If you love fluffy, happy-looking, good-natured dogs, then the Bearded Collie might be the perfect dog for you!
The Bearded Collie originated in Scotland as a herding dog, and, today, is considered to be an outstanding family companion. Keep reading to learn more about this exceptional dog, often known simply as the “Beardie.”
The Bearded collie is a very old breed. He’s also sometimes known as the Mountain Collie, Highland Collie, or Hairy Mou’ed Collie. His actual origin isn’t really known, but it’s believed that farmers who kept working dogs bred their animals with dogs that were brought over on Polish merchant ships, leading to what we now know as the Bearded Collie.
Bearded Collies have been represented in art as far back as the late 1700s in works by Reynolds and Gainsborough. There was no breed club or official recognition until the 1950s, so in that regard, the breed is both very old and very new.
Beardies were first recognized by the AKC in 1977, and now they rank 104th among the 155 breeds that the AKC recognizes.
Male Bearded Collies typically stand anywhere from 21-22 inches at the shoulder. Females aren’t all that much smaller, standing 20-21 inches. The weight for either gender ranges between 45 and 55 pounds.
Beardies are very smart, confident and resourceful, but they can also be highly independent; they like to have their own way. They’re very fun-loving, though, and that makes them great with kids.
However, if you’re thinking of getting a Bearded Collie, you should keep in mind that his temperament is going to be affected by a lot of different things. The same characteristics that can make him such a charmer can also be problematic in the hands of a passive owner. Your Beardie will probably be playful, curious, and very willing to socialize with people. However, since he can be independent, you’ll need to be watchful for undesirable characteristics. Socialize him early so that he learns that he needs to be submissive to humans.
The other thing is that the temperament can vary a good deal depending on the individual dog. You might have a Beardie that is very quiet and docile, or you could have one that is rambunctious. To get a good idea of the type of temperament your Beardie will have, always ask the breeder if you can see the parents.
Most of the time, seeing the mother will not be a problem. It’s best if you can also see the father, but it’s not always possible. The female may have been take “offsite” for breeding, in which case, it could be difficult, if not impossible, to view the father.
This isn’t a deal-breaker. Not being able to see the mother, though, is. Why can’t you see the mother? Isn’t she nursing the puppies? Where is she? If you can’t see the mother, something is very wrong, and you should run as far as you can from this breeder.
Most of the time, Bearded Collies are healthy. However, there is no such thing as any breed of dog – and I mean any breed – that has no potential issues whatsoever. The following are some of the issues that you might need to watch out for with a Beardie.
Keep in mind that most of the time, your Beardie will not develop any of these diseases or disorders. They’re just things that do, from time to time, crop up in the breed.
Many dogs are prone to allergies, and Beardies are no exception. A Beardie might pick up a food allergy or a contact allergy; in other words, a reaction to a certain food, or to something that your dog comes in contact with (like a shampoo, flea powder, etc.) Most allergies can be controlled with medication from your veterinarian.
A lot of the time, people react with horror to the term “hip dysplasia.” Much of the time, too, people associate it with certain breeds (Dobermans in particular). The reality is that hip dysplasia can affect practically any breed of dog. It doesn’t have to be a big dog. It just has to be a dog that has a thighbone that isn’t fitting into his hip joint the way that it should.
People also often think that hip dysplasia means that the dog has to be put to sleep.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most cases of hip dysplasia are easily treated with pain medication. Serious cases might require surgery, but hip dysplasia is hardly ever a death sentence for a dog; it’s manageable.
This is another manageable condition. It simply means that your dog isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms could include a bit of mental dullness, low energy, irregular heat cycles (in a bitch), coarse fur, and infertility. Hypothyroidism can be treated with medication, and your dog can live a happy, full life.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
This is a disorder that will ultimately cause blindness in your dog due to the loss of photoreceptors in his eyes. Again, it’s not a death sentence. Yes, the chances are that PRA will eventually cause your dog to go blind, but what do you do with a blind human? Do you put him to sleep, or do you just stop moving the furniture around?
Most dogs with PRA will use their other senses to compensate for their blindness. So don’t think of this as a biggie; just keep loving him, and keep him safe. There’s no reason why he can’t live a long, full life.
Bearded Collies love to be inside with their humans, but they still enjoy having a place to run. If you have a fenced-in yard, that’ perfect! If you can’t let him outside to play, at least walk him a couple of times a day.
Ideally, you should also enroll your Beardie in obedience classes. This is especially important if you have kids; Beardies aren’t exactly huge, but they’re still big enough to knock over a toddler or a senior.
I’m still a big believer in free feeding for most breeds, and the Beardie isn’t the exception here. They don’t typically overeat, so I think if you want to just buy a big bag of dog food, dump it in a bin, and let him “have at it” when he feels so inclined, that’s probably okay.
If you do want to feed on a schedule, though, your Beardie should get anywhere from a cup and a half to two cups a day spread over two feedings. Puppies should get 3-4 cups a day.
Of course, it goes without saying that how much your dog will eat is going to depend, much as it does with humans, on his size, weight and activity level. A really active dog will need more. A less active dog will need… well, less.
Is He Too Fat?
If you think your Beardie might be porking up a bit too much, use this simple test. Place your hands on his spine with your fingers pointing downward. If you can feel ribs, he probably needs a bit more food. If you can’t feel ribs, scale the food back a bit.
Coat and Grooming
Beardies have strong, shaggy outer coats and furry, soft undercoats. Colors can be brown, fawn, blue or black, with white markings or without.
Beardies typically need to be brushed once a week to get rid of matting and to reduce shedding. You can also expect very heavy shedding a couple of times in any given year, and you might have to brush for an hour or more to get all the hair out.
As to other grooming needs, brush your Beardie’s teeth regularly and trim his nails. You’ll probably have to do this about once a month.
Kids and Other Pets
Beardies just love kids! They make wonderful playmates, but as I’m always telling you, don’t leave any dog alone with a toddler. You just never know what might happen. Kids should always be taught not to bother a dog when he’s eating or sleeping. That said, though, I think that if you hang with your kids when they’re hanging with your Beardie, there will be nothing other than a good outcome.
Beardies are also good with other animals, but they can be a bit possessive when it comes to their toys. It’s best to supervise if you’re introducing a Beardie to another animal.
The Final Word
Bearded Collies are so much fun! They’re bouncy and energetic, and so very playful. They’re just amazing when it comes to other animals, and children. If you’re looking for a great family dog, you don’t need to look any further than the Bearded Collie.