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rec.pets.dogs: Bearded Collies Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/beardies
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
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                                Bearded Collies

   Chris Walkowicz,
   Please send all comments regarding these FAQs to the author at the
   e-mail address above.
   Copyright 1997 by Chris Walkowicz. This document may be distributed
   with attached copyright. It may not be sold nor incorporated into
   commercial documents, in whole or in part, without the express written
   permission of the author.
Table of Contents

     * Table of Contents
     * What is a Beardie?
     * HISTORY
     * Appearance
     * Temperament
     * Care
     * Frequently Asked Questions
          + Why is it called a Collie? It doesn't look like a Collie!
          + Are they good family dogs?
          + Are they barkers?
          + Do they shed?
          + How often do I have to groom?
          + Are they smart?
          + Are they playful?
          + Do they need a lot of exercise?
          + How about health problems?
          + How long do they live?
          + Is one color better than another?
          + What is the difference between show and pet quality?
          + What is showing all about?
          + Should I get a puppy or an adult?
          + Which is better -- male or female?
          + What about spaying or neutering?
          + Where can I get a rescue Beardie?
          + Where do I find breeders?
          + What is the Number One warning about the breed?
     * More Information
          + Books
          + Periodicals
          + Clubs
          + Mailing List
What is a Beardie?

   A Beardie is a winsome, funny, loving, sometimes silly, sometimes
   pouty, adorable, curious, persistent creature, in short, close to
   human. As puppies, they're much like two-year-old children. They try
   out their independence, test their "parents," and are so cute they're
   difficult to correct. This is the time good parents must force down
   the chuckle, give firm, but gentle discipline and then go in the other
   room to laugh til they cry.
   Beardies aren't for everybody. No breed is. You have to be willing to
   tolerate -- if not enjoy -- brushing long hair, wet beards in your
   lap, and muddy pawprints in the wrong places at the wrong time. And
   you HAVE to like bounce. If you don't, please continue looking.

   The Bearded Collie, affectionately called the Beardie, was developed
   in Scotland as a herding dog. Its ancestors likely included herding
   dogs from the European continent, such as the Poland Lowland Sheepdog
   (Polski Owzcarek Nizinny) and the Komondor, blended with the sheep
   herding dogs of the British Isles. It was developed as an independent
   worker, able to make decisions concerning the welfare and safety of
   their charges without depending on the shepherd who might be miles
   away. Flocks in Scotland intermingled freely, yet one Beardie never
   brought home a wrong sheep during his many years of work. The Beardie
   is still used as a shepherd's helpmate in Scotland, and now in the
   G.O. Willison brought the breed to recognition by The Kennel Club of
   Great Britain in 1959. Since then, they've wended their way into
   hearts and homes world-wide. Following recognition by AKC in 1977,
   they have remained about midway in AKC registration statistics.
   Beardies are rarely half-way about anything, but breeders are happy
   the breed is middle-of-the-road when it comes to popularity. Most
   Beardie breeders take great care in breeding, raising and placing
   their puppies. Although a well-kept secret from the general
   population, they're popular with those who know, with owners often
   loving two or three or ten!

   The Bearded Collie is a medium-sized dog with long, shaggy hair. Its
   body is longer than tall, starting with a kissy tongue and ending with
   a constantly wagging tail. As an adult, Beardies may be black (from
   black to slate), blue (from steel blue, to silver), brown (from dark
   or milk chocolate to gingery red), or fawn (cinnamon to champagne),
   usually with white markings to a greater or lesser degree.
  AKC Breed Standard for Bearded Collies
   Every breed has a Standard, a word picture of the perfect dog. The
   Breed Standard depicts the characteristics that make this breed
   different from every other, in other words, the breed type. For
   instance, a Beardie should not be confused with the Border Collie or
   the Old English Sheepdog.
   The Standard for the Bearded Collie covers the ideal size, coat,
   color, gait, temperament and structure, right down to the shape of the
   feet and the tail carriage! To obtain a copy, contact the AKC or the
   Beardie Parent Club, the Bearded Collie Club of America, noted at the
   end of this article.

   Beardies are usually active, outgoing, bouncy, affectionate creatures.
   Within the normal range of temperament, they range from low-key, sweet
   and laid back to rowdy and bold. Each owner should decide what will
   fit best with their lifestyle and inform the breeder prior to
   purchase, so the Perfect Pup can be matched with their family.
   The breed interacts well with other animals, particularly if raised
   with them. Breeders often receive pictures of Beardies playing with
   tiny Chihuahuas or BIG Wolfhounds...or even enjoying a "cat" nap with
   a kitten. Some tend to be a mite bossy about possessions and hoard all
   the toys in their den. Being herding dogs, they will yield to a chase
   if tempted.

   All dogs need grooming, training, exercise, nutritious food, access to
   water and shelter, veterinary care and LOVE. If you plan to skimp on
   any of these, please don't get a Beardie. In fact, please don't get a
   dog! To bond with your Beardie and have it become a valued member of
   the family, the Beardie needs to live in your home with you.
   Some dogs need to have their nails trimmed weekly; others do fine with
   once a month clips. Beardies are long-coated dogs, and to keep their
   charming, winsome appearance, need regular grooming. Once the puppy
   vaccinations are completed, schedule an annual examination with the
   veterinarian. Be attuned to your Beardie's body and behavior to note
   anything unusual that calls for medical treatment. Some Beardies have
   reactions to monthly heartworm preventative. Because of this, many
   breeders advise giving a daily pill. Discuss this with your dog's
Frequently Asked Questions

  Why is it called a Collie? It doesn't look like a Collie!
   "Collie" is a Scottish word for dogs that herd sheep, hence the Border
   Collie, the Rough (Lassie-type) or Smooth Collie and the Bearded
   Collie. This may have come from the Coaley or black-faced sheep in
  Are they good family dogs?
   Beardies are people-oriented dogs. They NEED to be with their family.
   If left alone for long periods, they are liable to become frustrated
   and provide their own entertainment -- not always one that makes the
   owner happy.
   Beardies are vigorous, bouncy dogs, and like to jump up to look you in
   the eyes or kiss your nose. This fits in well with many families.
   Others, particularly those with toddlers, non-doggy visitors, elderly
   or physically challenged people, prefer to train their Beardie to sit
   and shake instead of jumping on people to greet them. Some Beardies
   have a high herding instinct and nip at ankles or eye-level bottoms,
   trying to bunch their "flock." Like kids, some are more rowdy than
   others. When you talk to a breeder, express your wishes for activity
   level. Undesirable traits should be "nipped" in the bud and the baby
   Beardie trained from infancy, with its energies channeled into proper
   Because they love people, Beardies make good therapy dogs, comforting,
   entertaining and snuggling up to patients and residents. Owners take
   pride in their dogs making a good impression by being clean, spiffy
   and well-behaved during therapy visits.
  Are they barkers?
   Although they are not yappy nor continuous barkers, certain things
   will set off their "alarm" system. They're great doorbells, announcing
   all visitors with joy. They bark when excited: when you first rise in
   the morning, when family returns home, while playing. Like any dog,
   they may bark when bored.
  Do they shed?
   Groomed properly, they shed minimally. Most of the dead hair will be
   removed by the comb and brush. The worst shed is when they lose their
   puppy coat, usually between nine months and eighteen months. This
   lasts for approximately two to three months. During this period, they
   often lose their cuddly appearance and look scraggly and ragged,
   losing hair from the top to the bottom, or from the front to the rear.
  How often do I have to groom?
   Start early to introduce your Beardie to his life-time hair care. Baby
   Beardies can be groomed in one minute. The idea is to acclimate the
   pup to be still for longer periods of time until they can spend an
   hour quietly accepting brushing and combing.
   Most owners do a thorough grooming at least once a week. (During the
   puppy shed, it's wise to increase to two or three times a week.) Lay
   the Beardie on its side and mist with water or anti-tangle spray.
   Brush the hair up with a bristle or pin brush. Then brush the hair
   back down a few inches at a time (called line brushing). Any mats that
   develop can be worked out with anti-tangle spray and your fingers or a
   mat rake. A comb should go easily through the hair when finished. Ask
   the breeder for a demonstration on an adult. When mature, Beardies
   usually require about one-half to one hour for grooming.
  Are they smart?
   Yes, but Beardies were bred to be independent thinkers. Sometimes
   they'll decide what THEY want is better than what you want. For
   instance, staying in the back yard is more interesting than coming
   inside. Or playing in a mud puddle is more fun than staying on dry
   ground. The trick in training Beardies is to convince them it's
   something THEY want to do. And that takes an owner that's smarter than
   they are -- not always easy!
   When it comes to housebreaking, they're individuals, just like
   children. Some train easily; others take longer. Bladder capacity, not
   brains, is what determines this. If the owners are well-trained to be
   aware of signals and to watch the clock, the Beardie is more easily
  Are they playful?
   Oh, yes! Name it, they'll do it -- jog, swim, wrestle, do tricks, join
   in football games, play catch or Frisbee.
  Do they need a lot of exercise?
   Beardies like their owners, stay physically fit with exercise. This
   can be accomplished by playing ball, taking brisk walks, free run in a
   fenced area (with interaction, not alone) or a training session.
   Beardies are not "hyper" dogs, but are happy to join their owners in
   any activity. They're more content when they are able to run and play.
  How about health problems?
   Overall, Beardies are a sturdy breed that enjoys good health. The BCCA
   health survey has shown, however, problems do occur within the breed,
   although not in high percentages.. These include allergies, hip
   dysplasia, hypothyroidism, auto-immune disease and some eye problems.
   Our dogs can suffer the same problems most breeds -- and their masters
   -- do. Ask the breeder about health certifications. Parents should be
   healthy and OFA certified free of hip dysplasia.
  How long do they live?
   The life expectancy ranges from 12-14 years on an average. It is not
   unusual, however, for a Beardie to extend that lifespan. Beardies
   often seem to stay young until their very elder years, many still
   being active at the age of twelve. Longevity of lines should be one of
   the questions to ask breeders.
  Is one color better than another?
   Nope! Black is the dominant color and, thus, more Beardies are black.
   Browns, blues and fawns are just as attractive and boast the same
   Beardie personality. Noses and eyes blend with the coat. Most Beardies
   carry the fading factor and turn lighter as adults. During their
   teenage months (about 9-20 months), they usually become very light,
   darkening again as they mature. Judges should not prefer one color
   over another. Almost all Beardies have some white, usually on the
   muzzle, a blaze, forechest, front legs, rear feet and hocks, and tip
   of tail.
   Although they cannot be shown, mostly white Beardies (in a Pinto
   pattern) are beautiful and do not have the health problems associated
   with some other white breeds. One of the appealing aspects of the
   breed is its rainbow of coats and its ever-changing colors. The
   personality is much more important than the color!
  What is the difference between show and pet quality?
   The differences are often so subtle that it takes an expert to tell. A
   pet might have too much white, a crooked tooth or carry its tail too
   high. He or she could have less than ideal angulation. Pets might lack
   the charisma or attitude desired of a show dog. Or it could just be
   that the breeder had four show puppies, with only three show homes. As
   long as your Beardie has a tongue to kiss with, a tail to wag and four
   feet to bounce on, show faults are of little consequence to the pet
   buyer. Like a rose is always a flower, but a flower is not always a
   rose...a show dog should always be a pet, but not every pet should be
   a show dog.
  What is showing all about?
   If you intend to show, buy the best you can. Make sure the pedigree
   boasts many Champions (Ch), particularly the parents and grandparents.
   A show guarantee should cover serious faults as well as health
   defects. Most Beardies are shown by their owners, although some people
   prefer to hire a professional handler. Seek advice from your puppy's
   Puppies that are classified as pets or companions can compete in
   obedience, herding, tracking or agility. And all Beardies and their
   owners reap benefits from attending training classes. Obedience can
   produce good house manners or be the foundation of an obedience career
   from Companion Dog (CD) to Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh).
   Many Beardies show natural herding instinct. Others need to be
   introduced to stock several times before the light gleams. When the
   Beardie turns on, they are fascinating to watch...doing naturally what
   their ancestors were bred to do generations before. If an owner wishes
   to continue in competition, titles from HT (Herding Tested) to H.Ch.
   (Herding Champion) can be earned
   A few owners track with their Beardies, although it can be hard on
   long coats since tracks might be laid through the brush. This can be
   more than competition from Tracking Dog (TD) to Champion Tracker (CT);
   it can actually save a person's life through Search and Rescue in
   disasters or when people are lost.
   Agility is the newest AKC performance event. Beardies were made for
   agility and easily compete for titles from Novice Agility (NA) to
   Master Agility Excellent (MX).
   All of these start with training class. If you decide not to compete
   when you've graduated, you'll still have enjoyed bonding with your
   Beardie, as well as having a trained dog.
  Should I get a puppy or an adult?
   Both have their advantages. All puppies are cute -- and Beardies are
   particularly adorable. Pups can be trained in the manner owners wish.
   Nevertheless, adults are often housebroken, done with teething and
   have good house manners. If you have a demanding schedule, an adult
   may fit into the household more quickly than an infant puppy.
  Which is better -- male or female?
   Rather than picking a sex (or a color), choose the personality to suit
   you. Males are just as affectionate as females, and bitches are just
   as playful as dogs. If neutered or spayed, as pets should be, neither
   shows the annoying hormonal surges of an intact dog.
  What about spaying or neutering?
   All responsible breeders require their pets to be spayed or neutered.
   We feel no one should breed Beardies unless they are serious students
   of the breed, willing to do genetic testing, and to stand behind their
   guarantees. They should be willing to prove the quality of the dog in
   the show ring under expert evaluation -- because only the very best
   should be bred. Research has shown that an altered animal is also
   healthier, eliminating reproductive infections and tumors,
   particularly in old age.
   Juvenile alteration can be performed as young as eight weeks of age.
   Many veterinarians, however, perform the surgery when the dog is
   between six and nine months of age.
  Where can I get a rescue Beardie?
   The BCCA was one of the first breed clubs to organize a rescue
   service. The National Coordinator may be contracted through the BCCA,
   address below. Rescues might be strays, abandoned Beardies, shelter
   surrenders or those rescued from neglect or abuse. Beardies are
   evaluated as to mental and physical soundness. BCCA Rescue takes the
   Beardie to a veterinarian, where the dog is thoroughly examined,
   spayed or neutered, and treated if necessary. BCCA Rescue is funded by
   the BCCA and private donations.
   Almost all needy Beardies adapt to their new homes as soon as they
   realize love, shelter and food are theirs for the asking! Sometimes
   people are concerned about past history having an adverse effect on
   temperament. While being evaluated, individual idiosyncracies are
   noted so that the Beardie can be matched to the perfect home. Not all
   rescues are victims of abuse. Some are the sad result of divorce,
   death or incapacitated owners.
  Where do I find breeders?
   Most Beardie breeders are responsible people who want to find good
   homes for them. Several are online with the Beardie list. They may
   also be contacted through the Bearded Collie Club of America's
   Corresponding Secretary. Both contacts are listed under More
   Dog shows are a good place to meet breeders. If exhibitors don't have
   litters, they'll be likely to put you in contact with someone who
   does. No responsible breeder will sell to a pet shop or a broker. A
   breeder will give you lifetime support and knowledgeable advice. The
   pet shop only wants to sell you supplies!
   Good breeders are concerned about the future welfare of their puppies.
   Ask to see the dam (mother) of the litter. Would you take her home? If
   so, the puppy will probably be a good pet. Breeders extensively
   interview prospective buyers, asking questions about fencing,
   training, prior pets and more. They'll supply a pedigree, registration
   application, guarantee and medical records, as well as information
   about the breed and their dogs. A sales contract will protect the
   rights of buyer(s), seller(s) and the Beardie.
  What is the Number One warning about the breed?
   They're like peanuts. You can't stop with just one.
More Information

   ALL ABOUT THE BEARDED COLLIE, by Joyce Collis, Pelham Books
   THE BEARDED COLLIE, by G.O. Willison, a Foyles Handbook
   THE BEARDED COLLIE, by Chris Walkowicz, publisher Alpine/Denlinger
   BEARDED COLLIES, by Carol Gold, publisher TFH
   BEARDIE BASICS, by Barbara Rieseberg and B.J. McKinney, publisher
   BEARDIE BASICS AND BEYOND, by by Barbara Rieseberg and B.J. McKinney,
   revised by Jo Parker, publisher Alpine
   THE COMPLETE BEARDED COLLIE, by Joyce Collis and Pat Jones, publisher
   Howell Book House
   TALKING ABOUT BEARDIES, by Suzanne Moorhouse, self-published
   Beardie Bulletin, published by the Bearded Collie Club of America $12
   per issue, Editor Cynthia Mahigian Moorhead, 2639 Windermer e Woods
   Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
   Bearded Collie Annual, Hoflin Publishers
   _Bearded Collie Club of America_
   Litter listing
          List of local clubs
          Amber Carpenter
          Corresponding Secretary
          509 Pope Dr.
          Pelham, AL 35124
          Kathy Flanagan
          2552 Greenbriar Ln.
          Costa Mesa, CA 92626
   BCCA Rescue
          Paul Glatzer
          10 Eden Dr.
          Smithtown, NY 11787
  Mailing List
   Subscribe to Beardies-L by sending an e-mail message to In the message area type:
     subscribe BEARDIES-L
   For more information and a list of individual homepages, go to or For information on
   Beardies and general dog books, go to
    Bearded Collie FAQ
    Chris Walkowicz,

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