This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
Certainly not before 1825 was the name Bedlington given to the breed, although Major Cowan wrote to "Stonehenge" and forwarded him a pedigree of the blue and tan dog Askem II., which went back as far as 1782, but, as the learned author of "Dogs of the British Isles" said, there was no proof that the earliest strain possessed the same characteristics as the modern dog. However, the pedigree was there traced back to Squire Trevelyan's Old Flint, pupped in 1782. But it was not because of his lineage that the Bedlington terrier became popular; this was due to his adaptability as a companion and his general usefulness as an all round dog.
The first show to have classes for this terrier was that at Bedlington in 1870, but following there was one at the Crystal Palace in 1871, when Mr. H. Lacey took first with his red dog Miner, a great winner at early shows, the remaining prizes being taken by Mr. S. T. Holland's Procter, Lassie, and Jessie. Birmingham had given them one class the year before, where Miner also won; and following, the late Mr. T. Pickett, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who had kept the breed for many years, introduced his little blue bitch Tyne and his dog Tyneside, which had long and successful careers.
Although there seemed to be some little difference of opinion occasionally as to the exact form a good Bedlington terrier should take, he appears to have escaped those peculiar newspaper controversies with which so many dogs had been favoured. Nor was he any the worse for that. Some judges had set Tyne down as a bad one; others had lauded her up to the skies - the only thing bad about her was her temper, for she was as treacherous a dog on the bench as ever entered a show. In 1875 the Bedlington Terrier Club was established, but whether that body has done much for the popularisation of the breed is another question. That it has not taken a high place in public estimation is undoubted, and the reasons for this are not far to seek.
Unfortunately, so far as the show bench is concerned, the Bedlington terrier requires a considerable amount of "trimming" - that is, he is not sent into the ring with his coat quite in the natural condition nature produced it. "Plucking" is carried on to a great extent, and so highly do "fanciers" value the correct blue colour and the light hue on the top of the head that certain of them go so far as to dye or stain their dogs. Then most of the judges either altogether fail to detect this deceit or tacitly wink at it - anyhow the custom was particularly common two or three years ago, and no doubt similar instances can be found to-day at any of our big shows. Then the Bedlington terrier is rather fond of fighting, and not being a particularly elegantly shaped dog he is not valued highly on that account; nor is he unshapely, crooked-legged, and big-headed to the extent of being admired and run after for his very ugliness. He is, however, a useful dog in the country, but jealous in temperament where other dogs are concerned, and a terrible foe when he is that way inclined. An old gamekeeper of my acquaintance owned a red Bedlington dog, about as good at rabbits and vermin as any animal I ever saw. He would distinguish between a hare and a rabbit, never moving a yard after the former; the latter he would either catch or run to ground. He would not hunt with any other dog, and a stranger he always seized by the throat and pretty nearly killed. I have had no experience in prize-fighting dogs, but I think that this dog was about fit to kill any other dog of his weight, which would be some 2olb. or so.
He is a more active dog than the Scotch terrier or Dandie Dinmont, and in reality is perhaps the smartest and quickest of all our terriers. As a water dog no terrier can surpass him, and few equal him. Some years ago there were trials for water dogs at a show held by the now defunct British Kennel Association, at the Aston grounds, Birmingham. In one competition the dogs had to rescue and bring from the water a "dummy corpse"; in the other the trial was for speed alone. No dog did better work than Mr. A. Holcroft's Bedlington terrier Nailor, who was awarded not only third prize as a "life saver," but an equal second for pace, in which as a fact he was pretty nearly as good as the late Mr. BagnalPs well-known Landseer Newfoundland Prince Charlie. Nailor was, besides, a repeated prize winner on the bench at this time, about 1882.
Nowadays the prevailing and fashionable colour is blue; some of the best of the earlier dogs were pale red, with yellow eyes and red nose; others were brown or liver-coloured, and some few were blue and tan; the latter colour I never liked, though perhaps early in the century it was most valued of all. This dog is still kept amongst the sporting pitmen and others, in and round about Newcastle, in considerable numbers, and at the shows in the north the classes are, for the most part, best filled. But the north country miner can seldom see any dog better than his own, and there is always more grumbling about the awards amongst the Bedling-tons than ordinary people like, and strong words are not always sufficient to end the dispute. I fancy that nothing would satisfy some of the owners excepting each won the first prize and the special cup. Newcastle has now the best show, and at Darlington, not far away, there is usually a good entry, as there often enough is at the smaller and more local shows in the north.
■ The support some of the southern judges receive may be inferred from the fact that at the most recent show of the Kennel Club, that in 1893, although the club offered their twenty-five guinea challenge cup, and there were other specials, and four classes, but four exhibitors sent dogs, nine being all that were benched. Mr. W. E. Allcock, of Sunderland, who has a very large kennel of Bedlington terriers, won a majority of the prizes. Other great admirers and exhibitors of the breed just now are Mr. A. Hastie, Newcastle; Mr. F.
Roberts, Cardiff; Mr. P. Turner, Wavertree; Mr. J. A. Baty, Mr. C. T. Mailing, Mr. H. E. James (Devonshire), whilst Mr. J. Cornforth, and Mr. D. Ross have from time to time had Bedlington terriers as good as the best; some of Mr. Baty's dogs and Mr. Cornforth's being particularly excellent.