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The Bearded Collie, or Beardie as it’s affectionately known, is a dog both bouncy in spirit and looks! Often mistaken for a sheepdog, it can be distinguished by its tail. This fun-loving dog needs plenty of space, and lots of grooming to maintain its striking looks.
Originating from Scotland, it was once used for herding sheep in the Highlands. No stranger to cold weather, it’s distinctive shaggy coat serves it well.
It’s assumed that the Beardie came from Central European stock like Polish Lowland Sheepdogs, and Komondorok, which arrived in Scotland during the 1500’s. However, we know that the Bearded Collie is a progenitor of both the Border Collie and the Old English Sheepdog; a breed still used for herding cattle to this day.
Despite World War I almost wiping out this breed, devoted owners in the UK kept its legacy going. The first recorded Beardie pup was born in America in 1967 and registered in the AKC stud book in 1977. It wasn’t until 1983 that this breed became a member of the AKC Herding Group.
A medium-sized dog, the Bearded Collie has a broad skull and full muzzle. It can be hard to see its features, often disguised by its hirsute appearance, including a beard! Yet it has medium-sized drop ears, a square large nose and big soft expressive eyes that match its coat.
Its trademark double coat is heavy and shaggy. Dark at birth and greying with age, these are often a mixture of; black, blue, fawn, or brown, with white markings.
Underneath its coat, this is a lean and agile canine, with a strong slightly arched neck and shoulders, that are laid back at an angle of 45 degrees. Its body is longer than is it high, with strong muscular hind legs and well-padded oval shaped paws, built for hardy terrains.
Affable yet strong-willed, the Beardie is a super-intelligent breed that learns quickly and is sensitive to those around it. With boundless energy and a great affection towards others – people and animals – it is dearly loved.
With its working ties, this is also a breed that likes to be kept occupied. Its hardworking nature means that it thrives to serve, and needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Ideal for farms and working environments.
Although well meaning, due to their size and boundless energy, they can be unintentionally rough around small children, and should always be supervised in their company.
As a very active dog, Beardies need a lot of space for running around. From a young age, they benefit from puppy training and socialization. A daily dose of exercise is the best way to channel their endless energy, which can comprise agility training and dock diving.Failing to give this dog plenty of exercise may result in anti-social behavior such as barking and digging.
They are high-maintenance in terms of their grooming needs (see below).
Possible Health Concerns
The Beardie is prone to hypothyroidism – a deficiency of the thyroid hormone which can cause weight gain, as well as constipation, and cold sensitivity. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat, flaky skin with weight gain and muscle loss.
Deafness in Beardies can be inherited or acquired, sometimes due to intrauterine infections in newborns.
Another known ailment is ‘Bearded Collie Eye Anomaly’. This eye defect may have can no symptoms apart from the degeneration of their sight. Regular health tests will be able to rule this out.
Finally, others conditions that this breed can be prone to include; hip dysplasia – an abnormal development of the hip joint, and progressive retinal atrophy – a disease which causes degeneration of the retina.
Thriving on exercise, expect to walk your Beardie several times a day. This can include long runs, playtime, games and some agility. After all, this is a breed that enjoys physical activity and active sports – the more the better!
Unusually for such an active dog some Bearded Collies can be picky eaters. A good balanced diet is required, with limited treats since they can lead to obesity, regardless of their active levels.
They require a diet rich in good quality protein, and an approximate daily intake of 1,312 calories.
Indeed, this is a demanding dog when it comes to grooming. It’s long shaggy hair requires daily brushing with a soft bristle brush to remove matts, and a metal dog comb to attack tangles. Dog deodorizing spritzes, grooming wipes, shampoos and conditioners may all come in handy, since it’s prone to getting muddy and dirty, given half a chance!
Opt for conditioners that contain healthy ingredients like; shea butter, omega-6 fatty acids, and colloidal oatmeal, to keep your dog’s coat healthy and clean.
It will also require regular ear cleaning and daily teeth brushing, as well as nail clipping. Twice yearly dental visits are also recommended.
The Beardie is an affectionate and kind dog, with an exuberant personality and hardworking nature. Equally great as a family pet, as it is roaming around a farm diligently herding sheep, the Bearded Collie is one of the most devoted dog breeds.
But it demands a very activity life with plenty of space to run around and put its agility to the test.
Its long shaggy locks require daily upkeep, making this best suited to a loving and devoted owner.
Smart and sensitive, Beardies make great companions, but you do need to put the time in to ensure they are well trained to curb any nuisance behaviors.
As with any pet ownership, make sure that you have the time and resources to take good care of your Beardie. This is, after all, a breed that demands a lot of attention and mental stimulation, but in return offers great love and affection!