Health - General

The Healthy Bedlington.

The Bedlington terrier is generally regarded as a “healthy” breed.  This is certainly the impression one receives when talking to Bedlington owners.  However, there is very little real evidence for this supposition.

So the question still remains - how accurate is this perceived impression of the breed’s general health status.

To answer this question requires an answer to ‘What is meant by healthy/good health’?  

One definition of good health may be “the state that exists within the dog when the body functions normally and there is no evidence of illness, injury, abnormality or any deviation from what is considered the “norm” in terms of physical attributes or behaviour”.  However, good health does not merely imply ‘the absence of disease or other infirmity’ and one often hears the terms ‘well-being’ and ‘soundness used in relation to health.

Certainly, dog owners who know their dogs as individuals are generally aware, subconsciously, of their well-being but would probably find it difficult to express this ‘impression’ in words.

It is obvious from analysis of the Breed Health Survey results that Bedlington terrier owners take a somewhat pragmatic view of what constitutes “good health”.  It seems to be generally accepted that most dogs will, on occasions, experience “health problems” the resolution of which may require some form of veterinary intervention/treatment.  However, such problems are generally “short-term” and are considered to have a relatively insignificant impact on the overall health status of the dog.

The BTHG Breed Health Strategy.

A “Mission Statement” and a list of the “Aims of the Bedlington Terrier Health Group”, are shown on “The BTHG”. Page.  These provide a generalised statement of the role of the Health Group.  However, it is felt that several matters, as detailed below, should be prioritised and form the basis of a Breed Health Strategy.

   breeding stock be tested and that a breeding policy should be adopted that will eliminate the possibility of    breeding  “affected”puppies.

Maintaining Health.

Anyone contemplating the purchase of a Bedlington puppy should aim to learn as much as possible about the breed beforehand and should be aware of the disease conditions/health problems to which the breed may be predisposed.

Both the Kennel Club and the RSPCA websites provide useful information/advice on “Buying a puppy”.  It is important that the puppy is bought from a recognised, reputable breeder who will be prepared to provide a comprehensive “puppy contract”, i.e. one based on the RSPCA contract, and to offer advice about the management of the puppy.

In common with dogs of all breeds, Bedlington terriers are randomly prone to a range of conditions that may be perceived as resulting in a “bout of ill-health”.  However, it is possible to reduce the occurrence/impact of many of these by adopting common-sense husbandry procedures.

It is important to avoid overfeeding - obesity is becoming an increasingly serious problem in older dogs.

A constant supply of fresh clean water is important.

It is equally important to avoid “titbits”.

Moreover, regular handling/examination is important in order to check the dog for signs of any swellings/lumps, skin abnormalities, evidence of any discharge, evidence of external parasites etc.  

Staining is often an indication of an underlying problem, e.g. foot staining may be the result of the dog chewing/licking the foot because of an irritation.

Moreover, owners should be aware that many “products” associated with the house/garden can have a detrimental effect on health.

In summary, it is important to KNOW YOUR DOG - OBSERVATION - watch out for any changes in behaviour, demeanour etc. - these may indicate that something is not quite as it should be.

Genetic disorders.

In recent years there seems to have been an increasing awareness of genetic disorders in dogs.  It is generally recognised that genetic disorders can be broadly divided into two groups:

   Copper toxicosis, still regarded by many Bedlington terrier breeder/owners as the most serious health problem within the breed, is a classic example of this type of genetic disorder.  Furthermore, footpad hyperkeratosis as recently been confirmed as a genetic disorder.

   One point to note about this type of genetic disorder is that the primary cause, i.e. the “aggravated change in conformation”, is usually polygenic, i.e. due to the interaction of several genes.

Note: Analysis of the results of the recent Health Survey and, in particular the comments of respondents, suggest that there are some breeders/owners who consider that Cushing’s Syndrome and certain kidney disorders/eye conditions may be genetically determined.

Incidentally, the following three website databases list genetic disorders in dogs (by breed):

Unfortunately, they differ in the amount of information they provide - for example, the Cambridge University database (organised by Dr Sargan) and the University of Prince Edward Island list three genetic disorders for Bedlington terriers, namely copper toxicosis, retinal displasia and cataracts whereas the University of Sydney database, whilst showing the same three disorders, also includes several other conditions.

Interestingly, Padgett, in his book (Control of Canine Genetic Diseases), lists 22 disorders in Bedlington terriers for which he considers that there is some evidence of a genetic involvement, although he does state that in many instances the mode of inheritance is not known.  Moreover, the implication is that in many instances the available evidence is limited/questionable.

The Bedlington Terrier    

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