Excitable, reliable, and bright, the Bearded Collie is a lovable breed that radiates an upbeat attitude. While the origins of this breed are not known for certain, we know the breed has been around since at least the 1500s. Bearded Collies are best known for their herding ability, with their background being in sheep and cattle herding in Scotland.
In the 1700s these dogs were painted into British portraits, signifying that the breed gained recognition amongst the upper class. After World War II, Bearded Collies were bred to be show dogs across England, and the first dog of the breed was brought to the United States in the 1950s. In 1969 the first litter of Bearded Collies was born in the United States, and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club 10 years later.
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Characteristics of the Bearded Collie
These dogs are well known for their scruffy appearance and lovable personality. Here we will dive further into the appearance and temperaments of the Bearded Collie.
Bearded Collies are medium sized dogs, standing between 20-22” tall and averaging 45-55 lbs. These dogs tend to have rectangular bodies with long legs and a long, slim torso. The Bearded Collie is commonly known for its long, shaggy fur that covers its face and body, making it look like it has a long mustache and beard. The fur of a Bearded Collie is soft and fuzzy at birth, ranging in colors from black, blue, brown, and fawn, which typically sheds out in its second year of life. As the dogs age, they develop an outer layer of coarse fur which helped protect them against harsh elements while herding, and their coloring often lightens to gray or sand. Bearded Collies also have white markings they tend to appear on their face, tail, legs, neck, and chest. Because of their long hair, Bearded Collies need to be brushed at least once a week, and many owners choose to keep the hair shorter by using dog grooming clippers.
Given their background as herding animals, Bearded Collies are bred to be active with a high endurance for running outdoors. Because of this, Bearded Collies are not great in apartments and will be most satisfied in a spacious home with a yard. These dogs also require a lifestyle with significant interaction, play, and exercise, making them a great dog for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. The temperament of a Bearded Collie tends to be friendly and charismatic, although they do have a streak of independence and playfulness that can make them slightly more difficult to train. If trained properly from the time they are young, Bearded Collies will be wonderful pets for their 12-14 years of life.
Bearded Collies can be great in homes with children and other pets when they are socialized from a very young age. Teaching young children the proper handling of a dog is important, and when handled correctly these dogs can be wonderful companions for kids. With other animals, it is recommended to keep in mind the Bearded Collie’s herding instinct. While never aggressive, they may chase other animals or become possessive of their toys. Other dogs are wonderful for Bearded Collies since they are social and playful. When leaving a Bearded Collie alone, they may get bored and lonely causing them to act out. Hiring a dog walker for workdays and a dog sitter during longer separations is recommended, and an electronic dog door may be a good option for those who have a secure, fenced-in yard.
Caring for Bearded Collies
To keep a Bearded Collie happy and healthy, it is important to train them from a young age, give them enough exercise, and groom them regularly. Here is more advice on how to care for a Bearded Collie.
Bearded Collies do not have any specific dietary requirements, although it is important to feed based on their height and weight, with the assistance of a veterinarian, to ensure the dog does not become overweight. Feeding a high-quality dry food twice a day is the standard recommendation for Bearded Collies. Treats can be given sparingly and are recommended to be used mainly for training purposes. As with any dog, fresh, clean water should be available at all times.
Bearded Collies are relatively active dogs who are happiest when they get regular exercise. Multiple 30-minute walks during a day would be sufficient, but they mainly need space to run. Getting an automatic fetch machine is a great way to encourage play and expend the extra energy. Since these dogs enjoy spending time outdoors, getting an electric dog fence for the yard is one way they can run and play outside without going on a walk. When walking a Bearded Collie, they may try to pull and run so a harness and a dog leash for dogs that pull are recommended.
Despite their upbeat and outgoing attitudes, Bearded Collies are somewhat independent dogs who may be stubborn at times. This may result from their history as herders, given that they spent much of the day working on his own, without human instruction. Early obedience classes are the most important element to successfully training and socializing a Bearded Collie. When training at home, consistency, treats, and other positive reinforcers are crucial for their training success. These dogs are social and playful, and they will respond best to human interaction, play, and fun training exercises.
Although Bearded Collies are generally healthy, they do have a few health concerns which may preventable by using the proper care and treatment of the dog. The long hair of a Bearded Collie can trap moisture and bacteria, meaning it is incredible important to brush the dog regularly, bathe using a medicated shampoo, and a dog hair dryer helps the dog dry quickly. Fleas and ticks can also burrow their way into the fur, so using a flea collar or flea treatment and brushing the fur after going outside can help avoid this problem. Bearded Collies may have allergies to foods or certain products, in which a dog food for sensitive stomachs may be helpful. Finally, hip dysplasia is possible so it is important to find a breeder who tests for the problem, and a joint supplement can help prevent the issue from developing on its own. Outside of these issues, Bearded Collies may also be susceptible to hyperthyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, and persistent pupillary membrane.