland may become “impacted”; this is usually very distressing for the dog and needs urgent Veterinary attention. Dragging the bottom along the floor can indicate problems with anal glands, but it could also be caused by worms.


Bedlingtons ears must be kept free of the hair which grows inside otherwise wax becomes trapped and infections can set in. Once ear infections start it is hard to get rid of them. An old remedy, Thornit for Ear Mites does seem to be effective. This product can also be effective in stopping dogs licking their paws. The ears have mites, the dog scratches the ear, the mites get into the skin where the nail goes in (the nail bed) and irritates the paws. So the dog licks the paws. Thornit applied to the nail bed can sometimes cure the problem.
Any persistent or serious ear infection should always be handled under the care of a veterinary surgeon; there are many medications for this and each Vet. has favourites. However, bugs can become resistant to some treatments so it may be necessary to apply a course of two or three different medications before the ears clear up. In extreme cases, if the infection is not treated successfully, the dog may require the ears cleaned out under anaesthetic or in the worst cases an ear operation.


Some of the eye diseases listed as occasionally occurring in Bedlingtons cause blindness. The most worrying of these is Total Retinal Dysplasia in puppies. Puppies can be diagnosed as blind or certified as having normal retinas when the pup is about 8 weeks old. This is an inherited condition. 
Excessive tear production in puppies can often be caused by teething, eye infections or an irritation by a foreign body. In adult dogs it can be caused by an eye infection or a foreign body in the eye, but it can indicate the presence of an eye condition such as blocked or missing tear ducts, in-growing eyelashes or problems with the eyelids. Staining of puppies faces is fairly common but if it persists the cause may be more sinister than teething and it is a good idea to consult the Veterinary surgeon.
In all breeds old age cataracts may occur and in older dogs the fluid inside the eye may become cloudy, your Vet will advise on these.


Dont forget to clean your dogs teeth at least once per week start early then your dog will get used to it and will not cause a fuss.There are plenty of toothbrushes and pastes in pet stores to choose from.


Occasionally a kidney problem is seen in the breed where the kidneys are too small. It is thought to be a genetic condition but the mode of inheritance is unknown. It is rare in the breed. In 1972 puppies were reported in Sweden with kidney disease associated with hyperparathyroidism by the age of 6 months (Genetics of the Dog, Willis)
In 2004 concern was voiced in the USA about the number of kidney problems reported in a health survey, but no further information is presently available. Older dogs of any breed may develop kidney failure. Excessive drinking and urinating, or staring at the water bowl but NOT drinking can indicate kidney failure. Vets should always be consulted about any big change in drinking habits.


The Bedlingtons’ hare-like foot is built for speed and the dog should be well up on his toes. The toes should press tightly together (splaying is very undesirable.) Pads should be firm and smooth and the feet smallish, compact and neat. A ‘chore’ which is sometimes neglected is the removal of hair from between the toes and underneath the foot between the pads. If this is not done on a regular basis mud accumulates and dries into hard mats. This may lead to splayed feet and grass seeds may also penetrate the skin causing abscesses or inter-digital cysts.
1. Interdigital cysts. If a grass seed, for example, pierces the skin between the toes it can set up an irritation and may lead to an interdigital cyst. 
Such cysts appear as swellings between the toes and cause a great deal of pain. The infected areas need to be bathed with hot water containing an antiseptic such as T.C.P or Dettol. Germolene with local anaesthetic helps take the pain level down, but hold and comfort your dog until it has soaked in so he does not lick it. If pus is present bathing with hot water containing sodium bicarbonate may draw the pus out. Failing this a STERILISED instrument may be used to produce a small puncture, but, as always in this type of situation, if is better to consult the veterinary surgeon. 
2. In summer one should watch for harvest mites and other small parasites, on feet and lower legs in particular as they can lead to allergic skin reactions. A couple of years ago one of my bitches began licking and tearing at her legs, pulling hair out. Nothing was visible with the naked eye, but my Vet. was able to show under a high powered magnifier that she had picked up red spider mites from somewhere in the garden. I had never heard of this before, you live and learn. They were very difficult to get rid of.
3. Corny feet. Bedlingtons can be troubled with ‘corny feet’. ANY dog in any breed may develop a slight roughness, hardish pads or even shallow cracks when the weather is hot and dry or when salt is put on roads in the winter. The ‘corny feet’ syndrome is very much more serious and unpleasant. Many bloodlines have had problems with this but luckily it is now not often experienced as there has been much publicity about it in recent years. Dogs with the condition develop deep cracks and corny growths out of the side of the pads which can make walking very painful. 
If a dog has this problem apparently the first rule is to keep the nails very short. Plenty of exercise on hard pavements will often be enough to keep the nails short but dogs exercised mainly on grass will probably require frequent nail trimming. Massaging the pads regularly with oil, lanolin or medicated Vaseline can apparently do much to alleviate the problem, smallish corny growths may be pared down using nail clippers, but for some more serious growths veterinary assistance is required.
This problem, which crops up from time to time in our breed, seems to have an hereditary component but the genetics have not yet been properly investigated.


INFECTIOUS BRONCHITIS – “Kennel Cough” and other coughs.
There are several reasons dogs may cough. Sometimes coughing can be a sign of a more serious condition of the heart and it can be caused by worms.
Several diseases of the throat and lungs can cause coughing, but by far the most feared form of cough is commonly known as “kennel cough”. This is a somewhat misleading name as dogs can pick it up from dogs in the park, at a dog show or, less frequently, in a boarding kennel. The problem with this form of cough is that it is caused by a highly infectious bacterium so that if, for example, a dog comes into contact with it at a dog show the dog can take it back to its home and infect any other dogs there. Always keep your dog well away from any dog you hear coughing. 
In young to middle age dogs the cough is usually more irritating and upsetting to the owner than dangerous to the dog, unless secondary chest infections set in. In puppies and old or infirm dogs it can be fatal, but usually as a result of the cough turning to pneumonia or a similar disease.
There are vaccines available against kennel cough, but those available at the moment have to be given every six months. This is not ideal as it would be easy to forget for a week or two past the due date and then find your dog catches kennel cough. However, some dogs seem to develop a long lasting immunity after they have had kennel cough. Some vets suggest giving the dog a brand-name human cough medicine, which sooths the cough, but knowing how much is safe to give a dog is difficult.


Bedlingtons sometimes have a “fast day” when they will not eat anything you offer them (don’t be tempted to offer fillet steak, roast beef etc. or these clever dogs will teach you that is what they need every day!!). As long as there is no sign of illness, do not worry, the Bedlington will eat when it is hungry. If, however, the dog is sick or has diarrhoea and will not eat then you need to assess how unwell he or she is. In cases of diarrhoea caused by change of food, a rich treat or raiding the waste bin it is usually sufficient to just not feed the dog for 24 hours. Again, you know your own dog, if it seems in great pain or very lethargic then a visit to the vet is called for. If any dog has severe sickness and/or diarrhoea it can rapidly become dehydrated so it is important to check that plenty of water is drunk. Picking up the skin at the back of the neck in a gentle “pinch” between two fingers and pulling it gently away from the dog, then watching how quickly the skin returns to its original position, gives a quick indication if a dog is dehydrating. If the skin remains standing up for several seconds, or more, a visit to the Vet may be needed and it is better to be safe than sorry. If the sickness and/or diarrhoea persist they can be an indication of a serious underlying problem such as copper toxicosis, as can excessive drinking and urinating.


Any small lump may well only be a small fatty cyst or wart. If you find any lumps or bumps during grooming you should, however, keep a wary eye on them. Should you have accidentally made the lump bleed during use of a slicker brush or comb then make sure you clean the wound with antiseptic. If the lumps/bumps appear to be growing they could be cancerous and rapid removal will prevent any spread and minimise any operation required. An actual area like a bump which seems close to a bone could be bone cancer. Thankfully Bedlingtons do not seem to be prone to this.


There are many internet sites with information on this disease. In recent years the diagnosis of the syndrome has improved greatly. This may explain in part at least the increasing numbers of sufferers in many breeds. A number of Bedlingtons have been reported to have it in recent times. Most of the dogs reported seem to be related, but this could be a coincidence. However, anyone who has a Cushing’s sufferer would help find out if in our breed there is an inherited component if they let the Bedlington Health Group know. It is an unpleasant disease which tends to affect older dogs. Hair loss, excessive thirst and pot bellies are some of the possible symptoms. It may present in a similar way to thyroid problems so a correct diagnosis is important. One of two glands may not be controlling the production of a chemical called cortisol properly, again it is useful to find out, if possible, which gland is involved.
Treatment seems to work quite well for some dogs but not at all well for others. It seems a very important factor is to get the correct dosage for your individual dog, Vets can get help on this from the manufacturers.

Useful first aid items.
Thornit for ear mites.
Wound powder – useful for small nicks to ears or damage to a “lump”. 
Germoline ointment –sooths irritation.
Dettol or TCP
Almond oil – helps sooth irritation caused by clipping.
Clip Stop or similar product to stop bleeding due to nail cutting.
Special bandages which stick to themselves (try a horse equipment shop, which is cheaper, or your Vet.)
Re-hydrating salts (similar effect to human isotonic solutions for diarrhoea, available from Vets)..however, if you feel these are needed you probably should give a little to help re-hydration but ALSO make a hasty appointment with the Vet.

Some Veterinary terms your Vet. may use.
Abnormal Copper Metabolism – an inability to utilize and store copper properly, resulting in liver disease and other problems, usually called “copper toxicosis”.

Atresia of nasolacrimal puncta – a condition where the holes on the inside of the lower eyelids (puncta) are too small or closed so tears spill over the lid instead of draining to the nose.

Cataract – a change in structure of the lens leading to cloudiness & often blindness.

Cushing’s syndrome – a growth in a particular gland causes overproduction of a substance called cortisol leading to hair loss, lethargy etc.

Distichiasis – abnormally growing eyelashes.

Ectropion – an abnormal rolling out of the eyelids.

Lacrymal duct atresia – the duct draining from the eye is too small or not formed. Westies seem prone to this. The common name is “dry eye”.

Microphthalmia – where one or both eyes are too small.

Osteogenesis imperfecta – imperfect development of the structure and/or mineralisation of the bones.

Progressive retinal atrophy – the retina slowly deteriorates, leading to blindness.

Recessive retinal dysplasia – a developmental disorder resulting in an abnormal retina, carried by a recessive gene.

Renal cortical hypoplasia – where the cortex of the kidney(s) develops incompletely.

Retinal Detachment – where the retina is unattached to the back of the eye.

Retinal dysplasia – a condition where the retina is malforme