This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
The Bedlington terrier had a hard struggle to obtain from dog show committees that recognition to which he is so well entitled. He has, however, now gained his true position among modern terriers, and there are very few schedules issued that do not provide prizes for this breed.
As will be seen from the statements of the writers I quote, the Bedlington has long been a distinct breed, the strain from which the modern specimens have sprang having been peculiar to the district for at least thirty years before the name Bedlington was applied to them, the first dog so called being Mr. Ainsley's Young Piper, whelped about the year 1825.
The following, which appeared in the "Newcastle Chronicle," 24th July, 1872, gives a fair statement of facts respecting this breed, and is valuable as embodying the opinions of the late Mr. Thomas John Pickett, well known to exhibitors generally under his soubriquet of the Duke of Bedlington - a title earned by his great success as a breeder and exhibitor of these terriers: - "Of the breed of dogs for which this locality is noted, none has caused so much controversy as the Bedlington terrier, who is, I believe, the last new-comer amongst recognised breeds exhibited at the shows. Indeed, a furious controversy has been raging as to whether the strain is deserving of recognition as a fixed and well-defined breed at all, and some of our south country friends have made fun of the question 'What is a Bedlington terrier?' To this query the best answer that can be given is that furnished by perhaps the most successful exhibitor of the present day, Thomas John Pickett, of Grey-street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who says: ' The Bedlington is a light-made, wiry dog, with a bright, alert bearing, and whose cut and demeanour is indicative of fire and resolution.
The head should be high and rather narrow, and when looked at from behind should be almost wedge-shaped; it should be surmounted with a fine silky tuft, and this with the ears and tail should, in the blue sort, be of a much darker shade of colour than the body. The eyes should be small and a little sunken, and the jaw long, quickly tapering, and muscular. The ears should be long, should hang close to the cheek, and should be slightly feathered at the tip, whilst the neck should be long and muscular, and should rise well away from widely-set shoulder blades. The legs should be rather high, and should be straight, hard, and sinewy. The body should be compact and well formed. The tail should be small, from 8in. to 12in. long, and slightly feathered. The coat should be rather wiry, and the colour blue-black, sandy, or liver. The dark blue dogs should have black noses; the liver or sandy are most approved of with flesh or cherry-coloured noses, but I would not object to a sandy dog with a black nose if from the blue strain.'
"Although the Bedlington terrier is only a new comer, I think he has a great future before him with regard to popularity and esteem. The breed can well afford to depend upon its merits to push its way to the front, and the more well-bred specimens get spread about, in the greater demand will the dog most assuredly be. The Bedlington, I take it, is a farmer's friend, or a country gentleman's companion. No breed of terrier can compare with him for stamina, fire, courage, and resolution. He will knock about all day with his master, busy as a bee at foxes, rabbits, or otters; and at night, when any other sort of dog would be stiff, sore, and utterly jaded, he will turn up bright as a new shilling, and ready for any game going. He takes to the water readily, has a capital nose, is most intelligent and lively, and, as I have said, as a rough and ready friend about the fields and woods he has no equal.
"Despite the vast body of evidence adduced to clear up the question of the origin of this cross, I hold that the matter may yet be regarded as by no means satisfactorily determined. I have seen pedigrees of crack dogs of the breed extending over a period of 100 years, but then one has no means of knowing what the dog was like whose name we see figuring as having lived in the last century. No doubt some famous dogs of the breed of old Northumberland terriers were long ago located about Thropton, Rothbury, Felton, and Alnwick, and it is not at all unlikely that the Staffordshire nailmakers, who, some eighty or ninety years ago, were brought down from the south and employed at Bedlington, crossed the pure-bred native terrier with some of the stock they brought with them, having, probably, fighting purposes in view. But it does not matter how this clever and undoubtedly useful race has been produced; it is sufficient to know that we have it, and that it is as permanent and breeds as truly as any other cross we know of. At the same time, if the Staffordshire nailmakers made the cross with the intention of breeding a fighting animal, they failed, so far as raising up an antagonist to the bull-terrier is concerned.
The Bedlington is as tenacious, as resolute, and as indifferent to rough usage as the professional gladiator he was pitted against; but he lacks the formidable jaw and the immense power of the bull-terrier, and the combat is emphatically no part of his business.
"The first show of Bedlingtons I can call to mind was got up by Henry Wardle, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a good judge, and an ardent admirer of the canine species. That show took place on 12th April, 1870, and the first prize was won by Thomas John Pickett, with Tip, a thorough game one, but I thought he had a dash of bull in him. I would like to do justice to the ability and care displayed in those early show days of the Bedlington by Thomas Thompson, of Wideopen, and Joseph Ainsley, of Bedlington, who stood foremost as reliable judges of the strain, and as acknowledged depositories of almost all that was known concerning it, but I have not space at command to enter into the intricacies of pedigrees, and I must hasten on to mention two or three of the most famous prize takers of the race. Mr. Pickett, who has bred Bedlingtons since 1844, has now three champions, who will often be referred to by breeders in after times, namely, Tear'em, Tyne, and Tyne-side, all descended from Thomas Thompson's strain, and inheriting pedigrees of portentous length. Tyne was first shown at the Crystal Palace show in 1870, and went thence to Birmingham, where she was again not noticed; she was then sent to Manchester, but, from some mistake of the railway servants, was never taken out of her hamper.