Affectionately called the "Beardie", the Bearded Collie has remained a popular choice of family pet all thanks to their kind and lovable natures. However, Bearded Collies were originally bred to be hardy, robust working dogs and over the years they were known by quite a few different names which includes the Highland Collie and Old Welsh Grey Sheepdog to name but two of them.
Happy dogs by nature, Beardies are just at home in a working environment as they are in the home. They are keen yet calm and like nothing better than to join in any activity whether at work or play and rarely do these dogs show any sort of aggressive behaviour. Beardies are also great around children and soon become valued members of a family.
There are Scottish records of dogs that resemble the Beardie dating back to the 16th Century. These dogs were highly prized both in Scotland and in the north of England for their herding skills. It is thought that dogs left behind by invading armies were bred to native herding dogs that were around in Scotland over 500 years ago and this produced a very similar looking dog to the Beardie Collie we know today.
However, the Beardies we see today were developed in the forties by G. Olive Willison who set about finding a mate for a female puppy before founding the Bothkennar kennels. It was only at the end of the 20th Century when a Beardie won Best in Show in 1989 at Crufts Dog Show that the breed hid the headlines and gained popularity with people both in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Today, these loyal and intelligent dogs are still among a firm favourite at dog shows, as working dogs and family pets the world over.
Height at the withers: Males 53–56 cm, Females 51–56 cm
Average Weight: Males18–27 kg, Females 18–27 kg
Beardies are lean and athletic looking dogs with females being slightly longer than their male counterparts. They boast an intelligent if not quizzical expression which adds to their overall endearing looks. These dogs are well proportioned with a flat, broad skull and strong muzzle. Their noses are square and large being black in colour although lighter coated dogs have lighter coloured noses which is perfectly acceptable as a breed standard.
A Beardie, as previously mentioned has a quizzical, soft and loving expression which is enhanced by the fact their eyes are set far apart and are large in size. They boast arched eyebrows which adds to their endearing looks. Their ears are well proportioned in relation to their heads which they lift up when excited or alert, but which droop down when dogs are at rest and relaxed.
The Bearded Collie has a strong jaw line with a perfect scissor bite. Their necks are moderately long and muscular which dogs hold ever so slightly arched. Their forequarters are strong with sloping, well laid back shoulders. A Beardies front legs are well boned, straight and covered in long, shaggy hair. They boast long, level backs with well sprung rib cages and a deep chest which allows plenty of room for their heart and lungs.
Hindquarters are powerful, well muscled with dogs having well developed second thighs. Back legs are strong and powerful and a Beardies feet are oval in shape with well cushioned pads, arched toes that are covered in hair. Their tails are set low and straight which dogs carry low, but with a little upward curve at the tip which is evident even when dogs are at rest. Their tails are covered in hair right to the tip.
When it comes to their coat, Beardies boast a double coat with a furry and soft undercoat and a coarser and very shaggy outer coat. Dogs can have a slight wave in their coats which is allowable as a breed standard. Their coats are long and should not be trimmed at all. The hair on their face is slightly longer on each side of the bridge of their noses and gets longer from their cheeks and under a dog's chin which forms their lovely beard.
Beardies come in a variety of colours which are as follows:
Dogs typically have white markings on their faces, tip of their tails and on their chests, legs and feet with some Beardies having a white collar too. Dogs can have a little tan in their eyebrows, on the inside of their ears and on their cheeks as well as under their tails and legs which is acceptable as a breed stardard.
The Bearded Collie is a self-confident and alert dog that adapts well into a home environment. Bred to be working dogs, they love to be kept busy both mentally and physically enjoying nothing more than joining in any interactive games. They rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour or nervousness and are highly prized as working dogs thanks to their calm and intelligent natures.
Beardies have a ton of energy and therefore would not be the best choice for anyone who leads a more sedentary life. These dogs like to be out and about with their owners because they love human company. If left on their own for any length of time, a Beardie would soon get very bored which could result in them developing a few unwanted and destructive behaviours which includes excessive barking. With this said, barking is in their nature because it is one of the ways the breed was taught to work livestock, so some barking is to be expected especially when these dogs play any interactive games.
Bearded Collies are very intelligent, therefore they are highly trainable. However, they need to be handled and trained correctly using positive reinforcement rather than any heavy handed or harsh methods which would end up confusing a Beardie and this could result in them growing up to be shy and timid characters.
Beardies excel at agility and obedience because they just love to please and thoroughly enjoy this sort of partnership with their owners. They are boisterous by nature and although not always that predictable, sharing a home with a Beardie is always very entertaining. One thing bearing in mind is that females tend to be a little more headstrong than their male counterparts and that both need to know their place in the pack or a Beardie might just show a more dominant side to their natures.
Bearded Collies are intelligent, but they have an independent streak in them. As such their training should be left up to people who are familiar with the breed similar types of dog. But this is not the only reason why these dogs benefit from being handled and trained by experts because they also boast being sensitive dogs by nature and do not respond well to any sort of rough or harsh handling either as puppies or as adult dogs. This type of handling could result in dogs being timid and insecure around people.
With this said, Bearded Collies respond well to positive reinforcement training and gentle, fair yet firm handling. On the upside, these dogs are always eager and willing to please which, in short, means in the right hands a Bearded Collie can be trained to be an obedient dog and one that truly enjoys being around people.
Beardies are known to be good around children of all ages and like nothing better than to join in any games. However, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on "playtime" and any interaction between the kids and a dog to make sure things don't get too boisterous which could result in a child getting knocked over and frightened.
Bearded Collies are also generally good around other dogs, animals and family pets although any introductions need to be done carefully so that things remain nice and calm otherwise a Beardies instinct to herd might take over and get the better of them.
The average life expectancy of a Bearded Collie is between 12 - 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
However, like so many other pure breeds, the Bearded Collie is known to suffer from a few hereditary and congenital health disorders which are worth knowing about if you are planning to share your home with one of these fun-loving and affectionate dogs. The conditions the breed are more prone to suffer from include the following:
Because of their shaggy coats, Bearded Collies can also suffer from skin issues which is why it's so important to set up a regular grooming routine and to thoroughly dry a dog's coat off if they get wet, paying special attention to their feet and ears.
As with any other breed, Beardies need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Bearded Collies need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Bearded Collies are high maintenance in the grooming department all thanks to their long and flowing coats. If not frequently brushed, their coats quickly become tangled and matted which means daily brushing is essential to keep things tidy and knot-free. Daily brushing also keeps a dog's skin in good condition and it strengthens the bond formed between dog and owner.
Beardies are very messy eaters all thanks to the long hair around their faces so it's important to make sure the area around their mouths is kept clean paying particular attention to a dog's beard and chin.
Puppies need to be taught early that grooming is a nice experience and this includes having their paws and nails touched so they look forward to the one-to-one attention they are given when being brushed.
Beardies also benefit from being professionally groomed 2 to 3 times a year so their coats can be expertly hand stripped which makes it easier to keep them looking good in between. Like other breeds, the Beardie tends to shed the most hair during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is needed to keep on top of things.
Bearded Collies are high energy dogs and therefore they need to be given a lot of daily exercises. However, they are also extremely intelligent dogs and as such, they need to be given a tremendous amount of mental stimulation too or they quickly get bored and this could lead to them becoming unruly and difficult characters to handle.
As such two good walks a day are essential and as much outside time in a secure garden is ideal for these dogs. In short, they are not the best choice of pets for people who spend most of the day out of the house, but they are the ideal choice for people who work from home and who have a large secure garden for their dogs to play in.
Bearded Collies are not known to be fussy or finicky about their food, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. If you get a Bearded Collie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule for your new pet and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same type of food to a puppy to avoid any tummy or digestive upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upset and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change their diet again.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet to suit their ages and any health issues a dog may be suffering from. As previously mentioned, Beardies are messy eaters all thanks to the amount of hair they have around their muzzles. Food collects in the hair and if left it soon builds up, gets smelly and eventually if not cleaned, could lead to a nasty skin infection taking hold which can be very hard to clear up.
If you are looking to buy a Bearded Collie, you would need to be prepared to pay anything from £400 to over £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Bearded Collie in northern England would be £19.01 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £40.81 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and breed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Beardie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Beardie would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Bearded Collie puppy.
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