"Longevity, health issues and hereditary conditions within the bearded collie dog breed
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"Longevity, health issues and hereditary conditions within the bearded collie dog breed

Dogs
Breed Facts

The bearded collie is a longhaired herding dog breed that hails from Scotland, where it was originally developed to work as a sheepdog, but today is much more widely owned as a pet and companion. The bearded collie is a medium sized breed, which stands up to 22” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 27kg, with males being larger than females.

One of the most distinctive traits of the bearded collie is their very long, thick and warm coats, which help to protect the dogs against the elements and rough ground when working in adverse conditions. The coat of the breed requires a reasonable amount of care and maintenance to keep it in good condition, and also makes the dog potentially prone to overheating in the summer.

If you are considering ownership of the bearded collie, it is wise to appraise yourself of these, as well as other issues that may affect their day to day care, as well as their general health and longevity. In this article, we will look at the longevity, health and breed-specific issues of the bearded collie in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Bearded collie care and ownership considerations

The bearded collie is a particularly hardy dog that is steady on its feet and not prone to developing minor ills and injuries. Their thick, weather resistant coats help to keep them warm and protected, but this does also mean that they require a significant amount of brushing and grooming on a daily basis to prevent their coats from becoming unkempt!

The bearded collie is a very active breed as well, which needs to live with an active, fit family that spends plenty of time out of doors, and have plenty of time to devote to walking and exercising the dog.

Bearded collie average longevity

The median lifespan across the breed as a whole within the UK is 13.4 years, which places the bearded collie at the high end of the average range for longevity for dogs of a similar size. It is also not unheard of for bearded collies to live much longer than this average, with the oldest recorded bearded collie listed out of the 278 dogs surveyed reaching almost 20 years old!

Genetic and conformation factors relating to bearded collie health

The bearded collie breed’s inbreeding coefficient statistic is 14.9%, which is rather high for a well-established pedigree dog breed, and indicates that the gene pool of bearded collie dogs within the UK as a whole is relatively small. This means that the breed will likely display a propensity to a range of hereditary health problems, but given the average longevity of the breed as a whole, they do not appear to be badly affected.

Genetic testing for known and prevalent health conditions across the bearded collie breed as a whole is possible to get hip scores and elbow scores prior to breeding; the breed’s mean hip score is 9.7, and so potential parent dogs should score below this to be considered a good choice for breeding. The ideal elbow score for the breed should be zero.

It is also possible to conduct DNA testing on dogs of the breed to identify a predisposition to CEA, or collie eye anomaly.

Known health conditions within the bearded collie breed as a whole

The bearded collie breed as a whole is considered to be a relatively robust and hardy dog, which is long lived and not prone to being overly sickly. Efforts by breed organisations and The Kennel Club are also going some way towards improving the breed health as a whole, by testing for conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia prior to breeding.

Some of the known health problems that affect some dogs of the breed and that have a hereditary factor to them are listed as follows.

  • Hip dysplasia is one of the most prevalent problems within the breed, with pre-breeding screening highly recommended.
  • Elbow dysplasia is another, and again, a test is available for parent dogs.
  • Collie eye anomaly can affect most of the various collie breeds, and DNA testing can help to eradicate this from the breed’s gene pool.
  • Another eye condition that presents itself within the breed is cataracts, affecting either one or both eyes. Cataracts within the bearded collie breed tent to occur in maturity.
  • Kidney and renal problems may also affect dogs of the breed, which can ultimately go on to cause kidney failure.
  • Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy or SLO sometimes affects the normal development of the claws of the bearded collie, and is an auto-immune disorder that is thought to have a hereditary factor to it.
  • Another autoimmune condition, pemphigus folicaceus, may present itself within the breed, causing skin lesions that are difficult to resolve.
  • Finally, Addison’s disease, or an inadequate natural production of corticosteroids within the body is also present within the breed, which can lead to a range of problems including muscle weakness, lethargy and loss of appetite.
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