breed profile

Bearded Collies: fun-loving beautiful chaps!

A Beardie is a winsome, funny, loving, sometimes silly, sometimes pouty, adorable, curious, persistent creature, in short, close to humans. Just be prepared to brush long hair, wet beards in your lap, and muddy pawprints in the wrong places at the wrong time…. Otherwise, they’re like peanuts. You can’t stop with just one.

Tailwaggers literally!

breed profile

Reba & Flash | (Pic courtesy: Karron Jodan)

The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized dog with long, shaggy hair. His body is longer than tall, starting with a kissy tongue and ending with a constantly wagging tail. A bright, enquiring expression is a distinctive feature of the breed. As an adult, Beardies may be black (from black to slate), blue (from steel blue to silver), brown (from dark or milk chocolate to gingery red), or fawn (cinnamon to champagne), usually with white markings to a greater or lesser degree.

The life expectancy ranges from 12-14 years on an average. It is not unusual, however, for a Beardie to extend that lifespan. The height of the males is 53-56 cm while that of females is 51-53 cm.

The History

The Bearded Collie, affectionately called the Beardie, was developed in Scotland as a herding dog. He was developed as an independent worker, able to make decisions concerning the welfare and safety of their charges without depending on the shepherd who might be miles away. Flocks in Scotland intermingled freely, yet one Beardie never brought home a wrong sheep during his many years of work. The Beardie is still used as a shepherd’s helpmate in Scotland, and now in the US.

People dogs!

Beardies are usually active, outgoing, bouncy, affectionate creatures. Within the normal range of temperament, they range from low-key, sweet and laid back to rowdy and bold. The breed interacts well with other animals, particularly if raised with them.

They are people-oriented dogs and need to be with their family. If left alone for long period, they are liable to become frustrated and provide their own entertainment — not always one that makes the owner happy. Beardies are vigorous, bouncy dogs, and like to jump up to look you in the eyes or kiss your nose. This fits in well with many families. Because they love people, Beardies make good therapy dogs, comforting, entertaining and snuggling up to patients and residents.

Who’s smarter: you vs. Beardie

Beardies were bred to be independent thinkers. Sometimes they’ll decide what THEY want is better than what you want. For instance, staying in the back yard is more interesting than coming inside. Or playing in a mud puddle is more fun than staying on dry ground. The trick in training them is to convince them it’s something THEY want to do. And that takes an owner that’s smarter than they are — not always easy!

Fun quotient: always high!

“Beardies are fun loving happy dogs who are very affectionate to their pet parents. Their best characteristic perhaps is their beautiful coat and good nature with all people and dogs adds a lot of charm to this beautiful breed. Though they love to swim and run, but they can also be a great lounge lizard.”

– Ann Moy,
Ulara Border Collies & Bearded Collies,
Australia (www.ularabcollies.piczo.com)

A living alarm!

Although they are neither yappy nor continuous barkers, certain things will set off their “alarm” system. They’re great doorbells, announcing all visitors with joy. They bark when excited: when you first rise in the morning, when family returns home or while playing. Like any dog, they may bark when bored.

Puppy care

As puppies, they’re much like two-year-old children. They try out their independence, test their “parents,” and are so cute they’re difficult to correct. This is the time good parents must force down the chuckle, give firm, but gentle discipline and then go in the other room to laugh ‘til they cry.

Caring for the pooch

All dogs need grooming, training, exercise, nutritious food, access to water and shelter, veterinary care and LOVE. If you plan to skip on any of these, please don’t get a Beardie. In fact, please don’t get a dog!

Grooming needs: Some dogs need to have their nails trimmed weekly; others do fine with just once a month clips. Beardies are long-coated dogs, and to keep their charming, winsome appearance, need regular grooming. Groomed properly, they shed minimally. Most of the dead hair will be removed by the comb and brush. The worst shed is when they lose their puppy coat, usually between nine and eighteen months. This lasts for approximately two to three months. During this period, they often lose their cuddly appearance and look scraggly and ragged, losing hair from the top to the bottom, or from the front to the rear.

Start early to introduce your Beardie to his lifetime hair care. Baby Beardies can be groomed in one minute. The idea is to acclimate the pup to be still for longer periods of time until they can spend an hour quietly accepting brushing and combing.

Most owners do a thorough grooming at least once a week. Lay the Beardie on his side and mist with water or anti-tangle spray. Brush the hair up with a bristle or pin brush. Then brush the hair back down a few inches at a time. Any mats that develop can be worked out with anti-tangle spray and your fingers or a mat rake. A comb should go easily through the hair when finished. Ask the breeder for a demonstration on an adult. When mature, Beardies usually require about one-half to one hour for grooming.

Exercise needs: Beardies, like their pet parents, stay physically fit with exercise. This can be accomplished by playing ball, taking brisk walks, free run in a fenced area (with interaction, not alone) or a training session. They also love to jog, swim, wrestle, do tricks, join in football games, play catch or Frisbee.

Health needs: Once the puppy vaccinations are completed, schedule an annual examination with the veterinarian. Be attuned to your Beardie’s body and behavior to note anything unusual that calls for medical treatment. Some Beardies have reactions to monthly heartworm preventative. Because of this, many breeders advise giving a daily pill. Discuss this with your veterinarian. Overall, Beardies are a sturdy breed who enjoys good health but problems like allergies, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, auto-immune disease and some eye problems, do occur.

A beautiful and joyful breed!There’s nothing better than watching a Beardie at work, whether it be at a dog show, in agility, at a herding trial or just a romp in the park. It is a truly beautiful sight to see a Beardie running in full flight or standing in the wind. Those big eyes can really mesmerize people and always manage to get them a treat or cuddle on the couch.Their ability to make you laugh is one of my favourite things about the breed. They have a good sense of humour and love to play the clown. It’s very difficult to discipline a Beardie when he is proudly showing you his latest hole in the lawn or chewed slipper. I love their beautiful flowing hair and big soft eyes.

If you have a home straight out of a lifestyle magazine and would prefer not to have the occasional splash of mud on a wall or footprint on the couch, then do not get a Bearded Collie. If however you don’t mind going to work with footprints on your pants and a few stray hairs on your jacket, then by all means consider the Bearded Collie as possible breed for you. You won’t be disappointed.

– Jessica Buckley, Stylwise Bearded Collies, Canberra, Australia (www.stylwise.com)

(Inputs–Chris Walkowicz has been showing dogs since 1965 and she is author of various books on dog breeding. She has been chosen to be inducted into the Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame. AKC judging was added to Chris’ agenda in 1995–(http://home.mchsi.com/~walkoway.dogbooks/); Jessica Buckley is the vice president of the Bearded Collie Club of New South Wales for several years–(www.stylwise.com); Ann Moy owns and trains Border Collies since 1987–(www.ularabcollies.piczo.com))

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