The Bearded Collie looks similar to many other shaggy breeds and is often confused with the Old English sheepdog. Also known as the Mountain Collie or Highland Collie, the Beardie is an energetic, fun and lively dog to have as a pet. Let us study some important facts and characteristics about the ‘Beardie’.
Facts and characteristics of the Bearded Collie
- This famous breed has been depicted in the 2006 movie The Shaggy Dog.
- Bearded Collies were first bred in Scotland and later in parts of north of England for herding sheep and cattle and are still used for these jobs in many parts of the world. Today they are a prized household companion all around the world and are especially popular for their compact size, attractive appearance and gentle nature.
- In many parts of Britain, the Beardie is known as the ‘Barking Dog’ since they bark continually while working. This is a fact you may want to consider if you plan on acquiring a Bearded Collie as a pet. They have not given up this trait over the generations.
- Despite their strong resemblance to Old English Sheepdogs, the Bearded Collie is in fact very different especially in the shape of the head and body.
- The Bearded Collie Club of America was first formed in 1969.
- Physical characteristics – Ideal height is between 51-56 cm and weight between 20-25 kilos.
- Beardies come in attractive colors like sandy, red-brown, blue and black.
- The average life span of Bearded Collie is about 10 years.
Where to find a Bearded Collie
Before you begin your search for a bearded collie puppy or mix, talk to a vet, other owners or handlers at dog shows. They can guide you to breeders who are reputed and concerned about ethical breeding practices. Responsible breeders will raise only one or two breeds of dogs. Avoid a breeder who has many different breeds or several litters at the same time. You can find dedicated breeders via the AKC or the Bearded Collie Club of America Website. Many of these will be seen at special sporting events or shows dedicated for the beardies. A good breeder will also want to be assured whether you would be a worthy owner for a Bearded Collie puppy. So expect him/her to ask you several questions about your experience with dogs and how you plan of managing the new pup.
Owners of a bearded collie generally describe these dogs as fun loving, bouncy, sociable and energetic. You must train and exercise your young pet from early age to ensure s/he turns out to be the friendly, fun loving and disciplined companion you want. Beardies are generally great around kids and other pets. Endless barking is a trait this breed has acquired since their origin; so make sure you house train your pet and show him/her what is and isn’t acceptable. Bitches are especially known to be noisy and aggressive. Spaying at an early age can take care of this issue to an extent. When it comes time to choose your puppy, be guided by your breeder. Observe the puppy in the litter. Do not fall for the first pretty face you see; though many owners are usually attracted to the pup that is the first to approach them. In most litters, there will be an alpha/bossy puppy, a shy fellow and a ‘somewhat-in-the-middle’ pup. The ‘middle of the road’ pups are usually the best bet for families.
The Beardie can be a strong willed dog so must get him used to crate training and lead training from early days. In fact; start training your pup the moment you bring him home for the first time. If needed, get him enrolled at an obedience school. It is best to attend the training sessions yourself, so you know the commands to use and continue the training at home. Your Beardie also needs early socialization where he meets new people and other dogs. This will prevent barking and other behavioral issues at a later age. Here are some more training tips:
- Timing is all important-praise your puppy at the exact time he responds correctly.
- Be patient, gentle and consistent with training- 30 minutes per day is good to start with for a 5-6 week old pup.
- Repeat the same words while training-make sure the same word means the same thing and your dog understands that.
- Praise all correct behavior verbally and with treats-at least in the beginning.
Training and rule setting should be a family affair-make sure all family members are on board and know the same rules and use the same one-word commands.
Grooming and care
This long haired breed needs a fair amount of grooming. Brush your pet’s coat daily or at least 2 times a week to prevent matting. Beardie coats are prone to shedding twice a year and unspayed bitches invariably lose a lot of coat around their heat cycles. The undercoat also mats into the top coat so brushing with a boar bristle brush is necessary to prevent unsightly matted hair. Bathe your pet every 6 weeks or more if there are parasites or skin issues. Use a vet approved shampoo for specific needs. If your Beardie is shaking his head and scratching its ears, there could be an infection. Watch out for discharge and unpleasant smell and have it checked out by your vet. Clip your Beardie’s nails every once a month and use the time to observe and examine footpads to ensure there are no cracks or dryness etc.
With the large variety in dog foods available today, what you feed your puppy or adult Beardie is strictly a matter of personal preference. Having said so, it is a good idea to talk to a vet or the breeder about the right food, stage wise. Home cooked meals are also good-just make sure that the meals contains the right amount of proteins, healthy fats, complex carbs and vitamins and minerals. Crunchy kibble is good to prevent plaque and tartar. Most adult bearded collies do not do well on high protein diets. Also, senior dogs are very vulnerable to weight gain; so make sure you feed senior formulated food that is nutritionally rich but low in calories.
The Bearded Collie is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, patella luxation and Addison’s disease. Cataracts, hypothyroidism, corneal dystrophy and retinal dysplasia are also common issues in this breed. Regular health checkups, good food and adequate exercise can help keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.