“A Lifetime of Friendship… the Bearded Collie”
And a Beardie is…
…a fuzzy, heart-warming hug!
…a tail that can sweep a coffee table clean in an instant.
…eyes that can melt the heart, yet be full of understanding.
…a wet kiss with a beard fresh from the water bowl.
…knowing your kitchen floor will never again be totally dry.
…Bounce with a capital B!
…laughs for both owner and dog.
…an extraordinary memory.
…the ability to think and calculate.
…a puppy pout, always followed by forgiveness
A Beardie is boundless energy, heartfelt devotion, and a trusting companion.
The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized dog. Males usually range 21 to 22 inches at the withers; females are slightly less at 20 to 21 inches. Weight varies with size and sex, but adults average between 45 to 55 pounds.
The Beardie is longer than tall. The appearance of the Beardie should convey an impression of strength and agility. The Beardie carries a double coat. The outer coat is harsh and long, repelling rain and snow. The undercoat is short and downy. A wave in the coat is permissible, although it should not curl.
Beardies can be found in four colors: Black, brown, blue, and fawn — with or without white markings. Blacks can range from “stay-black” — no graying — to light gray. Blues can be dark gray to silver. Browns appear in dark mahogany to blonde. Fawns vary from medium brown to champagne. The actual color determination of a Beardie can be made from the color of the pigment of the nose leather and the lips. Blacks should have black pigment, blues have gray-blue, and browns have brown. The pigment found in a fawn is a lighter brown, sometimes with a hint of lavender.
The Beardie’s eye color is an unusual characteristic. The breed standard states eye color should tone with coat color. Blacks and browns have brown eyes with varying degrees of darkness. Blues have smoky or grayish-blue eyes. A fawn has a lighter brown eye that may contain a hint of hazel or lavender.
It is extremely difficult to predict the adult color of a puppy. Beardies are born dark. As they grow, they “gray out” and lighten. A puppy that is born a black may be silver at one year of age. That beautiful chocolate brown puppy will probably turn a champagne or cream color. Between 12 to 18 months, the puppies start to darken again. They rarely become as dark as they were at birth, and it is difficult for even experienced breeders to predict just what shade the puppy finally will achieve. The puppies that fade the earliest will usually be the lightest in color. Beardies often darken again to match the ears and tail. They can continue to change shade until the age of four years or beyond.
What Type of Beardie?
You have decided to make a Beardie a member of your family. The next question is what type of Beardie will best fit your lifestyle. Male or female? Puppy or adult?
Many people prefer bitches, feeling they are more intelligent, loving, and don’t indulge in such unsocial behavior as lifting a leg in the house. Much of this thinking is actually “old wives tales.”
Beardie bitches tend to be “busier” than their male counterparts. They seem to feel they must supervise all activities of the household. Males tend to be a bit more “laid back” in general and are every bit as affectionate. Both sexes get long well with children when raised with them. A male neutered early in life does not have the tendency to lift his leg in the house. Leg-lifting is done to “mark territory.” Neutered males have no reason to do so.
When most people consider adding a dog to their family, they automatically think of a puppy. Do you really want a puppy? Yes, they are cute, charming creatures (who need housebreaking, training, and constant supervision), but they do grow up.
Adult Beardies are occasionally available from breeders. These are often puppies raised for show that did not turn out to be appropriate for showing. Sometimes they are dogs that have been returned to them by purchasers due to unexpected circumstances such as divorce or death.
The Bearded Collie Club of America (BCCA) maintains a “Beardie Rescue” program. Through Rescue, volunteers across the country assist Beardies in trouble. Many times these Beardies are rescued from animal shelters. They are all checked thoroughly by veterinarians, groomed, and temperament evaluated to determine what type of home into which they would best fit. They are then fostered until a suitable home can be found.
Beardies do shed, but the results of their shedding can be minimized by regular grooming. Regular brushing removes the clumps of hair that the dog would otherwise shed. The adult Beardie has a double coat. The outer coat consists of harsh, straight guard hairs. The undercoat is a softer, fuzzy coat which provides insulation. A thorough brushing once a week should keep the coat in good condition, prevent matting, and reduce shedding. Brushing should always be done after the coat has been sprayed with water or conditioner to reduce static and keep the coat from breaking.
Adult Beardies experience a coat shed approximately once a year. During this period, which lasts two to four weeks, it may be desirable to brush the Beardie more frequently.
Grooming the Beardie puppy can be a challenge until he is trained. It is recommended that while the puppy is young, you groom for only a few minutes at a time. As the puppy becomes more acclimated to being groomed, gradually increase the time until the entire puppy can be groomed at one time. Grooming also provides “quality time” for bonding with the puppy.
Sometime between 9 months and 18 months, the puppy will go through a coat change to his adult coat. The adult coat starts to grow through the puppy coat, first at the shoulder, gradually working its way down the body. At the same time, the soft puppy coat starts to come out. During this period, the coat easily becomes matted, and it is advisable to brush the puppy at least twice a week to avoid matting. The removal of mats can be painful to the Beardie and tedious for the owner.
Once the puppy coat is gone and no longer causes problems, once-a-week grooming can be resumed. There are significant differences among individual dogs, however, and grooming should “fit” the individual.
Activities with Your Beardie
There are a multitude of activities to enjoy with your Beardie. With his intelligence and energy level, a busy Beardie is a happy Beardie.
Agility is a fast-paced, fun sport that originated in England. The dog is required to run a specified obstacle course within a certain time limit. The dog which completes the course with the least number of faults and in the shortest time wins. Beardies have the natural ability for this sport but their independent spirit can make training a challenge.
If a Beardie possesses the required physical traits to compete in the show ring, it may, through achieving the required number of “wins” at American Kennel Club (AKC) shows, be designated a “Champion” by the AKC. Some owners prefer to show their dogs themselves after attending handling classes and learning the procedures. Others prefer to hire a professional handler.
Most Beardies have the natural ability to herd. Herding can be an enjoyable pursuit for both the dog and the handler. The Bearded Collie Club of America has a Herding Instinct Test program. In addition, the AKC has developed its own program in which a dog can achieve various herding titles, including a herding championship. There are also other organizations, such as the Australian Shepherd Club of America, which sponsor herding events.
A well-trained Beardie is a joy to live with. Obedience can also be an enjoyable competitive activity. Again, Beardies do have an independent spirit, and that spirit can make them a challenge to train. They are easily bored, so keeping the training interesting will be helpful. When done with patience and humor, the result can be especially rewarding. AKC awards a variety of titles in obedience.
Numerous Beardies have passed training which allows them to make visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers to interact with patients. This can be a rewarding experience for the handler as well as enjoyable for the dog and the patients.
Many Beardies and owners enjoy tracking. In this sport, a trail is laid. The dog follows the trail to retrieve an object at the end. The AKC awards two titles for this sport: Tracking Dog and Tracking Dog Excellent.
Where to Buy Your Puppy
For convenience, the Bearded Collie Club of America maintains a list of breeders who have puppies available. The BCCA list should not be construed as an endorsement. However, there is much more to consider than just locating an available Beardie. A dog is a long-term commitment, so it is very important to choose wisely.
Beardies are people-oriented, but they need to be socialized from an early age. Puppies raised in a home environment are more likely to be better socialized and more adaptable than their counterparts raised in a kennel or sold in a pet shop. Most puppies sold in a pet shop come from puppy mills and nothing can be certain of their origins.
Be sure you feel comfortable with the breeder. Beware of breeders who are producing puppies in order to capitalize on the popularity of the breed and have no true concern for the Bearded Collie. Breeders who are involved in outside activities with their Beardies, such as showing in conformation, obedience, or herding are more likely to be concerned with producing healthy and sound dogs.
What to Look For in a Breeder
Breeders should be concerned that a prospective buyer meets their own criteria as a desirable home for one of their Beardies.
A breeder should be able to provide copies of OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America) or other orthopedic registry certificates for both the sire and dam, certifying those dogs free of hip dysplasia. Do not accept a statement that the sire and dam have been x-rayed. A breeder should be able to provide you with certified documentation.
A breeder should be ready to stand behind the dog in case of hereditary defects. A guarantee, either to replace the dog or provide some type of refund should be offered in writing.
A breeder should be available after the sale to answer questions that may arise regarding grooming, nutrition, behavior, etc.
Concerned breeders will ask many questions of a prospective buyer. They want their puppies to be matched to the right home. Reputable breeders sell their puppies with written contracts. These contracts will specify the breeding behind the puppy, the puppy’s registration or litter registration number, and the terms of the sale. These terms will include the price and guarantees involved. Many breeders require that if the buyer is unable to keep the dog, it is to be returned to the
Most important, a reputable breeder will require that a pet quality puppy be either spayed or neutered. This may involve a co-ownership until the spaying/neutering is done, a rebate toward the spaying/neutering, or registering the dog with a limited registration. Under a limited registration, a dog is recognized as a purebred, AKC registered, and the dog is eligible to compete in obedience and other AKC events. It cannot be shown in conformation competition, however, nor will any offspring from the dog be registerable with the AKC.
The primary goal is to purchase a puppy you feel will fit into your family. It is worth the time and effort spent in order to obtain the dog you want. If you have any doubts about a puppy or a breeder — don’t buy. Keep looking.
Do not be in a hurry. Nothing worthwhile is attained overnight. Reputable breeders do not have puppies available all the time, but their puppies will be worth waiting for.
REMEMBER: A dog is a commitment, not a commodity. As a loving and selfless member of your family for hopefully many years, your Beardie deserves your best, not until “THE NEWNESS WEARS OFF,” but until you say your final good-byes.