Bearded Collie

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Herding

Personality
Enthusiastic, friendly, stable and self-confident

Life Expectancy
14-15 years

Average Height
20-22 inches

Average Weight
40-60 lbs

Coat Color
Black, brown, blue, or fawn

Coat Length/Texture
Dense and long outer coat with thick, soft undercoat.

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year-round, very heavy if not properly groomed

Also known as Highland Collie, Mountain Collie, Hairy Mou ed Collie, Beardie

General Temperament

As a companion pet, the Bearded Collie is an exceedingly charming and playful breed. Lively and active, the Beardie is known for it’s humor and fun-loving nature, and it’s tendency to “bounce” on it’s forelegs. They are genial and even-tempered, and make excellent companions for children. They also get along well with other family pets and strangers.

Like many breeds, the Bearded Collie thrives on activity and interaction with family members and function best when they have a job to do. If left alone for extended periods or not given enough exercise/play/work time, they can become testy and destructive. They are not recommended for apartment life due to their high activity level and need for space to roam free; they function best on a farm or ranch, or in a home with a large yard. Beardies tend to stay very active, with almost puppy-like enthusiasm, well into their golden years. Although they enjoy interaction with family members, they can sleep outdoors, and are adaptable to many different climates.

Their history as independent workers can make Beardies a bit headstrong, so obedience training is a must beginning in puppyhood. They will sometimes decide that what they want to do takes precedence over what you want them to do. The Bearded Collie Club of America suggests that the “trick in training Beardies is to convince them it’s something they want to do.” Nevertheless, they are very intelligent and highly trainable and can excel in competitive obedience, tracking, agility, herding, and even performing tricks.

Bearded Collies are not excessive barkers, although they will bark to show excitement or announce the arrival of visitors. And even lines bred for companionship or shows are likely to try to herd people and other animals, sometimes gently nipping at heels or bottoms.

Breed History

The Bearded Collie was developed in Scotland, likely as a combination of local herding breed with the Polish Lowland Sheepdog (Polski Owzcarek Nizinny), which was introduced to the country early in the 16th century. They were bred to be independent workers, capable of supervising the welfare of their herds without help of their shepherd. Beardies were quite popular in Britain at the end of the 19th century, but since there were no established clubs for the breed, they fell out of favor by the end of the 1920’s. By the 1930’s, there were no kennels breeding Bearded Collies for show purposes, and the fact that the breed did not die out completely can be attributed to their impressive working ability and to the devotion of the Scottish shepherds.

The Bearded Collie was accepted into the working group of the American Kennel Club in 1977, then moved to the herding group when it was established in 1983.

Body Structure and Composition

The most obvious physical characteristic of the Bearded Collie their long, profuse shaggy coat which grows to be the same length all over the body. The name Bearded Collie comes from the long hair under the Beardie’s chin. It is a medium-sized agile dog with a broad head and large teeth. The ears are set low, level with the eyes, and lay against the face; when groomed for shows, the shaggy ears almost disappear into the rest of the coat. The body is longer than it is tall, and the legs are muscular and strong. The tail is long and carried low when it’s not wagging, which is rare.

Medical Information

The Bearded Collie is fortunately blessed with good health. They have a low incidence of some common medical issues such as cancer, skin conditions and allergies, Hip Dysplasia (when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket, causing lameness and arthritis-like symptoms) and Hypothyroidism (underactivity of the thyroid gland resulting in lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes).

One disease that occurs more frequently with Beardies than most other breeds is Addison’s disease. The incidence of this disease is still seemingly low, occurring in 2-3% of Bearded Collies, but this is much higher than in other breeds (usually less than 0.1%). Addison’s disease is is a rare endocrine disorder in which the adrenal gland produces insufficient amounts of steroid hormones, causing unexplained lethargy, frequent gastric disturbances, or an inability to tolerate stress. It can also cause fatal sodium/potassium imbalances, but is manageable with medication taken over the dog’s lifetime. Addison’s is also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency, hypocortisolism or hypocorticism.

The Bearded Collie’s coat requires a daily brushing to prevent mats and remove shed hair. Insufficient attention to grooming can lead to severe matting and can hide skin conditions or parasites. Some owners prefer to keep their Beardie’s coat clipped short to help minimize grooming responsibilities, but this does not completely alleviate them.

Anecdotal Information

A Bearded Collie named Buck played the role of Buck Bundy on the TV show Married With Children.

The Bearded Collie was introduced to the United States in 1950, but there were no recorded litters born in this country until 1967.

The earliest record of the Bearded Collie exists in paintings, including a 1771 Gainsborough portrait of the Duke of Buccleigh, and a 1772 Reynolds portrait of that painter’s wife and daughter accompanied by two Beardies.

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