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THE BEDLINGTON TERRIER.
It is barely forty years since public attention was first attracted to the Bedlington terrier, which originally I take to have been at any rate second cousin to the Dandie Dinmont. Both had their origin amongst the sporting men on the English side of the Border; in many respects the two varieties resemble each other, and, from what I have been told, this resemblance was much greater fifty years ago than it is now.
That they are not very far apart at present may be inferred from the fact that some time ago, at one of the south country shows, the Earl of Antrim exhibited two terriers from the same litter, one of which won in the Dandie Dinmont class, the other receiving an honorary award in the division for Bedlington terriers.
Much has been written as to the early history of the Bedlington terrier; how its pedigree could be traced back for a hundred years or more, and how the miners round about Bedlington-a village in
Northumberland, from which the dog takes its name-owned the best specimens, and would not dispose of them for
“ untold gold.” That he is a game, useful terrier goes without saying, or he would not have survived; but, like others of his race, he was the result of judicious crossing with local dogs, and did not owe his origin, or any part of it, to foreign importation.
It is most unpatriotic for writers on canine matters to fly back for the birth of our best dogs to foreign countries. This has been done with the Bedlington, as was the case with the Dandie Dinmont, terrier. The latter was said to have got its crooked fore legs and peculiar shoulders from a cross with the German dachshund, the writer to that effect forgetting that what would produce it on the one hand would do so on the other, viz., a long heavy body, too much for the little legs to support without giving way under its weight.
Even the North country Herdwick sheep have had the taint of a foreign origin sprung upon them by a writer who states that they are descended from some animals cast on the Cumberland coast near Muncaster, or saved by the wreckers there from one of the dismantled ships of the Spanish Armada.
Of the Bedlington terrier, it was said that the strain had been brought, about the year 1820, from
Holland by a weaver who settled near Longhorsley; but all the Holland there has been about him was that Mr. Taprell Holland was one of his great supporters thirty years or more ago, and a leading exhibitor of the variety in its earlier days.
In the Field, 1869, there was a capital illustration of two Bedlington terriers, belonging to Mr. Holland, named Peachem and Fan; the former 2ilb. in weight, the latter 15lb. The character given these two dogs and others of the same strain was so high that inquiries were then made as to their history. Little, however, appears to have been known of them out of their own locality, but that they had claims to be quite distinct from other terriers was at once allowed, and thus their popularity to a certain extent followed. A correspondent in 1869 wrote in the Field :
“ This valuable dog was first brought over the Border from Hawick, about seventy or eighty years ago, by Mr. Luke Cowney; from him Mr. Selby, of Biddlestone, got the breed ; and from thence a few were brought to Morpeth by Mr. Cowney's son, where they first became more general. Bedlington, which is close to Morpeth, was a noted place for dog fanciers, and they soon bred a large number of these terriers, and they quickly spread all over the country; hence the name they now have of Bed
lington. They are pretty general in the district between the Coquet and the Tyne, but have been bred in and in to a damaging extent, hence no doubt the delicacy sometimes alluded to, although under any circumstances they are delicate feeders. They are very speedy and enduring dogs, and are greatly valued by the pitmen for rabbit coursing and dog racing; they are sharp dogs with ferrets, and are very plucky, and will work an otter famously, giving good 'tongue--quite a hound's voice. cannot imagine a more useful dog, and they are invaluable for keeping rabbits down in young plantations. The following are, I believe, the main points of a true Bedlington: muzzle fine, longish, and rather pointed; flesh-coloured nose; ears drooping and lying close to the head; eyes close to one another, hazel or reddish-coloured and small; the hair on top of head much finer than coat, and lighter in colour; they are long in the leg, with straight toes, well split, long, and turned out, often one more so than the other; they stand about from 14žin. to 15in. at the shoulder; shoulder blades at the top well apart ; the barrel large and chest deep; tail fine and pointed, but covered with wiry hair ; the coat is fine, but not silky, and rather thin ; their colour is very much that of dressed flax, with sometimes a little more red in it. From the texture and colour
of the coat, they are also called the linty-haired terrier."
With a character such as the above there is no wonder that there came a run on the Bedlington terrier, though some correspondents had written of him as a dainty feeder and a “bad doer" generally, which in many cases he remains to the present day.
Following came sundry other communications, all pretty much to the same effect, and great praise was given to a dog known as Ainsley's Piper, which lived between 1820 and 1830, and claimed by many to be the best of his race. This dog had attained a reputation for great pluck and
courage. entered to badger when but eight months old, and from that time until he was almost blind was fully employed with the otter, fox, foulmart, badger, and vermin of all kinds. When fourteen years of age, grey and toothless, he drew a badger, which other terriers had failed to move, but shortly before this old Piper was a hero in another quarter. In 1835 Mrs. Ainsley was in the harvest field and had left her four months' old baby in a basket under the hedge with old Piper in charge. A ferocious sow came prowling around when the labourers were out of hearing, and attempted to get at the child, which no doubt it would greedily have devoured. But