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.
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 U.S.
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
"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
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
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 behavior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Oh, yes! Name it, they'll do it -- jog, swim, wrestle, do tricks, join
in football games, play catch or Frisbee.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They're like peanuts. You can't stop with just one.
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
Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
Bearded Collie Annual, Hoflin Publishers
Bearded Collie Club of
Subscribe to Beardies-L by sending an e-mail message to
email@example.com. In the message area type:
- Litter listing
List of local clubs
- Amber Carpenter
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
For more information and a list of individual homepages, go to
For information on Beardies and general dog books, go to
Bearded Collie FAQ